Crown on...

Sometimes in life you get inspired by things that you were not expecting to resonate with you.  Sometimes those things are so badass that you have to permanently ink them on your body.  

As a non-diet dietitian who follows the Health At Every Size philosophy, mindfulness, intuitive eating and feminist approaches I have often felt like I live and work in no mans land.  As a person who lives in North America- a continent that is steeped in diet culture- it can be hard to constantly stand up for what you believe in and fight the battle daily.  I will admit there have been days that I get tired- tired of challenging, tired of questioning, tired of pushing back- but I try to keep pushing.  I push because I believe in a world of body acceptance.  A world where we do not spend time and money "fixing" or "correcting" our bodies but just living our lives.  I believe this in the deepest part of me.  Which is why I was brought to tears during a scene in the Wonder Woman moving this past summer.  There were so many moments in that movie I loved (yes I know it wasn't perfect) but one in particular resonated with me and the work I do.  Spoiler alert- which really it came out this past summer so you should have had time to see it if you wanted to but the scene has Diana (Wonder Woman) on the Western Front during World War 1- she looks around at the despair and suffering and can not understand why nobody has moved forward.  She is informed that they have not moved an inch in a year.  She very clearly sees what she must do.  She turns her back to the camera and puts on her crown.  It is the first time in the movie you see her wearing the crown of the greatest warrior from Themyscira (where she is from).  She runs into no mans land and battles- alone.  She is strong and brave and she takes everything thrown at her.  The men at the front lines eventually follow her.  They make it across no mans land and take the front.  So what does this have to do with anything I have ever written about before??

I have put on my crown.  I will continue to run into no mans land- no matter how tired or how frustrated- to move us all forward on this journey.  There are more voices- amazing and strong voices- that are doing incredible work.  And the movement is growing. 

To all those that have been fighting diet culture for decades to those that have only started dipping their toes in we are strong, we are brave and we will take the front one day- soon I hope.  

wonder woman tattoo.jpeg


Until next time be Unapologetically you while I be Unapologetically me

On the 12th day of the holidays...

"On the 12th day(yes I know I missed many days) of the Holidays the unapologetically me rd gave to me....12 ideas for self advocacy...."

I have been working on creating a post-grad course on self advocacy for the last few months and I will totally admit to struggling with it.  The reason for this is not that I don't think it is important and necessary but the fact that I think it is SO important for every single person on earth that I am afraid of missing something!  When we learn to advocate for ourselves whether it is by drawing boundaries with loved ones or getting doctors to listen to us we are putting ourselves first which is so important when we are working towards body acceptance and food peace.  

So here are some ideas I have for advocating for yourself and self care over this holiday what ever way you need (I really don't like lists...they make me think of rules...and I am not a fan of rules (hey mom!!) so here are a bunch of unnumbered paragraphs that may not equal 12...I should have written this post on the 8th or something)

Social gatherings can often lead to diet conversation.  Why someone is "bad" for eating this food.  Or how "good" someone is for abstaining from dessert. Discussion about how the most recent "detox (UGH!!)" was the only reason they were able to fit into this outfit tonight.  So when the conversation turns from "Keeping up with the Kardashians" to "Keeping up with the fad diet" be prepared with a comment to either excuse yourself from the conversation or change the topic.  I will often work with clients to prepare this statement ahead of time.  If you practice it in your head before hand it will come out of your mouth easier when you need it.  "Now if you will excuse me, I just need to pop over there for a second"...see ya diet talk!

Be prepared to eat what you want, not what someone else wants you to eat.  Sometimes when we are working on a better relationship with food it is hard to say no to a food that is presented to you.  Example:  You have been eyeing the chocolate cake and know that it is what you want but Aunt Mable insists you have a piece of her apple pie.  You are trying to listen to your body cues and you know that you will be full after one dessert.  What do you do?  Again being prepared to advocate for the dessert that you want will likely make you feel most satisfied.  Now you don't need to throw the apple pie back at Aunt Mable- you could always say you are going to take a slice home to enjoy tomorrow but right now you would really like the chocolate cake.

For me the next one is always a bit trickier.  Body talk.  Or body shaming.   Relatives will often comment on kids growth as they haven't seen them in a year.  "wow, look how much you have grown in the last year!!  You are built just like your dad, sturdy!"  or " Wow, you have grown taller and really thinned out" (implying what I ask).  Or even to other adults " wow your weight has gone (up or down really) what have you been doing?"  All this needs to stop.  The holidays (or any other f"ing day of the year!)  are not a time comment on the bodies of others.  This is where advocating for yourself or your child is so important.  Advocate for no diet talk.  Make it a rule.  I think it might have become an unspoken rule with my extended family because everyone knows that I will challenge what they say and ask that they not talk like that in my house or around my kids.  I saw a quote on Instagram recently posted by and it said : you: "you know how some people don't talk about politics or religion?" Them: "yea" You: " Well we don't talk about dieting"  I want to make this into a welcome mat for my house.

Look at your schedule and say no.  I find- in North America anyways- we constantly feel the need to be doing something, even more so over the holiday season.  We have to attend all the parties, concerts, plays, ballets, lunches, and whatever without really thinking about the toll it is playing on your well-being.  Say no to something.  Without guilt and without an excuse.  Use your first instinct.  Just take the time to do what you need to do to nourish yourself.  Whether to need to reconnect with yourself or just take a break, its ok.  It's ok to fuel your body with what it needs not what you think it needs.  Taking care of yourself is more than just what you put into it.  It is how you treat your whole self and acknowledging that you need a break is part of that.

And finally ( I know its not 12 points on the 12th day...but again my thing with rules) before you go out to any event or dinner or Grade 1 recorder choir (take tylenol for that) get yourself ready with a little power posing.  Stand in the mirror and make eye contact.  Make your best super hero face (which is any face because you are the super hero) and strike your super hero pose! Full disclosure mine is feet further than hips spaced apart with wrists crossed like Wonder Woman and often times my tongue out...(to those that know me personally are you surprised??)  I also have a superhero song that when I really need to feel like a bad ass ready to take down diet culture ...not sharing that...  Power posing will help you feel more confident when walking away from diet talk or asking someone to not police your intake.

Now ... back to writing my course...

until next unapologetically you (while advocating for yourself!!) while I be unapologetically me....

On the 7th day of the Holidays...

“On the (oh my what day is it??) 7th day of the holidays the unapologetically me RD gave to me...7 scales a smashing!!” 

Have you ever smashed a scale??  Taken a sledgehammer and smashed that small square into a million trillion pieces??  If you haven’t I highly recommend it. There is something amazing that happens when you rid your world of your oppressor. It can be so freeing. And so scary all at the same time.  

In reality we don’t need a home scale. What does it actually tell you?  Besides your relation to gravity on this earth. It doesn’t tell you how kind you are, how much you love or the difference you make in the world. What it does is make you fixate on a number. It can make you value your worth in that number. I have worked with people whose happiness for a whole day is wrapped up in this number. Imagine the freedom of your day starting off with a warm cup of coffee (or tea or whatever you love), maybe a few quiet minutes of reflection or a slow stretching series. What if your morning was about self nourishment not waiting for the scale to tell you how to feel. 

I have always felt that many but not all people weigh themselves wthout realizing what they are actually measuring. When I worked in a clinic setting with kids with type 1 diabetes the doctors would weigh the kids every 3 months (this is determined to be best practice however there are about 6 blog posts brewing in my brain on this topic). So I started asking kids of different ages what they thought was being measured on the scale. The answers ranged from “I have no idea” to “whether I am healthy” to “it measures my fat”. This always concerned me because many homes have scales that kids may step on and start measuring their self worth. So whenever scale weight started being talked about I would say “ your bones and your teeth and your blood and your hair and your toenails and your skin and your muscles and (I would always ask them what we should add-there is a demographic that ALWAYS said poop!) that is what was weighed on the scale. They were always surprised by all the things that make up their weight. In fact I think many parents were surprised by what I said. 

