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National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

This week I have been bringing awareness to eating disorders. It needs so much awareness especially in this world we are living in with the consent #dietculture chat. You know my feelings on diet culture –> disordered eating –> eating disorder.

With bringing awareness to eating disorders I want to go through a few different topics for support and some great book resources. Be sure to come back in a few days, because I will be chatting about less common eating disorders.

Friends and Family Support

  • It can be very difficult to support someone with an eating disorder. I typically find that people are not sure how best they can support.
    • If someone is coming to you for support with an eating disorder and they are opening up- please know that this was very difficult for them and not an easy decision, they obviously trust you, allow them to keep trusting you.
    • Ask the person who has the eating disorder, “How can I support you?” “What is the best way to support?”
    • I also suggest asking very specifics questions: “How frequently would you like for me to XX.” The more specific the questions the better the person with the eating disorder will feel they can chat with you and lean on for support.
Can Bosses And Employees Be Friends Outside Of Work?
  • Things not to say to someone who comes with you for support:
    • “You don’t look like you have an eating disorder.” Eating disorders do not have a look.
    • “Why aren’t you eating? You need to eat!” This is not helpful, you can ask them to see their meal plan or ask them how you can support them through food challenges but being a food pusher is not helpful.
3 Ways to Handle Food Pushers - Diet Free Radiant Me | Intuitive Eating |  Emotional Eating | Bonnie Giller

Great Book Recommendations

50 Must-Read Books About Eating Disorders

If you are looking for even more, check out this site for the 50 Must Read Books about Eating Disorders

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Is There a Difference Between Disordered Eating and Diet Culture?

Let’s breakdown the two different terms and see if they are similar.

Disordered eating: used to describe a range of irregular eating behaviors that may or may not warrant a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder. Examples:

  • Fasting or chronic restrained eating
  • Skipping meals
  • Binge eating
  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Restrictive dieting
  • Unbalanced eating (e.g. restricting a major food group such as ‘fatty’ foods or carbohydrates)
  • Laxative, diuretic, enema misuse
  • Using diet pills
  • Equating thinness with health

Diet culture: Worships thinness and equates it to health and moral virtue. You feel compelled to spend a massive amount of time, energy, and money trying to shrink your body. You feel forced to be hyper-vigilant about your eating, ashamed of making certain food choices, and distracted from your pleasure, hunger, and fullness cues.

Image result for diet culture

Now let’s look at how similar they are:

Diet culture: thinness | Disordered eating: Equating thinness with health

Diet culture: time and money to shrink | Disordered eating: diet pills, laxatives

Diet culture: hyper-vigilant about eating | Disordered eating: restrict food groups, irregular behaviors

Can you see the similarities? Diet culture and disordered eating are the same.

Disordered eating has become so normal that we are at a point we can’t tell the difference from what is diet culture and disordered eating. The typically pattern I see with clients is they start to use some of diet cultures ‘tips and tricks” and then it begins to spiral into consistent disordered eating patterns, and for some could even spiral into an eating disorder.

So what does this mean? What can we do?

We can continue to be loud about diet culture and how sneaky it is. Calling it out when it needs to be called out. (Check out my social media for ways I like to call it out!) The more we talk about how “abnormal” our habits our with food, and how it is not normal to “drink coffee to suppress your appetite your when you are hungry,” the more people will be able to realize that it is important to fuel, nourish and listen to our bodies. We as a society have created food as the enemy. We have created a world that food is no longer nourishment, but the purpose is weight gain. This could not be farther from the truth, and again this is a lie which diet culture likes to tell us.

I am not here in this space to tell you what to do or how to eat. I honestly support whatever works best for you. But if what you think is best for you and that involves any of the above phrases or actions, I would recommend you seeking out help and guidance to great a better relationship with and ultimately yourself.

If you are interested in trying intuitive eating, I now offer a self-guided Basic Intuitive Eating Course. Click here for more details!

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Stop Micromanaging Your Diet

Diet culture tells us that we need to count all the calories (oh and don’t forget those carbs, protein and fat), we need to make sure we are tracking our steps (no less than 10,000 per day), making sure we are drinking our weight in water, tracking all workouts, etc.

