Restricting is not a September thing

Happy September!

September can often feel like a mini New Year, especially if you have had the pleasure of taking some extra holidays these past couple months. Taking a step back from the office and the regular routine of daily life is so important, but it can often make it hard to get back into your daily life. September is a time to reset, find a routine and reconnect with what ignites your passion. While September holds lots of promise it can also be a challenging time for many people as they try and get into a routine from summer.

Whether it is true or not summer tends to be seen as a time of indulgence. While this indulgence is fun when we are participating in it, looking back it can sometimes get a negative connotation.  Why is indulgence seen as a negative thing? Indulgence is just another term for living and having fun. Indulgence means living your life. It is not a bad thing.

No matter what you did this summer, the most important thing to remember is that IT IS OKAY. It is okay to take some time off, it is okay to indulge and it is okay to have fun. In fact it can be extremely beneficial for you mental and physical wellbeing to take some time to just relax. This is the great thing about September. This mini New Year gives you the chance to get back into a healthy and sustainable routine that can help your rejuvenated self feel great in their body. The goal is to develop a routine that will help support you mentally and physically for this upcoming year.

The goal is not to restrict yourself now that the freedom of summer is gone. So often we find ourselves in these routines of binge and restrict. We are so rigid all the time that when we get time to actually relax and not worry we end up overindulging and not feeling good about it. When that happens it is OKAY. For starters overindulging is not a negative thing. If overindulging makes you feel off negatively or physically remember that this is only one moment of one day. It is just one feeling and this feeling like all feelings will pass. The important thing is to not restrict yourself to compensate for this feeling. This is how we create a dysfunctional relationship with our bodies and food. The goal moving forward is not to compensate for the overindulgence (because overindulgence is okay!!!!) but to create a sustainable way of eating, moving and fuelling our bodies so that on a regular basis we just feel good.

After years of being told that restricting is the only way to compensate for overindulgence it can be hard to connect with this idea of nourishment as a way to make us feel good.  I am here to support you as you reconnect with yourself and learn how to NOURISH yourself leaving you feeling healthy, rested and happy this September. September is not about restricting after feeling as though the summer was a “binge”. Life is about nourishing yourself with food and joy whatever that looks like. Each day it will look different, but each day is its own day. What happens on Monday should not impact how you nourish yourself on Tuesday or any other day. Just like how you nourished yourself over the summer should not influence how you nourish yourself in September. Naturopathic Medicine is one of the ways to find personal support on your journey to reconnect with your mind and body this new season. Click here to book your free 15 minute consultation.

In the meantime be gentle with yourself. Whatever happened this summer, I hope you had the time of your life, no matter what it looked like. Always remember that health is about happiness and nourishment not restricting and overindulging. Food should not be as taxing as we make it out to be.

Beyond Food: Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Because in my mind I am not okay

Eating disorders are one of the most complex and challenging illnesses to both treat and experience. They can be close to invisible, hidden by a “healthy” looking exterior of perceived calm and collection or they can be as evident as an emaciated human being.

Types of eating disorders:

Anorexia nervosa: Anorexia is an eating disorder that is characterized by a refusal to maintain a normal body weight (usually less than 85% of expected body weight), intense fear of gaining weight, as well as a disturbance in experience of one’s body shape or weight. This can be either restrictive, which involves not eating or binge-eating and purging, which involves large amount of food and then purging it out of the body in some way. This also has an increased influence on one’s body image and self-evaluation.

Bulimia nervosa: Bulimia is an eating disorder that is characterized by recurrent binge eating over a specific period of time that feels as though there is a sense of lack of control. After this binge eating there is often a recurrent, inappropriate compensatory behaviour such as vomiting that gets rid of the food that has just been ingested. This also has an increased influence on one’s body image and self-evaluation.

Binge eating disorder: binge eating disorder is very similar to bulimia however without the purging or compensatory behaviour. It is characterized by episodes of eating large quantities of food in a short period of time with a sense of lack of control over this. It is often followed up an experience of shame, distress or guilt following the food eating episodes as well as the feeling of being uncomfortably full. This also has an increased influence on one’s body image and self-evaluation.

Orthorexia: A form of fixation with food that resolves around obsession for proper nutrition resulting in a restrictive diet, a focus on food preparation and ritualized patters of eating. This is often has an obsession with food quality or nutrition leading to much of their mental and physical energy going towards thinking about food so much so that it interferes with daily life.

February 1st marks the beginning of eating disorder awareness week.  While this is a week that specifically works to bring to attention to struggles of those with diagnosed eating disorders, it also asks each and every one of us to evaluate our own relationship with food and hunger. Food is something that is so tied with human emotion, and human experience that it can become a method that we use to cope without even realizing it. Whether it is emotionally eating, emotionally not eating, choosing junk food when we feel bad or refusing to touch unhealthy food when we feel bad, our ways of interacting with food are often based on how we feel emotionally instead of looking at what our body needs. In this sense each of us engage in disordered eating patterns at some point or another.

The truth about food is that it is our nourishment. It is what our body needs to survive each and every day. We MUST have food every day. This is what can make eating disorders so incredibly painful for the person who suffers from them. Unlike other addiction such as drug addiction or alcoholism, a person with an eating disorder cannot avoid the trigger of all of their mental and physical pain. They have to eat. No matter how much pain it causes them – they have to eat.

For most people if there is something that hurts them –they don’t’ do it. For example when you touch a hot element on a stove, it burns and causes pain in the area that touches the element. In order to avoid this pain you take caution when you are using the elements and try not to touch the element whenever possible. For someone with an eating disorder it is eating food that causes this similar sensation of mental, emotional and physical pain in their entire being. The thing is they can’t stop eating food. This makes it incredibly challenging to recover from an eating disorder. At the same time that you are trying to work through all of the things underlying the disorder such as anxiety, depression, OCD, past traumas etc. you are continuously being triggered.  Can you imagine trying to heal that burned hand if you are constantly being forced to place it back on the hot element? It takes incredibly hard work and time and strength to overcome this trigger and truly start to heal.

This is the type of resilience that characterizes people who are in recovery or who have recovered from an eating disorder.

This is what eating disorder awareness week is all about. It is about recognizing the complexity and the challenge that comes with trying to overcome an eating disorder. It is about recognizing that recovery does not stop when someone is at an appropriate weight – instead it is a constant struggle each and every day on the inside. It involves overcoming certain thought patterns and core beliefs that are so ingrained that they feel true. It involves going beyond food and learning about who you are beneath this disorder. It is about healing all of the parts of  the self that have been hurt, fragmented, broken. It is about looking at all of the parts of the self that are scared, anxious, depressed, traumatized, alone and working with them to create safety in this world. It is about finding a way that each and every person with an eating disorder can feel safe in the world so that they do not need to hold onto their eating disorder to feel okay.  It takes time. It takes strength. It takes patience. More than anything it takes support, no matter how long it has been, no matter how long it will take. There is no right way to recover from an eating disorder, no right treatment. It is about working with each individual, to support them the best way possible, no matter what that support looks like.

Naturopathic Medicine is one of the many tools that can support those who are trying to recover from an eating disorder. The many modalities that Naturopathic Medicine encompasses including mind-body counselling, acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy, and nutrition are all tools that can support someone with an eating disorder. No matter what direction your recovery is going, never be afraid to reach out for support with me, Dr. Alexandra.

Remember that you are not alone in this. Support for eating disorders is available through Naturopathic Medicine and may other tools. I am always sending so much love and support. Hang in there.