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Why Variety is Important in our Diets

“Variety is Key”!

“Eat the rainbow”!

“I bet you aren’t getting this nutrient, be sure to take this supplement to ensure you are achieving it”!

Let’s break each of these down and get this dietitians perspective

“Variety is Key”! –> It is important, but it is not the most important key. Our bodies like variety for a million reasons, but I also understand that some individuals are not at a place that variety in their diets feels comfortable (Keep reading…). So why do we say variety is key? Because it allows for us to obtain different sources of nutrients and allows for us to not get bored within our own ways of eating. But variety can be hard if you have an eating disorder or you don’t have an eating disorder, as humans we like familiarity. So as a dietitian, I like to challenge my clients with trying to add one new food each week, if we try this we will get around 52 new foods a year!

How to get More Variety in your Diet | BC Dairy Association

“Eat the rainbow”! –> I personally am not a fan of this. I feel this really comes from a place of diet culture. It can make individuals feel guilt for not eating the rainbow. It also pushes the narrative of needing to only eat fruits and veggies, when we know that is not helpful for variety either. In working with those with eating disorders, many will tell me they have had this experience where they were told they to eat this way and this really started to limited their food choices and also had them fear foods which were not associated with the rainbow. It is good to eat all the different colors, but I would change this to “eat the variety!”

Variety is Key for healthy living - Eat the Rainbow

“I bet you aren’t getting this nutrient, be sure to take this supplement to ensure you are achieving it”! –> This is a very common tactic used by supplement companies. They induce some sort of panic for you to think about those times when you don’t eat x, y, z and quickly try and persuade you to have their supplement to help fill those gaps. However our bodies do not view it this way (Keep reading to see what I mean!).

Vitamin D, Calcium, Other Vitamins, and Supplements Do Not Prevent CVD |  tctmd.com

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These is very common rhetorics in diet culture and it makes us believe that we must do all the things in order to “be our healthiest.” In away it makes us once again micromanagement our diets.

However, our bodies do not do an inventory of nutrients at the end of every day and check for 100% vitamin C and a did not complete for only 90% of our vitamin D. Our bodies look at these nutrients over time. Are we consistently consuming vitamin A… yes… so overall, we have a better chance at stronger eyes.

Your Guide to Vitamin B– Liveli

As a society however we tend to gravity towards the same types of food which is normal! But I always like to challenge my clients on trying a new food or adding in a food they typically would not choose. For example, maybe you also use whole grain toast at breakfast… try mixing it up with Rye bread or sourdough. Maybe you choose carrots to have with your lunch everyday, next time try a new veggie like sliced peppers or snap peas.

These simple swaps can make a really big difference in our diets and can add the variety our bodies are looking for.

I find variety is also important when we are finding we are in food rut. Food ruts are the worst but I find with changing little items up like in the examples above you have less food ruts and you are able to keep trying new foods to add variety to your diet.

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Variety can be really hard however for those in recovery with an eating disorder or disordered eating. Variety means straying from those safe foods and working on challenge foods. When we are struggling with an eating disorder, variety means that we need to trust that our bodies know what to do with this new food, which can be VERY difficult.

This is what makes working with a dietitian so important, they or I, am able to help you slowly start to incorporate more variety in your diet.

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Things Eating Disorders Take Away: Spontaneity

Eating disorders take away so much. One thing they take away which is sometimes hard to realize when you are in the eating disorder it is the ability to be spontaneous. The eating disorder will control every situation, and if something does pop up, the typical response would be to duck out to keep the control.

Because of this eating disorders can be very lonely.

Eating disorders don’t like to feel like they are not in control. When they feel a bit like they are not in control they will find someway to feel more in control. It is one of the terrible functions of an eating disorder.

When you are in the depths of an eating disorder this can be really hard to notice and that is one of the many reasons eating disorders can be so dangerous, it can be hard to recognize on your own.

When I am working with clients we will talk about this often. Many times this is one of the many reasons for recovery and motivation to stay in recovery, to regain that spontaneity back.

Something amazing about food is the connection that it brings us. When we are in an eating disorder, we can loose that connection. So many clients I talk with, wish for that connection once again with food and people. They long for the days of recovery where they can just have go out for a meal when a friend calls them up, or not “prep” the entire week or day before a meal out with family.

