Here are a dietitian’s top five tips for getting the most out of your activity during the warmer months:
The body needs energy to perform optimally, regardless of the activity, including whether it’s just for fun or exercise. Before you engage in movement, aim to eat something that contains simple forms of carbohydrates — like a banana, pretzels, crackers, bagel, or toast — about 30-60 minutes prior.
This pre-workout fuel, especially when it’s coming from quick-acting carbohydrates (broken down into sugars), allows you to feel more energized and can improve your performance. Your body can break down these simple carbs into sugars more quickly than a meal that contains complex carbs (think whole grains with fiber, which slows down the digestion of the sugars) or a lot of protein or fat (which also slows digestion).
The heat can be very exhausting on the body and can even increase cortisol levels (a stress hormone), leaving you feeling depleted after your workout. It can also increase your risk of dehydration due to excessive sweating. To feel better during your workouts, consider getting outside for your activities in the early morning, late afternoon, or evening when the outside temperatures are cooler. This reduces the sweating and stress on your body from the heat and allows you to feel more comfortable during your workout.
Getting enough sleep is a great way to make sure you have enough energy to engage in movement that you find joyful. This may also make it easier for you to get up earlier to engage in activity before your day starts, or could allow you to have more energy to be active later in the evening. Sleep is also when our bodies go into a state of rest and repair, allowing your muscle tissues to regenerate for your next activity.
Try to consume foods that contain both a carbohydrate and a protein source after your workouts. After a workout, you want both quick carbs to restore the depleted glycogen (or energy stores) in the liver and muscles and you want protein to repair your muscles. In fact, it is important to get both because carbs are “protein sparing” – that is if you get enough protein but no carbs, your body will convert some of that protein into carbs for energy, so less of the protein will go to repairing and building muscle!
A few great post-activity snack options include Greek yogurt with fruit, a fruit smoothie with protein powder, or a granola bar with added protein for a quick on-the-go option.
If engaging in movement outside in the heat, especially if you are sweating a lot or outside for long periods, consider refueling with electrolytes (think sodium and potassium), which have been depleted from sweating, through sports drinks or electrolyte powders/tablets.
Adding in 5-10 minutes of yoga, stretching, or walking can make a big difference in how you feel and in your overall health. This could be as simple as using a standing desk or taking a five-minute break to walk around the house or stretch. Just breaking up the stillness of sitting or lying down can benefit our health by allowing our blood to flow properly and our muscles to be engaged.
The prevalence of co-occurring diagnoses of eating disorders and substance use disorders is on the rise. According to the National Center on Addictions and Substance Abuse, up to 50% of individuals with eating disorders also abuse alcohol or illicit drugs, a rate 11 times greater than the general population. It’s worth noting, however, that this statistic is from 2003. The prevalence rate may be much higher 20 years later, especially after the increased stress and isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why are those who struggle with eating disorders more likely to experience problems with addiction and vice versa? There may not be a simple answer to this, but to better understand, it’s important to consider some similarities between ED and SUD.
First, there are many risk factors for developing an ED, and many of these are shared with developing SUD. Some of these common risk factors include alteration in brain chemistry, family history of the disorder, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, trauma, undiagnosed mental health issues, and social pressures.
These risk factors often lead to the individual searching for a coping mechanism, a way to “control” their situation, or a temporary distraction. Substance use and engaging in ED behaviors can serve their purpose here. While both are dangerous and can be life-threatening, they are coping strategies that vulnerable populations often utilize.
Second, there are some behavioral and personality-trait overlaps between those with ED and SUD. Sufferers of both disorders often may have an obsessive preoccupation, compulsive behaviors, a tendency to be secretive about their behaviors, and may isolate to continue the behaviors. People who suffer from eating disorders often describe their ED behaviors as feeling addictive, similar to how an addict feels towards drugs or alcohol – like it has become less of a choice and more of a compulsion.
The concept of transferring addictions is one that comes up a lot in the world of substance use. When a person discontinues using their substance of choice, often their first instinct is to replace that addiction with another. Even if a person is not experiencing an eating disorder in active addiction, it’s quite common for eating disorder behaviors to emerge or re-emerge when that person gets sober. It’s important to be on the lookout for eating disorder behaviors when a person is newly sober, even if they haven’t exhibited signs of having an eating disorder previously.