So this December give yourself the gift of a smashed scale. Have a scale smashing party(Alone or with others) and celebrate the freedom of not weighing yourself.  

Now does anyone have any ideas for getting them out of stores???  My desire to be a 3 year old and just swipe the shelves of them at stores will likely get me arrested so that’s not the best option I guess.  

Until next time be unapologetically you while I be unapologetically me

On the first (3rd) day of the holidays....

On the first day of the holidays the unapologetically me RD gave to me....(ok it’s the third day but I’m never on time for anything)...permission to eat free-ly  

Ok. So my rhyming skills are not the strongest. And truly I can’t wave a wand to bestow total permission to eat but if I could I would wrap it up in shimmery blue paper with a sparkly silver bow and deliver to the world. Recently I was a holiday party and someone made a comment of not eating all day to “save up” for the party foods. This is not giving yourself permission to eat what you love.  This is depriving yourself of the food that you needed during the day in order to eat something that you likely enjoy but still have some fear around. Individuals can compensate in many different ways- whether it be restricting the day of the party or the day after. Figuring out how much you need to exercise the next day to “work it off” ( can we please rid the earth of those stupid charts- one serving of nacho dip with 8 nacho chips needs xx amount of exercise to burn off). 

So this holiday season pick a gathering- one where you feel comfortable and happy ( if there is one I realize that is not the case for many over the holidays) and give yourself permission to enjoy the foods there without guilt or shame. Try being mindful with your food. Maybe step away from a conversation to take a bite of what you have on your plate. Or block out Aunt So and So as she is explaining in great detail her rock garden. And take a bite.   Experience the flood of flavours in your mouth. Think of how nourishing it is to eat something you truly enjoy without the calculator in your brain telling your how to work it off. Try to stay present when eating- distraction leads to not tasting or enjoying our foods.  

Doing this might help you enjoy the party you are at. Or if nothing else it will help reduce some of the stress you might feel going into and coming out of it.  Take some time to enjoy the garlic feta dip (OMG I love this dip) or what ever you choose. Enjoy the flavours without your planned punishment. 

This holiday give yourself the gift of freedom. Give yourself the gift eating freely. Give the most important person in your life (you... that’s you!  Honest) a gift that can help you on your journey to food peace and body acceptance.  

Until next time be unapologetically you while I be unapologetically me

When the path gets a bit clearer

I find that inspiration can sometimes come at the strangest times...or moments that may seem very mundane become moments of utter clarity.  I recently was smacked on the head with inspiration and a clear Christmas light lined path showed up before me.  Metaphorically but I am writing this by the glow of our Christmas tree that my kids somehow convinced me to break my "no decorating until December rule" so it is up as I write this just shy of midnight on November 29th.  

After 5 very long weeks of being on strike- I am an instructor at a college in the province of Ontario Canada- I returned to work excited and ready to jump right back into it.  Which was hard- courses needed revamping, email had piled up, and it felt like the first week of September not the middle of November.  Fast forward a week and I have now totally lost my voice and am exhausted from trying to give students what they need, my family what it needs and holy crap the holidays are here and all that entails.  Enter here where I would remind a client about the need for self care and get curious as to why they were filling the needs of everyone else but not themselves- we never perfect the art of living.

As I was in a class listening to a group run through their first draft of a presentation targeting grade 8 girls (about 13 yr olds) on the effects of social media on body image (yeah!!) while simultaneously trying to listen to peer feedback being given to another group I made the comment " I feel like I am listening to 2 different presentations- find your point and stick to it" Which I was listening to 2 different presentations but it was true for the one I was focused on.  Then it struck me.  I needed to find my point.  And stick to it. I said this out loud but nobody heard me...all they heard was "squeeeeeak!.   I needed to bring it back to the thing that fills up my cup.  The thing that made me start writing this blog.  The thing that drives what I teach in classes, how I talk to my kids, my friends, my family.  The thing that makes me sit here in the dark with the glow of Christmas tree lights and my laptop and write.  And that is body image work.  I want people to realize how amazing their bodies are.  What they can do.  How they can fill up space.  I want people to find peace with their bodies.  I want to take diet culture out of the equation for the next generation and the one after that and forever more.  I want my great grandchild to laugh at the "weird diet things" people did in the late 1990's and 2000's because it seems too inconceivable that someone would try to manipulate their body.  So this is where I stand and this is where I move forward.  

I have done a lot of work in this area in the past.  I have run groups for teenage girls.  I have gone to conferences, workshops.  I have read countless books and blogs.  I have talked to classes, and individuals.  I have spoken at my local high school.  But now I feel that this is where it goes.  I still believe in Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size, as it will inform everything I do.  I will continue to talk about mindfulness and having a mindful practice. Yet for now I am going to try to focus on body image work.  

I am going to talk more about the training that I am doing and workshops I am taking.  (OMG I am going to Chicago in April to the Marci Evans and Fiona Sutherland Body Image Workshop and I literally happy danced around my desk with joy when I paid my fee- it's like meeting my superheros)  I am going to put on my tiara- Princess Diana of Themyscira's tiara (Wonder Woman's tiara if you not into the DC comic world) and I am going to fight the evil that is diet culture.  I want to take on the medical community a bit more.  When I worked at a diabetes centre, I worked with kids, teens and young adults with Type 1 diabetes.  I have always thought that we need to be more mindful of how we talk about bodies in this environment- so be prepared for a post on that.  Be prepared for more random observations about living in my body, raising 2 other bodies and the stuff I hear from my students.  I hope that you will continue on this adventure with me.  I think this is my place. And I am now ready for it... I hope you are too.  

You might also see some stuff on workshops or groups that I think I want to plan.  

And today, in front of a group of high school students who are interested in a career in nutrition I said when asked what do you wish you knew in high school that you know now, I replied " that your path may not be the one you originally set out on.  But if you keep learning and growing and changing and following the road in front of you instead of the road you think you should you will end up in a place that makes you happy and fulfilled".  I am on that road and loving every second of it.

Until next time be Unapologetically you while I be Unapologetically me.

Dear Santa....

We had our first snowfall of the season last Thursday.  My kids woke up and flew outside to make snow angels, build snow people and have a snowball fight.  For a full hour before quickly eating breakfast and running to the bus they just played and had so much fun.  Why am I sharing this?  Well because it is November and it snowed and you can imagine what the conjured up for the shorter than 5 foot tall crew in our house...yes that's it...Christmas.  

This past Sunday (today is Wednesday for those you that need a timeline reference) I came home to both kids and partner stringing Christmas lights and garland on the front of the house.  And so started the yearly tradition of me attempting to hold off Christmas and my family wanting to jump in at the earliest possible moment.  And the nickname of "Momeneezer Scrooge"( thanks for coming up with that one MZ)  Don't get me wrong.  I love Christmas.  I have wonderful memories of Christmas growing up. As well as amazing memories watching Christmas through my children's eyes.  However being a dietitian who does not subscribe to diet culture I find the holidays difficult.

