Category Archives: Eating With Intention

I Don’t Know What to Eat!


This week I had a potential new client ask me ‘As a mid-40 year old woman, I just don’t know what to eat?!?’ My response to her was ‘You do. You know more than you are giving yourself credit for and this is the work we will do together.’ I went on to say to her that I don’t give diet plans (she asked!). They don’t work. I could hand her a meal plan with a set number of calories to follow for two or three weeks. She would end up maybe coming back to see me once, hating her body even more, and feeling even more hopeless in her relationship to food and her body.

Last year, I wrote a very personal piece for Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Aside from the challenges of distorted social media, friends, or family obsessing over their looks or food ALL THE TIME, a person must also overcome their own limiting core beliefs in terms of size, weight, and nutrition.

Our core beliefs are driven into us starting in utero. So when I work with someone in their mid-50s (or even 20s and younger) we try to reframe and undo years, and years of FEAR (False Experiences Appearing Real) around food or body and completely hijacked thoughts, feelings, and actions. This takes work.

I have dug deep to determine what normal eating is for me, both personally and as a clinician. I’ve always used Ellyn Satter’s definition, but after many years (24!) in the field, this is my own….

  • Normal eating is relearning your own way and changing your thoughts, feelings, and actions around food and your body.
  • Normal eating is leaving the body hate behind.
  • Normal eating is not letting the scale mandate your feelings for the day.
  • Normal eating knows bodies change and all bodies are beautiful.
  • Normal eating is baking and eating cookies at 10 PM with a friend, or pasta or a leftover cheeseburger and fries for breakfast.
  • Normal eating is trying a food trend but knowing there are no ‘perfect’ foods.
  • Normal eating is relating food to your body in a nourishing way as fuel, strength, wisdom, and some extra icing just for fun.
  • Normal eating is maybe trying vegetarianism for a few years but then perhaps deciding animal protein really works well for you, your body, and your movement goals.
  • Normal eating is not what or how much others eat, it’s what YOUR body needs in that moment, that meal, that day.
  • Normal eating is knowing our appetites change meal to meal, day to day, and honoring this process.
  • Normal eating is keeping these words out of thoughts and conversations about food and your body: good, bad, sorry, should, can’t, and healthy (or unhealthy, and certainly ‘clean’!).
  • Normal eating is respect, inclusion, peace, knowledge, and confidence around food and your body (not the size you were at age….??!)

My answer to the comment, ‘I don’t know what to eat!’ besides, ‘Yes, you do!’ is my own definition above. My esteemed colleague, Karen Chinca, included the definition above in her most recent blog post titled, A Journey Into Mindful Eating. You can read it here.

For more events on Eating Disorders Awareness week look to these websites:

Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association

National Eating Disorders Association

Binge Eating Disorder Association

The International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals

Intentions Over Resolutions for 2018 & Beyond!

Jan eNL Image_1_

Last week I posted a question across my social media platforms

‘Imagine if we obsessed about the things we love about ourselves…?’. Right?

Resolutions come from a place of needing to change a negative (to me). Yesterday, I found a funny, but cool and poignant definition of ‘resolution': A useless list of things that may or may not get accomplished in the first few days of the new year. Read: How to ruin your fun related to eating and other fun pastimes. I couldn’t agree more.

Think instead about obsessing around something you love about you and combine this with your new year’s intention(s). This is a much better recipe for success.

Here are some of my own examples. I’m trying to stay obsessed with loving our kids and our blendedness around meal times. When I relate this specifically to dinner it has to consider nut allergies, non-gluten preferences, dislike for cheese and shellfish, and keeping cooking time concise including enough food for 2 active teenage boys.

Instead of becoming overwhelmed about it all and resolving to make it different, I’m embracing it, and going with what the kids’ dietary restrictions, likes and dislikes are. It feels more calm. (With help from my Instant Pot, rice cooker and steamer allowing me to get dinner going and give the littlest one her bath!). Thank goodness none of the children are requesting specificities with requests like organic, cage-free or grass-fed or I would resign as head chef in our home!

Another, sort of continuous, new obsession I’m trying to love about myself is I cannot run regularly anymore. I used to run. A lot. 30 miles a week was my norm with frequent races. I went for a run a few weeks ago and loved it, but this was followed by days of discomfort in my lower back and lower joints. When I initially had to change exercise habits a few years ago it felt excruciating to give up so much running. Now, I’m obsessed with other things my body can do.

More weights and lifting quite a heavy amount. Awesome yoga poses that take a lot of practice. Tennis continues to surprise me as well – and humble me ;).  The keys, for me, at 45 years old are a lot of variety with my exercise and realizing I did have to break up with running. This may be a year I go back to running if my body feels good enough, but for now, my intention is to be open in other ways around exercise.When I think about my clients over this year I had two write and say particularly poignant things over the past few weeks. One is a woman I have worked with for just this year. She had battled binge eating and bulimia but also was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in March after we started working together. Throughout our sessions, she has normalized her hemoglobin A1C which is the measure of her blood sugars over 3 months. Her primary care provider has also taken her off the medicine she was taking for her diabetes as she has been able to focus so strongly on eating mindfully, movement, and decreasing stress.

Another client I have worked with for many years for her eating disorder said in last week’s appointment ‘I’m not even thinking about safe foods anymore. It feels good to be in charge of my body in a different way. I can look back at the eating disorder and say wow that was such chaos.’

Two women, two different stories. Two forms of success and calm around food and their bodies. Why? Their intentions. Not resolutions. To resolve, lacks empathy, sounds negative, and is likely to fail. Intentions are strong and full of light.

They incorporate obsessing about loving you and can shine well past January of the new year as I hope yours will for 2018.

Here’s the challenge – can you intend to love yourself obsessively in 2018?

Here are a couple of other pieces on intentions from like-minded colleagues:

A podcast on setting intentions by Summer Innanen

Krystal Thomas wrote about intentions for 2016 

Melissa Groves, RDN, wrote about 18 Ways to Hack Your New Year’s Resolutions 

Mandy Enright, is a dietitian and yoga teacher (on the JERSEY SHORE!) and wrote about What You Can Do MORE Of in 2018 

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