Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Guest Blog: The Words of Anorexia: An Interview

Think back to your childhood.  What are your memories of?  Most likely you think of family vacations, sports teams, playing dress up or summer camps.  But what about food?  Is it a constant thought, memory, or reminder? 

Imagine if it was.  A constant thought that you didn't look good enough.  That if you ate just 100 more calories you need to run at least a mile as quick as you can to burn those 100 calories off so it doesn't sit on your thighs.  Or the fear that you have to go to that family reunion this weekend and make it look like you are eating just like everyone else, all the while counting each morsel of calories in your head and hating yourself for being so weak.

Throughout the next months we'll be following "Sarah," a client who has been dealing with Anorexia for over 20 years.  We'll learn how it started, hear some highs and lows, and finally follow Sarah as she continues with recovery.  I hope each and every one of you will learn from this interview and most importantly cheer Sarah on as she continues to win this battle.

Q:  Looking back, what age do you think you started with anorexic tendencies?
A:   I remember around the age of 8 I would sneak food.
Around 11 I became a vegetarian as to not gain weight.  And as far back as I can remember I always ate my food in a certain order, one at a time, and it couldn't touch.

Q:  How old are you now?
A:  33

Q:  Have you been in and out of anorexia or have you had times where it's been controlled?
A:  I wouldn't say in and out. I would say I would have periods of time where the anorexia wasn't fully in control.


Q:  What does anorexia feel like?
A:   Anorexia to me feels like a ton of things. There are days I feel like I am wrapped in chains with no hopes of escaping. There are other days I like the control I have over my body and my decisions on what I can and can't do with it. There are days where I just don't what to feel or think because I am so torn and confused with fighting the voices in my head.

Q:  Did you know something was wrong when you displayed early behaviors?
A:  I did not know something was wrong early on. I really didn’t realize what I was doing until about the age of 16.

 Q:  When did you first get support?
A:  I first got support from an actual eating disorder therapist 4 months ago.

Q:  What made you get support?
A:   I decided to get support when an event occurred in my life that I had absolutely no control. Anorexia came back with a vengeance and I knew I would end up in the hospital if I didn't ask for help.

Q:  When did you first get a diagnosis?
 A:  I first got diagnosed 6 months ago when I finally decided to answer questions about my eating behaviors honestly.

Q:  What are you doing now to work with your anorexia?
A:  I am working on my anorexia by seeing an amazing therapist twice a week. I also see a dietitian  that understands eating disorders and speak to a medical provider that is willing to listen. The most important part is all three of them know the importance of not forcing me into anything I am not ready for. I am not forced to gain weight but I am constantly reminded of the consequences if I can not stay with the plan and maintain my weight.

Q:  Is living with Anorexia hard?
A:  Hard is not the word to describe going through anorexia. Hell is more like it. There are days that are so bad you only wish you could die so you will finally be free of the voices. There are other days where you feel there is hope but it seems like it just out of reach. There are days when you remember what it feels like to be you and happy just to have the next day to have to start all over. It is an emotional rollercoaster that at times feels like the brakes are destroyed.

**All questions were asked by
Amy Goldsmith RD
, LDN and business owner of Kindred Nutrition.  The clients name has been changed to protect indemnity.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Guest blog: Cancer fighting foods by Kate Flaherty

Welcome to Ask Amy's first guest blog post.  Today Kate Flaherty, Outreach and Awareness Coordinator for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, provides us with insight into Cancer fighting foods.  Kate became passionate about cancer education after losing her grandmother to lung cancer four years ago.  She has especially become interested in complementary methods of treatment such as nutrition and yoga and how they can be beneficial when combined in comprehensive treatment.  To learn more about the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance go to www.mesothelioma.com.  Below is an insight into cancer fighting foods.  Are they in your diet?  Be well everyone.


Cancer Fighting Foods
Nutrition plays a tremendous role both in preventative cancer care and for those who have been diagnosed with cancer. After heart disease (also acutely tied to nutrition), cancer is the leading cause of death in the United States. Luckily we’re learning now that we can take steps to keep cancer at bay and lessen our susceptibility to this difficult disease.

