RobardUser Robard Corporation | Habits

Is Food Your Friend or Enemy?




Frequently, patients tell me they want to “change their relationship with food.”  This lofty-sounding desire is often expressed after significant weight loss following a diet, after a life-changing event or during recovery from disordered eating. Some refer to it as making “peace” with food, as if they have been at war with it all their lives. And perhaps they have.

How we change that (food) relationship — or not — greatly depends upon how we view food. Merriam-Webster.com (medically) defines food as: “Material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair and vital processes and to furnish energy.” Food is, first and foremost, the important fuel that keeps the body alive. So, it makes sense that quality “fuel” put into the body would produce a healthier-running organism.

But beyond being a source of macro and micro-nutrients, food also provides pleasure. Nature could have permanently provided us earthly inhabitants with some bland-tasting, gray-colored sustenance to meet our nutritional requirements for survival. Instead, nutrition is packaged in a plethora of delightful colors, smells, tastes and textures. Along with man-made food preparation methods, we now have a phenomenal multiplicity of choices. “Extreme variety” —with food available almost as soon as we can imagine it — is both a blessing and a curse. And one could argue that the availability of today’s super palatable convenience foods doesn’t help. So, we need to know how to reasonably combine nutrition and pleasure, calories and nutrient density. We need balance.

Next, if we want to truly improve our food relationship, we have to slow down, learn to savor and listen to our bodies. When we dismiss our bodies’ hunger signals (usually pretty discernable) and satiety signals (sometimes more like a whisper), our food behavior can move us quickly from starved to stuffed — neither of which is a positive or pleasurable experience. And while we also need to learn that mild hunger is not something to be feared (most of us are blessed enough not to experience food insecurity) our concern with seeking food and thoughts about food also should not interfere with daily life.

Lastly, food really needs to be food. It can’t substitute for or squelch our emotional expression on a regular basis. If our “default” is to eat when an emotion arises, we are no longer nourishing ourselves as intended. Food is not a persona — not our “friend” or our “enemy.” To put food back in its place, people often initially need some structure. Planning meals and snacks at regular intervals, eating a wide variety of plant foods, lean proteins, whole grains, healthful fats, drinking enough water and tracking intake are some sensible ways to start. And because food attitudes, just like emotions, can be contagious, having a good “food mentor” is not a bad idea.

So improving one’s food relationship — just like a relationship between people — involves the desire/willingness to change, which takes times and effort. There is no room for self-blame or blaming others for our personal food history because, as adults, we are each responsible for the food we put in our mouths. There is only room for learning and growing, one day at a time — one meal at a time. Sometimes we can do this on our own and sometimes, as with relationships, we need outside help. And it takes patience. But the rewards of improving one’s food relationship are very rich, and go beyond weight management to include health, a sense of gratitude, confidence, and a growing appreciation for nature. It’s never too late to start the process.


Blog written by By Rosemary Mueller, MPH, RDN, LDN, Advocate Medical Group — Advocate Weight Management



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3 Facts About Food Addiction




As the obesity epidemic continues to grow, more and more physicians are considering treatment. Obesity is recognized as a chronic disease by the American Medical Association, and even binge eating, which can lead to obesity, has been officially classified as an eating disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).

As doctors work to find more effective ways to treat obesity, the underlying causes of weight gain are also being considered. While societal factors and lack of education on exercise and dieting certainly play a role, physicians should also consider even deeper causes of excessive weight in the individual, including food addiction.

Recent studies have begun to show that the pattern of weight loss and regain, combined with the inability to control eating habits, clinically presents like an addiction. The clinical presentation and symptom profile between substance abuse and food addiction is
well documented.

To learn a little more about food addiction, take a look at this infographic and download our free white paper on food addiction by clicking here.


Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation

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Relating Mental Health & Behavior to the Weight Loss Journey




In my experience working at the Dr. Rogers Centers, a provider of fitness, wellness and weight loss services in San Antonio, Texas, behavioral techniques are introduced to help participants modify eating and exercise habits. Weight loss program participants have access to a Licensed Professional Counselor/Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor to receive cognitive behavioral therapy to help treat their symptoms and how to think differently about food and their lives.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
According to the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes the importance of thinking about how we feel and what we do. Much of this therapy involves changing our thoughts about different aspects of our lives. This therapy also utilizes mindfulness therapy to keep the participant in the present moment to help relieve anxieties about past experiences.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques can help controlling cravings and primitive impulses. Cravings and other addictive behaviors that trigger pleasure are controlled by our limbic system, sometimes called the “lizard brain.” Our primal instincts are managed in this part of the brain as well. During mindfulness therapy, breathing techniques are used to reengage the frontal cortex. The frontal cortex supports impulse control and is also responsible for decision making. Weight loss program participants can make clearer, conscious decisions about their cravings through this simple therapy.

The Reciprocal Relationship
Many weight loss program participants suffer from co-occurring disorders — typically obesity and depression, or obesity and anxiety. With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, healthcare professionals are able to treat both problems. It is important to treat both issues simultaneously as they are in a reciprocal relationship and will feed off of each other. Learning what our triggers are and recognizing our disordered eating patterns is the key to success. There must be an understanding that food is not the problem; rather, food is fuel for our bodies. The problems lie in our lifestyles, are emotional, and can even involve negative feelings towards certain foods or exercise.

Healthy Supplementation
In addition to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and understanding the relationship between obesity and mental health issues, a professional counselor may recommend supplements to support mental health. Exercise is one example of a “supplement.” It increases dopamine, which is the “feel good” chemical in our brains. Instead of increasing dopamine from unhealthy cravings or other addictions, exercise can be used to achieve this “high.”

Other vitamins and nutrients that are commonly recommended are:

• Vitamin D3: Important for all body functions. For brain health, it helps to release neurotransmitters that affect brain function and development.
• 5-HTP: Converts into two important chemicals: Melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin supports sleep and wake cycles. Serotonin is known for being a “happy chemical” and supports positive mood and outlook.
• Calcium: Essential for healthy brain function. Deficiencies can lead to anxiety and moodiness.

For medical professionals interested in turnkey weight loss programs that incorporate all of the elements for behavioral change for long-lasting results, you can request more information here. Also, take a look at Robard’s upcoming webcast on “Brain Systems Underlying the Munchies.” To register for this webcast, please click here.


Blog written by Gabrielle Harden, Guest Blogger



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