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Diet Downfalls


These days, there are as many diets as there are types of breakfast cereals (read: too many!). Unfortunately, most diets create a false connotation of the word diet, incorporating some aspect of restriction, food/nutrient avoidance or fasting. However, the original definition of diet was simply “habitual nourishment” (Webster’s Dictionary). Any time one avoids or restricts food intake in any way, there is risk of missing out on key nutrients that are essential for health. The best diet is one that includes a variety of all foods in moderation (unless of course medical reasons prohibit one from doing so). Read on to find out the downfalls to some of today’s most popular diets.

Gluten Free
There is nothing inherently wrong with gluten, which is found in wheat, rye and barley. Yet recently it’s gotten a bad rap and has become the latest food group to avoid. For those with Celiac Disease, gluten damages the lining of the intestine causing malabsorption and a slew of other symptoms. Those with an allergy to gluten can have a variety of reactions, some of which are life threatening. For folks in these two camps, it is imperative that these individuals completely avoid gluten. Others, however, choose to eat gluten free (GF) for a variety of other anecdotal reasons. Unfortunately, those following the diet, no matter the reasons behind it, are at risk of many nutrient deficiencies.

Gluten free products are known to be low in nutrients that are typically found in whole grain, wheat-based products, such as B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and fiber. Wheat based products (i.e. bread, cereals, crackers, etc.) are mandated by law to be enriched with many of the aforementioned nutrients while GF products do not fall under such regulations. Therefore, a diet made up of mostly GF pre-packaged items will provide less nutrients than their wheat based counterparts. This is especially important for children and adolescents following a GF diet who are still growing and developing.

In addition, a lot of GF products are made with added sugars and are higher in cholesterol, calories and fat. So a 1:1 switch from gluten-containing to GF products will not necessarily bring about improved health, except when medically necessary.

Therefore, any individual on a GF diet should seek counsel from a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in order to ensure that their new intake pattern provides all the necessary nutrients required for optimal health.

Low Carb Diets
Low carbohydrate diets have become the go-to approach for improving health and losing weight. There are many different low carb diets out there. The premise is generally the same – reduced carb intake, increased protein/fat intake. Proponents of the low carb diets claim that carbs cause weight gain and therefore should be limited and/or avoided. Unfortunately, the science just isn’t that simple and more current research is debunking the myth that carbs are “bad.” Like it or not, carbs are essential for every bodily cell’s proper function. The brain can only use carbohydrate for energy and if you’ve ever followed a low carb diet, your brain has taken notice. Many low carb dieters complain of brain fog, headaches, blurred vision, difficulty concentrating and reduced cognitive abilities. Newsflash – it’s because the brain is in need of more carbohydrates! In addition, carbohydrates provide necessary energy to the muscles during exercise and many grain-based carbohydrate foods are excellent sources of other vitamins and minerals that one misses out on when reducing carb consumption.

This isn’t to say one should consume carbs like they’re going out of style – our culture’s portion sizes have certainly led to carb overconsumption. However completely eliminating carbs or entire food groups, such as grains, altogether isn’t the ideal response. Carbs should be present at each meal & snack (again, think about feeding the brain), yet moderation is key. Choosing high-quality, fiber-rich carbs such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables will provide required nutrients and lasting energy to help you get through your day. Low carb diet followers often weight-cycle after repeated bouts of carb-avoidance and falling off the wagon. Research and years of client testimonials prove that low carb eating is extremely difficult to sustain life-long.

Cleanses & Detoxifying Diets
Typically these diets consist of mainly liquids and promise to bring about quick weight loss and flush toxins out of the body. Many believe it is necessary to cleanse the body and clean out the gut in order to lose weight and feel better. Cleanse and detox diets provide inadequate protein, fat and carbs, which means followers of these diets are typically miserable during the process (see above about feeding the brain). Like the low carb diets, these types of regimens are also not sustainable and any weight lost is typically regained as soon as regular food intake is resumed. In addition, the claims of flushing toxins out of the body are unsupported by research.

Regardless of one’s reasons for going vegan, this diet presents a number of nutrition risks. It’s vitally important to be aware of the nutrient deficiencies inherent in this diet so as to properly compensate for them. Often, vegans fall short in their protein, B-12, calcium, iron, omega-3 and vitamin D intake. Because most of these nutrients are most abundantly available in animal products, it can be incredibly difficult to meet one’s daily needs through plant-based foods and grains. It takes a lot of pre-planning and finesse to ensure that all nutrients are represented. Therefore, vegans should be seen by a physician to monitor vitamin and mineral levels in addition to seeking the assistance of a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist.


