Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Importance Of Nutrition In Eating Disorders

"Health Requires Healthy Food." - Dr. Roger J. William

Approximately 24 million people in the U.S. struggle with an eating disorder. Eating disorders, just like alcoholism and/or drug addictions don't discriminate and can affect anyone regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or socioeconomic status. About 50% of all people in the U.S. either know someone with an eating disorder or have been personally affected by one. Despite its prevalence, major misconceptions about eating disorders are widespread leading to myths and stigmas which sadly can result in either a delay in treatment or not seeking treatment at all; with the result being only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receiving treatment.

Just as an alcoholic doesn't choose to have the disease of alcoholism, obese people don’t choose to be heavy. Likewise the bulimic doesn't choose to purge nor does the anorexic choose to be skinny. Instead, the behaviors of eating disorders are driven by specific biological mechanisms that drive these addictive behaviors. These behaviors rise out of primitive neurochemical reward centers in the brain that override normal willpower, as well as overwhelm our ordinary biological signals that control hunger and appetite.

With eating disorders, whether a person is undereating or overeating; food takes on an inappropriate role as eating becomes the center of the universe. For anorexics and bulimics, food is the enemy, a trap waiting to be sprung. Eating is a failure of will that must be atoned for through purging (vomiting, taking diarrhetics or diuretics) or excessive exercise to burn the hated calories. For compulsive overeaters, on the other hand food is a panacea, a comforter and friend in time of need. Eating is a fix. 

Eating disorders share the following characteristics: Food takes on an inappropriate role in life. Food is consumed at the wrong times. Food is consumed in the wrong amounts. And the foods that are consumed are nutritionally deficient. These factors together with the behaviors often seen with eating disorders such as purging or excessive exercise renders an individual malnourished.

But it's also about more then appetite with eating disorders as the quality of the food consumed is generally nutritionally poor. Compulsive overeaters tend to choose foods high in refined carbohydrates such as sugar; fat, and highly processed "junk foods" which are known to have drastic emotional and psychological effects. During binges, bulimics make similar food choices, sometimes consuming pints of ice cream or boxes of cookies in one sitting. But eating disorders do more than just disrupt the normal process of nutrition; they also reprogram the body's internal thermostat and cause chronic disturbances in neurotransmitter activity.

When individuals with eating disorders get into recovery, they are faced with other issues besides malnutrition due to their eating disorders; they also have the formidable task of both repairing the gastrointestinal damage due to purging and "reprogramming" brains that have become seriously disrupted. And for those persons battling obesity, there is also the stubborn internal thermostat that needs resetting, while for anorexics and bulimics there is the seductive and addictive call of stress-induced brain chemicals.

Fortunately, there are ways to combat these problems and help the body, especially the brain and the organs of the digestive system to achieve a normal balance once again; it's called food for recovery. Food can be a potent ally in bringing the brain back "on line" by tailoring your diet to include the dietary precursors of your damaged neurotransmitters, you can give your brain the raw materials it needs to resume normal production. And by eating a high quality diet at regular intervals you can ensure that your brain is properly fueled to carry out these processes. "Food For Recovery" is eating for recovery so to repair the damage done by eating disorders and to promote optimum health for your recovery journey.

Recovery from eating disorders can be challenging, not just because the substance being abused is food, so total abstinence is not an option but because there are specific biological mechanisms that drive this addictive behavior. Further adding to the challenge is the biological and physical impact of these disorders on the body.  A recovery treatment plan which includes an emphasis on nutrition, using food for recovery, will help a person with an eating disorder fully recover and go on to live a healthy life. While recovery takes time recovery is absolutely possible.

Health and Happiness,

Mary P. Cheney, B.Sc., P.T.A.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Taming Your Inner Cookie Monster

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food" - George Bernard Shaw

Just like "Gibbs' Rules" on NCIS, Dr. Beasley too, had rules for his team. The first one was "As an author never favor one of your books over another". Well, that one has always been a problem for me, as of all the books I wrote with Dr. Beasley, "Food For Recovery" was and always will be my favorite.

The reason is simple, I love food. I love the sight of food, the smell of food, and the taste of food. I am a "foodie" and left on my own, I have not always made the best choices. When did this love affair start you ask? Many years ago my parents would say when I was introduced to my first arrowroot cookie. My love for these cookies were so great that as a toddler I went on a hunger strike and refused to eat anything but arrowroot cookies. Fearing I would starve to death, my parents along with my pediatrician let me eat just arrowroot cookies until I was so bored with my new diet that I was willing to eat real food again. Yes, I had an inner "cookie monster".

Later in adulthood while pregnant with my first child, I was advised to "eat for two" which I gladly did while gaining 75 pounds. Imagine my surprise when my precious baby was born and I was left with 60 pounds to loose. You see when I was happy, I ate to celebrate. When I was sad, I ate for comfort. When I was bored, I ate to past the time. When I was worried or stressed, I ate to calm myself. And when I was not eating I was focused on food, thinking about new recipes to make, making a shopping list, or shopping for food. I was happiest in the supermarket shopping for food or in the kitchen cooking and/or baking followed by my most favorite thing, eating what I made.

