It's Not Just About the Nutrients
Posted on November 18, 2019
As a dietitian, I talk a lot about nutrients and the life sustaining function of food that allows us to grow and thrive, while ensuring we can breathe, move and think without a whole lot of effort. I love helping patients learn about the science of food and how their bodies use it.
But it's important not to stop there!
It can be easy to forget food is so much more than nutrients to keep us going, because the rigid thinking and strict rules of an eating disorder often focus on the physical impact food has on your body. This leads to behaviors and judgments that prevent you from fully experiencing the influence food or meals have on other parts of your life.
Food plays a role in all dimensions of our health and well-being, like our ability to tolerate and experience emotions, connect with our spirituality, feel a part of a community, and develop a deeper understanding of our own identity. One of the joys of recovery is rediscovering the many ways your relationship with food matters to you and exploring the aspects of food that your eating disorder ignored.
These may include sharing a meal to connect with others, whether you've just met, or you've known each other for years. You may offer or receive food as a token of gratitude, sympathy or love. Food may play a part in the traditions you have with family and friends. Seasonal foods are tangible reminders of the passing of time and may stir up emotions for you about the transition from season to season. There may be certain smells or flavors that connect you with memories from your past. You may experience another culture through food or feel more connected to your own during a specific meal.
Letting go of the eating disorder rules and rebuilding your relationship with food doesn't just have a physical outcome; it also opens the door for food to support your health and happiness in all the ways possible.
Kathryn Argento, MS, RD, LDN, is the Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist at The Renfrew Center of West Palm Beach. She has worked with patients in the PHP, IOP and Outpatient levels of care across the spectrum of eating disorders. She received her Master's degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. Ms. Argento is passionate about helping individuals on their path to a peaceful relationship with food.