Eating food can be an enriching and pleasurable experience that we are able to take part in every single day of our lives—if we’re lucky. And here at Williams we are.
But what happens when food becomes a stressor in our lives? When it feels like we are out of control with food, or it seems to cause disease or a body that we don’t like? That’s when our relationship with food is out of balance and needs healing and nurturing.
It’s understandable how this can happen. Our food supply has changed dramatically in the past 50 years, and the amount of confusing misinformation about nutrition has hit astronomical levels. Plus, the “thin” ideal is rampant in our society–especially within our micro, but powerful, Purple Bubble.
Here are resources to help you find balance with food, and your body. It’s our goal to help you nourish yourself everyday, in ways that make food as an enriching and joyful experience and enable you to fully experience your life here at Williams.
Nutritionist Maria Cruz, MEd, RDN, LDN welcomes any student to make a free and confidential appointment [email protected] or at (413) 597- 3158.
- A Healthy Relationship With Food… Intuitive Eating: 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating By The Original Intuitive Eating Pros – Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole
- Reject the Diet Mentality Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently.
- Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.
- Honor Your Hunger. Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.
- Make Peace with Food Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing. So when you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.
- Challenge the Food Police Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating minimal calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created. The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the Food Police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.
- Respect Your Fullness Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what is your current fullness level? Discover the Satisfaction Factor In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence, the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content.
- Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food Comfort, nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of over- or under- eating.
- Respect Your Body Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally as futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation with body size. But mostly, respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.
- Exercise—Feel the Difference Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. Focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, and more relaxed. If your only goal is to lose weight, it’s usually not a motivating factor in that moment of time.
- Honor Your Health Gentle nutritious food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters; progress not perfection is what counts.
Be Present With Your Food!! What does that mean? It means taste your food, smell your food, look at your food, and eat your food WITHOUT doing other things.
Of course, it is fine to talk with your friends and socialize while eating. In fact, this is one of the pleasures of eating—sharing food with those we love. However, you can still check in with how wonderful your food is while socializing. But doing your work, watching TV, reading, looking at your phone etc. are all ways to distract you from what you’re really supposed to be doing—enjoying your food!
Check out this definition of mindfulness by and then apply it to eating:
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way—on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Left to itself the mind wanders through all kinds of thoughts—including thoughts expressing anger, craving, depression, revenge, self-pity, etc. As we indulge in these kinds of thoughts we reinforce those emotions in our hearts and cause ourselves to suffer. By purposefully directing our awareness away from such thoughts and towards some ‘anchor’, we decrease their effect on our lives and we create instead a space of freedom where calmness and contentment can grow.”
John Kabat-Zinn, a famous mindfulness teacher A Mindful Eating Exercise for you:
- Begin chewing now. Chew slowly, just noticing what it feels like. It’s normal that your mind will want to wander off however, gently bring your attention back to chewing. Notice each tiny movement of your jaw. In these moments you may find yourself wanting to swallow the food—see if you can stay present and notice the subtle transition from chewing to swallowing. As you prepare to swallow, try to follow it moving toward the back of your tongue and into your throat. Swallow the food, following it until you can no longer feel any sensation of the food remaining. Take a deep breath and exhale.
- Reflection: What did you notice while chewing? Why did you swallow? Was the food no longer tasty? Did it dissolve? Where you bored? With each meal: See if you can do this with the 1st bite of each meal, and then try a subtler version with each bite of your meal. Eventually you will mindfully eat most of the time!
How to Handle Your Food Allergy in the Dining Halls
- Report your life threatening food allergy directly to one or all of the following people via email, in written form, or verbally: the nutritionist, executive chef, or health services.
- Carry your medication with you, whether it is an epi-pen or oral medication. If you have medication carry it with you at all times.
- Make an appointment with the nutritionist and/or the executive chef to develop a plan that meets your needs to avoid food allergens. The Executive Chef will assist you with meeting the dining hall managers. This is your opportunity to make your dining experience as safe and enjoyable as possible.
- When you go to the dining hall, always ask the chefs and servers about foods that you suspect may contain an allergen. By this time you should be well acquainted with the staff, which will make your inquiry comfortable and second nature. We want you to feel at home and safe.
Learn more about dining at Williams and explore the services available
Executive Chef: Mark Thompson—413-597-2050
Dietitian: Maria Cruz—413-597-3158
How do food allergies compare to food sensitivities/intolerances?
Food Allergy = an adverse food reaction, usually to a protein, that is mediated by an immunoglobulin E (IgE antibodies) immunologic mechanism. It occurs when these antibodies react to the ‘invading’ protein after ingestion, inhalation, or touch of a particular food. Some reactions include but are not limited to:
- Hives, itching or eczema
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat or other parts of the body
- Wheezing, nasal congestion or trouble breathing
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
Food Sensitivity/Intolerance = an adverse reaction to a food caused by toxic, pharmacologic, metabolic, or idiosyncratic reactions to the food or chemical substances in the food. These usually occur when the digestive system is irritated by food or is unable to properly break the food down. Some reactions include but are not limited to:
- Stomach pain
- Gas, cramps or bloating
- Irritability or nervousness
For further information about food allergies please click on the links below:
You may wish to review these helpful links for more information: