How to make food easier especially when neurodivergent with Samantha Berkowitz

How to make food easier especially when neurodivergent with Samantha Berkowitz
19 de mar. de 2024 · 1h 23s

The word “diet” has been tainted. Often times it means throwing out everything you’re doing and completely overhauling your kitchen overnight but only for a short amount of time. Diet...

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The word “diet” has been tainted. Often times it means throwing out everything you’re doing and completely overhauling your kitchen overnight but only for a short amount of time. Diet culture is full of ‘quitting’ and rules portrayed as universal but almost never are. They’re stressful which is counter productive to the goals we’re trying to use them to achieve.Instead of ‘dieting’, conscious mindful eating can teach us what works specifically for our own unique body, despite what the latest expert would have you believe. Everyone’s body is create differently and thrives in a different set of circumstances. Figuring out what works best for you is a matter of getting to know yourself and your body.The internet will overwhelm you real quick with what’s good for you versus what’s bad. If we listen to everything it said, there would be nothing left to eat. When food is already one of the biggest struggles most of us have, we don’t want to make it more complicated, we want to make it as simple as possible.Many people use dieting to gain a sense of control over their lives when they feel like they lack control elsewhere. These control habits tend to become more rigid over time as they compound and build on one another.In another sense, deprivation of certain foods causes us to want them that much more. Like a child at the store told not to touch something, being told we can’t eat something automatically draws us to it.Mindful, intuitive eating creates a sense of intimidation because it puts all of the responsibility on the individual to decide what works for them and what doesn’t. In a world that spends so much time teaching us not to trust our own bodies and intuition, panic and distrust over making our own decisions can set in. By nature, people want both complete freedom and for someone else to take the responsibility and tell us what to do. That way, if something doesn’t work out, we don’t have to shoulder the blame alone.We have to spend time analyzing and learning our body’s different cues. So many of us are so out of touch with our bodies that we’ll eat a whole box of cookies, start to feel really bad and it won’t even cross our minds that it may be the cookies. Variety is important and great. We need a ton of variety in our diets to fulfill all of our needs. There’s a time and place for cookies just like there’s a time and place for salads. You have to check in with your body and honor what it’s telling you it needs more of or less of.Most of us were raised in the “clean plate club” where we were made to finish our plates which required eating past fullness. This can be pretty harmful to learning our hunger and fulness cues. We’re not blaming our caregivers here. Perhaps there was food insecurity so you had to eat what you had when you had it or perhaps that’s just how they were raised and they didn’t know any better (how could they of known better).9:10 –What does hunger feel like if it’s not a grumbling stomach? Most of us are taught that this is the only hunger cue we get but our body gives us a whole host of different hunger cues. Especially if you’ve had a history of ignoring the grumbling tummy. Different hunger cues can include headache, fatigue, nausea, general malaise or something else that doesn’t seem related at all.We’re taught, instead of listening to when we’re hungry or not, that meals follow a certain schedule and that set universal schedule may be a great fit for you or it may not. Those of us who have time blindness and forget to eat may benefit from a set schedule with reminders on our phones. We may also not require feeding at those times. You have the flexibility and freedom to experiment with what works for you and what doesn’t.Neurodivergent people in particular have a hard time differentiating their hunger cues and may exasperate the issue by putting off eating because it’s viewed as a task. Not necessarily a diet culture type thing but just a time consuming, energy and time needed task that we have to get around to doing when we would rather put those efforts somewhere else.Making food for most people is just the task of making food. Neurodivergent people view it as +/- 25 tasks which makes us even more resistant to it. We generally find it hard to focus on this under stimulating task and wonder off, leading things to burn. So instead of even trying to cook, many of us will grab whatever single serve thing is available and end up eating just a piece of cheese or a pack of crackers.Making a point to learn how to food prep can help to counteract our issues with food and variety. Turn on music, a podcast or invite a friend over (body doubling) at a certain time with the purpose of prepping food for the week so that you have a good variety of healthy options to just grab and eat. Label your