What “Nutritionists” Really Eat

As soon as I began my recovery process, I wondered if my treatment providers followed their own advice, and especially, if they followed the same meal plan I was given. Until I was admitted to IOP, I thought I was the only one who wondered. Then I learned that we were all curious to know if they ate what we were supposed to eat. During dinner time at IOP, we ate in the hospital cafeteria, and sometimes a couple of our treatment providers would come in for a snack. We all watched to see what they’d buy while trying not to be too obvious, and we all whispered about their choices. We talked about it amongst ourselves and kept quiet until some one had the guts to ask the question we all wanted to ask. “Do you really do what you tell us to do?” Without hesitation, we got an answer: “I wouldn’t tell you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.” While we had no reason to believe she’d lie, it was hard to picture any one following our meal plans. To us, it was a lot of food. We didn’t know what was normal.

I’ve also wondered how many providers treating those with eating disorders had (or have) an eating disorder themselves. To us, any one who was thin must’ve had an eating disorder. “Pretty people” were supposed to only eat healthy food, and our treatment team was made up of some very attractive women. That myth was proven false when, during rounds one day, some one noticed an empty bag of potato chips in the office trashcan. She asked the doctor if she actually ate the chips. They were a “bad food” and she ate them! It was another piece of evidence that what they taught us, they followed themselves.

While my experiences with treatment providers have been positive, not every one in the business should be trusted. I recently came across an article posted by another recovery blog. The article is from Marie Claire – which may be triggering – and it seems as though Marie Claire is not the best source for healthy articles for those in recovery. “Food experts,” who are apparently very popular with some famous clients, let the world in on their own eating habits. I figured that since they give advice to others, they’d know exactly what is healthy, appropriate, and “normal” intake for a day.

I was wrong.

Out of the five (so-called) nutritionists, the first one grabbed my attention the most. Natalia Rose works out of NYC and charges $850 per personalized program. According to her stats, she is underweight, and she doesn’t eat anything before the sun goes down because the air, sunlight, and clean water gives her enough energy. Her food log consists of nothing but fruit, a bit of greens for a smoothie, and macaroons for dessert. She added a squeeze of lemon to her breakfast tea – and she COUNTED THE CALORIES. The three calories (which says “All calorie counts are approximate.”)  in the juice were written down to be included. I’m not sure where she learned to be a nutritionist, but these few details scream “EATING DISORDER!” Or at the very least, disordered eating.

While I still have my struggles, I am wise enough to know what is an appropriate meal plan. Natalia’s is not one that should be followed, nor one that should be given to her clients – especially to those with eating disorders. It makes me frustrated to know that if some one is struggling and they go to see her, chances are, their eating wouldn’t improve. A “nutritionist” doesn’t necessarily have to be qualified to practice. I know enough about nutrition to educate others, but I wouldn’t be comfortable enough to give that type of professional advice. A dietitian, however, is very much qualified and must pursue degrees, an internship, pass an exam, and obtain licensure to be labeled a “Registered Dietitian.” The two are different and may have very different views and techniques.

If there is no “RD” behind the person’s name, they may have no idea how to handle eating disorders. They may believe in fad diets. They may harm some one. Seek some one else’s advice. The only way to stay stable in both metabolism and weight is to eat a balanced variety of foods, with meals spaced out appropriately at the same time each day. Every thing is okay in moderation. You want that ice cream cone? Go for it. And please eat before the sun goes down.

But That’s Too Much Work!

It’s Easter Sunday, and since I saw my family yesterday, I decided to stay home today. During every holiday, we usually have a set dinner, out of tradition. But since I chose to stay home, that meant that I had to fix a meal for myself. I am quite possibly the most lazy person when it comes to preparing meals, and I’m sure my team can vouch for that. I don’t like taking a lot of time to whip something up when it only takes minutes to see it all gone. It seems like a waste to me, and I’ve used that excuse many times. “It’s too much work!” That excuse has run its course and I can’t use it any more. My dietitian doesn’t buy it and she knows how to challenge me. Toasting Pop-Tarts takes too long, so I eat them straight from the package. Preparing tuna salad seems like a lot because a dish gets dirty, a can has to be opened, and then Continue reading

Bloggers Encouraging Disordered Eating?

While reading an article at Marie Claire’s website, I came across the story, The Hunger Diaries – How Health Writers Could Be Putting You at Risk. In today’s world, it’s so easy to start a blog and not too hard to attract followers with the right marketing and content. Any one can write about any thing, whether they’re qualified or not. In the article, the writer mentions six bloggers, dubbed the “Big Six,” who are apparently very popular among the health food crowd. Of the six, only one is a registered dietician, while I don’t know how the others have gained their knowledge about nutrition and healthy eating. Is what they’re preaching valuable information? Or are they leading others, possibly vulnerable to eating disorders already, down the wrong path?

Among their weight control tips, they suggested “food sabotage” as an option. Using salt as a deterent on desserts was among the examples. While I don’t remember ever over-salting foods to control my intake, I engaged in similar types of food sabotage when I was at my sickest. The question is, is destroying food in such a way normal? Why not just eat the dessert? If it’s eaten in moderation, there’s nothing wrong with that. Continue reading

Every Ounce Makes a Difference

When a person decides to take on the difficult task of recovery, in many cases, weight must be gained in order to stabilize the body. The scale often becomes the enemy in sickness, and stays the enemy during recovery. During sickness, the scale screams to lose more weight and the number never seems to be low enough. In recovery, the anxiety can become overwhelming, especially when one needs to gain weight.

Where I go for treatment, goal weights are set based on height, and the number serves as a marker where sick ends and healthy begins, more or less. It only tells the weight and doesn’t show unhealthy behaviors or thinking, but it means no more weight needs to be gained. The number is in the healthy range. But the word “healthy” can be a dangerous adjective for those suffering, often meaning “fat” in Continue reading