Although eating disorder recovery and addiction recovery can look different, what is similar between the two is that it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to stop without help. Fortunately, recovery from addiction and/or an eating disorder is possible, and getting help with one can often improve the likelihood of recovery from the other.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. Food for Thought: Substance Abuse and Eating Disorders. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) Columbia University; New York: 2003.
The registered dietitians at Healthier Tomorrows truly do believe that all foods fit – there is always a place for the savory and the sweet, for appetizers and desserts! So, to help welcome in the warmer weather and the more relaxed days of summer, we have compiled here a few of our favorite summer desserts… please enjoy!!
This dish is very refreshing after a day outside or even to add to a day of self-care this summer! I love the sweetness of the fresh strawberries and light/creaminess of the homemade whipped cream. It truly is a wonderful snack or dessert. This recipe can be modified based on preferences as well. Peaches and blackberries are another great option!
My go-to summer dessert is cooling down with any sort of ice cream! I’m not too picky either – a local ice cream shop, ice cream truck, or the grocery store will do the trick. I’m always debating if I go the fruity flavor route or chocolate/cookie direction. If I’m going the fruity route, I might end up with something along the lines of raspberry cheesecake ice cream, while if I’m going in the other direction, I might opt for a simple chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich! Either way, it always hits the spot!
I have such happy memories through my childhood of eating chocolate eclair cake at potlucks, and it’s still my go-to summer dessert recipe! It’s easier to make than it may sound, only requiring 5 ingredients. Plus, it’s a no-bake recipe which helps keep your home cooler than using your oven in the midst of the summer heat. The best part (besides how yummy it is!) is that you can make it ahead of time and it keeps beautifully in the refrigerator!
No-Bake Chocolate Eclair Cake (there are many variations, but here’s one! https://www.thecountrycook.net/eclair-cake/#recipe)
I love ice cream cake! There are tons of variations out there. A personal favorite is a Buster Bar ice cream cake. My mom made something like this growing up so I have many fond memories. I love that you don’t have to turn on the oven and it doesn’t take too much effort. The hardest thing about it is planning ahead to give yourself enough time for each layer to freeze. But the great thing is it can be made many days in advance.
My favorite summer dessert is a red, white, and blue trifle! It’s easy to put together and combines all the tasty sweets into one. This a recipe I enjoy using: https://www.thepioneerwoman.com/food-cooking/recipes/a36321045/red-white-and-blue-trifle/ but instead of making my own whip (the cream cheese and granulated sugar). I use cool whip for convenience. This is my go-to dessert to bring to family gatherings and parties.
Homemade banana muffins! This is a current favorite in our house! Although they serve as a delicious dessert, they are great as a balanced snack too. They freeze well, so I typically make 2-3 times the recipe and freeze extras so they are readily available!
My favorite is a grilled peach crumble with ice cream!
I love grilling in the summer so if I can do that with a dessert than I am IN! There are many components to this dessert that pair well together like the hot and cold contrast and the smooth and crunchy combo. Such a tasty dish!
One of my favorite summer treats is super refreshing and very simple to make. After cutting up a watermelon, freeze some of the cubes and keep them to make this Watermelon Lime Slush. It’s hydrating, tart and has the perfect amount of sweetness: Blend 2 cups of frozen watermelon and the juice from one lime in a blender. Add mint as a garnish and serve in a glass. Enjoy!!
Combine frozen bananas and nut butter of choice in the food processor or blender, blend until smooth, and enjoy!
Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out yogurt into a smooth layer. Top with mini chocolate chips, coconut shreds, and fruit of choice, and freeze for at least 2 hours. Break into pieces and enjoy!
Peel ripe bananas and insert a popsicle stick. Dip in melted chocolate and roll in sprinkles or nuts of choice. Let cool on parchment paper and store in a gallon freezer bag. Keep in the freezer for an easy grab-and-go cold sweet treat!
