What to expect in your first session with a Body Inclusive Dietitian

What to expect with a body inclusive dietitian

At Glow Group we are huge advocates for finding health professionals that are the right fit for you, and like a psychologist or your GP, finding a Dietitian that fits your needs is so important. 

To assist in your decision making, we thought it might be helpful to detail down what you can expect in a first session with one of Glow Group’s Body Inclusive Dietitians. 

 

Before your first session

Prior to your first session you will be sent an online form to complete which includes questions about your health and wellbeing, as well as a nutrition questionnaire. 

The more information you can provide before your initial consultation, the better prepared your clinician will be to understand your intentions for the session.  

Depending on the reason you are visiting, you may also like to bring along any recent blood results, or a doctors letter/referral (if you have one, please note this is not required and you can still see our Dietitians without a referral). 

 

During your first session

We use the time in our initial meeting to get to know you, and understand your own individual story. 

We will discuss your reason for coming in, and will also complete a comprehensive assessment to ensure we are providing a tailored and individualised service for you. 

With your permission, we will also explore: 

  • Your personal health and medical history 
  • Your digestive health 
  • Your eating patterns 
  • Your exercise and activity levels 
  • Your thoughts and feelings about food 
  • As well as your thoughts and feelings about your body 

 For some people an initial assessment may be completed over 2-3 sessions. 

 Depending on your presentation, at the end of your visit, we may ask you to: 

  • Commence a food journal 
  • Monitor your thoughts and feelings around food 
  • Try an activity or self assessment at home 

Or, you may receive:  

  • An information resource 
  • An article or book recommendation 
  • Or, some simple initial dietary strategies 

 

A little note on meal plans:

Many clients naturally believe they may receive a meal plan or meal guide during their initial session with a Dietitian. At Glow Group we value safe and healthy relationships with food and body, and as such, your Dietitian will discuss whether a meal plan is the right fit for you over the coming sessions.  

 

After your first session

Based on your assessment, we will schedule your follow-up visit, which will typically be within 1-2 weeks. 

We may also write a letter to your GP or another health professional such as your Psychologist. 

Lastly, we will always check in with you to see if the session met your needs, and whether there is anything you might like to focus on during our next meeting. 

A session with any Dietitian should leave you feeling heard and understood. Take the time to seek out someone who is the right fit for you.  

The lowdown on Gut and Mental Health

The lowdown on Gut and Mental Health

So, what’s the deal with gut health?

Gut Health has certainly been a hot topic of the last 5 years or so, and for good reason. As more and more research emerges, we are finding an increased link between a happy gut, and a happy physical self.

You may have heard of terms such as:

  • the gut microbiome
  • gut flora
  • or even about the “good bacteria” or “bugs” in our digestive systems

All referring to the environment our guts create to support healthy digestion, as well as some new, quite exciting developments.

The Gut Brain Connection – a bi-directional effect

Interestingly, we now know about the strong link between our gut and brain.

This link is not only brain > gut, but also gut > brain. Something we call bi-directional communication.

Meaning (in a very simplified way, AND in absence of other gut-related issues):

  • A less stressed human can lead to a less stressed gut
  • And a healthy gut can lead to a less stressed human

Now, as caveat to this point, there are many outside factors that can impact this relationship. So it’s important to remember that this is just one way we can support our diverse, individual and complex bodies.

But it is still pretty cool!

Examples of this gut brain communication:

Some tangible ways individuals can understand the immediate and visceral impact of this connection is through some common sayings or shared feelings.

I’m sure you may have experienced at least one, or even all of these feelings:

  • Butterflies in the stomach before a first date
  • Your stomach dropping when you hear bad news
  • Or needing to run to the bathroom before a big presentation

So, you can imagine the impact of chronic stress, anxiety or depression on the function of our digestive systems long-term.