Here's why. I find it often starts in November.  People calling to see if I could help them "get through the holidays" without weight gain.  Or to see if I could put them on a diet so that they would "know" what to eat at holiday parties.  And even to see if I could help them "quickly" lose XXlbs so that they can eat/drink whatever they want until the new year.  As soon as I start to explain my approach and that I follow a non diet philosophy the response is almost always " so you won't help me?!"   Some days I find it hard not to yell "But I would be helping you!! I would help you make peace with food and your body so next year you could enjoy your parties without guilt and shame!" To be honest I often do not even get to that point as many just say good bye and hang up.  Once a person even said "but you teach mindfulness and (I forget which magazine) said it is the new way to lose weight".  (I think the co-opting of terms such as wellness and mindfulness for weight loss is a post unto its self.  It will come....once I figure out how to do it without F@&k being every other word)

November kicks off the season of social gatherings and weight loss ad campaigns.  "New Year New You" (FYI you will always be you and you are amazing) ads start about the same time as the Christmas ads.  As a culture these two things seem to have become enmeshed.  Enjoy these beautiful yummy chocolates but be prepared to work them off come January 1st.  Diet culture has even infiltrated Santa Clause  as he can be seen choosing the low fat cookies on TV ads or joining a gym to "work on his body" after his magical night of delivering presents.  Look at the magazine covers in line at the grocery store next time you are there.  They will be explaining to you how to navigate the buffet table at your work function to choose the "low (fat/carbs/sugar/whatever the hell they are trying to tell you to avoid this week).  They will show you how to detox ( own a liver so you are a master detoxer already) before or after you next social gathering.  Essentially these articles will teach you how not to be present in your life while you continue to follow the rules of diet culture.  If you take a lap of the food table to assess and make a plan then go back and follow what ever rules you have set up for yourself you might miss out on a conversation with a family member that might not be here next year.  Or the co-worker that struggles over the holidays.  Or the stupid drunken comment your brother makes that you can hold over him for years to come.  If you are too busy adding up calories or macros you will miss the magic.  And food can be magic...and hold magical memories.

When I was a kid we would visit 3 different houses on Christmas eve.  Do you know what I remember most from all those nights?  Yes the people all honestly the food.  We would go to Bill and Annabell's first.  They were about the age of my grandparents and were our neighbors for a few years.   They always had a Christmas Eve gathering in their basement and served spinach dip with pumpernickel bread and kielbasa with cheese and Triscuits. I always looked forward to these treats and even now I think of them every time I see spinach dip in a loaf of pumpernickel.  The second stop (which did change to the first at some point as I am guessing my mom will call to remind me of was my dad's parents.  There we had bowls of nuts and boxes of chocolates called "nutchos"  (I have no idea if they still exist but Christmas was the only time of year we got them) and homemade nuts and bolts.  The third and final stop was Granma Kay's house.  She had a shrimp ring and/or crackers with seafood sauce and mini shrimp on top and a Chinese food box from M&M meats.   Where these all my favourite foods?  No.  Was this the only time of year I could eat them? No.  But what these foods did do was tie together all the love that I felt that night.  For me it was a happy time.  We ate, we laughed and we celebrated the holidays together.  These memories bring me such joy( I will acknowledge my privilege to have had these experiences).  I do not recall if there was any diet talk those nights- and I am guessing there wasn't because the foods are just the foods to me.  It might seem idealistic but those are the same memories I want for others as the holidays can be such a difficult time for many they do not need to feel worse by diet culture.  I want people to remember the amazing appetizers the neighbor serves or the delicious cheese tray or even the weird shrimp/seafood sauce cracker combo their granma made.  I want people to eat during the day before they go to their holiday party and not "save up" before going.  I want people to look forward to the holidays as a time of food peace not a time that can increase the guilt and shame of eating.  Every year I am reminded that I continue to be in the minority when trying to rid the world of dieting.  And every year I wish I could have gotten those people that called for an appointment to lose weight to try the non diet approach.  I want a world where people eat what makes them feel good.  Where they eat what they want without rules, without shame.  Dear that too much to ask??

Until next time be unapologetically you while I be unapologetically me...

Being a BA

I was recently called a "Bad Ass" by someone I admire greatly.  I took this as such a complement.  In fact I quite possibly told everyone that I spoke to the rest of the day that she called me a "Bad Ass".  And now I'm telling you.  Why? Because I take being a "Bad Ass" very seriously...and if you know me personally you know that serious and me don't hang out often.  Here's why.

I believe that weight, gender, race, (among other things) are social justice issues.  I believe that no matter what your size or your colour of skin or gender you identify with you matter.  And I have started being more vocal about that.  I believe in the power of words.  I have started calling out more people for the words they use and the effects these words have on others.  I will be honest that it does not make me popular with some and there are many people that just look at me like I am an alien life form speaking a language that they have never heard of...but I am hopeful that I am at least drawing attention to the meaning behind the words they are saying and that next time they might be more hesitant to say these words. 

Let's take the word "fat".  What does that word mean to you?  What does it mean to others?  How did a word that can mean- 1. a chemical compound found in food or 2. a description of size became a word that means "lazy" "unhealthy" "ugly" "gross" "unpopular" "unfit" (these are not my words- I ask this question when doing body image groups and these are the most popular answers).  We have demonized the word fat.  Kids hurl this word as insults on the playground (as young as 4...according to my kids).  "you look fat in that"( or some variation) is heard daily in schools, workplaces and homes.  I have heard parents say it to kids, kids say it to adults and even clients to me.  How can we change this?  Well I think the answer to this is so much bigger than this post.  It is a social movement that faces fat stigma head on and challenges society as a whole.  For my part today I want you do just be aware of your words.  Think about how you talk about bodies when you are with your friends.  Do you have the " we are so fat" talk when you get together for dinner?  Do you talk about the diets you should be doing or are starting soon?  Do you comment on the bodies of others to your partner or kids?  Do you say " I wish I looked like that?" when you see a body you deem desirable?  Just start noticing what you yourself in your head and to others.  Are you helping to create this culture or stop it.  Is it so normalized now that you had no idea that you always spend 20mins talking about losing weight when you are together with your friends.    

When you look in the mirror what do you say?  Is it "damn I look great!" or something more critical?  Do you pick at the body parts you don't like or do say " legs let's walk through life today"  Or do you say what I have been saying to myself and to my kids for awhile now " Be Brave and Be Badass(BA when not wanting to say Ass in front of the bus mommies)"  Try it.  Find a phrase that inspires you and start saying it.  Whisper it quietly in the mirror or yelling it at the top of your lungs.  But say it...and say it enough that you start to believe it.  Say it more than the negative chatter you hear everyday.

Listen to your words.  Be mindful of your words.  And always be a BadAss...

until next time be unapologetically you while I be unapologetically me....

A bit of perspective on life...

I feel like it has been so long since I sat down to write anything.  Usually I have a few ideas in my head that I fiddle with before writing and I then I find a quiet hour with a cup of coffee and type.  However the universe had different plans for me the last 10 days.  I have had a very sick 6yr old- viral meningitis- that required a hospital stay and more days at home resting and dealing with residual headaches.  I have watched my child with amazement and fear as he went through some pretty scary tests at the hospital and dealt with headaches that caused him so much pain.  It was during one of the long hours of staring at him while he finally rested that I had an overwhelming urge to write about death.  He was never close to death so please don't be alarmed but the thought came to me in the context of body image.  If we want to live a life of no regret, a full life that makes you smile when you look back on it.  A life where you fully LIVED....then maybe we need to let go of diet culture and the need to ever change our bodies to fit a certain ideal.

Here me out.  Think of how much time you might have spent thinking about a diet plan or how to lose another x amount of pounds or whether you should go to the gym instead of hanging out with friends.  Think of any time you have thought "I will do that when I lose weight".  I will (insert "go to beach" "wear shorts" "buy new clothes" "go to a yoga class" "plan a vacation" "apply for that dream job" here) when I get to a weight that I am more comfortable with.  How many things have you missed out on?  Even just saying "no thank you" to a piece of a friends birthday cake because you are "on a diet" has taken you out of a moment you might have enjoyed.  How many times in your life have you made a decision based on fitting into a cultural ideal instead of what you truly want.  

As I looked at my 6 yr old asleep I thought- I want him to experience everything life has to offer.  I want him to climb mountains and dive in the ocean, fall in love and out of love.  I want him to eat the cake and have a second piece if he chooses.  And I want this for my 9 yr old as well.  I want her to walk as confidently into a room at 16/25/42 as she does now.  I want her to put on an outfit because she loves it not because it "suits her body type".  But how do we get there.  Diet culture messaging is everywhere.  Even the very lovely nurse that gave my child ice cream for breakfast because he really wasn't eating much made the comment that she wishes she could eat ice cream for breakfast but she would be huge...sigh.... 

