Category Archives: Other Things

There was a little girl…

There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
When she was good
She was very, very good
And when she was bad, she was horrid

The above nursery rhyme, from what was initially a poem, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, feels similar to an eating disorder for me.

If you’re ‘good,’ you’re amazing. If you’re starving or purging or over-exercising, you’re fabulous. If you’re horrid, or bad it’s because you’re eating, eating anything, even drinking just water.

This is what I hear from my clients. What I learn from their experiences. What they live when they are entrenched. This is why in every initial session with a client I suggest we don’t use these four words around food or our bodies – good, bad, sorry, should.

A long time ago I got on a scale. This is when I was about 14 years old and as a skinny, gangly young teenager weighed exactly 100 pounds. I remember standing on the scale, in my parent’s bedroom, in the morning before school.

My mom weighed herself every day. At least this is what I remember. She looked at me that morning – she was still lying in bed – and asked me my weight. When I told her ‘100 pounds,’ her response was, ‘You should always try to stay under 100 pounds, Robyn. Men like thin women.’

At the age of 14 I was not that interested in men. Boys, yes, but even so not very much at that time. I was planning to study abroad and was heavily involved with my friends, school, church, and family. That comment stuck with me though.

Everywhere it seemed the women I knew were infatuated with their weight. Not so much my friends, rather the adult women around me. I also remember my mom saying things like ‘I shouldn’t eat this I should just tape it to my thighs.’ So many comments about weight gained in 3 pregnancies and never lost. And then there was ‘I’m just going to eat what Robyn eats because she’s skinny.’

When you’re young, these comments stick with you. In fact, there is research to suggest that even infants are learning their parents’ body language and attitudes toward food at this very young age. Other research suggests this all begins in utero which makes total sense.

Hearing, listening, wondering, observing, and even learning (not positively) these thoughts and behaviors around food, weight, and bodies was definitely what drew me to my career. Even as a young teen I knew there absolutely had to be a better way to feel about your body. To think and relate to food. What did the scale matter anyway? But it did. For a long while.

It was not until I got to college and upper division nutrition classes that I really began to understand how to position my own nutrition choices and body image around facts. Around science.

I literally decided the infatuation around food and weight and negative body image was not going to be my life. But it took years and hard work. Others around me struggled with eating disorders or disordered eating. A college friend passed away, losing her battle with her eating disorder, shortly after graduation.

We do our best as parents. Every single day – even every single hour or moment for that matter. But we are based on our past and present environments and certainly genes. Eating disorders are genetically related. The science is impassable in this regard. I don’t think my mom knew her comments or thoughts about herself and her relationships with food, her body, and her weight were sitting in my heart. In fact, I know she didn’t. It took a lot of undoing though. And I think I am lucky.

69ed71eb-a4b4-40c8-894e-b07c8f0c9422Society and the media are just now starting to really accept bodies that come in different shapes and sizes. We have a long way to go. Thank goodness for Lady Gaga and her Superbowl performance. Kudos to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. And to Athleta for including bodies of every size in their monthly catalogues and on their website.

When every day can seem harder or every meal can seem like a mountain to climb, don’t give up. Don’t let that boy, girl, friend, mom, dad, sister, brother, parent, or anyone else give up either. There IS way more than the scale.

Eating and food can be enjoyable – fun, even. A certain weight to be loved is NOT positive self-esteem. Just my 2 cents and part of my journey for #EDAW2017. Here’s to the Recovery Warriors who know themselves or not.

Resources for eating disorders awareness week:

Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association

National Eating Disorders Association

Eating Disorders Blogs

Eating Disorder Hope

Eating Disorders Resource Catalogue

5 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Someone With An Eating Disorder

Representation of the LGBTQ Community in Eating Disorder Recovery: One Perspective

Talking About Eating Disorders

Navigating Nutrition Through Genetic Testing

Nutrigenomix Logo (1)

I have written about Nutrigenomix testing in the past, back when the test was originally released. At that time, the test was specific to seven determinants of our genes. You can see the short article I wrote on it here.

A few months ago I had my original test re-analyzed now that the original seven gene test has been expanded. While the original test was interesting and informative, the more in-depth test and its results really blew me away.

For nutrient metabolism, my results showed an increased risk to vitamin A, B12, vitamin D, folate, and calcium deficiencies. What this means is that I need to be sure to meet at least the recommended daily allowance of these nutrients in the food I consume. Putting this into practice, I make it a point to eat more carrots, tuna, and eggs for vitamin A, and beef and clams for B12.

My vitamin D has been low in recent years on blood tests so I now take a supplement of 2000 IU/day (Vitamin D supplements are all nearly the same so no need to spend extra money for a fancy product). Lentils, edamame, spinach, and avocado are also staples for me because of their high folate content. Calcium gets tricky for me as I am a bit lactose intolerant (the test also showed this for me), but I am able to take in cheese in small doses and fortified soy milk (edamame and spinach already mentioned are also positive sources of calcium).

The cardiometabolic section of the test suggests my DNA is more sensitive to caffeine and sodium. I have always known about the former. Routinely, I choose tea over coffee as it’s less caffeine per serving, and generally do not use much added salt (except on hard boiled eggs!).

Weight management and body composition showed my response to energy balance to be diminished. Meaning, I have a slower metabolism. However, as I choose healthful foods most of the time and make exercise part of my daily life this has not been an issue. Notably the test also suggests consuming less saturated fats and more poly- and monounsaturated fats which is a diet practice I have put in place for years.

For eating habits and food intolerances, as mentioned, I’m more sensitive to lactose. This has been something that has happened to my body over time which is not that unheard of as we age. Additionally, my preference for sugar is apparently elevated.

When I was younger and doing much more cardio physical activity (tons of running), my taste preference for sugar was super high. There were times I could not get enough. In hindsight, I also know that I was not eating enough protein or fat so my body was making concessions for foods I was overlooking.

For more information on sugar specifically, I wrote about this and the new dietary guidelines exactly a year ago, you can find it here.

I’ve included more about the current sugar debate from like-minded colleagues who stand for science here:

Would You Rob a Bank to Buy a Bag of Candy?

The Telephone Game, Sugars Edition

Interestingly, for the fitness and physical activity section of the test, it showed my motivation to exercise is enhanced. Also, that I am an ‘ultra’ in power and strength, meaning I have a genetic predisposition to excel in power sports. This makes so much sense to me as with age I have changed my exercise preferences from less running to more weight training and resistance activity. I rarely have to make myself exercise. For me, the more variety I can incorporate into my exercise routine, the better.

Overall, I am very happy with my test results. They reaffirmed places where I was already listening to my body, my needs, and encouraged me to keep up with some other nutrition advice I did not even know about. If you missed the American issue of Vogue Magazine this month, Nutrigenomix was featured. If you’d like to read more about this amazing test click here.