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Good Body Image

Good Body Image

Having good body image…means letting go.

For most people, especially female-identified people, we want good body image, by having a “good” body.

This “good” body has all the “right” numbers (weight/size/height).

This “good” body has the “right” hair, eyes, skin, nails, feet, chest, and even genitals.

This “good” body is strong, flexible, abled, healthy, and perfect.

We wake up each day, clinging to the dream of having this “good” body.

Why wouldn’t we?

“Good” bodies get all the social goodies, right?

“Good” bodies get social, economic, and reproductive power.

“Good” bodies are revered.

“Good” bodies slip, sinewingly (yes, it’s a made up word), past rejection, ridicule, discrimination, and even violence without a thought.

“Good” bodies are loved, not abandoned.

“Good” bodies don’t get revenge, they are revenge.

“Good” bodies can go anywhere, wear anything, and talk to anyone.

“Good” bodies make the person good enough.

“Good” bodies never scar, never stretch, never stink, never wrinkle, never get hairy (here or there), never age, never get sick…do “good” bodies never die?

“Good” bodies are never sad, mad, or scared.

“Good” bodies are madly in love and have the best sex.

“Good” bodies are never down.

For “good” bodies, everything is wonderful.

Who wouldn’t want a “good” body?

Most people do.

Many people spend their whole lives dedicated to acquiring a “good” body in every way that money can buy.

Many people are so fiercely devoted to this pursuit that to suggest otherwise is inconceivable.

What if, despite what every diet program, workout regimen, fitness influencer, commercial, or “healthy lifestyle” coach tells us,…

You and I and everyone will never, ever have a “good” body.

With a lot of money, time, attention, and obsession, can we fly higher into that sun?

Of course.

But, at what cost?

Is it ever good enough?

Do we ever arrive?

If, after all of that effort, we touch the sun, what does it take to stay there?

Is it a life a body wants to live?

That’s the thing about bodies, they don’t care about being “good.”

Bodies care about being alive.

Bodies care about getting enough to eat.

Bodies care about getting enough rest.

Bodies care about touch and other bodies.

Bodies care about joy and laughter and the richness of life.

Bodies work hard to carry us through life and they just want to be loved by their inhabitants. 

Afterall, when we judge, criticize, ridicule, and hold with disdain this and that about our bodies…who is it we’re talking to?

Who receives these harsh, unrelenting words?

It’s our own vulnerable selves, sister.

Deep in the quiet of our bodies lives our own, perfect self, just wanting to be loved exactly as she is without the slightest concern for her body…

And it isn’t the love of others that she seeks.

No, it is the warm, kind, gentle affection of ourselves that we long for most.

You see, good body image isn’t about believing you have a “good” body.

Good body image is about letting go of the dream of all that we imagine a “good” body will give us.

It is a tall order.

Having stared into the sun for so long, we are blind to all that we have been missing.

We have not been able to see that the love we seek is already ours to give.

We have not been able to see that what we truly, deeply long for is acceptance, connection, meaning, and purpose.

The pursuit of a “good” body can look an awful lot like each of those things.

It is not.

Good body image is about letting go.

Good body image is about knowing that the body holds your precious self and it is not your self.

Good body image is about living in connection through your body not because of your body.

Good body image is about a definition of health that includes many ways of practicing well-being, not simply the pursuit of a “good” body.

Good body image is being willing to turn away from that sun and believe that when our eyes adjust, there will be a whole universe of life and love to discover.

All bodies are good bodies. Right now.

Nourishing No-Bake Energy Bites – Make Great “Galentine’s Day” Gifts!

Nourishing No-Bake Energy Bites – Make Great “Galentine’s Day” Gifts!

written by Katrina Seidman, RDN, LDN, Avalon Dietitian

These are so delicious it’s hard to believe they are so easy to make. If you are like my family and spend too much money on packaged energy or protein bars, you may want to try to whip up your own. I know what you’re thinking—won’t this take hours and dirty a bunch of dishes? Nope. Won’t I have to go out and buy a bunch of ingredients-probably not! Won’t an entire batch go bad within a week or so? Nope! Too good to be true? Not at all!

These nutrition packed snacks are super simple and easy to make using what you probably already have in your cabinet and only use 1 bowl-that of your food processor. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend investing in a good one-there are so many uses from making your own hummus to making batters such as for sunflower butter blondies (from a previous blog post). I love my 14-cup Cuisinart one, but there are other good ones out there too.And, If you are NOT willing to get one, you can totally make these too, just with a few adjustments. 