We need to be unapologetic about our decisions and bodies.  I wear a bikini on a beach (and trust there is a lot of self talk going on in my head reminding me that people are not judging me..I am judging me) without pulling on the pair of shorts that I did for so many years.  I will let the photos be taken without filters and adjustments and I will post them without rationalizing the way I look in them for others to see.  I will eat the cake at the parties.  But I need help.  I need others to do this too.  We need a movement.  We need a societal shift.(I wish I could wave a wand and change that but I can't).  My kids are walking out into the world more now without me there to help them.   

If we had the ability to look back on our lives after they were over (like a long movie reel) would you wish you had done more?  Would you be most proud of the time you "were so strong and didn't eat the carbs/fat/sugar (whatever is the fad diet trend at that time) or when you were fully immersed in your life.  Do you want "Here lies (insert name) who managed their weight until the day they died" on your tombstone? Or something else like "Here lies (insert name)  who lived life to the fullest".  

If I am being totally honest we only have one ending to the this life.  Nobody is going to live forever.  Nobody is going to beat death.  So let's just live while we are here.  Let's take our earth suits for a ride.  You don't have to love your body but you need to start accepting that it is how you are on this earth.  And our time is limited.  Take a breath- jump in- live this life.  

Live Unapologetically

Until next time be unapologetically you while I be unapologetically me....

From distraction to awareness and back again

When was the last time you ate without distraction...and really noticed your fullness cues.  I was reminded of this last night.  I was eating dinner at the table alone as my kids ate earlier and my husband was out.  I pulled out my "Intuitive Eating" workbook and was flipping through looking for an activity on hunger and fullness cues when I started to laugh...and laugh so hard that I spit out my spaghetti.  Here I was reading about eating intuitively while I was eating with distraction.  Book open, intently reading, music going in the background, half an eye on my kids and eating my bowl of spaghetti and meatballs (one of my favourite meals).  I spend so much of my time trying to teach others to be mindful when they eat and I have not been doing it myself.  I have spent the last 2 months eating breakfast while I walk around getting my little people ready for the day- except for Friday's when I get up at 4:45am because nobody is awake then- but then I read twitter for headlines of the news.  Lunch has been at my desk- daily- only once this semester did I sit and eat with a colleague.  And Dinner!  Well that has been happening at the table twice a week.  I realize that I have not been practicing what I preach..and what I truly believe in! 

So back to my spaghetti and meatballs.  I looked at my bowl and wondered how many meatballs I had actually eaten.  I was so engrossed in my reading that I wasn't sure.  I took a moment to check in with my body.  I was feeling satisfied.  Not full to discomfort but I was done.  My stomach and my mouth were no longer asking for food but I would have finished my bowl had I kept reading and eating.   I looked down at my bowl which at this point was 90% empty and realized that I had barely tasted one of my favourite meals.  I was overwhelmed with sadness at his point.  I had prepared this particular meal because I was feel a bit down and for some reason spaghetti and meatballs stirs a happiness in me that is hard to articulate.  And I missed it.  I missed the pleasure of the meal.  The different textures, the different tastes of each component, the pure joy of a bite that includes noodles, sauce and meat.   All in the name of multitasking.

Did I need to be reading right  Could I have sat quietly and eaten...maybe...depends on how the nerf gun fight was going in the next room.  Could I have eaten with my kids and been much less distracted ... sure.  So now I am taking myself back to basics.  Back to no distractions when eating.  Back to not working while I eat.  And for me this is key.  I work a lot.. many are telling me too much and after spitting tomato sauce on the exact page outlining how to eat without distractions I think I should agree.

Why am I sharing this?  Well it's because I want to share that even when we are seen as an "expert" at something doesn't mean we stop working.  It doesn't mean that we have it all figured out and we can do this without thinking.  Intuitive Eating is a lifelong journey.  It is one that will have many hills and valleys as we continue to navigate life.  And if we pay attention to the journey there will be huge signs reminding us when we veer off track.

So tomorrow I start with breakfast.  I will get up while the house is quiet.  I will not pick up my smartphone and I will eat my english muffin with peanut butter without distraction.  And I will continue to do so with all my meals.... 

So you be unapologetically you while I be unapologetically me

I went to the gym....

So recently I have done something that has terrified me in the past.  I have been going to the gym.  And actually using equipment. And I kinda like it.   I should likely explain the whole story.  I have not been in a gym for about 12 years.  For me the gym and getting a trainer was always tied up in changing my body, manipulating my shape and trying to fit into an "ideal".  I have never enjoyed lifting weights....and to be honest I didn't learn how to use the equipment.  I stopped going to gyms when I started my journey with Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size.  What the gym represented to me did to mesh with what I wanted my life to be.  One of the principles of Intuitive Eating is Intuitive Movement.  This principle means that you move your body in a way that you enjoy and not for the purpose of weight loss or body manipulation which was the way I viewed my exercise at the gym.  Presently the 2 ways I love to move my body are running and yoga.  I have been told many times that these 2 things do not really jive with each other but for me both make me feel free...and I love to feel free.  

Yet this year has been about trying new things (Yeah new job!!), doing things that scare me (hello blogging) and just being me (short short bleach blond hair cut) so when the sign up for student trainers was in my inbox one day at work I decided to see if I liked the gym with my new mindset.  The mindset that exercise does not have to be about changing me- just about moving me.  The school I teach at has an awesome Fitness and Health Promotion program and I work with a lot of the amazing staff so I was pretty confident that my student trainer would be client focused and not necessarily have a weight loss agenda...and I was right.  I have a trainer who totally accepted my goals of doing 3 push ups (currently can't do one) and a pull up (may need to reevaluate this as I have discovered I really do not like hanging from things).  He has been finding fun things to do ( those ropes you are supposed to wiggle up and down are heavy!) and I don't feel intimidated at all.  In previous experiences I didn't feel like my body fit the toned image I had of a person at the gym.  Now I really don't care.  I wear clothes that I can move in without worrying how I look because I am busy smashing a ball on the floor (crazy therapeutic exercise).  And this not worrying is very freeing.  I laugh.  I swear. I sweat.  And I have fun.  Admittedly this is because I have an awesome trainer who hasn't brought diet culture into our sessions at all.  He is super positive and meets me where I am physically or mentally that day and we go from there.  I just keep thinking that if others had this experience people that otherwise avoid the gym might actually enjoy it.  

I find joy in movement.  I did not think I would find joy in gym exercises.  In both running and yoga I focus on my breath.  I bring awareness to my body.  I am mindful of the surrounding sounds or the colour of the sky (when running outside).  I wasn't expecting to find my breath doing a lat pull down but it happened.  I have become even more present in my body by becoming aware of how certain movements trigger certain muscles.  I have realized I am a natural sloucher and am working on "carrying my body with pride".  And even more surprising I am finding I am enjoying this form of movement.  Do I care if I lose weight? Nope.  Do I care if my pant size changes? Nope.  Do I care if I actually can do a pull up by December?  Not really.  Do I care that twice a week for one hour I am moving my body in a way that I enjoy and is bringing me pleasure?  Yeah!!!  

I think that going to the gym can be triggering for many people.  My previous perspective of all people involved in training and the gym being steeped in diet culture was wrong.  And I am so happy to admit I was wrong.  Now I know that my current experience is the exception not the norm but it gives me hope for the future.  That we are teaching new trainers to be accepting of all bodies and goals.  That maybe someone is going to the gym to not change their body but learn to accept and love their body- the way it is.

So this is my very public thank you to MD for putting up with my sarcasm, opinions on every topic that comes up and my very frequent use of swear words

I am thankful that I decided to try this and I will likely sign up again next semester.  Because if I am being totally honest it will likely take until 2020 before I master a pull up. And that is totally ok!

until next time be Unapologetically you while I be Unapologetically me

Pink Tea

I feel I need to start this post by saying that Pink Tea is not a magical new food that will cure all your illnesses and make your life magically better.  Although for me it does.  Let me explain...