For those of you who have gotten the chance to experience a Chicago summer, you know that it is one of the best times to enjoy and explore the city. As always with Chicago, this means delicious food! As a registered dietitian and self-proclaimed burger enthusiast, I am always excited to try new restaurants, especially when there is an outdoor patio space involved. It’s also a great opportunity to explore different neighborhoods and their cultures. Without further ado, here are a few shoutouts:
This is one of my favorite burgers in the city, and I’m not alone: it has made top lists of the “Best Burgers in Chicago,” including on the “critically acclaimed” (in my opinion!) Instagram @windycityburgerreview. What makes it special? The pretzel bun and caramelized onions, and a flavor you just must experience yourself. The restaurant itself is enough of a hidden gem in that you won’t have to wait for hours like at the popular Au Cheval. It’s located in the quirky Logan Square neighborhood. The back patio is reminiscent of your friend’s cozy backyard, with string lights included.
A perfect spot for thin crust pizza straight out of the coal oven– unique in a city full of deep dish. It recently made the top 10 in Yelp’s review of the “Top 100 Places for Pizza” in Chicago. It’s located in both West Lakeview and West Town neighborhoods– sit on the sidewalk patio overlooking Southport in Lakeview and enjoy the local shopping or enjoy the cozy indoor atmosphere in West Town. They feature another Chicago favorite for dessert – seasonal pie slices from Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits—if you have room (but there is always room for dessert because there’s a second stomach for it—this is science).
Make a pit stop in Chicago’s upbeat and eclectic Wicker Park neighborhood, even if you can’t find a spot to sit! This cute, homey taco restaurant is nestled among shops on Milwaukee Ave. It is small and tends to be bustling, but you are just a short walk from the park in Wicker itself for a picnic. There is also a location in Bridgeport if you find yourself southbound–a neighborhood known for its diverse food and culture. My favorite taco is the Garlic Shrimp with Elote cauliflower, basil, avocado, and fried kale.
One of my personal summer favorites is the spacious patio at Fiya. Located in Chicago’s north Andersonville, Fiya is known for its Mediterranean cuisine from various Levantine and related regions. They described their menu as “fruit and veggie forward” so if you’re looking for something fresh, healthy, and delicious, this is your spot. It’s also a great place for a group with shareable dishes.
What would a Chicago summer food list be without ice cream? This is a stable in the Roscoe Village neighborhood. They are known for their delectable and creamy custard, as well as their fun mix-ins and “flavors of the month.” The line can be long, but don’t worry – it goes fast, and you can observe cute dogs eating their pup cones while you wait. You can also enjoy a classic Chicago dog – you knew this had to make it on the list at some point!
With more people traveling again, you may be wondering how to take your recovery on the road. Perhaps you’re traveling to see a loved one in another state, catching up with old friends, or just soaking in the joys of exploring a new state, city, or park. Maybe you’re excited that your relationship with food has gotten much more neutral lately, or perhaps you’re nervous because you’re not sure how to keep the momentum of recovery going forward with new stressors of travel coming up. Nonetheless, here are some tips for you!
Sometimes travel is unavoidable, for example, visiting sick loved ones or mandatory work travel. However, if the trip is optional, talk to your treatment team to determine if traveling makes sense right now based on where you are in your recovery journey. In some situations, pausing travel may be most beneficial, as there can be a lot of uncertainty and triggers that can come up with travel.
If it is a beneficial time to put the wheels in motion, discuss personal challenges and how you might navigate them in a session with your therapist and dietitian. For example, what if breakfast gets pushed off to be brunch? What if everyone is stopping to get ice cream but you haven’t had that food in your recovery journey yet? What if there is a lot of diet talk happening on the trip? It is important to develop a plan about how you’ll navigate these situations and more. You can make it fun and do some roleplaying in sessions, too! It can also be helpful to include supports that may be traveling with you into a session or two prior to your trip – maybe a parent, significant other, or a friend. That way they can learn what is going to be challenging for you and how to support you best.
It never hurts to have backup food on hand during travel. Think about how many times you’ve had a flight get delayed, dinner ended up being several hours later than expected, or you planned to make it back to the hotel but never had time. If we have access to food, we’re much more likely to follow through with getting that nutrition in throughout the day. I like to encourage my clients to put a few snacks into their backpack, purse, or vehicle at the start of the day when traveling and restock the next day. Think nonperishable snacks such as trail mix, chips, granola bars, crackers, or your favorite candy.
In terms of hydration, I encourage clients to pack a reusable water bottle and refill in throughout the trip if the hotel/Airbnb has available water to use. Otherwise, if you’re on a road trip, throw some bottled water, Gatorade, or your favorite hydrating beverages into a cooler.