Image result for exerciign and dietiting

This is micromanaging. Definition: control every part, however small, of (an enterprise or activity).

This control over our diet is not healthy, this is not a healthy relationship with food. You may be eating “healthy food”, but every time you track and micromanaging you create a small disconnect with your body and start creating a negative relationship.

Control with eating and food is very common. For many, food might be the thing we feel we can control, especially in the crazy world we live in. And that is okay. But I want to make it very clear, you don’t have to live this way. I know it can be scary to let go of these “safe ways to track and measure.” But each time you stop using these you gain a bit of your live back. Trust me. I have been there.

Image result for tracking exercise and food

So how can you stop the micromanaging? First list out all the ways you think you micromanage. Next go through the list and choose something that you feel you could let go of. Start here and then slowly start to work your way down your list.

For example, maybe you see you are measuring out your breakfast cereal, start by not measuring your cereal. Some individuals might be able to stop this for a full a meal or just a particular item, wherever you are in your journey with healing, it is amazing to let go.

The relief you will feel once you stop the micromanaging is almost overwhelming. You will also start to realize that you have more time, energy and space (in your head). If you are interested in intuitive eating this could be a great time to start to see how this could be beneficial for you and your relationship for food.

If you are interested in more help with stoping the micromanaging of your diet and exercise please reach out!

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Health At Every Size (HAES) 101

This is written by my awesome intern here is a quick intro:

Hi, Everyone! My name is Brianna and I am a student at Miami University studying to become a registered dietitian I still have about a year and half left until I graduate but I am beyond excited to be learning from Elizabeth!

Similar to Elizabeth, and probably most of you, there was a time when I was stuck in a pattern of restriction and bingeing and always feeling like my worth was in my food decisions. Through intuitive eating I was able shift my perspective and find joy in the food I am eating along with confidence in my food decisions. Finding food freedom has been so liberating for me and I want to empower others to do the same. In fact, upon graduating, I would love to open my very own private practice! ❤️

HAES

Developed in 2003, health at every size (HAES), aims to lessen the cultural obsession with weight loss and thinness and is quickly becoming a new model in the science of weight management. HAES is a movement characterized by its efforts to promote healthy habits, rather than simply weight loss. The HAES movement also believes that everyone, regardless of size, has the right to pursue good health and well-being (news flash: they 100% do!)

FIVE PRINCIPLES OF HAES

These principles are the foundation of the HAES movement, taken from the official website of the Association for Size Diversity and Health,

  • Weight Inclusivity: Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights. 
  • Health Enhancement: Support health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services, and personal practices that improve human well-being, including attention to individual physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional, and other needs.
  • Respectful Care: Acknowledge our biases, and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias. Provide information and services from an understanding that socio-economic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma, and support environments that address these inequities.
  • Eating for Well-being: Promote flexible, individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control.
  • Life Enhancing Movement: Support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.

MYTHS ASSOCIATED WITH HAES

For so long, we have been taught that health depends on weight, so it makes perfect sense that the HEAS movement would attract a lot of controversy and confusion. Let’s address a few of the myths associated with the HAES movement. 

Myth #1: Everyone is healthy at every size

HAES emphasizes the ability of anyone to pursue health, not necessarily a commentary on personal health status. 

Myth #2: The HAES movement is anti-weight loss

HAES takes the emphasis off of weight and focuses on healthy behaviors. HAES is a weight neutral movement meaning that its sees weight loss as neither good or bad. 

Myth #3: The HAES movement promotes obesity 

HAES advocates for weight inclusivity, meaning that it promotes the diversity of all body shapes and sizes, without idealizing certain weights. 

HAES AND INTUITIVE EATING

If you’re familiar with intuitive eating, it probably won’t come as a surprise that HAES and intuitive eating are closely related. 

From intuitive eating principles, we know that “yo-yo dieting” or losing weight just to gain it back is often worse for a persons health than the fat itself. Intuitive eating teaches that eating and exercising in a sustainable manner, such as practices that are flexible and enjoyable and honors a person’s internal cues, matters more than a persons weight. Additionally, both intuitive eating and HAES promote finding joy in keeping our bodies healthy. 