As people we all have different strategies for coping.  One that often gets talked about is Emotional Eating.  You can flip through fashion/food/health/fitness/gossip magazines (I still love reading things on actual paper..but you could find these and more on the internet) and find articles on how to "curb your emotional eating", "take charge of your feelings without food" and "tame emotional eating and lose weight".  All of these types of articles talk about emotional eating (often defined as eating larger amounts of "unhealthy" (those are sarcastic air quotes-I need a button for that..) or eating out of control while being upset) as a negative reaction to some emotion...think 80's teen movie of dumped girl eating ice cream from the carton in her pj's.  Yet is it really bad??

Isabel Foxen Duke (best name ever and person who speaks a lot on the topic of emotional eating) made a mind blowing (to me) statement on a podcast I was listening to recently (can you tell I am back to commuting more frequently, I keep referencing podcasts).  She said something to the effect that if eating is your coping mechanism it is likely better than doing heroin.  Which made me actually laugh quite hysterically as I had never thought of the two things together.  Both are coping mechanisms.  Both are used as ways to soothe/escape/forget whatever caused the initial stressor.  One of these things is often discussed in a way that is horrible for our health (some will say weight gain here) the other is just not talked about at all.  Both may lead to feelings of guilt and shame.  Both may lead to secret behaviours.  Both may leave the person feeling out of control.  But I am not sure both are the same. (Disclaimer here- I have never done heroin therefore I am guessing about how it makes an individual feel- I might be crazy incorrect in my assumptions and I am sorry for that)

For me (and I really only know me in this situation as I have only lived in this body with my set of experiences) I lose my appetite when I am really upset.   Immediately following an incident that really upsets me food loses all appeal.  You could put the most beautiful tray of sushi and a cheeseburger in front of me (my 2 favourite meals) and I would just stare at them. This can last for a few hours or a couple days depending on my ability to find other coping strategies.  And this is where my body takes over (stay with me here) and moves into what people in popular culture could call emotional eating.  I immediately need to go to my parents house for pink tea.   Now I should likely explain pink tea.  When upset as a kid my mom and/or grandma Kay would make me tea to talk.  During these times they would put much more sugar in the tea than they would any other time.  Often times I would take a mouthful of the very sweet milky tea and would think the word pink.  Pink for some reason was the only word that came to mind when drinking this tea.  Hence the name pink tea.  

This past weekend I saw something that really upset me.  It was just before dinner time so I called my parents and said that I was coming over for tea.  I think my body "craves" the pink tea when I am really shaken for 2 reasons.  The first being that I drive to safe place where I feel loved and protected.  To people that can help me find perspective and calm or just let me lie on the couch snuggled in a warm blanket until I am ready for perspective and calm.  The second and likely more complex reason is that my body knows it does not want to eat food but it realizes it needs energy and carbohydrates to get me through whatever it is I am experiencing.  My body is driving me to the pink tea so that my brain and body get some energy until hunger comes back.  Is it the perfect way to cope?  Well I am not sure there is a perfect way.  But I do believe that sometimes the foods we "emotionally eat" are chosen for a reason.  Whether it be a food that conjures images of compassion and care in your mind or a food that your body knows will provide you with some quick (sugars) or sustaining (fats) energy to get you though.

Pink tea does not cure whatever I am going through. It does not have the magical answers I need or the power to go back in time.  Pink tea provides me warmth and sweetness.  It provides me the safety of those who make the pink tea.   And it gives me the time to come back to reality to start processing whatever I need to process.  It is not perfect but for me it works.

Next time you find yourself in a Pink Tea moment be curious as to why you here, why you chose this food or beverage, or why this particular time.  Try to be curious without being shameful or guilty.  Remember this is just an attempt at self care.

Until next time be Unapologetically you while I be Unapologetically me 

Looking for the moon

The last  3 weeks has brought about a lot change in my life.  Both personally and professionally.  With the start of September came a new teaching schedule for me, a new gym schedule for EK, a new hockey/basketball schedule for little e and an onslaught of work for my partner.  Through all this there was still the excitement and anxiety of new classes at school- for both me and the kids and getting back into a routine that works for everyone in our house.  Every year it takes me awhile to get into the swing of it yet this year was taking longer.  There was one day last week I was late for everything I went to by 5 minutes.  It was frustrating and I found myself getting down on myself.  I started to "should" myself.  I "should" be able to get everything done and be on time. I "should" be able to give 100% to my kids, my job, my partner.  I "should" still be able to find time in the day to write this blog! 

Then one day I was commuting to work listening to one of my usual 5 or 6 podcasts I subscribe to and the speaker just started to resonate with me on a level that I am not sure I would have realized had I not been pushing so hard in my life.  It was a line by Dr Anita Johnston-author of the amazing book "Eating by the Light of the Moon" on the Mindful Dietitian podcast.  (For those of you that don't know I want to move to Australia and follow the "mindful dietitian" Fiona Sutherland for a year-not in a stalkerish way but to learn from her- I think she is  AMAZING!!....just had to throw that out  Anyways Dr Johnston said " look at the moon not the finger pointing at the moon".  And even though I don't believe the meaning of that statement was really related to how I was behaving it literally made me think I have stopped looking at the moon.  So I am coming back to the moon now.

When we take on too much we put many things ahead of our own needs.  If you caught the sentence in the first paragraph of this post where I wrote "  I should be able to give 100% to my kids, my job, my partner" why didn't I include "to myself".  Why is it so easy to push our own needs away to make room for others?  Personally I think as woman, we are taught from a young age that it is selfish to put ourselves ahead of others especially those we love.  We need to act a certain way, look a certain way, handle situations a certain way.  I know what I need to function at my best and worrying about how I am perceived by others does not help me achieve that.  I need nourishing food I enjoy, quiet time alone daily, conversation with each of my children nightly before they go to bed, physical activity outside and my nightly before bed ritual of milky tea with honey.  In the last 3 weeks all of these things were skipped completely or cut back dramatically.  I would go for a run but feel guilt about leaving my kids.  I would pack my lunch for work but do it without much thought and never enough food so I have been hungry a lot.  I looked at the pile of amazing books I purchased in May(!) for personal reading and realized none had been opened yet.  I have been looking at the pointing fingers without looking at where I am going.  

We are worth it.  We are worth the 30 minutes of "personal" time to reset and refocus (in whatever way feels best for you).  We need to be able to say "no I can't take that on right now" to bosses, colleagues, friends, families without guilt and shame.  We need to find the moon.

And for me it starts with this post.  I am going to write ... about whatever pops in my head..about food, mindfulness, body image, me....even the process of just writing this has started me having ideas again.  I am going to put as much effort into packing my lunches as I do with my kids- see last post- I am going to ask myself what I actually want!  And I am going to go back to my work self care ritual. Get a coffee and spend 5 minutes either walking outside the long route back to my desk or sitting in a quiet peaceful place ( my office has a relaxation room- I should actually go in it!).  

So even though this isn't food related I would encourage you to nourish yourself- your soul, your mind, your body, your heart.  Whatever you think needs a little love.  If you are able to find 5 minutes a day to dedicate to this I am sure you will find the moon whether it be a huge full harvest moon or the tiniest sliver of a crescent moon we all deserve to see the magic that is the moon.

until next time- I will be unapologetically me while you be unapologetically you...

With the end of summer comes back to school....