This might sound too obvious, but think about how often you’ve opened up your luggage on a trip and struggled with what to wear because nothing is comfortable. When our clothes dig at our skin it’s hard to focus and stay present. Pack options for various weather scenarios – rainy, cold, super humid, etc. Think about how you’d feel wearing those clothes in different temperatures. If wearing jean shorts isn’t comfortable when it’s sticky outside, can we opt for a loose dress or breathable shorts that might be more comfortable?
Tip: If you’re trying on clothes for an upcoming trip, or at any time for that matter, try putting on the clothes first without looking in a mirror. Ask yourself if the clothing feels comfortable. If yes, turn around and see if you like the style – if not just toss aside and try on the next item. We really want to lean into what FEELS good!
Start the conversation with your treatment team around your upcoming travel plans weeks ahead of time – start to process potential triggers, fears, and various scenarios before the time comes. This gives you time to incorporate supports into sessions, too, if it would be beneficial.
Also, I encourage my clients to start the packing process early! It can be overwhelming to try clothes on all at once, especially if you’re packing for a different season or trying on clothes that you haven’t worn since before the recovery process started. Starting the process early allows you to borrow or buy clothes that you might want in different styles or sizes.
Tip: Set an amount of time per week to spend packing, and you can chip away at it over a few weeks!
You might be scratching your head at this one…pack my coping skills?! I’m sure you have some on-the-go coping skills that don’t need to be packed, like deep breathing skills, 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique, meditation, and so many more! However, think of what you could pack to help you cope as well. Do you enjoy listening to music? Remember to pack those Airpods or your favorite headphones! Do you find joy in coloring or journaling? Remember to pack those, too!
In addition to all of the tips above, my favorite tip is this last one. Remember the purpose of your trip! Are you traveling to visit a friend, family member, or loved one after a long pause during the pandemic? Are you going on your honeymoon? Are you soaking in the culture of a new country? Ask yourself what you want to remember from your trip once you return home. Remind yourself of that during your trip routinely. It is possible to successfully keep recovery afloat while having a memorable trip!
Happy traveling – both on your road to recovery or your next vacation!
In today’s digital age, you can find an article or video, or influencer who will support all sorts of different health beliefs, diets, and wellness routines.
Recently, a video of Gwyneth Paltrow talking about her daily wellness routine has gone viral. In the video, she uses lots of today’s big buzzwords around health and nutrition, including “intermittent fasting,” “Paleo,” “Detox,” and “Bone Broth.”
The issue with this video (and so many others) is that it can glamorize eating disorder behaviors. As a registered dietitian, when I hear someone say that they only drink coffee in the morning, drink bone broth for lunch and follow paleo with lots of vegetables for dinner, I do not think “health and wellness” but think “that’s not enough nutrition!” So, let’s talk about some of these buzzwords and what they mean.
There are several different variations of this diet. The general concept is that there are certain windows in which you fast (not eat) and certain windows in which you eat. A common variation of this diet is called the 16:8, where you fast 16 hours each day and eat only within an 8-hour window (10 am to 6 pm).
The Mayo health clinic lists the following side effects of fasting: hunger, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, decreased concentration, nausea, constipation, and headaches. Interestingly enough, these are the same side effects that come with an eating disorder! Because intermittent fasting covers a broad range of behaviors and no guidance on what to actually eat during the eating windows, it can be hard to compare the results of the diet.
While some people may find having some structure to their eating pattern helpful overall, intermittent fasting is no different than other diets. It can lead to an increased risk for developing an eating disorder or disordered thinking about food, and while weight may be lost initially, it is typically not sustained long-term.
Also sometimes called the caveman diet, the Paleo diet encourages eating like the hunters and gatherers would have in prehistoric times. This calls for eating meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds and cutting out most grains, legumes (a fancy word for beans), and dairy.
First of all, the diet is founded on the faulty idea that people were healthier way back when! While it may be true, there were fewer known cases of chronic diseases; this is mostly because people didn’t live long enough to develop them and died from other causes. While promoting more whole foods, more fruits and vegetables, and less processed foods can definitely have health benefits, the Paleo diet takes it a bit too far by cutting out whole food groups that have plenty of great nutrients to offer. Whole grains offer fiber and many vitamins and minerals.