Health is about more than weight. Weight is just one of many metrics of health and no one weight is good for everyone. Body shapes and sizes can and should be diverse. Intuitive eating uses the concept of “natural healthy weight”. This is the weight that a person’s body will maintain with normal eating and movement. If a person is happy and feels good with their current eating and exercise patterns, then they’ve probably found their natural healthy weight, regardless of what it may look like. 

LET’S PRACTICE! 

If one has a poor relationship with food, it’s likely the cycle of dieting and a degrading view of their bodies that led them to that spot. We don’t have to wait until we have “the perfect body” in order to start treating it with respect. In fact, HAES and intuitive eating teaches that we first have to respect our bodies before considering weight loss as an option. In order to respect our bodies, we have to stop bashing them and fixating on the imperfect parts. 

Instead of noticing and fixating on a part of your body that you don’t like, find one part of your body that you do like or at least tolerate. Every time you catch yourself saying something degrading to your body, replace it with a kind statement. 

For example, replace “I have really let myself go, I feel so out of shape” with “my body has supported me in every endeavor and I am grateful for it”.

Replace “I have too much fat on my arms” with “ I am grateful to have arms that are capable of showing love to others through hugging.” 


I hope that this was helpful in clearing up some of the confusion and questions around HAES. This is a how I practice and what my own practice stands for and stands by!

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Confession: I Rarely Read the Nutrition Facts Label

Oof. I think as a dietitian, an assumption is made that all I do is read the nutrition facts label! This could not be farther from the truth!

Now let me back it up a bit.

In the pursuit of becoming a dietitian I really thought my days would be spent reading these labels. And in my own personal life at the time, I was reading nutrition facts panels like it was my job! hehe.

Diet culture tells us we must count every morsel of food that goes into our body. Thus we need to read the nutrition facts panel, right? Wrong. Keep reading to see how and why I don’t use the nutrition facts label.

When I was knee deep into diet culture and my disordered eating patterns, I was constantly reading the nutrition label, i.e just calories. Everything I picked up I would immediately flip over to see what the calories were, I wasn’t even paying attention to what I was eating.

There was a point where I believed I would never be able to not look at something without immediately knowing or reading the calories.

Now not everyone will have this same experience with calories, but I do believe many of my clients have at one point suffered with obsession over the label. Again, it is one of diet cultures very sneaky ways to make you believe you must know the exact calories going into your body in order to control the situation.

Calories are energy, and our energy needs vary every single day. Why do we obsess over these numbers? Because diet culture told us too and it gives us control when we may feel out of control.


If you google “new nutrition facts panel” you will find that they recently changed the panel to be a bit easier to read and to highlight factors important to health crisis such as obesity and heart disease. I applaud them for the change, and understand certain populations need to read the label (see below for more information), but other times reading the label can become obsessive. Nutrition facts panels are also required by law, to inform the consumer what they are consuming. But it does not mean it is required by you to read the panel.


So how did I break my obsession? It took years, many years. But it wasn’t until a few months ago I realized I didn’t even look at the label as I purchased a new to me food. The item just looked good, and I bought it. This is food freedom. This is what I had been working for years and I had achieved it and it felt so good. It is my choice to not read the label, it is not for everyone and that is okay. *There are times when I do read the label, see below!*

I also soon realized that as I was eating intuitively I didn’t need the facts panel, because I was eating off of hunger, fullness, and satisfaction vs. on how many calories were in a product.


Now I will say there are a few times which I encourage you to read the panel.

  1. If you are diabetic you should be watching your carbohydrates. Reading the nutrition facts panel is very important to ensure you are dosing insulin correctly, or eating enough carbs
  2. If heart disease runs in your family or your own personal lipid panel has been increased it would be helpful for you to read the nutrition facts panel

When will I read the nutrition facts panel?

  1. If I personally want to know how much fiber is in something, fiber is beneficial for multiple reasons.
  2. If I am interested in knowing the added sugar in a product, and what type of sugar they are adding.
  3. When a company markets an item as “protein,” I like to see how much protein is in said product as well as what type of protein. (I get frustrated when so many companies label their cereal, pancakes, ect. with protein!)

