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October 6, 2022

🌿 Intentional Living: Eating Well Across the Lifespan

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In This Issue:

Featured Wellness Message: Eating Well Across the Lifespan

Recommended Resource: Intuitive Eating for Your Child (and You)

My Psychology Today Article: 6 Tips for Students Attending College with an Eating Disorder

My Featured Post: Persistent Emotional Eating Is Not An Eating Disorder, But It Is a Treatable Concern

Eating Well Across the Lifespan

woman in blue cap and red sleeveless dress

Eating well across the lifespan is on my mind this month. At all ages, it's important to take stock of how we're relating to food, especially since our behaviors with food change in response to the seasons, our physical development, our hormones, our environment, our access to food, our emotions, and more.

Since many of our eating habits developed when we were young, it's important to look at how we model eating with our children. For example, I have been getting more requests from parents seeking consultations on how to teach their child to eat intuitively. Establishing healthy, natural eating habits throughout life may not be as simple as it sounds.

Fighting the food fads and myths that derail the lives of so many individuals can be a daunting endeavor, even for me (an expert and eternal optimist). However, it's vital to be aware of ever-present misleading food "facts" and biased eating recommendations, because these are truly harmful and can cause long-term food struggles. Instead of looking to social media influencers, TikTokers, "what I eat in a day" videos, and corporate advertising for eating advice, learn to look inward. Your body can be a trusted source for what, when, and how much to eat.

In health and with love,
Dr. Gia

“Have you ever noticed that when a particular food is ‘forbidden,’ it can start to occupy your thoughts? When you limit or restrict foods, you give those foods power: the power to take up space in your mind, the power to make you feel guilty, and even the power to ruin your day. Food should not have this much power!” ​—Dietitian Deanna

Intuitive Eating for Your Child (and You)

We were all born eating intuitively, so continuing on that path and supporting your child to be an intuitive eater is an extension of a natural, innate process. Intuitive eating is a nonjudgmental way to relate to food that brings together our innate instincts, emotions, sensations, and rational thinking process to nourish our body intuitively. The following tips for getting started are focused on children but they can be applied to anyone.

bowl of vegetable salads

6 Tips for Students Attending College with an Eating Disorder

How to be proactive about eating disorder recovery during the college years

Attending college presents a lot of firsts: The first time living away from home, in a new town, with a new routine, and with more responsibilities. There may also be changes in relationships, eating schedule, food access, responsibilities, treatment services, and stressors. Yes, college can be an exciting and rewarding time, but these transitions may require new coping strategies.

Nourishing your body well is a must during times of transition because growth requires extra physical and psychological energy. College is one of those times. Coupled with data that eating disorder (ED) prevalence has increased since 2020, new challenges can add to a student's load and potentially trigger or worsen ED behavior. There’s ample evidence of long-term consequences if an ED is not treated appropriately or if there are gaps in treatment. Therefore, knowing how to start or sustain a recovery plan is critical to your health.

With careful preparation, such as establishing support early on, eating disorder recovery is possible through the college years. For all six tips, please read the full Psychology Today article.

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Persistent Emotional Eating Is Not an Eating Disorder, but It Is a Treatable Concern

Is emotional eating getting in the way of finding freedom with food?

Hunger is not the only reason we eat. We may turn to food to fill an emotional void or to find comfort. We may look to food to celebrate an accomplishment or to feel better about a setback. When we turn to food for comfort, we tend to reach for foods we enjoy eating, aka “comfort food,” which is different for everyone.

Emotional eating occurs when we use food as a stress reliever or comfort in response to difficult or negative emotions. Emotional hunger may come on suddenly. The desire to eat is usually paired with a strong unwelcome emotion like anger, sadness, or anxiety. You will feel as if you need to eat straightaway, even if you have eaten recently.

Most of us have turned to a bag of chips, slice of pizza, or other comforting food at one stressful time or another in our lives. Occasional events like these are relatively harmless. Unfortunately, emotional eating as a regular coping strategy may be detrimental to your physical and mental health. When emotional eating occurs often, and food becomes your primary go-to when dealing with negative emotions, it may become an issue, especially if you experience feelings of regret, guilt, or shame afterward.

An effective way to break the cycle of emotional eating is to identify what is triggering the urge to eat. This process begins with understanding the distinction between emotional and physical hunger. A common form of treatment is mindfulness. For several other proven ways to end emotional eating, read my full blog post.

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