Supporting the GUT > BRAIN connection

To support a healthy and varied gut environment we can:

  • Eat enough. A starved human = a starved gut. If we limit our diet or the variety of food we eat, we reduce the amount of “good bacteria” in our gut. Eating enough is the first step towards a happy gut.
  • Variety is key. Eating a wide range of different foods leads to more diverse populations of gut bugs. And we know that when it comes to gut health, this is a really good thing!
  • Probiotics and Probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are found in certain foods whereas prebiotics are a type of fibre that feed these good bacteria in our gut. Probiotics are found in certain foods such as yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, miso. Prebiotics are mainly found in fruits, veggies and wholegrains, they are types of fibre that can’t be digested. Instead they are broken down and used as ‘fuel’ for the good gut bacteria.
  • Fermented Foods. The process of fermenting usually involves microorganisms like bacteria and yeasts breaking down food components (e.g. sugars) into other products (e.g. acids, gases or alcohol). Examples include yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha. These foods work to help our gut bugs by enhancing their function and reducing the abundance of the bad bacteria in our gut.
  • Fibre acts as a food source for the good bacteria in our gut. Eating enough fibre, will feed the good bacteria and help them thrive by increasing the amount and different types of good bacteria in our gut.

Supporting BRAIN > GUT connection

  • Stress management. Stress has been shown to reduce the diversity and population of gut bacteria in our gut. It can also affect how quickly food moves through the body, which can cause gut symptoms like diarrhoea or constipation. Practising regular stress management can help our gut bacteria thrive.
  • Breathing. Taking slow, deep breaths helps calm our mind and body when we experience feelings of stress or anxiety. When we are stressed or anxious, our body goes into the fight-or-flight mode, which causes blood flow to move away from our gut to the larger muscles. This affects our gut bacteria and digestion. By counteracting this fight-or-flight mode with deep, slow breaths we can reduce muscle tension and help our gut.
  • Gut directed hypnotherapy. This is a special form of hypnosis that is used to help with managing functional gut disorders like irritable bowel syndrome. It helps to address the ‘miscommunication’ between the brain and gut.
  • Yoga/Meditation. Similar to breathing, yoga and meditation has been shown to help with managing the stress responses within our body, helping to support a happy gut.
  • Trauma Awareness and Support Techniques. Studies have shown that people with a history of trauma had different gut microbiomes to those that didn’t. Trauma is a very personal experience and support with this will look different for each person. Speaking with a trusted Therapist or Counsellor can help you find support techniques that are beneficial for you.

References

Drossman, D. A. (2016). Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: History, Pathophysiology, Clinical Features, and Rome IV. Gastroenterology, 150(6). doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2016.02.032

Enders, G. (2015). Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ. Royal Oak, MI: Scribe Publishing.

Hajela, N. (2015). Gut microbiome, gut function, and probiotics: Implications for health. Indian J Gastroenterol. 2015 Mar;34(2):93-107.  Ottilinger B. (2013). STW 5 (Iberogast®)–a safe and effective standard in the treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders. Wien Med Wochenschr. Feb;163(3-4):65-72.

Lackner, J. M., Ma, C., Keefer, L., Brenner, D. M., Gudleski, G. D., Satchidanand, N., … Mayer, E. A. (2013). Type, Rather Than Number, of Mental and Physical Comorbidities Increases the Severity of Symptoms in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 11(9), 1147–1157

Mahler, T. (2015). Education and Hypnosis for Treatment of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (FGIDs) in Pediatrics. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis,58(1), 115-128. 

Peters, SL. (2016). Randomised clinical trial: the efficacy of gut-directed hypnotherapy is similar to that of the low FODMAP diet for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Aliment PharmacolTher. Sep;44(5):447-59. 

Schumann, D., Langhorst, J., Dobos, G., & Cramer, H. (2018). Randomised clinical trial: yoga vs a low-FODMAP diet in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 47(2), 203–211. http://doi.org/10.1111/apt.14400

Van der Kolk, Bessel A. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. 2014.

Find more interesting blogs here.

Why do I “crave” foods during my period?

Food Cravings during Period

Why do I “crave” foods during my period?