Never Eat Alone! The Benefits of Eating With Others » Brain World

I love when I challenge this with my clients and they do the challenge and they are able to shut down the eating disorder voice and listen to what they want to do. I know this can be hard to imagine for some individuals and that is okay, it is not always about the practice of being spontaneous but educating ourselves on what the eating disorder has taken away in our live and what we can look forward to in recovery.

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What is Health to You?

For several years I focused on the “wrong side of health.” The side of health, diet culture wants you to believe. The side of health that is punishment and restriction. The side of health that caused fear around foods. The side of health that caused me to have such a poor body image and critique everything “wrong about my body.”

This was not health. This was not a relationship I would every want anyone to be in, this is a toxic and unstable relationship.

Food and our body are a longterm relationship. We don’t want to be in our 80’s and still feel like we are struggling with this relationship. We need to work on the relationship to form a positive and stable friendship. Let me breakdown my own personal relationship with food and give you some tips on how to form a more positive relationship.

Punishment: Food and movement should never be used as punishment. Period. When we look at movement as punishment it is hard to find reasons to have movement for just joy. Movement should be joyful, it should allow us to feel good, strong and powerful. The intended use of exercise should not be used as, ” I ate x,y,z… I need to now burn it off.”

Food should also not be used in the mindset of punishment. For example, I use to only eat raw spinach, because that is what I thought I was suppose to do, but in reality, I hated it. I found so much more joy when I used a dressing I liked and filled my salad with satisfying fat, protein and other produce.

Restriction: oof this is a big one. I was told through diet culture, in order to be happy you must restrict. This could not be farther from the truth. Restriction can happen for sometime, but soon enough your body will need more food and a binge is very possible. This was the cycle I was stuck in for several years, I would restrict all day, and then post dinner, I would not be able to stop eating. I then would wake up, feel guilty and start the restriction again. THIS CYCLE SUCKED. Once I realized that I had to actually nourish my body throughout the day and provide it with the food my body was wanting, not what diet culture told me to eat, I found the joy again and could find intuitive eating helpful once again.

Fear around foods: Fear foods are foods which we have personally deemed as fearful, or they are foods which society and diet culture have told us our ‘bad.” Well I here to tell that fear foods are real, but there is NO SUCH THING as “good and bad food.”

Viewing food in this light will then make you feel bad or good about yourself when you consume them. When I would have fear around foods, I would add this to my “bad food list.” My own list of bad foods started to grow and my list of “good foods” became must smaller, until I was left with only a few options.

I was scared of these “bad foods”, but I learned to work through it with support and found that I was fearful around these foods due to restricting them for so long and feeling as if I wouldn’t’ have control around them. I found when I added them into my diet in an intuitive eating way, they became less about fear and became just food.

So what is health to me? It is having a relationship with my body and food that is positive and long lasting. It is being able to go out spontaneously without looking at a menu beforehand or feel like I need to restrict at my other meals. Being healthy is finding satisfactions in my meals and finding joy again and living a life not controlled by food, but myself being in control.

So… What is health to you?

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5 Small Lifestyle Changes that Make a Big Difference 

Written by: Brianna Hanson, student

  1. Eat Breakfast Everyday

Among many reasons, we should eat breakfast because it sets you up for a whole day of intentional choices. Often times, when we are deprived of nutrients early on in a day, we become ravenously hungry and make poor choices later on. Instead, fuel your body early on for more energy and mindful food choices throughout your day. 

Should You Force Yourself To Eat Breakfast Even If You Aren't Hungry? |  HuffPost Life

What happens if you are not hungry? It is okay! I would rather you gage your hunger and note that sometimes you will be hungry when you wake up and other times you might not be hungry for 1-2 hours after you have awaken.

  1. Stop Eliminating Treats

Restriction will often present itself in the form of overeating. Including “play foods” in your diet can help you feel in control of your food choices and lead to a more sustainable lifestyle. Play foods can absolutely play a part in a balanced diet!

The Cookie Diet: Dr Sanford Siegal's Hollywood weight-loss eating plan with  meal-replacement biscuits launches in UK | Daily Mail Online
  1. Drink an Adequate Amount of Water

We use water in just about every metabolic process that keeps our bodies functioning. In fact, our bodies are made up of 60% water! Not to mention benefits including healthy skin, regular bowel movements, and better digestion. Although specific recommendations exist, a good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces.  

