Do Magic Foods Exist?

IMG_3098Do you know what orthorexia is?

The current definition is ‘obsession with eating the right food.’ It’s a form of disordered eating and the definition is still a work in progress. The thinking behind this diagnosis can begin around eating quite healthily, eating ‘clean’, or making sure the food you put into your body is ‘pure’.

Orthorexia is a very real issue and one that I see in practice regularly. Sometimes it becomes a full fledged eating disorder and other times it does not.

Marci Evans MS, CEDRD, LDN, Jessica Setnick MS, RD, CEDRD, and Dr. Steven Bratman presented a brilliant talk on orthorexia at FNCE. One of the slides included in their talk stated ”Kale is a magic food’ as a recent theory of healthy eating. Some tongue in cheek, yes (pun intended). Moreover, though, the point being thinking of foods as magical, or as a cure all, or ‘clean’ can lead us to obsessing over food and our bodies, and only consuming these types of ‘magical’ foods.

The FNCE lecture on Orthorexia has been getting a lot of press. Here are links to two articles summarizing the talk:

Is Your Interest in ‘Healthy Eating’ an Eating Disorder in Disguise?

Is an Obsession with Nutrition an Eating Disorder?

In my world, all foods can fit.

This was a slogan of a previous National Nutrition Month campaign by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and I still love it. To me, there really are no magic foods. There are foods that are more ‘healthy’ say than others, but for different reasons – and to different people. To me, we can make anything we choose to eat fit into our day or our week in terms of choices.

That all being written, I did come across a few newer brands and/or types of foods at FNCE that I’d love to share with you. I’ve included why they caught my eye as well:

1. Luvo Frozen Meals – Luvo meals can be found in the freezer section of the grocery store and contain 1 full serving of fruits and veggies in each meal. They range in protein content between 11 and 25 grams serving. They also emphasize whole grains and are labeled as responsible with the content of sugar and sodium.

While I do believe in fresh foods as often as possible, there is room and a need for frozen. Pair this with a side salad and dinner is ready. Having frozen meal options is a great idea for work lunches in addition to nights when cooking feels a little overwhelming.These are also organic when possible with no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners and come in vegetarian and gluten-free options.

2. Jovial Gluten Free Pasta – I’m always looking for new brands to try as many clients and some friends are gluten free. This product is 100% organic (if you choose to buy organic), cooks well, and can be found in most major stores as an alternative to other brands of gluten free pasta. Jovial also makes gluten free cookies, flour, and varieties of foods from Einkorn which is thought to be one of the earliest types of cultivated wheat.

3. Biena Snacks – Need a new snack? Try roasted chickpeas! I was able to sample the honey mustard and cinnamon crunch flavors at FNCE, and loved them! Chickpeas are great source of protein and fiber which help to fill us up. They come in both sweet and savory flavors and taste great on their own or as a topping for salads or other meals.

4. NuGo Protein Bars – NuGo offers a variety of flavors as well as types of bar to meet different dietary needs or preferences. They have vegan, low cal, organic, gluten-free, soy-free, high fiber, chocolate dipped and more. Many of my clients eat these bars as a go to snack and the variety allow folks to choose what works for them.

5. BiPro – BiPro is a whey protein powder prepared with minimal ingredients and is also gluten-free and lactose-free. They now offer a new strawberry flavor and a line of flavored protein waters. I’ve been a fan of BiPro for a few years now and as a brand would encourage trying this one out!

I hope the title of this month’s e-Newsletter caught your eye. If magic foods existed, I’d be the first to write about them! Keep on the look-out for anyone who is experiencing or has tendencies toward orthorexia.

You might come across friends or notice in yourself patterns of experiencing guilt and shame around eating; eating differently when alone; spending much of the day on food planning and/or preparation; and noticing the way one eats has taken over their life vs. eating to support one’s lifestyle.

I saw 10,000 registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN) in Boston last week, but there are a total of 76,000 of us who are here to help those going through harder times with food – or even those with just a few questions.

Remember, I’m also a nurse practitioner and have added the ability to prescribe medications in my practice for those folks (who need them and are assessed as such) who are working with me for nutrition or working with another registered dietitian nutritionist and always a therapist. If you have a moment, follow me on Twitter or Facebook @NutritionMentor!