This recipe is also a great way to use up small bits of leftover nuts, dried fruit, seeds, oats, and other odds and ends you may have lingering in your pantry. The possibilities for variety are endless.

And, I needed a nut free option to send to school in my daughter’s lunch bag, so I substituted sunflower seed butter and sunflower seeds for the nut items. You could also use soy nut butter and roasted soybeans as a nut-free alternative.

As if the above reasons were not enough to make you want to head to your kitchen, it gets even better—these bars (or balls, as I often form them into ball shapes), also make perfect gifts -I made a batch of chocolate chip peanut butter ones for my mom for Mother’s Day and gave them to her in a cute oversized coffee mug. With Valentine’s Day coming up, they make great “Galentine’s Day” gifts!

And, what about nutrition? Ok, so these bars are choc full of vitamins and minerals, fiber, protein, and heart healthy fats! In short, they are super tasty nutrition powerhouses! Here is the basic recipe, which can be adapted according to your pantry inventory and your family’s tastes..

Basic Recipe 

1 cup dried fruit (we like raisins and/or dates) (**if you don’t have a food processor, I would substitute ⅓ cup of honey instead of dried fruit; or, date paste, if you can find it in the supermarket) 

1 cup old fashioned oats (or you can substitute ground flaxseed or hemp seeds in this part to total 1 cup combined oats and seeds) 

2 tbsp oil; I use olive (not extra virgin because of the strong flavor) or canola or grapeseed oils 

1/2 cup nut or seed butter (any kind. We like sunflower seed, cashew, almond, and peanut, or our current favorite Chocolate Don’t Go Nutz! or a mix of any of them)

1/3 cup nuts or seeds such as sunflower or chia or can substitute chocolate chips here (our personal favorite :))

Pinch of salt-rounds out the flavor

Cinnamon to taste

Directions

Puree first 5 ingredients to desired consistency in food processor. (Or, if not using a food processor, add them to a large bowl and mix until combined You can use your hands here.) 

Add, nuts, seeds,and optional chocolate chips for texture and pulse a few times in the processor (or do a final mix all together).

Oil hands and form into balls and place on small cookie sheet or press into greased or parchment lined baking dish to make bars.

Place in freezer and when frozen, place in a zip top bag back into the freezer so they stay fresh for a long time. They are good right out of the freezer or you can let them thaw for a few minutes before eating. 

Makes 10 large or 20 small servings

Nutrition Facts 

Serving Size: however much you want to eat to feel good and energized

Calories: Calories give you energy and help your body function. We need LOTS of them at regular intervals during the day

Fat: important for helping us feel satisfied for an extended period of time and helps us to absorb nutrients from our food

Carbs: give us quick energy and helps keep our blood sugar stable

Fiber: helps with feeling full longer, can support healthy cholesterol levels, and help with bowel regularity :). Found in the fruit, oats, nuts, and seeds.

Sugar: not a toxic or addictive substance! Necessary for brain functioning, energy, blood sugar stability, and a yummy taste. The sugar in this recipe comes from fruit, honey, and chocolate chips. 

Protein: necessary for building and repairing body tissues and helping us to feel full and satisfied. Found in the nuts and seeds. 

Vitamins/Minerals: lots found in this recipe! This is a super nutrient dense food. 

One of my favorite combinations is peanut butter coconut made with 1 cup of dates , 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, 1/2 cup of chunky peanut butter and extra peanuts left whole, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. I have also thought about trying a sweet and savory option but have not tried it yet. You can find more recipes like this online for whatever kind of tastes suit you. Let me know what you try!

Katrina Seidman, RDN, LDN

Why Anti-Diet Dietitians Are A “Thing”

Why Anti-Diet Dietitians Are A “Thing”

What is an anti-diet dietitian?

An anti-diet dietitian is a dietitian, educated and trained, licensed and registered, but without a foundational belief that the primary goal of nutrition counseling is “successful dieting.” Our culture’s deeply held belief that thinness and dieting are “healthy” is not based in science, but instead by the profound influence of diet culture in every aspect of our lives, even, and especially, our doctors’ offices. If you are new to the concept of diet culture, well-known anti-diet dietitian Christy Harrison explains: 

“[Diet culture] is Western society’s toxic system of beliefs that: Worships thinness and equates it to health and moral virtue, Promotes weight loss as a means of attaining higher status, Demonizes certain foods while elevating others, And oppresses people who don’t match up with its supposed picture of “health.” 