Do you read the nutrition facts panel?

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An Intuitive Eating RD’s Thoughts on the “Cheat Meal”

The diet world comes up with many different things to make you feel guilty and then quickly make you not feel guilty by labeling something else. It is a very weird relationship!

One of the concepts that comes out of diet culture is a cheat meal or a cheat day. Either way you slice you, I don’t like it! So the cheat meal/day when googled is:

Cheat meals are scheduled meals that include indulgent foods that wouldn’t ordinarily be permitted on your diet. A cheat day is when you allow yourself to consume any foods you want over an entire day.

So let me go through and explain a few reasons why I am not a fan.

  1. Many individuals I see that use a cheat meal it usually turns into a cheat weekend with a restart on Monday. Does this sound familiar. This pattern sets you up for some major guilt and restriction throughout the week, causing the pattern to be re-started again on Saturday.
  2. It is a reward system. “Eat healthy all week and you have this reward of a cheat meal!” Reward systems are okay for short term, but not long-term.
  3. Cheating : act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage, especially in a game or examination. This should not be related to food. We need to stop labeling food in a moral way!

Okay, so I hope at this point you are starting to see how much I distaste these terms whether it is cheat meal/day/food.

When I speak with clients who have done this in the past, I always ask, what would happen if you had this restricted food during the week? What would happen if you would not hold this food in such high regard?

Usually I hear the client state: ” I would just binge on the food.” I typically respond with, “This could be true, or by not placing moral judgement on it you might just eat it and move on!” Now typically this takes a bit of convincing and some other back and forth conversation but I always recommend trying this food outside of your comfort zone.

This is part of intuitive eating. This part is hard, I am not going to lie, but it is so possible to break this habit. This is the amazing part of intuitive eating, it allows you to heal your relationship with food and does not place the food in such high regard.

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The Role of a Dietitian in an Eating Disorder

For those who are going through an eating disorder and decide to go through recovery, they require very specific and personalized help with an interdisciplinary team. The team will consist of a medical doctor, therapist, and dietitian. Along with the interdisciplinary team, it should also be noted that family and friends are crucial for positive support.

So, what is the role of a dietitian in eating disorder recovery? Within my own private practice, I am seeing clients at a lower level of care. These individuals are possibly struggling with a lower level of care relapse, they are struggling with tipping from disordered eating to an eating disorder, or they are lower level of care eating disorder to possibly a bit higher level of care- and they are working currently with a doctor and/or therapist.

I always- no matter the case- always encourage working with a therapist. I also find it necessary to chat with the therapist to ensure we are on the same page with treatment. This is important as those with eating disorders can have traits of manipulative behavior and if the message is different coming from the dietitian and the therapist, this could be a major step-back in the treatment of the individual.

Okay, this time I promise I will type what the role of the dietitian is! So it really depends on the client and what type of eating disorder the client has been diagnosed with.

Generally, I am creating a meal plan (no calorie counting or tracking), I have a few different techniques based on intuitive eating or something I call a nutrient tracker. At the end of the sessions I don’t want to create an environment that the client feels they need to continue to count or measure and I want to provide them with tools that they can manage their food choices through intuitive based techniques.

Along with the “meal plan,” I will conduct a nutrition assessment asking about: labs, menses (if applicable), food recalls, exercise / movement regimen, eating disorder history, and specific questions pertaining to the clients eating habits/rules.

I will also obtain and understand the emotions the client is feeling which will allow for me to then work though certain foods, set challenges and help the client see the food in a more positive light. During the sessions I am constantly encouraging (or explaining!) HAES and being mindful and respective of the mental illness which is an eating disorder.

Now the role of the dietitian in a higher level of care is very different compared to that of a lower level of care dietitian. I will not be discussing this, but please check out this site for more information.

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Eating Disorders in Adolescence and Social Media

Research has shown teenagers can spend up to 7.5 hour daily on their phone (not including school work)!! Let’s say your teenage is following healthy, body positive influencers (which you closely monitor), the algorithm is set up in a way that will also potentially show disordered eating or eating disorder behavior, without even flagging it as a disordered behavior.