It is now common knowledge that what we eat can help prevent cancer. With cases of skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, and mesothelioma on the rise, preventative eating habits have never been more important, and for those already diagnosed with this terrible disease, mesothelioma life expectancy can vastly improve with careful attention to the diet.

Flavonoids--Free radicals are unstable particles that careen around the body, causing damage by stealing electrons from healthy cells. A cell that loses an electron to a free radical becomes a new free radical, and it heads out to steal an electron from another cell, creating an ongoing cycle of destruction. Flavonoids are "anti-oxidants"--they neutralize free radicals and are a group of 6,000 substances that give plants their red, yellow, and orange coloration. Nearly all fruits, vegetables, and herbs/spices contain flavonoids, but especially good sources are berries, apples, onions, pears, tomatoes, black beans, and cabbage.

Folate--One of the B vitamins, folate greatly reduces the risk of DNA mutation, and it is easy to find. Peanuts, most cereals, orange juice, asparagus and Brussels sprouts, spinach and romaine, and beans/peas--all have nice amounts of folate.

Vitamin D—The
American Cancer Society indicates that vitamin D curbs the growth of cancer, and increased intake reduces the risk of breast cancer by up to fifty percent. The best way to get some D is by standing outside in the sun--10 minutes of bright sunlight can provide as much as 5,000 IU of vitamin D. Food-wise, milk and eggs are the most common source, as well as seafoods such as salmon, cod, and shrimp.

The Spice Cabinet--While searching for cancer fighting foods, it can be easy to overlook herbs and spices, but this would be a tragedy. As mentioned, most herbs and spices contain flavonoids, but they do plenty more, and some are quite powerful. Black pepper, mint, turmeric, thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, cinnamon, and marjoram are all cancer fighting/cancer preventing herbs, and each has plenty of other beneficial qualities, in addition to a myriad of vitamins and minerals.

Garlic--The heavyweight of the healthy kitchen and often considered a miracle food, garlic can be applied as an antiseptic, it fights/prevents infections internally and cranks up the immune system, and it actually helps to destroy cancer cells. It lowers both cholesterol and blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke/heart attack, and it lowers blood sugar. Garlic kills herpes on contact, along with internal parasites, viruses, mold, fungus, bacteria, and viruses. Other members of the Allium family--onions, shallots, chives, and leeks--have the same properties, though generally to a lesser extent.

Ginger--Related to turmeric, ginger kills bacteria, is anti-inflammatory, and it inhibits the growth of cancer cells. It is also a terrific anti-oxidant, and it reduces queasiness associated with chemotherapy.


Garlic- the destroyer of cancer cells

Monday, July 18, 2011

Family Nutrition: Mealtime- important through teenage years and beyond

We’ve all heard it.  It is important to value mealtime and eat with your family each night.  Some of us are champs at this and some struggle to get it all together.  This is something I sometimes struggle with which is why I was so interested at the findings of Fiese and Amber Hammons who reviewed 17 studies involving nutrition and eating patterns.  Results were published in the June issue of Pediatrics.

After reviewing more than 182,000 adults and children, results showed that teenagers who ate at least five meals a week with families had  35% less of a risk in disordered eating. It also found that those who ate at least three meals a week with their families were 12% less overweight and were 24% more likely to eat healthy foods than those who did not share family mealtime.

Researchers suggest that if mealtime is not a forced activity children and teenagers are more likely to be more connected to their family and talk about unhealthy behaviors.  One cannot argue that eating together also gives the parents a chance to evaluate their child’s eating patterns.

National surveys suggest that shared mealtime drops significantly in the teen years secondary to after school activities, jobs, and social lives.  If you are in the teen years or close, here are a couple of suggestions to help get you to the minimum of three shared meals a week.

1)      Plan which nights you will eat together and put in on the calendar so everyone’s calendars are synched.
2)      Have dinner around the same time on these three nights.
3)      Plan ahead by insuring you know what meals you will serve and that you have the right ingredients to remove any chaos from the event.
4)      Get your kids involved with the cooking if possible.
5)      Allow for open communication.

Disordered eating in this study is labeled as binging and purging, taking laxatives or diuretics, taking diet pills, self-induced vomiting, fasting, eating little, skipping meals, and smoking cigarettes to lose weight.  Be on the look out for cues to disordered eating.  Do you eat at least three meals a week together as a family?  If you don’t here’s to getting there. Good luck and be well. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Family Nutrition: Autism linked to environmental factors?