Diet culture can show up in many ways:

  • following food rules
  • not eating gluten (without having celiac disease)
  • not eating after a certain time of day
  • completely cutting out sugar
  • making fat people pay for two seats on an airplane
  • having to track down special clothing stores in order to find your size
  • labeling foods “guilt-free” or “sinful.” 

It is literally everywhere.

Diet culture results in so many of us disconnecting from our natural biological processes around feeding ourselves and even shames us for having them!

Diet culture plays a large role in the development of eating disorders, body image issues, fatphobia, weight stigma, and size discrimination. It wants all of us to feel “less than” with the goal of enabling those invested in profiting off our insecurities. 

So an anti-diet dietitian, then, is one who wants to take part in dismantling diet culture and in helping people heal from disordered eating and body image issues so that they can live their life free of the bondage of dieting and able to thrive in their bodies without having to shrink them. 

In essence, an anti-diet dietitian is really an anti-diet culture dietitian. As an anti-diet dietitian, I create a healthcare space for those struggling with eating and the harms of diet culture and dieting to feel safe. The primary goal is to help our clients reconnect with their awareness of their body’s biological signals for food, move past fear of food and various eating behaviors, and cultivate nourishing, healthy behaviors around eating, movement, and well-being without a primary focus on weight. For many people, after years or decades immersed in the beliefs of diet culture, this change can be surprisingly challenging. Anti-diet dietitians are here to help! 

Anti-Diet is not Anti-Health

Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and this is a beautiful, natural thing. There is a large body of research that has shown that body size is not a valid indicator of health. There is a social justice movement called Health At Every Size (HAES) that advocates that we can pursue health without a focus on weight. It’s principles include eating enough nourishing foods, respecting all bodies, moving in ways that feel good, body autonomy, and creating a life-enhancing support system. 

However, often the primary goal of dieting is to change body shape, size, or composition, (often in order to improve health). But, we know that dieting does NOT improve health. In fact, it does just the opposite. Dieting causes harm. Serious harm. (Think trauma and eating disorders). And, it doesn’t even DO what it says it’s going to do—shrink bodies. Most people who diet end up regaining the majority of their weight and often even more weight. In other words, dieting is unethical, and so no healthcare practitioner should be recommending weight loss to ANYONE under ANY circumstances. It’s just wrong. 

The Anti-Diet Approach (Intuitive Eating) 

Moving away from diets works in the long term to create lifelong self-care nourishment. Listening to the body’s cues for what and how much to eat is better for health and well-being than following any kind of eating plan. Science consistently shows that people who eat according to their body’s own wisdom, also known as Intuitive Eating, have better health outcomes. Only you know what your body needs in any given moment; a dietitian can’t possibly know that for anyone. 

But what about nutrition? 

Gentle nutrition is still a part of what anti-diet dietitians help clients with; it’s just without the lens of weight loss/body manipulation/restrictive eating/dieting.  This treatment can also be referred to as Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT), which is evidence-based nutrition counseling for real medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, celiac disease, GI issues, and others). It incorporates nutrition science without a weight loss approach.

MNT is different than putting someone on a diet. For example, it’s helping a client with celiac disease learn how to read nutrition labels for products that contain gluten, or helping a patient with diabetes to understand how their body metabolizes carbohydrates, or helping a client with heart disease incorporate more heart-healthy fats into their diet if they want to. Anti-diet dietitians still do provide this treatment as appropriate, but using the lens of weight-inclusive care, without diet culture’s harmful influences. 

What Anti-Diet Dietitians WILL and WON’T Do

Anti- diet dietitians won’t ask their clients to get on a scale (unless a client is in eating disorder recovery and weight restoration is necessary) or count calories, or portion out/weigh their foods, or track their food intake for purposes of “staying on track.”

They will respect their clients as the experts on their own bodies, helping them to tune in (rather than out) to what their bodies are telling them, and they will provide specific nutrition education and therapy as appropriate, when the client is ready and willing to experiment with positive health behaviors.

It is a collaborative, client-centered, truly holistic approach that does not require body manipulation or shrinkage. 

Katrina Seidman, MS, RDN, LDN

The Why and How of Family Mealtime…

The Why and How of Family Mealtime…

You already know that eating together as a family is a good idea. Most people hope to share happy mealtimes with their children and build memories together. Research also shows that there are many benefits to eating together: 

Yet, today it can feel harder than ever to get everyone around the table, phones/tablets down, at the same time. Then, mealtime can become a battle of the tastes with everyone expecting foods that they like and will eat. But, with a little creative planning, mealtime can go more smoothly for everyone, whether it’s a group of ten or two, family meal time can be enjoyable.