Legumes are a great vegetarian protein source, along with fiber and other nutrients. Dairy is best known as a source of calcium, but is also a good source of protein, phosphorous, and vitamin D. If dairy isn’t included in one’s diet regularly, finding alternative sources of calcium is very important.
Additionally, having less variety of whole food options to choose from can make cooking and preparing meals more challenging. The other disadvantage of following the Paleo diet is it can be very limiting when eating out or in social settings.
Detox and cleanses are two words that often are seen together. There is no standardized definition of what this means. Often, these words are used to advertise or sell different products or supplements. Things like a “juice cleanse” or “green tea detox.”
Our bodies have great detox systems in place already! Our liver, kidneys, skin, and digestive track are helping us to stay “detoxed” all the time by excreting (releasing) toxins through urine, sweat, and stool. The idea that we need to help our body detox often comes down to marketing. Many of these products come with a high price tag and big claims about all the miracles they can perform. With all of the health claims and buzz around them, there is little to no evidence that they actually do anything to benefit the body. Fiber, water, and a variety of foods can help keep our system naturally feeling its best!
Bone broth is a broth or stock that is made by simmering bones (typically chicken or beef) generally for at least 12 hours, and sometimes for more than 24 hours, to have the bones release the collagen and nutrients that are typically locked inside the bones. Some bone broth recipes may also include adding vegetables during the cooking process. This can then be drunk on its own or used as a base for soups or in other recipes.
Bone broth can certainly provide many great nutrients and have some health benefits. Collagen can help with skin and joints and there are also claims that bone broth helps with digestive inflammation. While bone broth can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet, it is important to remember that no one food is the answer to all health and wellness questions and concerns.
So, if you want to try making your next soup with bone broth instead of with a traditional stock, or sip broth instead of your morning coffee, go for it! If you’d rather not, there are still plenty of other ways to take care of your body every day.
A quick Google search of most nutrition topics will give you a wide variety of opinions and very conflicting advice. It can all be enough to make your head spin! So, next time you’re watching Tik Tok or reading a blog or doing just about anything on the internet, take note of the nutrition “facts” that you’re seeing.
Before believing it all to be true, do a little investigating. It is especially important to consider the source of information; is the information coming from someone reputable or someone trying to sell you something?
As dietitians, we love helping our clients separate fact from fiction, and assisting them in making the choices that make the most sense for them, based on their individual needs and health goals!
Summer is on its way!! And it is always helpful to have some quick, easy, nutritious, and fun snack ideas in mind for road trips, picnics, baseball games, and lazy days in the backyard!! The Healthier Tomorrows team has shared their favorite summer snack ideas so that you can spend less time thinking about what to bring with you to avoid hunger pangs and more time thinking about your grand summer adventures ahead!!
My current obsession is Trader Joe’s “Chips in a Pickle”.
I get indecisive about what I want to have, so I tend to make my own little “charcuterie boards” of snacks on a plate – usually some nuts, potato chips, chocolate, and maybe some apple slices or carrots. – Sara
My go-to snack lately is perfect for summer. I have a busy work/life schedule with two young kids so I need snacks that are convenient and uncomplicated. I’ve been craving crisp, juicy snacks as the weather is getting warmer, and I’ve found a great solution. I buy individual guacamole packets from Aldi (spicy flavor is preferred) and a bag of mini cucumbers and simply dip and eat! The combination is perfect—salty and creamy yet crisp and crunchy. Plus, I can eat them without any preparation or dishes to do afterward, which is an added bonus. – Kerry
My absolute favorite summer snack is frozen red grapes with cashews. It’s the best sweet and salty snack on a hot day. It is super yummy, and pairing the two helps stabilize blood sugar. – Alessandra
I’ve been mixing vanilla Greek yogurt with a spoonful of peanut butter and a little honey to make a sort of creamy peanut butter dip. Then you can dip whatever you want! My personal favorite is apples, but you could also use bananas, strawberries, pretzels, etc. It’s nice and refreshing as the weather gets warmer, but the dip also has protein and fat to make this snack satisfying and more nutrient dense! – Jessie