By Kate Grefenstette, RD


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Today ends the National Eating Disorder Awareness week and in it’s cessation I have a few thoughts to share in the spirit of bringing “Awareness”.

At a bloggers brunch today with some amazing women, it was asked “Why do people choose eating disorders?”

I almost stood up and started preaching. But I did remain seated and said politely “People do not choose to have eating disorders”.

So first, I would like to shout from the rooftop that a person chooses an eating disorder like someone chooses to have cancer.

An eating disorder is a disease that takes years to overcome. With only 50% reaching full recovery for life. 10% of people with this disorder die. This is the top killer out of all mental illnesses. (check out:

But people choose to go on a diet – including children. Well children don’t always choose to go on diets, but their parents sure do. Many parents have their children eat what they eat. Case in point, as an eating disorder expert, I have had countless patients whose parents put the family on a Gluten Free diet, Vegan diets, all organic diet, and on and on. No child should ever be on a diet. They are growing and need a variety of foods for their best health (not including allergic or medical conditions). Teaching kids that there are good and bad foods influence children and hence there is a sense of shame in what you eat. There should be no guilt for anything we eat. Food is not a morality issue.

I have found that around the ages of 10-12 when a girls body is going through puberty, the messages they receive about their body is paramount. The average person should gain about 30 pounds during the course of puberty and everyone’s bodies grows differently. This is the time that many girls then think that they need to lose weight. Body dissatisfaction often starts around this time and is so prevalent amongst our children.

Parent Tip: Do not make negative comments about anyone’s body – especially your own.

Fact: 95% of diets fail. If diets didn’t fail, we wouldn’t have so many people in our world on diets and the diet industry wouldn’t be making an enormous amount of money.

Stay tuned for Kate Grefenstette, RD to write a post on the negatives of the different diets out there.

My hope is that we can start seeing food and our bodies not as the enemy but just a part of our humanity.





Body + Mind + Spirit = Your Complete Self

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At Prosperity, our therapists are all trained to help a person understand and change the way they think. If our thinking is negative, distorted and unhelpful then so will our behaviors. There is a lot of evidence that confirms changing our thinking creates change in our lives. But, our minds are just part of ourselves.

Prosperity also understand the importance of a healthy body. Without being physically healthy it is hard for a person to be in good spirits or have a quality life. We aim to help you restore and improve your health through proper nutrition, education, and proper medical care. And yet, our bodies may be in good shape, but deep within your spirit there may something missing, maybe not feeling fully connected to yourself.

We believe that knowing, understanding and listening to your inner being brings a different level of change. Harmony. Joy. Peace. Wellness.

We welcome the opportunity to work in conjunction with other providers to give each person a chance to experience wellness at all levels.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Insights from the Herd

Horses always teach us a lesson or two on mindfulness and dealing with our our feelings. During this one particular session, Solveig, our newest mare in the herd, met barn-kitty, or Mr. Barney. This time, our session focused on starting new relationships and relational competence. Solveig approached Mr. Barney cautiously, while Mr. Barney, a more seasoned barn and herd guest, proceeded to greet her trustingly. Solveig was respectful, kept the distance, respected both physical and emotional boundaries, and more importantly, was open and honest in the newly budding friendship.

Pondering on their interactions, I am wondering:

  • How do you approach new relationships?
  • How do you deem if they are safe, physically and emotionally?
  • How cautious are you?
  • Do you have preconceived ideas on who the other person is, or even, who you *should* be in relationships?
  • Do you show your true self?

As a result, Solveig and Mr. Barney are continuing to build a solid, cross-species friendship while being trustworthy co-therapists for the equine assisted psychotherapy sessions. Hope your relationships bring you the same joy as theirs!

Written by Ioana

What is Family Based Therapy (The Maudsley Approach)

Family Based Therapy (The Maudsley Approach) sees the parents of the ill person as the best ally for recovery. In this evidence-based approach, parents are seen as the most committed and competent people in the patient’s life and therefore best qualified to find ways to fight the illness, to regain healthy weight, and end unhealthy behaviors. The Maudsley approach can mostly be construed as an intensive outpatient treatment where parents play an active and positive role in order to: Help restore their child’s weight to normal levels expected given their adolescent’s age and height; hand the control over eating back to the adolescent, and; encourage normal adolescent development through an in-depth discussion of these crucial developmental issues as they pertain to their child.