You might be wondering: What should I make? When can I get to the store? What should I do with all the leftovers? 

To help you on your way, I have put together six straightforward strategies that you can try, no matter what size your family and how crazy your schedule might be. 

  1. Keep it simple: Do what works. This might be breakfast for dinner, peanut butter and jelly, or a store-bought rotisserie chicken. Recently, the idea of snack trays has become an easy, popular dinner idea. Create a big tray of veggies, fruits, nuts, precooked meats, cut up cheese, and dips to create a tapas style experience.  Know that it doesn’t have to be an elaborate or even a cooked meal. Smoothies and sandwiches are totally okay, too. As are eggs and toast! 
  2. For some no-brainer structure, try theme nights. Think meatless Mondays, taco Tuesdays, kids cook night (Raddish is a cooking club for kids raddishkids.com), Mediterranean, Asian, create your own/bar style options: pasta or baked potato bars, nacho bar, and even breakfast for dinner night
  3. Something for everyone: For kids/not yet adventurous eaters, try to pair the unfamiliar with the familiar. For example, if you are making your favorite coconut curry but worry that the kids won’t touch it, serve their favorite fruit and have bread and butter on the table so they will be able to find something to fill up on, while being exposed to the other flavors. You never know when they might be ready to try it. Conversely, when serving the kids’ favorite entrée, ie. Spaghetti or chicken nuggets the adults may appreciate special flavor additions such as crushed red pepper or fun dipping sauces like zhoug, sriracha, or tahini. 
  4. Cook once eat twice. Batch cook pasta, rice, other grains when you do have more time, and freezing them for future time-limited evenings. When making entrees in the instant pot or slow cooker, double it and freeze for a delicious home cooked meal next month. 
  5. There are apps for that! Apps such as Paprika and Wanderlist (or simply the note section on your phone) can help with scheduling, making grocery lists, and keeping everything organized. 
  6. Lastly, be flexible! Even though you may have thoughtfully planned the night’s dinner, sometimes it doesn’t always work out whether there’s a traffic jam or mom is feeling sick. In these instances, it’s helpful to have a backup plan such as steam able veggies in the bag or bagged salad kits and frozen precooked brown rice or other grain. Pair these with a can of beans or canned salmon or tuna and a yummy premade sauce such as pesto or Thai peanut and it’s a meal in less than 10 minutes. Or, just order a pizza and place the fruit basket on the table and call it a day! 

Here’s last weeks‘ mealplan for my family of five: 

Monday: leftover frozen baked ziti, salad, fruit 

Tuesday: shrimp tacos (make your own) with all the fixins + rugala (Jewish cookies) 

Wednesday: grilled balsamic chicken (pre-made from store) with air fried tater tots and baby cauliflower 

Thursday: leftover frozen pizza, cut up veggies with dip

Friday: date night! Kids have pizza again! Oh well, it works! 

Saturday: French Onion Soup and baked potatoes, salad, and fruit 

Sunday:  Veggie chili cornbread muffins, salad

Katrina Seidman, MS RDN LDN

Click here to learn more about how to work with me!

How to Cope With Weight Gain When You Stop Restricting

How to Cope With Weight Gain When You Stop Restricting

When you finally decide to reject diet culture and begin nourishing your body, weight gain becomes a very real possibility, especially if you’ve been maintaining an artificially lower weight.

 

And, if you are living in a culture that highly values a photo-shopped, excessively thin aesthetic, it is likely that weight gain doesn’t sound like cause for celebration. I get it.

 

Just know that any weight gain associated with nourishing your body is totally okay and not cause for concern. But what about health, you ask? The truth is that many health concerns that are often attributed to weight, are in fact, not weight related. True story.

 

You are not doing anything wrong when you honor your body’s cues for food and rest.

 

Regardless of these truths, you may need some support and strategies to get you through the process. Afterall, when you’ve spent (maybe) years chasing an ideal that seemed to make sense, you’ve invested A LOT if yourself in the process and the dream of an artificially thin body and all of the acceptance and privilege we are promised if we just get thin enough.Most people need support if they experience body changes due to no longer dieting.

 

Here are some tips to make the journey a little easier.  