A question we get asked commonly as Dietitians is how to stop cravings. And if you are familiar with any of my other blogs or content, you may know by now that I am not a huge fan of framing “cravings” as a negative experience.

What “cravings” indicate to me as a clinician is that our bodies are trying to tell us something, and usually this is something quite important.

In the context of everyday eating, menstral cycles aside, “cravings” may be an indication we are not eating enough, or restricting ourselves at certain times throughout the day.

Similarly, it could also be a sign the foods we are eating are not satifying enough, a concept I could probably write another whole blog piece about to be honest.

Now… if we switch our line of thought to “cravings” during our period, there is certainly a lot to unpack here.

So let’s explore some of the common thought pieces around eating during our menstral cycles.

  1. It is generally accepted, both in media, and our everyday lives that we eat more during our periods. Eg: the visual of the someone reaching out from under the covers for a chocolate bar.
  2. Many people accept that they tend to reach for foods higher in sugar or carbohydrates.
  3. And, unfortunately in many circumstances, experincing these cravings is framed in a negative context.

Ok, interesting right. But what does the science tell us?

Current literature shows us that in the days leading up to our period (aka the luteal phase), our energy (caloric) needs increase. Meaning we require more food than usual for our body to continue functioning.

Research also shows that individuals who have a menstural cycle can also experience preferences toward certain for foods, particularly foods that are high in carbohydrate and fat.

So what does this tell me as a clinician.

One, it tells me our bodies are doing some really hard and amazing work to prepare our bodies for our periods (or pregnancy).

And two, that our bodies are doing a really great job of signalling us to let us know we need a little more food to keep us going!

How clever are our body’s innate cues?

And why do we tend toward carbohydrates and fat. While the research is inconsistent, it makes a lot of sense that when our energy needs are increased we prefer carbohydrates (our main energy source) and fat (the most nutritionally dense macronutrient).

So, what are my take home messages:

  1. Food cravings are not necessarily a sign of weakness of poor self control, it is most likely your body trying to tell you something important.
  2. Cravings during period is our bodies’ way of kindly asking us for a little more nutrition to support their brilliant everyday work.
  3. Our bodies are pretty darn clever!

Trigger Warning: Some of the language in the literature below may be triggering for certain readers. We hope the research world will catch up with body inclusive language soon.

Cross GB, Marley J, Miles H, Willson K . Changes in nutrient intake during the menstrual cycle of overweight women with premenstrual syndrome. Br J Nutr 2001; 85: 475–482.


Davidsen, L., Vistisen, B. & Astrup, A. Impact of the menstrual cycle on determinants of energy balance: a putative role in weight loss attempts. Int J Obes 31, 1777–1785 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0803699 (TW: Fatphobic Language)

Body Positive Bubbles: How to build safe spaces while healing your relationship with food and body.

Body Positive bubbles

I am so excited to share this with you, as it is one of my favourite tools to use with clients as they work their way through their intuitive eating journeys.

As we begin to explore food through a different lens, it starts to become about taste, social connection, listening to our bodies, and that oh so important satisfaction factor. This is exciting!

However, as with all new adventures, this journey can also be a little challenging – like all activities that push us out of our comfort zones.

So, what do we do when we’re a little nervous but determined to proceed all the same?

We add a little safety net, or perhaps more appropriately, some bubble wrap… as we work our way through this new way of thinking.

What is a body positive bubble?

A body positive bubble is a safe space that we create to develop and hone our intuitive eating skills. Whether this is your first time looking at your relationship with food and body, or you have been working away at it for a while, a body positive bubble can support you through the process.

Inside our bubble

On the inside of our bubbles we keep the supports and resources that serve us best during this time.

Which may or may not include for you:

Supportive Partners, Friends or Family

Body Positive or Body Neutral Media or Books

Mindfulness Tools such as meditation, yoga, or journalling

Supportive Health Care Practitioners: Such as a trusted GP/Psychologist/Dietitian/Other Health Care Professional

Your Goals and Aspirations (Outside of Food, Body and Shape).