I love stuffing dates with nut butter, dipping them in melted dark chocolate, and keeping them in the freezer! So yummy and tastes like a fiber-rich relative of a Twix bar! Sometimes if I want to add an extra protein punch, I will mix some collagen peptides into the nut butter before I stuff the dates. – Dara
My favorite summer snack is what I call my PB Granana Smoothie. It’s a blend up of greens, banana, and peanut butter, along with some other nutrient-dense ingredients to further support the gut microbiome and anti-inflammatory pathways. Not only is this smoothie delicious, it’s nutritious and balanced for blood sugar stability and sustained energy! Cheers to health! – Jess
Frozen Grapes! So easy, like a little bite-size popsicle! All you do is wash and remove it from the stem and put in the freezer. I like to put them on a baking sheet so they don’t clump together, but you can also lay them out flat in a plastic bag. If you’re looking for a little extra sweetness (especially good for more sour grape varieties), tossing them in a few spoonfuls of sugar to coat the outside of the grapes before you freeze makes them the perfect summer treat. – Anna
Fruit dip made with vanilla greek yogurt, peanut butter, and ground cinnamon (love dipping apple slices in this) – Hannah
Toast with ricotta, honey, sliced almonds, and strawberries, or avocado toast with pickled red onions, feta, and microgreens or other toppings
I love these because they’re simple, fresh, and delicious, with a mix of carbs/healthy fats to stay full and satisfied. I get inspired by the toasts at my favorite coffee shop and try to recreate them at home. –Adrienne
Let’s not forget the gluten-free side of snacking!!
I very much enjoy having chocolate rice cakes w/ peanut butter as a sweet, filling snack. Sometimes, depending on how I’m feeling in the moment, I’ll throw some strawberries on top. I don’t like bananas, but strawberries w/ peanut butter and chocolate — yum! That is the way to go! The Quaker chocolate rice cakes even have little chocolate chips in them — OMG delicious.
As for a savory snack, I enjoy having gluten-free Wasa crackers. I like the sesame ones, but I’ll also take plain, whatever is available in the grocery store! I throw some slices of deli turkey and cheese on there, as well as lettuce and tomato if I’m feeling like it. I’ll do a few “open-face cracker sandwiches.” Delicious! – Loni
When I close my eyes and think of summer, the first image that pops into my mind is a bunch of loved ones gathered around a fire, making s’mores after a day of enjoying the lake, river, or pool! They’re a super simple and wonderfully sticky snack to enjoy after a warm summer day. You can even get creative with your own s’mores variation. Some of my favorite variations are swapping the chocolate bar for Reese’s cup or adding peanut butter to the original recipe (as you can see, I’m a peanut butter lover!). Use your imagination and see what variations you can come up with!
-Milk Chocolate Bars
-Place half of the chocolate bar on the graham cracker half.
-Use a metal skewer or long stick to toast a few marshmallows over the campfire until desired char – my personal favorite is golden brown. If you’re not around a campfire, microwave the marshmallow for about 15-25 seconds until it has doubled!
-Place the toasted marshmallow over the chocolate graham cracker half and top with the second half.
-Press together, slowly remove the rod or skewer and enjoy! – Claire
If the sauce comes out too thick for your preference, add a splash of water or broth, blend, and keep adding until you find the consistency you prefer.
This recipe is packed with powerful ingredients!!
When babies are born, their stomachs are about the size of a grape and hold less than an ounce (~5-7 milliliters) of milk at once. Colostrum (the thick, yellow breast milk in the early days after birth) is tailored to what your baby needs, both in nutrition content and volume. Newborns need to eat frequently (typically, at least every 2-3 hours or 8-12 times every 24 hours) because their stomachs can only hold so much milk at once. Frequent feedings in the early days also help promote an abundant milk supply. It’s important to remember that even though the rule of thumb is to breastfeed every two-three hours, it doesn’t mean your baby will only want to nurse within those exact time frames. Think about your own eating patterns – do you always want to eat at the same times every day? Do you sometimes need to eat more than usual to feel satisfied with a meal? Do you sometimes “graze” throughout the day? Like adults, babies’ hunger isn’t always going to follow a schedule. This is why watching your baby’s hunger cues is a helpful guide (see #2).