 

  1. Don’t weigh yourself, obviously. And not only that, but just get rid of the scale for
    good. And when you go to the doc, you have the right to refuse the scale. Weigh-ins are not mandatory; your body, your choice. Check out fat activist Ragan  Chastain’s blog post on tips for surviving this encounter at your next doctor’s visit.
  2. Fat positive your feedsClean it up, people. There is way too much thin ideal imagery out there. Follow body positive accounts such as Ragan Chastain, BeNourished,Taylor’s The Body Is Not An Apology, Tess Holliday, Virgie Tovar, and others for some real body examples. We can change our ideals and vision of
    beauty when we give ourselves a variety of different images of beautiful bodies.
  3. Buy new clothes (if you have the resources) that fit or that are at least stretchy. Wearing clothes that you are growing out of is just plain uncomfortable, and a constant reminder that your body is changing. Also important: get rid of those
    items that are too small so there are no reminders of your unhealthier restrictive self. Try Poshmark or other second hand shops for deals on styles you love. You are not alone. As mentioned above, increasing body size as a result of intuitive eating is to be expected. There is no right or wrong way for your weight
    to go. Your body is going to do what it does, which for many means weight gain. Be kind to yourself; cut yourself some slack. Now is the time for deep self-compassion. Get a therapist; seek a weight-inclusive dietitian, and join a body positive facebook group to connect with others going
    through similar experiences.
  4. Lastly, think of what else you have gained. Freedom with food? Brain power for more important thoughts? More time to do fun things? Christy Harrison, anti-diet dietitian and author, proclaims that dieting and diet culture is The Life Thief that
    steals our joy and purpose in the world and how we must take back our right to do what we were meant to do in this world and live or lives full of pleasure, vitality, and peace.

Remember, being happy and fabulous on your terms is it’s own kind of powerful.

<3

Katrina Seidman, RDN LDN

Are you interested in learning more or working with me?

I can be reached here – I’d love to support you on your healing journey!

 

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Raise Children Who Are Healthy Eaters

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Raise Children Who Are Healthy Eaters

Who wants to put less effort in when it comes to meal times?

Who wants to just sit and enjoy their meal and talk about their day or plans for the weekend?

Who wants to focus on connecting with their families at the table instead of fighting over food?

Well, I’m here to tell you that you can do all of these things! As long as you do your job of getting the food on the table, you can clock out and turn the shift over to the kids. Pat yourself on the back as a job well done.

Now, it’s up to them to decide how much to eat (even if that’s nothing at all) of what is on the table, no if’s, ands, or buts! This is known as the Division of Responsibility (DOR) in feeding and there is a large body of research showing that this feeding style helps kids listen to their bodies for what they are hungry for and how much they need. And as an added bonus, you get to dig in to enjoy your own meal.

  1. Set it and forget it. When it comes to feeding kids, parents decide when and what (when mealtime is and what’s being served). Kids decide how. This means that once children can feed themselves, they are supported in choosing what they will eat from what is offered, how much, and in what combination. No more fighting over vegetables, or whether or not they will eat only bread. We really can support children in listening to their own bodies and trusting that what they want is the right thing. This takes all of the power struggle out of mealtime and puts parents and kids in control of the right things. It may feel hard at first to let them forego vegetables, but still have dessert, but, in the long run, this will help them stay in tough with their innate hunger/fullness cues.
  2. Try saying these 6 little words: “you don’t have to eat it.” Take the pressure off of your kids to eat a certain food or number of bites to help everyone feel more relaxed and happy at the table. This also allows kids the freedom to organically try foods when they are ready. Forcing foods or bites can create a stressful environment which can easily backfire and cause some kids to resist eating anything at all, let alone to try a  new food. When you model eating a variety of foods, your kids will naturally want to do the same, when they are ready.
  3. Serve dessert with the meal. (What??!!!) yes, Serve. Dessert. With. The. Meal. Why? There are a few compelling reasons. First, When we decide we are full from dinner but then are presented with a yummy dessert, it can be tough to turn down. We are tempted to eat beyond our body’s fullness cues. Or,  we might eat less dinner in an attempt to save room for dessert, only to be hungry an hour later. And lastly,, if we are rewarded with dessert when we finish our veggies, it can set up a negative association with eating vegetables and can heighten the appeal of dessert. Instead, let’s give all foods a level playing field. After all, food is food. When we are presented with a variety of foods at the same time, possibly including a moderate serving of dessert, it gives us the opportunity to decide what our body needs and wants, without the confusion. At first, children might be super excited and eat their dessert first, but give it some time and the novelty will wear off. They may even (gasp!) leave some on their plate.

Katrina Seidman, MS RDN LDN

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