If you find it difficult to drink water plain, try adding Crystal Light packets, MiO drops or any other flavor enhancer. It should also be noted that many fruits and veggies have water in them as well, so if you are consuming an adequate amount of these items I would include this into your daily water consumption.

What Happens To Your Skin When You Drink Water | Eat This Not That
  1. Add vegetables where you can

Vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals, they are high in fiber, and promote overall health. Interestingly, vegetables contain active compounds called phytochemicals that are believed to fight cancerous cells, boost immunity and promote longevity. So, in order to make vegetables satisfying and filling, try adding vegetables to meals you eat on a normal basis. For example, add a vegetable you enjoy to a smoothie, pasta salad, omelet, etc. 

Easy One Pan Egg and Veggie Breakfast Recipe | Healthy Fitness Meals
  1. Eat Food You Really Enjoy

Food is meant to be enjoyed! When we find satisfaction in our food, we can eat to a level of comfort and satiety without overeating. Eat food that satisfies not only your taste buds, but also the rest of your body. In doing so, you will find yourself physically and mentally healthier! 

Friends, Family, And Food: People Eat More When Dining With Close  Companions - Study Finds
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The Small Wins are the Big Wins

When going through treatment for an eating disorder or if you are trying to break-up with diet culture or get back to life prior to disordered eating… the small wins are the big wins.

Small Wins

What does that mean?

Let me show you an example. You have been a chronic calorie counter for several years. You count everything you eat and you realize you don’t want to live like this for the rest of your life. Counting takes up so much of your energy and you are always thinking about the next meal or snack and what you can have because you only have X amount of calories left.

4 Big Problems with Counting Calories - Healthy Eaton

So you seek out a dietitian, and start to work to count less and less. But it does not come easy at first and you realize to stop counting calories it will take a lot of work.

First week goal: count calories at lunch and dinner and eat a plate method type breakfast. First week goal results: counted calories each day and meal/snack, didn’t quite feel as easy in action mode vs. speaking about it.

Meet with dietitian again, and regrouped…

Second week goal: count calories at lunch and dinner and eat a plate method type breakfast 3 out of 7 meals. Second week goal results: Completed! Action was much easier with a realistic goal and plan

Working with a dietitian we were able to break the goal down, making this goal more realistic.

Get SMART: How to Set Realistic Goals | Independence University

This is a small win to you, but to the dietitian, this is a big win! This shows me that you are committed to change and you are able to slowly build on this. This small win to you is big in the bigger picture of things! And in the example above, the big win is the stopping of counting calories.

It might take time, and this is something I find that happens frequently – many clients are wanting quick changes but they soon realize that the habits they had been doing can be really difficult to break. But that is why it is so important to look back at those week 2 results and see those small wins really added up to the big wins.

I encourage my clients that every time you stand up to your ED voice or diet culture– write it down! Keep a journal of those wins to be able to reflecting back on when you are struggling.

So what have your small wins been recently?

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Why I work with the Plate Method

The plate method is nothing new. It has been taught for many, many years and was actually first used for those with diabetes. Visually, it is easy to understand, and most of the time when working with individuals, we can tweak what they are currently eating to align with the mission of the plate method.

So why do I use it in my practice?

When I am working with individuals who have been in the “diet world” for several years, it can be hard to let go of some of that control. It can also be difficult to not have some sort of structure. The plate method allows many benefits and the one I see the most often is: It does not restrict ANY food. All. Foods. Fit.

Most “diets” will tell you a line something similar to this… You must restrict carbs to only x amount of grams. You must eat x amount of protein. You need to drink x amount of water. You must avoid this, this and this. (oof that made me anxious just typing that!) This can be a lot of remember and can feel pretty restrictive.

(Check out this post with the cycle of diets, and why they don’t work!)

I also use this method, because it is not asking you to count, measure or weigh your food. Which is a big relief, but what happens if you are not there yet?

That is okay! My purpose as a dietitian is to meet you where you are at, so I might suggest using your hand as a way to measure. But then working with you to eventually get to a point that you don’t need to use your hand.

Portion sizes | Daily Mail Online

For those that have been using the plate method for several weeks or months, I start to see them become very comfortable, to the point where they might not always use the plate method for every meal. And this is 100% okay. And actually this is what I want. This is where the intuitive eating aspect comes into play.

I know this can sound difficult, I get it. So if you are struggling, set a goal for yourself. Maybe: I will try the plate method for breakfast 3 times per week for the next month. Hopefully a realistic goal will be helpful for you to help with easing into using the plate method.