Can there possibly be environmental factors that contribute to autism or spectrum disorders? Recent research suggests this may be the case.  A study published November 2010 in Archives of General Psychiatry researched 192 identical and fraternal twins where at least one twin had classic autism, and in many other cases the sibling had a less severe form of autism or autism spectrum disorder.

It is important to note that identical twins share 100% of genes where fraternal twins share 50% of genes.  Comparing identical and fraternal twins allowed the researchers to not only measure genes but also the role of environmental causes.  In this study 77% of identical male twins and 50% of female identical twins had autism or autism spectrum disorder compared to 31% of male fraternal twins and 36% of female fraternal twins.  When reviewing the results above, mathematics and statistics concluded that 38% of autism or autism spectrum disorder attributed to genes and 58% of the cases shared environmental factors.  This is much different than past research concluded 90% of autisms or autism spectrum disorders were attributed to genes. 

A second article suggests there is an elevated risk for autism in mothers who took popular antidepressants a year before delivery and in the first trimester of pregnancy.  The risk is still considered low statistically suggesting a risk of 2.1% when taking the antidepressant a year prior to delivery and 2.3% when taking the antidepressant the first trimester.

Decades ago psychiatrists suggested that lack of maternal warmth could be a cause of autism.  It has also been suggested that prenatal age, multiple pregnancies, low birth weight, exposure of medications, and maternal infection can also contribute to autism.  Other studies have suggested that exposure to antibodies and specific fatty acids in mother’s milk can also be associated with autism. 

I look forward to more research on this subject.  As the rate of autism has increased faster than researchers say genes evolve, there must be another piece to the puzzle.  I am also interested to see more research on nutritional parameters and autism. Stay tuned to learn more about effective “diets” for autism. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Miraculous Misconceptions: You say “Natural” or “Organic”, I say yeah right…..


 
As a dietitian, I have to say I become acutely aware of my surroundings when it comes to food.  I hear the discussions dictating what you should or shouldn’t eat.  I hear opinions about what a good or bad food is.  I see the mother tell their child they can’t eat that “bad” food and then watch that particular child inhale their Halloween candy or that piece of cake like it is their last meal.   I also see Pre Diabetes, high cholesterol, Cancer, and obesity with many clients who are eating what they “should” as well as clients with eating disorders who can recall issues with food as early as eight years old.

There are many reasons why Americans particularly have issues understanding foods predominant role of nourishment. When you combine any of these issues with the confusion of food labeling chaos sets in.  Our food labels are a complete mess and create confusion on many levels.

In an article in the NY Times this weekend, organic and natural hot dogs as well as additional processed meats were discussed.  Have you seen the “natural” or “organic” hot dogs?   Notice the label as it states “uncured” or “no nitrates or nitrites added.”   One would think this was a healthier option, no?  Apparently not, as rules dictate that if preservatives come from natural sources you can label as if no nitrates or nitrites are in the product.  Interestingly enough, the “natural” or “organic” hot dog can have one half or up to ten times the nitrite as compared to the regular hot dog. 

The USDA does require that the organic or natural hot dog versions state that it may contain a naturally occurring nitrate or nitrite but when this small print is combined with the label "no nitrates or nitrites” this becomes quite confusing.

The American Cancer Society recommends reducing processed meats secondary to many studies linking increased consumption to colon cancer.  In addition, it is thought that high consumption in processed meats promotes Diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Recent research suggests nitrates and nitrites provide some benefits to immune function and cardiovascular health.

Because the labeling is so confusing, manufacturers are asking to allow for more truthful labels for hot dogs and other processed meats.  The USDA states they are aware of the problems and may take a fresh look.  Until then, my best suggestion as a dietitian is to completely ignore any claims on any food.  If you want to understand what is truly in what you are eating, take the time to pull the product and read the ingredients.  The more ingredients it has, the less “natural”, “organic”, and “healthy” the food is.  Have any questions? Reach out to a dietitian.  We can decipher the confusion and give our expert opinions.  Good luck and be well.

Nitrates and Nitrites provide the red coloring in your hot dogs in addition to preservation

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