Outside our bubble

On the outside of our bubbles we place anything that is unhelpful, unsupportive or triggering.

Again, which may or may not include for you:

Unhelpful or triggering media or books… such as certain instagram pages, facebook groups or magazines.

Unhelpful or triggering conversations… such as diet talk in the lunch room.

Unsupportive or triggering exercise environments… such as gyms that encourage 12 week “detox” challenges, or trainers who focus solely on weight or shape.

Unhelpful or triggering electronic devices… such as apple watches, and fitbits.

Unsupportive or triggering health professionals… there is NO place for shame or blame.

Although simple, the body positive bubble allows us to assess our environment, and build a gentle and protective barrier as we explore new and exciting experiences.

As always, if you are wondering where to start, reaching out to a Non-Diet Practitioner is a great place to begin or re-kindle your food-body journey.

Delicious and Quick Christmas Recipe Ideas

Christmas Recipe Ideas, gingerbread and cinnamon

We’ve all been there. Caught at the last minute, you are now invited to the street Christmas BBQ.

“Just bring a salad” they say. Panic sets in.

So you run to the shops, but the pre-made options are looking a little uninspiring.

Behold! A list of delicious and fancy looking salads that can be thrown together in less than 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

 

Pecan and Cranberry Salad

Ingredients

• 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
• 3/4 cup olive oil
• 1 medium bag of mixed greens (300g)
• 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
• 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
• 1 1/2 cups pecans or walnuts
• 150g fresh goat cheese/feta, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)

METHOD

Whisk vinegar, mustard, and thyme in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Mix greens, cranberries, and onion in large bowl. Mix in enough dressing to coat. Sprinkle with nuts and cheese.

 

Green Bean and Radish Salad with Shallot Dressing

Ingredients

• 500g green bean, trimmed
• 1 x banana shallot, finely diced
• 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
• 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
• juice of half lemon
• 250g radish thinly sliced

METHOD

Boil a large pan of water. Tip in the beans and cook for 4-5 mins until just tender. Meanwhile, mix the shallot, mustard, oil and lemon juice with a little salt and pepper.

Drain the beans well, then toss with the radishes and dressing. Serve warm.

 

Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad

Ingredients

• 500g trofie or other short pasta
• 2 bunches asparagus, woody ends trimmed, cut into 3cm lengths
• 3/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/4 cup dill, finely chopped, plus extra sprigs to serve
• 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
• Grated zest of 1 lemon, plus juice of 1/2 lemon
• 1/4 cup salted baby capers, rinsed, drained
• 2 cups rocket leaves, roughly chopped
• 200g smoked salmon, sliced into thin strips

METHOD

Cook pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water according to packet instructions, adding asparagus for final 1-2 minutes. Drain, refresh, then cool completely.

Meanwhile, whisk the creme fraiche, olive oil, dill, garlic, lemon juice, half the zest and 2 tablespoons water together in a small bowl, then season and set aside.

When pasta is cool, toss with dressing, capers, rocket, remaining zest and smoked salmon. Serve with extra dill sprigs.

Why language is important: Exploring Health at Every Size vs “Healthy” at Every Size

Language in Health at every size approach

Written by a wonderful friend of the blog Eliza Khinsoe.

One of the most common misconceptions about Health at Every Size (HAES) is the mischaracterisation as “Healthy” at every size. It’s an easy enough mistake to make and might not seem like a big deal, but in my eyes it’s important to distinguish the difference between the implications of the two concepts.

Before we get into it, I will note that Health At Every Size is a registered trademarks of ASDAH. So by mis-naming the concept, it only goes to show ignorance of the framework in and of itself. HAES is a structured, evidence based framework with a number of principles that inform a clinician’s approach.

but to dig a little deeper, let’s look objectively at the words themselves.