This is my favourite time of year.  Don't get me wrong I love the warmth and sunshine of summer but there is something that I love more about fall.  The changing colours, the cool brisk air mixed with the suns warmth, the smell of the air, cozy sweaters and pumpkin spiced everything!  I always loved back to school.  New clothes, new shoes, new opportunities to make new friends at school and try new things.  I acknowledge my privilege in this as I was very fortunate to grow up being able to afford to buy some new things for school and be able to look forward to joining groups and clubs that were offered.  For me September was like the New Year.  A chance to be everything I thought I should be.  I would often clean and rearrange my room the long weekend before school started and set up a "work space" for my homework.  I would carefully pick out what I was going to wear the first day of school (who am I kidding I did it for the whole first week).  I would be organized this year!  I would be on top of all deadlines!  I would not procrastinate!!  All this usually lasted a week....then I returned to me.  I was always disappointed when I went back to just being the way I always was.  I would get frustrated that I set goals and was unable to fulfill them.  Yet the reality of it is this- I am so much better when I am just being me; in all aspects of my life.  

So as we plan for the start of school- Me back to teaching college students and my kids entering grades 1 and 4 it is not really surprising to me that I am sitting here writing this instead of buying the oldest a backpack or working on a first lecture as really...I have 6 days...well 5 as no stores are open on Monday...hmmmm still so much time...

As a Dietitian I find that I get asked the same question over and over again the end of August.  "What do you pack in your kids lunches that is healthy and what they will eat??"  Nobody ever seems to believe or like my response.  " I pack what they ask for and throw in a refillable water bottle."  Just google "kids lunches" and you will get a million hits of sandwiches that look like ducks, or bento boxes with colourful perfectly portioned veggies and dips and flat breads, or cute little muffins with "spinach hid inside" that your child will love.  That is not my reality.  Nor my children's.  I say "what vegetable would you like?" they pick I pack.  "What would you like for your fruit?" they pick I pack. "what would you like for your main- thermos or not?" they pick I pack.  Do you see the pattern?  I know that this does not sound like magic but if they pick it and like it they might eat it. Sometimes they pick things I don't have made or ready to make (my youngest LOVES homemade tomato lentil soup with quinoa) and when that happens we pick a day later that week or next when I am able to make it for them.  And if they don't eat their lunch?  Whatever...maybe they were chatty that day or maybe they decided that cucumbers aren't the greatest vegetable ever or maybe they weren't hungry at that point.  Whatever the reason I am not able to predict the night before therefore I pack what they want and we discover together the next day if it was enough or too much. (Not going to lie-this took me awhile to get to this point)

When I was in school I don't recall anyone really looking at my lunches.  Now I have friends that show me letters from their school's saying what is "healthy" to pack and even telling kids which foods from their lunches they are allowed to eat and when.  I even know someone who told me that their daughters crackers were thrown out by the teacher because she deemed they were too high in sodium to be eaten.  The child was 4 and in junior kindergarten.  This upset me on so many different levels.  Not only should educators be aware that some families need assistance buying food and that may be all they could offer the child, the act of deeming a food "bad" enough to throw out puts a moral issue on food.  Kids grow up idolizing not only their parents but their teachers.  Many teachers are role models to their students.  By throwing out the crackers this teacher showed the student that her parents are not capable of feeding her properly and that some foods need to be avoided if we want to be "healthy".  Kids at this age are very black and white, good and bad.  They have no ability yet to look at it as grey.  By creating food rules we are creating some negative behaviours around food.  This child might feel shame eating these crackers in the future because they were only good enough for the trash and therefore might only eat them in secret so that people do not see them eat a bad food.  The child might not trust what her parents are packing for food and not eat it.  I don't know exactly what would happen but I do know that by putting a morality on food we change how this child will select her food in the future.  She could start looking to only eat "good" foods or foods that make the adults around her "proud" she chose.  She may avoid foods that she truly enjoys and wants to eat because she is afraid of eating "bad" foods and ruining her health.  It is hard to determine how one comment will affect a child but in today's diet culture immersed society it is pretty safe to say there will never be just one comment.  

Food Shaming- not just in schools but everywhere- needs to stop.  It is not just the adults in schools as both of my kids have come home at various times saying that another student has told them that what they were eating was not healthy.  I want my kids to have a healthy relationship with food but I also need to let them be in the world.  So for now if my kid wants to eat their chocolate cookie for first snack- let them.  If my kid wants to eat their thermos of rice at last snack- let them.  If my kid wants to eat his soup for snack and not lunch- let him.  Let them eat the foods that they so wonderfully picked for themselves to eat.  Let them learn what makes them feel nourished and well at school.  Let them learn how much fuel they need for the day.  Let them be without judgement or comment.

And I ask the same when you see me posting a blog post at 4am the week after school starts because my big plan to be organized this year fizzled and I am back to being.....

Unapologetically Me RD

What would you say...

I got an interesting text from a former student yesterday,  (thanks DN!!) She wrote.

"So I'm at the beach, walking to the water with (her 2 year old) and we pass this family and the mom is taking a picture of her daughter.  Probably 9 or 10 years old and the daughter goes, "Mom, you CAN'T post the one where I look fat on Instagram"- I automatically think of you and wonder what your response would be- But then the mom's response is, "the one where you look fat? Oh don't worry I won't!"

And then I wondered what my response would my daughter who happens to be the same age and to the universe as a whole.

To my child- after my initial internal groan and a blink back of the inevitable tear that would arise as I would have a moment of feeling like I failed her -I would ask what she meant.  To me fat means many different things to many different people.  I am trying to raise children where fat is a descriptor not a loaded word with hidden messaging.  I am also aware that they live in a world where diet culture is the norm and the word fat is often used to hurt the person it is hurled at.  So I would need to know what she meant.  And then we would talk.  We would talk about all the amazing things her body did at the beach that day.  We would talk about changing bodies.  We would talk about the body parts she is critiquing in the photo- and why. We would talk about the joy on her face in the pictures as she plays on the beach.  We would talk and we would keep talking for the next 10 years as she navigates a changing body through a culture that idolizes an unbelievably unrealistic view of body.  And I would never stop talking.  Or listening.  I think listening to the answer is most important.  What made her say that?  What is she afraid of?  What has she heard others say about people or photos?  I would work very hard to not normalize that comment as I think it has become part of everyday conversation.  Think about it.  How many times today alone have you heard some variation of "I look fat in this"

But the thought that kept going through my head when I was reading this text was "What would I say to a mom that said that?".  For example if that exchange happened in front of me.  The answer is nothing.  Parenting is hard and as mom's I don't think we need more mommy shaming as there is enough.  If it were done by a friend while I was there? I would make comments about how great the picture look because of how happy everyone looks or something.  And I would want to talk to friend about her response.  I would ask her if she realized that she by saying what she did she pretty much said "yes you are fat and I will make sure that I do not show that to the world because it is a bad thing".  And I think there are so many things wrong with that.

 First off,  you just told her that her appearance is the most important feature of the picture.  Not the moment.  Secondly you are reinforcing the idea that "fat is bad" and should not be shown to the world.  And finally perhaps the most damaging is that you have allowed her to call herself all the things that she (and likely you) associate with a word such as fat.  Instead of the memories from the day at the beach being all about sand castles, ice cream and body surfing (ok..totally my ideal beach day!), there will be a memory of being "too fat", and I highly doubt that was on the agenda for the day.

As adults I feel we need to be careful with the language we use around kids, teens and lets be honest other adults as we do not always know what a word means to them.  

Take a minute- think about what fat means to you.  Think about what it means to you when you say "I feel fat".  Think about what it would feel like for a person you love and look up to confirm that feeling in you. Don't give into negative body talk just because it is all around you.  Stand up for the beauty in all bodies and have a talk with that little girl about how awesome her body is.

Until next time be Unapologetically you while I be Unapologetically me...maybe at the beach!

A letter to my daughter on your Birthday

Happy Birthday EK

It is hard to believe that it has been 9 years since entered this world fists clenched screaming your face off.  So much has changed, both with you and me.  I have watched you grow from this tiny little being that was unable to do anything alone to a person with an ever widening range of opinions, emotions and feelings.  You have left your mark on this earth so far and I believe that you will continue to do so- in whatever way you chose. I want you to know it is because of you that I do the work that I do.  It is because of you I have become stronger.  It is because of you  I found my place in this world.  It is because of you I learned I am so much more than my physical self.