At the core of caring for babies is understanding their behavior and how they communicate their needs. For example, knowing the signs that a baby is hungry (e.g., sucking on their fists, opening their mouth and turning their head looking for the breast) helps caregivers be responsive to the baby’s needs, which don’t follow an exact schedule. Also, parents may assume that something is going wrong with breastfeeding if a baby wakes up in the middle of the night or cries often. Knowing that it’s normal for babies to wake up at night or cry for reasons besides hunger can help correct the assumption that a baby is waking up or crying because something is wrong with the breast milk or breastfeeding, which can help families continue breastfeeding and meet their goals.
It’s normal to feel tugging or pulling while a baby breastfeeds, but pain can be a sign that something isn’t going like it should. Oftentimes pain may indicate a shallow latch, but other factors can contribute to pain as well. While pain during breastfeeding is commonly experienced, the myth that breastfeeding is supposed to hurt can keep breastfeeding moms from seeking the breastfeeding help they need.
Physiologically, breast milk production is driven by demand. Milk removal, whether by breastfeeding or milk expression (e.g.., hand expression or pumping), triggers the body to make more milk and is the most important factor for ensuring adequate supply. Let’s say you’re at a sit-down restaurant, and you order a soda to drink. If you’re regularly drinking the soda, the waiter will probably top off your soda as your drink. The more of soda you consume, the more your cup is going to be filled. Likewise, breastfeeding more frequently triggers the breasts to produce more milk. On the other hand, if you’re not drinking much of your soda, the waiter may not refill your drink at all; similarly, if a nursing mom isn’t breastfeeding or expressing milk often, her breasts will take that as a sign that they don’t need to produce as much milk.
Experiencing the highs and lows of breastfeeding can feel like a roller coaster. Lactation consultants can offer education to help you make informed decisions about your breastfeeding journey, address your breastfeeding concerns and questions, and walk alongside you to help you meet your breastfeeding goals.
In order to help increase awareness and understanding of eating disorders and empower those in a position to support those in recovery, here is my list of top things I wish people understood about eating disorders.
Eating disorders frequently affect a person’s body image, self-esteem, and sense of identity and are normally unrelated to vanity or desire for attention. Instead, food is used as a tool to help a person control their emotions.
According to the DSM-5 (a diagnostic and statistical manual to diagnosis mental disorders), there are five diagnoses under the eating disorder umbrella: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder), and OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder). One eating disorder diagnosis is NOT superior to another. All can wreak havoc on the body and cause devastating effects.
Everyone has highs and lows throughout recovery, just as most people do in their day-to-day lives. There will be good and bad days. There will also be moments where more support is needed, such as a higher level of care or someone checking in more frequently, while other times a person can manage on their own. No matter where someone is on their journey, compassion and kindness go a long way.
Eating disorders can’t be “cured” overnight, and they certainly don’t appear overnight. Think about any habit you have acquired in your lifetime. It didn’t just happen without practice and consistency. Similarly, eating disorder behaviors acquire over time, usually quietly, until the behaviors affect so many aspects of life that they can’t be ignored. Just as it took time to build up these habits, it takes time, patience, and consistency to change them.
You can’t make someone recover if they don’t want to. Like anything in life, you cannot make someone change which isn’t ready to change. You can provide recommendations or encouragement that aligns with recovery, but this is their journey that they have to discover when they are ready. Voicing concern and worry are acceptable emotions to relay, but trying to guilt someone doesn’t make a recovery sustainable and leaves the person feeling hopeless.
Eating Disorders: Beyond Gender and Stereotypes
Eating disorders can affect anyone, not just females. Although the majority of those struggling with eating disorders identify as female, eating disorders, DO NOT discriminate and can impact people no matter their gender, age, race, body size, ability, and socioeconomic status.
Unveiling the Hidden Reality of Eating Disorders
And lastly, eating disorders are very serious illnesses, regardless of how “sick” someone feels or presents. Not everyone who struggles with an eating disorder has a noticeable change in their physical appearance. This can cause people not to seek help when they need it because they don’t think they are “sick” enough for treatment. What does being “not sick enough” mean in the eyes of an eating disorder? Sometimes it can be not being skinny enough, restricting enough, or they are told they “look healthy.” One can never tell how much someone is struggling simply by physical appearance. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), “less than 6% of people with eating disorders are deemed ‘underweight.’”
For more statistics and information regarding eating disorders, please visit https://anad.org/eating-disorders-statistics/