Category Archives: nutrition

Separating Self Worth From Food Choices

The more I practice as a dietitian, the more passionate I become about promoting body positivity, feeling good about ourselves, and taking the focus off of weight. I’d like to introduce more posts exploring these topics to this blog, starting with today’s post about separating self worth from food choices. Let me know what you think about me doing more posts on these topics!

Separating Self Worth from Food Choices

Men’s locker room talk got a lot of attention in this past year. Well, if by “locker room talk” you mean sexual harassment. But that’s a whole other can of worms.

Anyways, today I wanted to chat about women’s locker room talk. Which all too often consists of diet talk and detox talk. I think subconsciously, the reason I never shower at the gym and prefer to shower at home is so that I can get in-and-out of the women’s locker room as fast as possible and thus avoid hearing these conversations.

I wasn’t fast enough one day this week though because I caught a snippet of a conversation between two students catching up on their weekend. Starting with:

“I was so bad…”

Ugh, I HATE that phrase. I mean, did you murder someone? Did you rob a convenience store? No? Oh, you just ate a few slices of pizza or went out for a McFlurry?

That doesn’t make you bad! Just as choosing green smoothies and tofu stir fries doesn’t make you good. We need to start separating our self worth from our food choices. We are more than what we eat!

And I’m not trying to be all holier than thou here because – believe me – I’ve been there. I think if someone said they hadn’t, they’d be lying. We are all exposed to these ways of thinking from a young age so of course those thoughts are going to infiltrate our own. But having these thoughts on any kind of regular basis can be destructive. I remember in 10th grade some girls in my class decided they were being “good” by skipping lunch every day, so I thought I needed to be “good” and do that too. Well, all that came of that was incessant hunger pangs through my afternoon classes, barely enough energy to walk home at the end of the day, and an all out binge when I got home. Healthy? Not at all.

The good news: these ingrained thought patterns can be changed, and it starts with awareness. Next time you have one of these kinds of thoughts, recognize it – and replace it. Instead of “I’m being bad”, think about how much you’re going to enjoy your [insert food here] and make the decision to mindfully eat it. Way more fun than beating yourself up, right? Keep on thinking this way and over time, those negative thoughts will be powerless.

How do you deal with these kinds of thought patterns? 

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A Dietitian’s Rant on “Fitspo”

I came across a post on social media this month of a transformation picture – you know one of those before/after body comparisons highlighting someone’s weight loss. This transformation picture, like many others I came across, showed off a stark contrast between the before picture and a lean, ripped body as the after picture (often referred to as “fitspo” aka. fitness inspiration).

Now I don’t want to criticize this individual, that’s not my intention. This person clearly put in a lot of hard work and dedication to fitness. However, I think it’s unfortunate that so often health is shown in extremes on social media. From a starting point of overweight (clinically speaking) to an end result of six pack abs, people rarely seem to set their goals on the in between.

But maybe they should be.  Because “healthy” isn’t black and white like that. “Unhealthy” doesn’t mean overweight and “healthy” doesn’t mean six pack abs. Getting healthy can mean small changes – and in fact this is much more sustainable in the long term. Not to mention for some women, getting visible abs means dropping to an extremely low body fat percentage that can actually be harmful to our reproductive system and bones.

And it irks me to see these transformation pictures with captions that make it sound like anyone can achieve this physique: “You can do it too!”, “Work hard and get this body too!”, “What’s your excuse?”, etcetera etcetera. Sorry, but six packs are not realistic or even possible for some people. And I’m sure those captions have the intention of being motivational, but they can have the exact opposite effect for some people. No, not everyone can achieve six packs abs because some people don’t have the genetics, the time, or the budget. Some people worry about having the time to see their kids between working two jobs let alone having the time to work out at a gym for a hour and a half. And some people’s genetics mean it is difficult to the point of being impossible to get abs, like me. I have never and will never have them – I could go to the gym for 1 hour a day and run and do ab exercises til I’m blue in the face, drop 20 lbs, and I still won’t have abs (believe me, been there, done that).

So amidst all the “fitspo”on social media these days, focus on what’s right for you and remember that drastic change isn’t always the best change.

What do you think? Do you find “fitspo” motivating or unrealistic?

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What a Dietitian Eats at Ribfest

This past long weekend I headed to my parents’ house to spend the last hurrah of summer with my family. My sister and her boyfriend recently moved back here from England, so we’ve been catching up on missed time! On our agenda for the weekend, like every Labour Day weekend, was Burlington’s Ribfest.

burlington-ribfest-2

Burlington actually has the largest Ribfest in the country, so it brings in some of the top “ribbers” (apparently that’s what they’re called?) in Canada serving up beastly racks of ribs along with other barbecue fare.

Barbecue can be a difficult cuisine to navigate when looking to make healthy choices. Between the fatty meats, sugar laden beans, fried side options, and coleslaw drenched in mayonnaise, there isn’t really much fresh fare. So what does a dietitian eat at a rib fest?

Ribs, duh. And some pulled pork, baked beans, coleslaw, and cornbread too. Oh and a few pieces of a blooming onion.

burlington-ribfest

I mean, you could maybe order more healthily by getting the BBQ chicken and removing the skin before eating, draining the excess dressing off the coleslaw, and bringing your own vegetables to round out the meal. Or you could not go to the ribfest at all, and opt to stay in rather than spending time with your friends or family.  That’s probably what some health magazines would tell  you to do.

But as a dietitian, I wouldn’t go for either of those options and I wouldn’t expect my clients to either. Life is about so much more than the pursuit of the ultimate healthy diet.  And frankly it really doesn’t matter what you eat on special occasions and once-a-year events like Ribfest – what’s important is how you eat the majority of the time in your day to day life. So enjoy your social life and eat some crap from time to time!

Your turn: What’s your approach to eating at events like Ribfest? What does balance look like to you?

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