Phase I: Weight Restoration The Maudsley Approach proceeds through three clearly defined phases, In Phase I, also referred to as the weight restoration phase, the therapist focuses on the dangers of severe malnutrition associated with AN, such as hypothermia, growth hormone changes, cardiac dysfunction, and cognitive and emotional changes to name but a few, assessing the family’s typical interaction pattern and eating habits, and assisting parents in re-feeding their daughter or son. The therapist will make every effort to help the parents in their joint attempt to restore their adolescent’s weight. At the same time, the therapist will endeavor to align the patient with her/his siblings. Most of this first phase of treatment is taken up by coaching the parents toward success in the weight restoration of their offspring, expressing support and empathy toward the adolescent given her dire predicament of entanglement with the illness, and realigning her with her siblings and peers. Realignment with one’s siblings or peers means helping the adolescent to form stronger and more age appropriate relationships as opposed to being ‘taken up’ into a parental relationship. Throughout, the role of the therapist is to model to the parents an uncritical stance toward the adolescent – the Maudsley Approach adheres to the tenet that the adolescent is not to blame for the challenging eating disorder behaviors, but rather that these symptoms are mostly outside of the adolescent’s control (externalizing the illness). At no point should this phase of treatment be interpreted as a ‘green light’ for parents to be critical of their child. Quite the contrary, the therapist will work hard to address any parental criticism or hostility toward the adolescent.

Phase II: Returning control over eating to the adolescent The patient’s acceptance of parental demand for increased food intake, steady weight gain, as well as a change in the mood of the family (i.e., relief at having taken charge of the eating disorder), all signal the start of Phase II of treatment. This phase of treatment focuses on encouraging the parents to help their child to take more control over eating once again. The therapist advises the parents to accept that the main task here is the return of their child to physical health, and that this now happens mostly in a way that is in keeping with their child’s age and their parenting style. Although symptoms remain central in the discussions between the therapist and the family, weight gain with minimum tension is encouraged. In addition, all other general family relationship issues or difficulties in terms of day-to-day adolescent or parenting concerns that the family has had to postpone can now be brought forward for review. This, however, occurs only in relationship to the effect these issues have on the parents in their task of assuring steady weight gain. For example, the patient may want to go out with her friends to have dinner and a movie. However, while the parents are still unsure whether their child would eat entirely on her own accord, she might be required to have dinner with her parents and then be allowed to join friends for a movie.

 Phase III: Establishing healthy adolescent identity Phase III is initiated when the adolescent is able to maintain weight above 95% of ideal weight on her/his own and self-starvation has abated. Treatment focus starts to shift to the impact AN has had on the individual establishing a healthy adolescent identity. This entails a review of central issues of adolescence and includes supporting increased personal autonomy for the adolescent, the development of appropriate parental boundaries, as well as the need for the parents to reorganize their life together after their children’s prospective departure.

A Sum of All Parts

As far as I can think, everything has parts to it. The solar system, continents, our government, a business, a family, our body and even our own personality. When we talk about “our personality” we talk about it like it is one entity. But have you ever noticed, that you have a lot of different types of parts to your personality?

Maybe there are times when you can be laid-back and times when you are ultra competitive. Maybe a time when you are in control and show leadership traits and times when you are the student and an observer. I have noticed from patients that they also struggle with different parts of themselves that may be at conflict.. Such as, wanting to be loved, accepted and connected but there is another part that may be pushing him/her to be isolated, distant and disconnected.

What parts can you identify in you? What are the most helpful and what are the most hurtful? How did these parts develop?

Tackling Thanksgiving without Trepidation

As Thanksgiving approaches, you may be feeling nervous about the big meal. We’re all aware that Thanksgiving is known for its spread of delicious foods and heaping plates. For someone with an eating disorder, such as bulimia or binge eating disorder, this can bring on intense anxiety and fear. But it doesn’t have to! Here are a few tips to help you work through Thanksgiving with minimal anxiety and maximum joy… ·

Regular meals on Thanksgiving day. Don’t fast all day to “save up” for the meal later on. Having a normal breakfast and/or lunch (depending on when you have your Thanksgiving meal) will keep you from being famished and subsequently bingeing on the delicious buffet. So if your big meal is at lunch, have a balanced breakfast and plan on having dinner as well. If your big meal is at dinner time, eat a balanced breakfast & lunch (and even an afternoon snack if you’re hungry). ·