containers, you will forget how long everything has been in there.Convenience foods are not all bad. Frozen foods have nearly the same nutritional value as fresh. Sure, many convenience foods are wrapped in a lot of single serve plastics but we’re working on stepping stones and baby steps here. Whatever helps you gain control over your ability to feed yourself in a healthy way is what’s important. From there, you can build and transition to healthy for you and the earth but right now, our focus is on you. You can’t be any good to anyone else if you’re not at your best first.25:33 –Feeding yourself and everyone else was never supposed to be a one person job. We use to live in villages where the responsibility of this task was shared by many involved. Now, we expect each and every person to be responsible for it independently and we were never meant for that. It’s a large task and a whole, very large area of life.ADHD fridge organization. Put the condiments and things you’re going to think about and be willing to search for in the drawers and put perishables like fruit, veggies, sandwich meat, etc. front and center so you see them as soon as you open the doors. This helps with the whole ‘if you don’t see it, you forget it exists’ problem.We can easily and quickly drown in all of the information available online. The best way to counteract this is to stop consuming information and instead start implementing something, anything. We don’t want to pressure ourselves to take anything out of our diet in the beginning. Instead, we want to focus on adding more good stuff into what we’re already eating.Adding veggies to a frozen pizza or some mac and cheese is a great place to start. Drench it in ranch if you need to right now. However you can get the fruits and veggies into your system is best. The nutritional value is not diminished because you drenched it in sauce. In some cases, the sauce is essential to the absorption of the vitamins, minerals and overall nutrients.Don’t write off a particular food because you tried it once or twice and didn’t like it. Our pallets change and with it, what we like and dislike. Most of the aversion is in our heads. You haven’t tried broccoli or brussel sprouts in all of the thousands of ways they can be prepared. Try them again and again. If you still don’t like them, fine, at least you tried. You may be surprised though. Always be trying new things.Is it important for our food to taste good? Absolutely. However, food is medicine and making yourself eat a couple of bites of something that you’re not a huge fan of but also doesn’t make you gag, is good for you. Your body will appreciate those few nutritional varieties that you wouldn’t otherwise get.40:08 –There are a ton of different foods that have the same or similar nutrients in them. Make sure you’re getting what you need and not leaving any open voids. Smoothies are versatile and under rated. Yogurts are becoming much more versatile than they use to be.There was such an anti-fat campaign in our food that villainized healthy fats that are crucial to our health and well being. Historically, the word ‘fat’ wasn’t a bad one. It was used often to express many good things. “Fat free” is not better and does not keep you from retaining weight. All it does it deprive you of an essential substance your body needs to regulate.There are several different types of fat and you have to learn which is good and which is bad and how to read labels to decipher what has which. Keeping a food journal is so crucial because the hardest part of implementation is remembering to remember. It’s so easy to get things mixed up, confused and forgotten. Write it down with as much depth and organization as you can.Food is intimate. It’s an attachment and extension between ourselves, the things we’ve experienced, as well as our relationships. You may have an unhealthy attachment to cookies because that was the only time you remember connecting with your mom. It can be a comfort thing, a coping thing and once you heal the underlying emotional cause you may find out that you don’t even actually like cookies (or whatever food is in question here).We are what we eat goes deeper than the basic components of the food making up every cell in our body. Food is a great place to start healing anything you want to heal, be it physical, mental, emotional or whatever have you. The energetic component of each food has just as much impact on us as the vitamins, minerals and nutrients present in the food.

Samantha is a registered dietitian who offers weight-inclusive care to individuals struggling with eating disorders, disordered eating habits, and chronic dieting. Samantha's passion for nutrition began during her undergraduate studies in Culinary Nutrition at Johnson & Wales University, where she learned about the essential role of food in overall health and well-being. During graduate school at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Samantha discovered Intuitive Eating, a philosophy that changed the way she approached nutrition and helped her heal her relationship with food, movement, and her body. This transformative experience led her to use th
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