Social Media and Body Image … – The Insight Centre

So with the combination of growing up (i.e puberty), an underdeveloped mind, and the triggers of social media, an eating disorder can potentially be triggered. Obviously, there are many other factors that could play a role here (family genetics, the way diets and weight are discussed in the home, etc.) but social media plays a very big influence.

In my own eating disorder, this was prior to the craze of social media. What did trigger was me was my classmates comments on their own body image insecurity and “health” magazines (Shape, Women’s Health, etc).

I myself was inundating myself with these images, but now with the ability to pick up a phone and look at photos of what ever shape the individuals aspires to be, they can find this shape and start to feel guilty about not being this shape. They can also quickly Google nutrition and calorie information about foods they are eating or find recipes that are support for “Pro Ana.”

You might be asking your self as well, what is ‘Pro Ana’ or ‘Pro Mia?’ These are sites and users dedicated to supporting eating disorders. They encourage the behaviors of eating disorders, and many will leave triggering photos as well as tips and tricks on how you be “better at your eating disorder.”


Young minds are also not completely developed and many of these images on social media show a reality that many will never achieve, mentally causing unrealistic expectations of beauty and health standards.

Social Media's Role in Unrealistic Beauty Standards - Infogram

Most individuals I meet with feel ashamed when speaking about their eating disorder or disordered eating pattered. Research has proven that eating disorders are a very private mental illness and hold a taboo in our society. Which in case, can cause an individual to feel excluded if they were not able to join in on the fun with their friends. This can lead to thoughts of “not being pretty/thin/ or good enough,” causing the eating disordered to be triggered once again.

Cyberbullying can cause depression, social anxiety, feelings of low or no self-worth, and fear, all things that eating disorders thrive on. Research has shown that 65% of those with an eating disodered expereinced some sort of bullying.

From my own personal case of an eating disorder I was apart of this 65%. I was bullied about my weight for several years (I remember the first time I was around 8 years old) and this continued through high school. It wasn’t until my senior of high school to my transition to college did I actually have an eating disorder.


What can you do as the parent or caregiver?

  1. Really monitor their social media. Asking them who they follow, what content do they like to follow, etc.
  2. Talk to them in a way about nutrition that is healthy and positive (i.e. food helps you play, helps your hair growing, etc.)
  3. Be honest about social media. Explaining that it is a false reality.
  4. Compliment them frequently on their personality traits rather then their appearance
  5. Get them involved with things and hobbies that do not include the internet.

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“I am not ready to be an intuitive eater just yet…”

I completely understand.

As one who practices what I teach, I want everyone to discover the world and food freedom of intuitive eating. But what if you are just not there yet? What if you are in a place that you want to keep dieting?

I will never, ever, ever fault you for this. I completely understand. But I do want to share something that helped me start to want to be an intuitive eater.


Diet culture is very cut and dry, is based on rules and it is made to make you feel like a failure if you can’t comply, leading to guilt.

We must consider the consequences of diet culture | Daily Trojan

Intuitive eating is based on letting these “rules” go and approaching your food with how you feel, which can be a very difficult concept. Especially if you are embedded in diet culture. But since my world is all about intuitive eating, let me just float out an idea that could help you approach intuitive eating with more ease.

The Plate Method.

The plate method in the simplest form is 1/2 your plate produce | 1/4 plate protein | 1/4 plate starch. Of course there are many varieties of this (depending on if you are active, pregnant, your gender, etc.) And working with a dietitian can be helpful to help determine your needs.

But what I find with this method is: no restriction – all foods fit, no counting, no measuring – none of the “diet culture ways.” It allows your body to: eat the mac and cheese in a portion that is designed for your body and your needs.

It does not restrict any foods. This concept is taught repetitively in intuitive eating, and you might not be there yet. That is okay. That is why trying this method could be the stepping stone for you.

If you are interested in using the plate method, I offer a pre-recorded class for the plate method which you can check out here!


I know that intuitive eating can ebb and flow in the health and wellness field, I am here to let you know you must be full in in order to really rep the amazing benefits of intuitive eating

If you are struggling with diet culture and would like an in individual approach to your nutrition, please check out www.beilnutrition.com for more information or email me at elizabeth @ beilnutrition .com.