There are several other reasons why I like to use this method in my practice:

  • Snacks are similar to this method: Protein (satiety) + Carb (energy)
    • Cheese + crackers
    • Peanut Butter + apple
    • Yogurt + granola
  • Can be used for those who are active (I will have a separate post soon on this!)
Validation of the Athlete's Plate Nutrition Educational Tool: Phase I in:  International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism Volume 29  Issue 6 (2019)
  • Can be used for those who are vegetarian, vegan or anything speciality diet.
  • You will start to feel the freedom that eating without a diet can provide you with!

If you have more questions or would like to work together please check out my different courses I offer on the plate method!

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Let’s Stop Micromanaging our Diets

If you have ever had a boss who micromanaged your every move, you know how annoying that can be. They are always telling you how to do your work, watching your every move and more likely than not they are giving your consent feedback- both positive and negative.

Are You Micromanaging? 8 Signs That You Are & What Employees Can Do About  It | ClickUp Blog

Diets are like your boss. They like to have you control the situation, they thrive on you following their rules and tricks and they will always tell you when you “ate something bad vs. good.”

I have worked with many individuals over the years who have been dieting most of their life. They have been told by diets they must micromanaging in order to have the “results you desire.”

But let me be honest with you, the only thing being controlled… is you. You are not IN CONTROL of your diet, you are being micromanaged by your diet.

Our bodies were not designed to count every piece of food that enters our mouth. Our brains were not designed to weigh out our meat serving or measure our cereal. When we start to create habits like this, it can possibly start to become a habit that is so difficult to break we feel out of control if we are not able to continue this habit.

For example, let’s say every morning you measure out your cereal and milk, you then go and place these calories in MyFitness Pal. You continue to do this for several months, but then start to realize that you eat the exact same thing every day so why bother with tracking.

Finally some freedom… but your brain does not like this…

World Freedom Day 2021 - National Awareness Days Calendar 2021

Your brain will start to play tricks and tells you are are “lazy” or “unmotivated.” So you go back to the tracking and measuring and ultimately the micromanaging of your diet. For one split second you had control but the “diet brain” tells you that you are you need to track and measure “in order to have the most control.”

And just like you would at a job if you had a boss like this, you will quit. And quitting in a diets eyes is failure. But it is FAR from failure and in reality quitting is honestly the best!

This is where I like to help, to show you the benefits of intuitive eating, and to guide you with IE instead of jumping right into it. Check out my post, I am not Ready to be an Intuitive Eater to see my approach from going to the “diet world to the IE world.”

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Basics of Intuitive Eating

If you have followed Elizabeth Beil Nutrition for a while, you’ve probably seen the words “intuitive eating”. This blog post will tell you what intuitive eating is and isn’t as well as break down the 10 principles of intuitive eating into a simple and applicable way so you can start your journey to a better relationship with food, today! 

Here’s what it’s all about: 

Intuitive eating is an evidence based and mind-body approach to health. It’s teaching consists of 10 principles created by two registered dietitians in 1995 but has since been modified. 

Our Books | Intuitive Eating

Essentially, intuitive eating is the personal process of honoring one’s health using internal signals to optimize physical and mental health. Intuitive eating can be used to heal from a disordered relationship with food or even an eating disorder. Many people will turn to intuitive eating when they are tired of the cycle of restriction and bingeing. 

Here’s what it’s not: 

Intuitive eating is not a diet. Intuitive eating emphasizes that there is no such thing as a “good” or “bad” food. There is no messing up or failing. Intuitive eaters don’t experience guilt for the things that they eat. When there is no moral judgement placed on food, intuitive eaters can eat the food and move on. Intuitive eating does not promote weight loss. In fact, intuitive eating teaches that a person can be healthy at any size as long as they have a healthy relationship with food and their body. 

Intuitive Eating - Cheerful Choices Food and Nutrition Blog

Principles of Intuitive Eating: 

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality

Attractions of a new quick and easy weight loss diet will come along sooner than later. Get angry at the lies that diet culture presents and the false hope of sustainable weight loss just to feel shame when you gain the weight back. 

  1. Honor Your Hunger

Listening to your biological need for nourishment and energy is key to rebuilding trust with yourself and food. Honoring your hunger can help release the need to binge.  