You are now hitting the age where I have seen children struggle with their bodies.  Some start the lifelong journey of hating their thighs, butt, this age.  Some start to see food as the enemy instead of something that can be enjoyable and provide pleasure.  And I am not going to lie- I am scared.  I need to let you grow and form your own thoughts and opinions and to do so I need to let you venture out into this world.  This world that will look at you and make assumptions about your health and status by the size of your body, the world that will pay you less because you are a female, the world that does not let your body be your own.  A world I wish I could change for you but I can't.

We have spent the last 9 years letting you know that your worth is not determined by your beauty, that your strength does not come from the size of your jeans.  I have tried to be a positive role model- no diet talk, no scales, exercise for for fun and relaxation not weight loss and "no negative body talk allowed" in this house...but has it been enough??  Have | inoculated you to the comments that both praise and shame your body?  Have I been a strong enough voice for you to be able to filter those comments and not let them harm you?  Have we done enough??  I have no idea and only time will tell.  But I think you may get it...

The other day when a family member commented on your "long beautiful legs" you turned to me and winked...the wink and little eye roll seemed to say "don't worry mom I know I am more than legs"  And you are.  You are strong, you are smart, you are kind, you are nutty, you are devilish, you are everything that makes you you.  And that is enough.

I promise I will continue on this journey with you.  I will encourage you to take up space in this world- not diminish yourself.  I will let you become your own bad ass Jedi to fight for the causes and battles you choose.  I will however, continue to fight unapologetically against diet culture and body shaming in the hopes of making your path a little smoother.

Remember, you only have one earth suit.  Treat it with respect.  You do not need to love it every day but you need to take care of it.  Move it in a way that brings you joy, nourish it with foods you love and want to eat, rest it when it needs a break and above all else, trust it to tell you what it needs.  And if, my darling child,  you ever need help with these things (or anything else for that matter) ask.  Ask me (or anyone you trust) for help.  I may not know what to do but we-together- can figure it out.  Just like we have since the clock turned to 7:01am July 27, 2008....

Love, Me

Working on it

So I started this blog a bit quickly. I got brave one day and just started writing. No 

idea what I was doing, no idea if it would become anything other a collection of a few strung together senetences that I hoped made sense to someone other than me. Well today I am going to step forward a tiny bit. A Logo!  For some reason doing this made it a bit more real. I have set some pretty big personal and professional goals this year without really thinking about the steps involved. I think this is a step. Anyways I wanted to share. I think I might even make myself a tank top with this on it....


looking forward by looking back

Recently I was listening to an awesome podcast that had Jessica Setnick, MS, RD/LD, CSSD as a guest.  Jessica is a Registered Dietitian who studied Anthropology prior to her nutrition education so she has this amazing take on relationships that people have with food.  She spoke about how if we want to further understand how a person currently experiences food and eating then we need to look to the past- at least 2 generations back.  I found this to be so fascinating as I grew up in a family where my grandparents had lived through World War 2 and the depression.  They would have lived in a time where food was scarce and you were lucky to have food on your table.  Fast forward to the late 1970's when I was born we did not have the same issues of food scarcity however we were definitely raised in a "finish everything on your plate" house because that is how my parents were raised.  

I remember eating Sunday dinner at my grandma Kay's house or any meal with her for that matter and you always finished your plate.  And if you finished one and there was still food left on the table you should really have seconds.  And if you had seconds there was still dessert and tea to be had.  And all of the food was a symbol of love.  It was never meant to teach me to not to listen to my body cues for hunger and fullness- It was actually a way that my grandma expressed how much she cared for us.  She could provide for us.  Yet I always felt guilt if I was full and did not want more.  I almost always ate passed the point of comfort because I did not want her to think I did not like what she provided or hurt her feelings.  Grandma Kay learned as a child what it felt like to be deprived and she likely wanted the opposite for her family.  This is a very common theme according to Jessica Setnick regarding present day issues.  Most of us (in my generation- Gen y or Gen x) have at least 1 family member two generations back that has lived through a war, a famine, or poverty of some sort.  This means that our parents were taught eating behaviours from their parents then they taught us similar ones.  But what do we teach??

Which leads me to today.  When I feed my children do I continue on with this-you must eat all the food I put on your plate or you don't get (dessert, a snack later, tv time...whatever the "punishment is for not eating dinner) or do I change.  I can admit that change is hard.  Especially when it comes to parenting because I think I suck at it daily.  Even with all I have studied and what I know to be true there is a bit of panic in my chest when one of my kids picks at dinner and does finish what I have provided.  Or they eat what might be too little (to me not them).  I am not going to lie, I am sure that I have confused them at times with my "can you eat a bit more??"  followed quickly by " well if your tummy feels full and you are done then that is enough".  And even worse when my husband and I have a discussion at the table regarding whether or not said child has eaten enough!  (there needs to be something prior to having kids so that you can create a plan of how you are going to feed/parent/do bedtime at each stage of child's life because sometimes it is crazy when you realize your philosophies are different because you become aware of that while dealing with an issue)

I want to raise my children to trust their bodies.  In all regards.  I want them to trust their strength and their intuition and that their bodies do not need to be changed or manipulated by anyone especially themselves.  And that starts by letting them tell me when they are full at meal times.  As an RD this is easy for me, as a mom this is sooooo hard.  So this summer I have changed the parenting rules.  We are going all-in with Intuitive Eating.  Not just me.  Everyone.  It is going to start with letting the "E's"  plate their own food.  At 8 and 5 years old I have always done it - partially due to mess and possible waste but they are old enough to handle utensils so why not?  And if rice ends up on the floor well lets be honest it always does anyways- we just clean it up.  By serving themselves I am hoping to help them explore what it is that their own bodies want.  I may serve up a balanced plate but maybe they wanted a bit more rice or carrots or fries or less of something.  If I do it for them I am not allowing them to figure out what they need.  It should really be no surprise that as a society we have been raising kids to be adults who can't figure out how to intuitively feed themselves and look to dieting (ohhh...a whole other topic) and meal plans to feed themselves.  And when my little people say they are full I will say "ok" no more "are you sure?" "can you eat 2 more bites?".  This does not mean there were will be an eating free for all at our house.  Its just letting them be in control of what goes in their bodies.

This could be an interesting summer at dinnertime in this house or not.  It might just go by unnoticed by them.... which would be the coolest thing.  I will post updates....Social Experiment #1.  There may even be pictures of how a 5 year old plates his food....

Until next time by Unapologetically You while I be Unapologetically Me...


The longest day of the year and strawberries

Today is the official start of summer here in the northern hemisphere.  The longest day of the year.  Summer for me is full of wonderful childhood memories.  Trips to cottages with family friends, days spent swimming in our backyard pool (which for me was often floating in a chair reading a book), backyard BBQ's, going to the trailer and picking strawberries with my grandma Kay.  In fact my grandma plays a key role in many of my greatest memories- summer and otherwise.  She would let me sit in the berry patch and eat as many strawberries as I wanted while she crouched beside me picking quarts and quarts of strawberries for us to eat later or turn into jam.  She never told me I had enough or I was eating too much.  Her only request was that I didn't eat so many that I would throw up.  Valid request.  I remember thinking how much better the strawberries tasted sitting in those fields.  They were sweeter and warmer than the ones from the grocery store.  They were made even sweeter by the company I had while enjoying them.  I can remember the explosion of flavour in my mouth.  Food for pure pleasure.  This is concept that I think is not explored enough any more, we do everything so quickly and with a bunch of distractions around us.  When was the last time you took a bite of something and let all the flavours in your mouth be recognized.  When was the last time you slowed down, focused on the food in front of you and mindfully took in all the tastes and smells.  I did it Sunday.