Recruit support. Whether you’re getting together with family or friends, seek out someone who can hold you accountable at the meal (i.e. make sure you eat and/or keep you from bingeing). If you aren’t going to be eating with people whom you aren’t comfortable holding you accountable, talk to someone on the phone before & after the big meal with whom you are comfortable sharing with. ·

Review your portions. If you have a meal plan, think about traditional Thanksgiving foods and how they might count as part of your typical meal plan. The following tips can help you gauge how to portion out your foods on the big day: o The size of a woman’s palm (width & thickness) = 3 ounces turkey o Thumb tip (from the knuckle up) = 1 tsp oil, butter, salad dressing o Tennis ball = ½ cup of stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cooked veggies o Egg = ¼ cup gravy or cranberry sauce ·

Rate your hunger. Before the meal, check in with yourself to see just how hungry you are. Be mindful about how you build your plate to satisfy your hunger. When dessert arrives, ate your feeling of fullness in order to determine what portion of dessert you desire. For pies, a 1/8 slice is the traditional serving. To visualize this, think about the space on a clock between the hour-hand at 10:30 and 12. ·

Rein in the alcohol. Too much imbibing may make you more prone to bingeing. Best to keep it at one to two drinks over the course of four hours. One drink equals: o 5 oz wine o 12 oz beer o 1.5 oz liquor ·

Ration up leftovers. Pack up leftovers in pre-portioned amounts and/or send them home with guests if having them in the house is too much of a temptation to binge.

Written by Kate Grefenstette

Getting down to a child’s level

I had the opportunity today to do some early prevention work with a group of ten darling and chatty 7year old girls during their Brownie meeting. For those of you who don’t know, the development of an eating disorder tends to start around the age of 7-10 years old. Almost every time I ask one my clients when they had their first thoughts about their body, starting to develop self-esteem issues and even start disordered eating, the majority say it is around those ages. What I didn’t tell these little girls yet (might wait till girl scouts) is that they are about to hit some hormonal changes which will cause some of them to be more “chubby” and NO that does not mean they need to diet. Their body is doing exactly what it should be doing. What I did talk to them about was my favorite topic – understanding your self-worth. I had my work cut out for me, they had yet to hear the words “self-esteem” or “self-worth” and had their hands raised to tell me something about their dogs or toy and thought that just maybe this would be over their heads. But I persisted.

I luckily I had a penny in my pocket that looked like it had a few rough days. They understood that a penny is worth 1 cent. Even if it was a brand new penny or a sad looking penny it didn’t change its worth. And like this penny, if they did bad on a test or lost a race or finished first, their worth doesn’t change either. We went to discuss what is worth money and what is not. Hmm, maybe a toy that they have had forever isn’t “worth” much to them, but their mommy they couldn’t come up with a value. We were able to discuss how all humans are born with the same worth. We all born precious, unique and imperfect. Yes, even Obama has the same worth as them and even the person sitting right next to them. When asked what is special about Obama they said the differences are that he is taller, has a bigger house, works harder and is older. But could also see that he was born making messes in his diapers, crying, and probably threw some temper tantrums too.

To show them that they are all unique, I had them put their thumb print on the middle of a page that symbolized their heart and then draw how they see themselves with the heart as their center. I am not an art therapist, but do want somebody to interpret why one girl drew herself as a cat, but the rest did an amazing job. They took magnifying glasses to study each others heart to see the differences and similarities.

I may not have made an impact on whether they have a future eating disorder. But I do believe they heard for the first time that they are perfect just the way they are even if they never reach first place.

By Heather Baker, LCSW



Shrinking Woman

One of the group member’s from Art Therapy brought this video in to share with the group this week. We all found it to be incredibly moving, uplifting and inspirational in the group.

When sharing this video with others outside of the center, the reactions were just as strong. One person reacted by saying that the poet is right about how we as women are trained to be submissive. Another said that the poet is right in that we model our parents and often believe that we are unworthy. She then continued to wonder whether it is always a “woman thing.” Could this poem have also been about a shrinking man? However, in our culture, it seems most typical that a woman learns submission while a man learns dominance.

How many times have you started a question with an apology? How often have you missed out on what was going on in class or work because you were overthinking what you were hungry for or were “allowed” to eat?

What do you think? What inspires you?


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