Health by definition is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. (WHO)

It’s a noun and describes a broad concept of well-being, which is inclusive of physical, mental, and social state. It’s quite an abstract concept, but in my eyes, this is a good thing, as it leaves room for interpretation and allows for space and understanding of individualised and inclusive needs.

Healthy is an adjective and means “Indicating or promoting good health”. In the context of HAES, it would mean to describe an individual that has good health at every size. But what actually is “good health”? And if there is good health, then there must be bad health too, and how do we measure that?

For more head on over to https://lizakhins.com/blog/2019/11/2/why-its-important-we-leave-out-the-y

Mindful eating: 6 tips to reduce stress around meal times

Reducing stress around meal times

Co-written by Serena Hodge 

What is Mindful Eating?

The practise of mindful eating is about being fully present and bringing your attention to your environment, thoughts and feelings when you sit down to eat a meal. In doing this you can remove the anxiety, guilt and distractions surrounding meal times. This allows you to fully enjoy and appreciate every bite of the food on your plate without fear or judgment of yourself.

Below I will share with you 6 ways you can begin to practise eating mindfully based on guidelines set by Eating Disorders Victoria (2016) as well as my own personal experience.

1. Give yourself permission to enjoy food without guilt. This is one of the most important first steps when learning how to eat mindfully. This is about removing restrictions and giving yourself permission to appreciate the pleasurable experience that food can bring. In doing this, you can shift your focus to eating foods that make you feel good. Remember that this can include eating your favourite foods. So next time you go to snack on your favourite chocolate bar or a dessert, start by telling yourself that it is okay to enjoy the experience.

2. Consider how you are feeling. Before you sit down to eat your meal, think about how you are feeling in the moment. Are you feeling stressed, or calm and relaxed? Does your body feel tense and uneasy? This is important as your thoughts and the way your body feels can increase your self-awareness and give you a good indication of your attitude towards eating.

3. Deep breathing. As you sit down in front of your meal, take a moment to take a few slow, deep breaths. You can do this by closing your eyes, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. This is a good way to help you relax and bring you into the present moment.

4. Chew slowly. As you begin to eat your meal, encourage yourself to eat slowly. This can help you slow down and relax while allowing you to savour and appreciate the flavours of the food.

5. Remove distractions. Many of us are surrounded with a number of distractions during meal times. This can include things such as watching T.V., scrolling through social media, talking on the phone or being on the move and not taking the time to sit down. Next time you are about to eat your meal, take a moment to switch off and focus on the task of eating. Notice if this makes you feel more present and aware of the food you are eating.

6. Eat with company. Surrounding yourself with the company of your family and friends when you eat can be a great way to shift your focus away from feelings of fear and anxiety when eating meals. When we realise that food and meal times are a time that can be celebrated and enjoyed, we can recognise that we have begun to take the first steps towards creating a positive relationship with food, free of fear and judgement.

Remember that this is a guide to support you on your journey to becoming a mindful eater. This is not an absolute must to follow at every meal or snack time as lets be real, life doesn’t always allow for that. But the more we can move towards a more mindful direction and create more presence around our meal occasion, the more positive it will be for our physical and mental health.

Please note, that mindful eating and intuitive eating may not be appropriate for someone living with an active eating disorder. Please reach out to an Accredited Practising Dietitian to understand if this approach to eating is right for you.

Heard of Intuitive Eating – but don’t know where to start?

Intuitive Eating

If you’re thinking of dipping your toes into intuitive eating, but aren’t quite sure where to start, we have compiled our GO-TO list of intuitive eating resources to get you started.