So when Dr. Beasley asked me to read his new book, "Food For Recovery" (the 1st Edition) he didn't have to ask twice. I gladly tried each and every recipe, yes all 127 whole food recipes as it soon became my favorite cookbook. Then I read it from cover to cover and started to incorporate its principals into my personal life. What I discovered was that gradually my relationship with food changed as I learnt more about nutrition and how to put this knowledge into practice. I made small changes at first but as I ate better, I felt better and those small changes became bigger ones and as a result my relationship with food changed.

Later after I graduated from college, I used "Food for Recovery" as my "playbook" while health coaching clients at Dr. Beasley's clinic and I got to see first hand how life changing this book could be when used as a nutritional companion to those recovering from alcoholism, drug addiction and/or eating disorders. 

Although the transition was sometimes difficult for some clients, everyone of these men and women found that once they had enjoyed the tremendous benefits and "natural high" of a good nutrition program it was almost impossible to go back to their old eating habits. In the words of one client: "I had a Twinkie the other day, just for old's time sake and couldn't even finish the first bite. I can't believe I ate that stuff. What was I thinking of?"

Can reading one book really change your life? Yes, if you use the knowledge gained from that book and put it into practice. Education is power. The goal is to use that knowledge to educate the mind and then turn it into action to empower your body. What you will find is simple everyday actions will result in healthy changes in your life. Remember change is a process not an event and action changes things. So the little actions you take each day will change your life in big ways. For example, as you eat better, you will feel better and your spirit will be renewed as a result. 

When individuals in recovery follow the dietary guidelines along with the healthy lifestyle changes that are recommended in "Food For Recovery", recovering individuals can begin to enjoy the natural high of a healthy sobriety. Many of these individuals reported that after making these changes they experienced less mood swings, improved ability to sleep and stay asleep, less daytime fatigue, reduced cravings, and better general health with the end result being a reduction in relapse rates as they continued to work their recovery program.

Why is "Food For Recovery" my favorite of all the books that I have written? Because while I am still happiest in the supermarket shopping for food or in the kitchen cooking and/or baking, I am now making better food choices. I am cooking healthier and I have learnt to make healthy swaps when I am baking. While I still love food, my relationship with it has been changed and now I eat mindfully, using food to achieve my optimum health in recovery. I truly believe that these changes would not had happened if Dr. Beasley and "Food For Recovery" had not entered my life. And yes while I still love cookies, now I can eat just one cookie instead of a whole box as my "inner cookie monster" has been tamed.

Do you have an "inner cookie monster" that you need to tame? Let me know under comments or connect with me at Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

Health and Happiness,

Mary P. Cheney, B.Sc., P.T.A.

If you are interested in buying a copy of the 3rd Edition of "Food For Recovery", Please consider our nonprofit fundraiser, Thank You!

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Kickstarter Potato Salad Paradox

I have decided that crowdfunding on Kickstarter is not like making instant rice, it's more like making long grain brown rice. - Mary P. Cheney

Recently after discovering that our inventory of the book "Food For Recovery" was low, I decided that it was time to focus on an Updated and Expanded Fourth Edition. I made the announcement on social media, launched this blog to share the journey, and then got to work. Shortly after that the computer I was working on died. 

After being told the computer (bought in 2003) could not be fixed, I realized the nonprofit needed a new one or I would be writing "Food For Recovery" on my iPad. That's when I decided it was time to run a fundraiser for the nonprofit. To be honest, I hate fundraising as I would rather be cooking, baking, tweeting, blogging, or writing "Food For Recovery" so I thought I would try something different to raise the funds to make it "more fun". Someone suggested crowdfunding and I thought why not?

All I knew about crowdfunding was the story I read about the man who raise $55,000 for potato salad after asking for ten dollars. I was excited to get going so I went on Kickstarter, set up the account, read the suggestions, submitted the proposal for the nonprofit and once it was approved, I launched the project. I then posted the project on Facebook, tweeted about it on Twitter, and posted it on Google+ as suggested. And then I waited for the "backers" to appear and I waited and waited.

What has happened and not happened since I launched this project was not what I expected. First, let me say in the past when we raised the funds for our nonprofit projects, I would write a grant proposal to a foundation, corporation, or treatment center and give it to Dr. Beasley. He would go meet with them and then we were "funded" with a check arriving in the mail. Now that Dr. Beasley is no longer able to help with fundraising, I am discovering how hard yet very important fundraising is in running a nonprofit.

While I have not raised any funds to date on Kickstarter, I did receive book orders on (the nonprofit's website) for the print version of "Food For Recovery" since launching the Kickstarter project. These book sales resulted in the very few existing copies of the First, Second, and Third Editions of "Food For Recovery" being sold out. I then had to update inventory on the website and return the funds to the customers for the orders I could not fulfill.

The next day I received an email from a physician at a treatment center who was looking for "Food For Recovery" on Amazon but could only find the First Edition which was being sold for $68.35 to $401.85 for "new" copies by "sellers" on Amazon. It appeared that while I (one of the author's of the book) was having a hard time raising the funds for the ebook project on Kickstarter others were using the rules of supply and demand to increase their prices of the print version on Amazon.

With 38 days left to meet our goal on Kickstarter, I would like say that while our Kickstarter project is not for raising funds for potato salad, we do have a very healthy and delicious potato salad recipe in our "Food For Recovery" ebook :-).

Health and Happiness,

Mary P. Cheney, B.Sc., P.T.A.

You Can Learn More About Our Project Here: