March is National Nutrition Month, an annual recognition of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The purpose is to provide education and information to the public on nutrition and making food choices and healthy meals while including physical activity. This year, the theme is “Eat Right, Live Right, Feel Right.” One could argue what “right” really is in regards to nutrition choices, but this tag line truly fits The Meadows Ranch perspective on overall health.
At The Meadows Ranch, we strive to provide individualized care for those suffering with, but not limited to, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and unspecified eating and feeding disorders. We believe that all food is good food and can be eaten in moderation. Often when someone labels food as “good” or “bad” they automatically have emotional responses to those terms. A “good” food makes them feel happy, healthy, proud, and successful and so on. Were as a “bad” food brings negative feelings such as shame, depression or guilt. So if someone eats a “bad” food because it tastes good, are they now a bad person for that? If someone selects a perceived healthy meal, does that make them a better person than the next? Taking a step back from the labels we put on food; good foods can be bad and bad foods can be good. It is time to remove the labels and enjoy all food in moderation.
There are several ways to learn about nutrition and physical activity. First and foremost, be aware of where the source providing the information is coming from. If a source is reporting on sugar being bad or not eating specific fats, are they promoting healthy cooking or weight loss? When studies are quoted, be aware of the number of people involved in the study and how long it lasted; there should be hundreds of participants over several years. A reliable option at your fingertips for education is choosemyplate.gov. This is a good resource provided by the United States Department of Agriculture. It gives a great visual of what a meal plate should look like in regards to portion sizes for each of our food groups. It also provides other resources and tip sheets for overall general health.
If you need nutritional support, look for a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist in your area; RDN’s have years of school and specialized training in nutrition and can help you reach your specific goals with both food and activity. Additionally, look for local resources such as a weekend farmers market or start your own garden. The Meadows Ranch has several garden beds along with a fruit orchard in which patients can see where our food comes from, the time and effort it takes to produce it, and the enjoyment of eating it once it is ready.
At The Meadows Ranch, we assist patients in building their kitchen skills to increase their confidence in meal planning and preparation after discharge. With a balanced meal plan, adding in moderate physical activity is beneficial both mentally and physically.
Get out and be active! This could look like going for a walk with the family in the evening, biking to the store instead of driving or even parking at the back of a parking lot instead of driving in circles for five minutes to get that super close spot. It’s important to keep in mind that physical activity is viewed as a very positive thing in society, and therefore, can become compulsive or obsessive with no one noticing.
This month, in celebration of “Eat Right, Live Right, Feel Right” check in with yourself on your personal choices and please reach out to a professional if you have questions.
Kim Collins, MS, RDN, CDE, CEDRD
Registered Dietitian, The Meadows Ranch