It was Fathers Day (shout out to my dad who I think reads this or my mom tells him what I say so "Hey!!") and I had made a cheese tray as that is one of my husbands favourite things.  As I prepared it the smell of the Gorgonzola wafted towards me.  The house was quiet so I did a little mindful eating exercise with this lovely piece of cheese.  I sat down at the kitchen counter with the cheese- no tech, no kids, nothing except me and stinky yummy cheese.  I took a bite and let my mind think about all the flavours, the texture and smells.  As I slowly ate the piece of cheese I realized I felt satisfied.  I believe this comes from fully experiencing the food in front of us.  

I realize in today's fast paced world we do not often have the time or the capacity to sit and eat everything mindfully but it truly helps to check in with ourselves while we eat.  Am I enjoying this? Do I even taste it? Am I starting to get full?  Am I over-full?  I would encourage everyone to try this exercise at some point- Take a food you feel either out of control with, fearful to eat or a food that you are scared to enjoy.  Sit with a small piece of your food choice, no outside distractions.  Look at your food, smell it, put a bite in your mouth, taste it, slowly chew it and think about the texture and the flavours in your mouth.  Check in with your body.  Do you feel anxious? Relaxed? Swallow your food and again check in with your thoughts and your body.  I often do this with groups when I teach mindful eating and we use chocolate (or raisins if people are unable to eat the chocolate).  The most common feedback I hear is "I have never enjoyed a piece of chocolate that much in my life".

My Grandma Kay taught me many lessons during her time on this earth.  Many that I will probably write about eventually.  I am not sure if she realized it or not but by allowing me to eat with pleasure and freedom in those strawberry fields so many years ago she taught me about nourishing my body in a positive pleasurable way. One of the many things I am eternally grateful to her for.

I think I might need to go pick some strawberries soon, with my kids

Until next time be unapologetically you while I be unapologetically me.

Girls in sports

So this past weekend I watched my daughter (8 yrs old) compete in her gymnastics provincials. As I sat in there in the stands as a nervous momma I marvelled at the confidence I saw in the girls competing. Not only were they out there throwing down some awesome skills they did so in skin tight leotards ( think tank bathing suits).  I found myself wondering how long does this last. As adults I know are self conscious about wearing a bathing suit in their own backyards with family let alone in an arena with hundreds of people while they are being judged on how they execute crazy skills. How long before the self consciousness of how they look takes away from what they love doing?  I have read that by the age of 14 girls are dropping out of sport at twice the rate of boys. At a time in their lives when they need the support and confidence that sport can provide they are leaving. So what can we do to promote girls remaining active and continually developing healthy relationships with their own bodies as well as others?  I don't think there is a single answer- as with most things the answer to this is very complex and multifaceted but I do believe promoting inclusiveness with regards to body size and shape in all sports is important. Checking in with your daughter to see if she is comparing her body to other bodies around her. Talk about the amazing things her body has become capable of- let's be honest I can barely walk across the beam with out wobbling let alone jumping and cartwheeling. Talk about the great people she has met because of her sport and the places she may have travelled. 

But don't under any circumstances talk about the shape of her body. And don't point out the size and shape of others. Because here is the thing I think we forget. When you complement a body part then it changes it can be internalized as a negative change. Example: "omg you have 6 pack abs!"  Then a short time later those "6-pack abs" are hiding under a very necessary layer of fat (girls will gain weight to start the process of puberty- different in each kid however necessary to start creating hormones and get the body ready for menstruation)   Often I hear girls talk about their abdomin area in such a negative way- pinching, rolling, using such words as gross or fat. I wonder if it is even harder for the child that had their abs glorified. 

I'm going to be very honest when I say I was terrified when my daughter said she wanted to be a competitive gymnast. As an eating disorder Dietitian I had my fair share of clients that were previous gymnasts. But maybe my career path has been this way so that I can support her in the sport she loves. Maybe all these years of body image training, my own journal of self hate to self acceptance, may learnings on Health at Every Size have been to support my child as she strives to reach for the stars.  

To her and to anyone else who needs it I pledge to stand up for you when people talk about your body like it is something that should be changed or moulded, I will address Diet talk that happens around you so that you can continue to feed your body intuitively and give it what it needs and I pledge to always be there to hold your hand and remind you that you are so so much more than your external self. I will continue to work in this field in the hopes that I can effect change in society so that you (all of you living in a body) can feel proud and confident in your bodies just like those 8 year old girls I watched last week.  

Until next time be unapologetically you and I will continue to be unapologetically me

summer weather means...

Last Monday was the start of summer here in Canada...well kind of.  It was Victoria Day on Monday or as many call it May 2-4 the first long weekend of the summer.  Which is when I start to believe that we are done with snow and ready for some summer sun.  In fact my family spent Saturday swimming at my brothers house. Watching the kids jump happily in and out of the water brought my brain to the part I dislike the most about summer.  The onslaught of ads and discussions about "getting that beach body" or "get swimsuit ready". I firmly believe that you get a beach body by putting it on a beach and to be swimsuit ready you need to own a swimsuit and put it on.  But I am aware that is not the case for most.  In fact I had a vivid flashback to a picture of myself to a time that I didn't think I was "swimsuit ready"  

For years my mom had a photo in her kitchen window of my brother and I on a family trip to Florida.  I was about 10 or 11- not much older than my daughter is presently- and I was in my favourite blue and pink bikini.  My brother was shirtless in his swimsuit and aviators (everything makes a comeback!) and flexing his arms-likely imitating some wrestler.  He looked calm and relaxed and clearly comfortable hamming it up for the camera.  I however have this weird look on my face as I am clearly sucking in my stomach for the picture.  My arms were at an odd angle as I tried to pull my belly button closer to my spine (thanks Cosmo for that tip).  WTF!! When did I learn to suck it in for the camera.  I honestly do not remember.  I do remember lying to a friend in high school when she asked me why I was sucking in my stomach for that picture.  My response " I wasn't I was just thin"  and the stupid part is that I was thin.  My body was perfectly fine as it was and I was supposed to be enjoying this amazing trip that I got to miss a whole week of school from but instead I worried about what I looked like on the beach.  This is something I do not want for my daughter or son for that matter.  I watch her now, carefree running around in her bathing suit, and I think "how do I protect her from this" (now she is a gymnast-which will be a whole other post someday I am sure)  But I know what I can do at home.  Talk about bodies in a positive way (which we do), not diet (there are no good or bad foods here, just food) and show her that I love my body and I am not ashamed of it (this is likely the hardest one as we all have days this is hard).  So I wear my bikini's- they fit me the best as I am long in the torso and they are way more comfortable than one piece suits(thought why did I feel the need to justify why I wear bikinis?)- without a T-shirt.  Stretch marks from 2 pregnancies, an 8 inch scar down my stomach from a bowel resection surgery 10 years ago, and skin covered in auto immune psoriasis (scars and active ones) be damned.  I need to show my kids (both not just the girl) that my body is fine just the way it is.  And if anyone has a problem with that then that is their problem and societies problem.  Not mine.  And especially not the problems kids need to be facing.

So yesterday to further push myself even further into presenting my body as is, I joined (figuratively as I don't think there is an actual thing to join) the #SportsBraSquad by running in my sports bra.  (Sports Bra Squad was created by Kelly Roberts and documented on her blog  I am attaching a photo for proof.  Please see that there was no sucking in of stomach.  So to the 10 year old me...nothing you have accomplished in life was because you sucked in your stomach on the beach that day, you accomplished it because you are determined, smart and caring.  And none of that has to do with how you look in a swimsuit

And one final note on my sports bra run.  An elderly lady was walking towards me as I ran on the sidewalk of a busy street.  She signaled for me to stop and I worried something was wrong with her.  She said "You are amazing for dressing appropriately in this heat!! Good job"  and off she went.  Sometimes it just takes a little comment to make you brave enough to take a selfie of your stomach and put it on twitter....and always remember the reverse is true. 

Until next time be unapologetically you while I be unapologetically my sports bra!