  1. Make Peace with Food

Place no moral judgment on food. There are no good or bad foods. When you don’t allow yourself to eat certain foods it can often produce strong cravings and lead to overeating. 

  1. Challenge the Food Police

The food police is the voice in your head reminding you of every diet rule you have heard. These rules come from diet culture, but intuitive eating says that there are no rules! Challenging this voice in your head is a big step in the intuitive eating journey. 

  1. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

Pleasure and satisfaction can be found in the eating experience. In fact, when you truly find pleasure in your food, you will find that you will eat just the right amount of food based on your hunger and fullness cues. 

  1. Feel Your Fullness 

Listen to your body’s signals that show you’re no longer hungry and are feeling comfortably full. One good way to practice this is by pausing in the middle of your meal to assess what your current level of fullness is at. 

  1. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness 

Many emotions that you will experience throughout life can trigger emotional eating and a loss of control around food. Food may cause comfort in the short term and distract from emotions, but ultimately, you’ll have to deal with the emotions one way or another. 

  1. Respect your Body 

No matter the size, all bodies deserve our respect. Respecting your body will help you feel better about who you are and make it easier to reject the diet mentality.  

  1. Movement – Feel the Difference 

The old dieter in you exercised simply to burn calories. Instead of this mentality, try to notice how you feel when exercising. Choose movements that feel good to you. 

  1. Honor Your health -Gentle Nutrition 

Most of the time, choose food that honors your health and taste buds but also makes you feel good. Remember, that one snack or meal cannot derail your goals. It’s what you eat overtime that matters. 

How to Support Your Family or Friend Who is Working on Intuitive Eating -  NpowerYou

If you’re interested in food freedom and want to give intuitive eating a try, reach out to Elizabeth Beil Nutrition! 

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Freedom to Snack

Written by: Brianna Hanson RD2B

Snacks serve a purpose. They are nourishing, satisfying and provide energy for our bodies to be sustained throughout the day. Often times, when beginning a journey towards better health, one will focus on eating three good meals throughout the day but fail to recognize the importance of snacks. Snacks are not the enemy, and in fact, they are quite the opposite. 

So, we understand that snacking is not the enemy but it’s important to understand why you’re snacking. Is it to relieve stress from the day? To find satisfaction after a non-satisfying meal? To get a boost of energy? Or Is it out of boredom? Understanding why you want a snack is the key to finding what that snack will be and how much of it you will eat. It’s just as important during snacks to honor your hunger and fullness cues as it is during meals. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full and it doesn’t matter the time of day as long as you listen to your body’s cues.  

Snacks are one way to keep a person from feeling ravenously hungry at meals and out of control around food. Give yourself the freedom to enjoy snacks. Have a snack because you need energy and want to be satisfied.

Put it into practice: 

There are no rules when it comes to snacking, but there are ways we can maximize our satisfaction and the energy we get from snacks. Just in case you missed it the first time, there are no rules! There is not a set time for eating a snack and there is nothing off limits. Anything goes! If you want more information on the freedom to eat whatever you want, whenever you want… check out this blog post .

If you are looking for some structure and want to know how to best fuel your body, use the plate method by pairing a carbohydrate with a protein/fat. Here are some ideas: 

Toast with peanut butter and honey

Cheese and an apple

Crackers with chicken salad

Chocolate with dried fruit

Yogurt with fruit and granola 

Veggies with hummus 

More ideas Here!

Feel free to take these ideas and run with them! Find your plate method go-to’s with your own likes and dislikes. Have fun and notice the difference in energy you can feel when you finally allow yourself the freedom to eat snacks! 

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Eating Disorders: You Can’t Always Blame Diet Culture

So I usually go straight from diet culture –> disordered eating –> eating disorders.

But this is not always the case. I tend to beat up diet culture. I think I do this as this is how my eating disorder was started. Let’s take it back to 2008: I was reading health magazines that were telling me to cut out calories, swap this or that, and exercising to much for what my body was intaking. I started to spiral into a very unhealthy and restrictive relationship with food.