Books

Intuitive Eating – Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch

The Intuitive Eating Workbook – Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch

Body Respect – Linda Bacon & Lucy Aphramor

Body Kindness – Rebecca Scritchfield

Just Eat It – Laura Thomas

Podcasts

Food Psych with Christy Harrison

Don’t Salt my Game with Laura Thomas

Body Love Project with Jessi Haggerty

Nutrition Matters with Paige Smathers

Body Kindness with Rebecca Scritchfield

Unpacking Weight Science with Fiona Willer

Love, Food with Julie Duffy Dillon

Social Media Pages

@immaeatthat

@chr1styharrison

@rebeccascritchfield

@marcird

@drclaudiafelty

@nourishedmindbody

@hgoodrichrd

@emilyfonnesbeck_rd

@brenebrown

@bodyposipanda

@fionawiller

@paigesmathersrd

@thereallife_rd

@laurathomasphd

@dietitiananna

@jennifer_rollin

@kaley_rd

@wellseek

@jessihaggertyrd

@spillingthebeans_nutrition

@mollybcounseling

@alissarumseyrd

@theintuitive_rd

@carolinexrd

@loveandgrub

@glowgrouphealth

We are so excited that you are taking your first step into the world of intuitive eating! Take your time to read, absorb and digest (pun intended ?). If you reach a point where you are looking to explore your relationship with food further, reach out to an Accredited Practising Dietitian that specialises in this area.

Remember, food can & should be fun!

5 Steps to Joyful Movement

Joyful movement

A guest piece by Olivia Macdonald. Personal Trainer and Nutritionist.

Before you read any further, let me ask you this; What is your motivation to exercise?

Is it…

To improve your fitness?

Or

Manage your stress levels?

Or is it…

To lose weight?

Or

Earn your dessert tonight?

For many, uncoupling exercise from weight loss or calorie burning can serve as a challenge, particularly if you have had a rocky relationship with food or body image in the past.

This post provides 5 steps to help you shift your focus away from the scales and bring more joy to exercise in your everyday life!

Step 1 – Focus on How it Feels

Keep track of how exercise makes you feel, both during and afterwards. Take mental notes or even jot them down on a piece of paper. Think about your stress and energy levels, are you able to handle stressful situations better? Can you concentrate for longer at work after exercise? Reflect on your general mood throughout the day and the quality of your sleep, do you possess a more positive outlook after bouts of exercise? Do you fall asleep quicker and wake up feeling re-energized?

Step 2 – Aim for Health Outcomes Outside of Weight. 

 

Remove the idea that weight loss is the only outcome of exercise, and try to celebrate the numerous health benefits that being active has to offer. Everyone can reap the benefits of exercise, including;

  • Improved mood
  • Increased energy levels
  • Improved sleep and ability to relax
  • Improved satiety cues and appetite regulation
  • & if we’re honest, it can be really really fun.

Step 3 – Removing the ‘All or Nothing’ Mindset

 

I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear that you don’t have to be profusely sweating to reap the many benefits of exercise. In fact, a study conducted in 2011 reported that short bursts of moderate intensity activity were significantly associated with improved cardiorespiratory fitness (McGuire et al. 2011).

So next time you’re thinking “I only have 20 minutes, there’s no point!”, think again – it all adds up!

Step 4 – Exercise with Others

 

Consider making exercise a part of your social life, instead of your weekly ‘coffee date’ with a friend why not grab a coffee and head off on a walk? Or, rope your girlfriends in on your Saturday morning yoga class and then grab some breaky after – it’s a win-win!

Equally, turn your kid’s weekend activities into fun family outings. Rock-climbing, swimming or trampolining – why should kids have all the fun?

Step 5 – Choose Activities you Enjoy

 

As the title of this post suggests, joyful movement is only going to be joyful if you’re actually doing things you enjoy! Don’t set a goal of running 5x per week if you absolutely detest running, chances are you won’t stick to it and you’ll be left feeling disheartened and disappointed.

Set some time aside to really think about things you enjoy doing; walking, cycling, playing tennis, yoga, palates – you name it.

Finally, don’t be afraid to try something new! Always wanted to play badminton? Join a local club, a great way of meeting like-minded people and adding variety to your routine.

“Exercise should be a celebration of what the body can do, rather than punishment for what you ate”.

Ross, R., and McGuire, A. (2011). Incidental Physical Activity Is Positively Associated with Cardiorespiratory Fitness. School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, CANADA.