But eating disorders for many (including myself) are more complex than this. Here are just a few reasons why eating disorders could form:

  1. Genetics: Maybe you have a family member that had an eating disorder. Maybe your genes were designed to effect hunger and fullness differently. Irregular hormone imbalance.
  2. Psychological: Suffering through low self-esteem. A poor body image. The need for self control. A trauma in your past. Gender dysphoria. Other mental illnesses.
  3. Sociocultural: A thin body ideal. Influences from social media, family and friends. The very narrow definition of beauty. Culture norms of a “size you should be.” Athletics.
  4. Interpersonal: Difficulty expressing emotions. A history of being teased for weight or size. Sexual or physical abuse.
Eating Disorders by zakkarma323 on emaze

This is just a handful of reasons. I have worked with many individuals with eating disorders who are never able to pinpoint what the trigger was. And that is okay.

If you are interested in learning where your eating disorder was trigged from, I would recommend you seeking out therapy. As this could really help get you into a place of peace.

I am not going to back down from calling out diet culture. The culture is too damaging to too many individuals.

I find the rhetoric that is spewed to be a bully.

I will constantly support HAES and eating in an intuitive way. What I will stop doing is solely blaming diet culture (I don’t want to give it THAT much power), for eating disorders and instead of blaming our eating disorders I will work towards figuring out what factors are attributing to an eating disorder.

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Gaining Food Freedom by using Intuitive Eating

*This post is written by my intern! Check out her Instagram and her other post about HAES 101.

Chronic dieters have a habit of trying to eat perfectly for every meal, every day.
Every day is a new day to accomplish their goals. They wake up feeling motivated
and have high hopes for a day of clean eating, however, the willpower to follow
through and maintain this motivation slowly fades.


Their days might look something like this… smoothie for breakfast, salad for lunch,
and chicken, rice, and broccoli for dinner, and whether or not that’s what they truly
want, they believe it is best for them. In actuality, getting a variety and balance of
foods every day is important for maintaining proper nutrition, and when someone
eats the same foods every day, there is no variety or balance


The chronic dieter may even make it a whole week before indulging in a certain
“bad” food. It’s in those moments that a chronic dieter might say, “I’ve already eaten
this much, I might as well finish the bag.” This type of thought pattern leads to
immense shame and guilt over food decisions and a longing to be and do better
without ever getting there. 

There No Such Thing As Good Food And Bad Food


Intuitive eating teaches that we have the complete freedom to eat whatever we
want, whenever we want. The thought pattern of “good” and “bad” foods no longer
exists as there are only foods that satisfy and foods that don’t. An intuitive eater
gives themselves the complete freedom to consume any food, while using the hunger and fullness scale. Suddenly, a once chronic dieter can eat food that is satisfying without overdoing it. The way that food is perceived can truly make an entire difference in someone’s approach to eating. 


One way to stop the cycle of dieting and bingeing is to incorporate satisfying foods
throughout your day. Finding satisfaction in meals is the key to breaking the cycle. In
other words, don’t restrict foods, rather, incorporate them into a nutritious balance of healthy foods. 


If you’re interested in becoming an intuitive eater to stop the cycle of guilt and
shame in eating, please reach out! Elizabeth Beil Nutrition offers several different options for how to become an intuitive eater. From a self-guided program to a 6 week 1:1 course.

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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.

Body Positivity Resources

With the current world we live in, i.e social media… we can pick up our phone and immediately feel bad for something. Our bodies, our food choices, our hair, etc. It is almost maddening.

Below are a few great resources found by my intern to find body positivity. Remember, you don’t have to like your body right now, but you do have to respect your body.

Podcasts

Raw Beauty Talks Podcast

  • Discusses body image, diet culture, etc.
  • Talks about what true beauty, health and wellness is in today’s society. 

National Eating Disorders: 10 Steps to Positive Body Image Blog Post

Body Kindness Podcast : Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN

  • Focus on redefining health

Books

The Beauty Myth: How images of Beauty are Used Against Women. 

  • Bestseller book about the relationship between beauty and female identity

Body Kindness: Transform Your Health from the Inside-Out – and Never Say Diet Again

  • Focus on treating yourself with compassion rather than shame

Blogs

More Than A Body Blog

more than a body logo

Style Me Curvy

  • Inclusive blog dedicated to all sizes and fashion and beauty dilemmas to support positive body image. 

Instagram Accounts

Fitty Brittttney

Girl with Curves

Cossie Confidence

  • Movement started for women to feel more comfortable in their bodies during swimsuit season. 
  • Elizabeth Beil Nutrition

    Articles

    The Importance of Body Positivity

    What is Body Positivity?

    How Body Positivity Can Lead To Better Health

    This will continue to grow as a resource, please check back often! What are your favorite body positivity resources?