Rachel on Recovery
Rachel on Recovery

Season 2, Episode 5 · 2 weeks ago

Trauma and Nutrition with Caroline Thompson Clinical Dietitian Part 1

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Calorline Thomas is a Nutritionist who notyouraverage.dietitian talks about how trauma and nutrition are related. 

Hi, this is Rachel recover. We've got a special guest with us, Caroline. She's going to tell us a little bit about herself and then we're going to talk about nutrition and trauma and how it affects the body. Caroline, tell us a little bit about yourself. Amazing. I'm super excited to be here and we kept connected online and we've had a lot of really great conversations about nutrition and trauma. So a little bit about me. I am a Dietitian nutritionist and I'm also diabetes educator by training, so those are kind of like my formal titles. And in my private practice I spend a lot of time working with people who either have been diagnosed with an eating disorder or have some form shape of disordered eating, and that, you know, can run the Gammut from just feeling preoccupied with food, having a lot of thoughts about food, you know, to more disordered thinking around food that is really taking control of their lives, and so people tend to come to me when they want help with those issues. And, you know, to your point about nutrition and trauma, those are not typically words that we tend to hear together right. So, like trauma and mental health. We tend to think of, as you know, its own topic, and nutrition and Dietitians tend to be their own lane as well. And well, that's true. They are separate, they are actually very connected, and so I'm really excited to just dive into that with you and talk about maybe how having a history of trauma, you know, whether that's big tea trauma or little tea traumas, how that can really make us change our relationship with food over time and maybe even use food as a control mechanism or as a way of soothing ourselves after,...

...you know, going through something really challenging. M Okay, so what got you into nutrition? Yes, so I got into nutrition. I actually have a h history of disorder eating myself, and so, like many dieticians, to be honest, I wanted to go to school to learn a lot about nutrition and diets and what the best things to do are right, and that was kind of what got me into it in the first place. And, of course, the more that I learned and the more that I realized that I didn't have a good relationship with food, that, over time, became kind of my new passion. And, you know, I didn't specifically ever intend to work with people who had a history of trauma. That certainly wasn't ever on my radar when I first got started, but it was something that came up over and know, over and over and especially as I started seeing similar types of people in the disorder eating world who we're trying to change their relationship with food. You know, many of those folks we started putting those dots together, realizing that there maybe was an incident in their past that kind of started a lot of this and triggered it. I can say that you go into the nutrition or trauma victims, like I know you kind of answered this, but like, yeah, started seeing a pattern of it, but really pushed you, you know, hey, this is not just you know, patterns. Is something I'm passionate about. You know, that's such a great question. I think that for me, I started to see a lot, and this is the reputation that a lot of Dietutians have, is...

...a lot of the advice out there when people want to change what they're eating is meal plans. Eat this, don't eat that, swap this for that. Right, it's very tangible. Do this, don't do this, and you know, on some level that is helpful for some people to give them a sense of structure and a plan, right, and so often when we start a new diet that's exactly what we want. We want some to let that plan out for us. However, you know, I think I started to realize that we can give people meal blands, we can tell them eat this, don't eat this, we can give them the list in the plans and everything, and I was still seeing people come back and not, you know, being able to implement that or make a sustainable change long term. And it really started to occur to me that there's something happening that's not just on the surface level, like what we're eating. It's so much deeper than that and they're there are pathways really carved into our brain, into our psychology that drive us to food when we are stressed and emotional, when we're sad, when we're happy, even, you know, positive and negative emotions. And so I think for me it was really borne out of like realizing that just the basic nutrition guidance is only getting people so far and even beyond that, you can diet and still end up back at square one twelve weeks from now. If the die didn't work for you if you know, you had a ton of stress, a ton of life stuff happened, and so I think I just started to fall out of love a little bit with that nutrition, you know, hardcore nutrition stuff, and I started to really fall in love with what makes people change and what makes new habits stick and, in...

...more importantly, and probably why don't have it stick for some people or why can't some people seem to make changes that seem, quote unquote, easier for everyone else? And so that started to really be more of my focus and where I spent a lot more time and energy with clients and over time, you know, that certainly evolved into the approach that I have now. Okay, what are some patterns with Trauma Victims and Eating Disorders in your field? Yeah, so I have a lot of thoughts on the different types of patterns that people take on after trauma and around food. You know, typically goes in a handful of ways. We live in a world that really prioritizes, you know, looking healthy, being fit, going on diets. So a lot of times a typical pattern that I see is something traumatic can happen and we immediately look for a way to feel better or control this. How we're feeling all of these emotions that have come up in us in some ways that we control. That is actually just going on a diet. We look around to the outside world like we're, you know, covered in all of these diet culture messages, excuse me, and when we are faced with a really difficult moment where we don't know how to cope, we don't know how to act, we look, you know, to the outside world. That's what people tell us we should be doing, and so a lot of people pick up on that early on, even, you know, without any trauma history. We pick up on a way of being that's good, a way of eating that's good in a way of eating that's bad, and that tends to be something that people reach for when they need a sense of safety and control.

You know, going back to the meal plan, a meal plan is very safe for a lot of people. It feels structured, it feels certain, it feels consistent. We know what to expect, and so, you know, even though this following this meal plan, it might literally be making somebody miserable, it also is certain. It also leaves them with a sense of safety. I know what's coming today, I know what I'm doing tomorrow. I know what I'm eating for dinner and that can feel really good. So it's like this positive feeling when it first starts, but over time it gets US hooked right and we don't really develop a healthy coping skill there. We're just kind of blindly following a plan and then if the plan doesn't work, we tend to take on that shame or that guilt or all of those negative emotions as a result, when it really was an us that was a problem. It was that the meal plan didn't work. So, you know, again so much that I could say on this topic, but I think that that's a you know, a really big pattern that I see is is just dieting to create a sense of control, created a sense of safety in the world, certainty, and then, you know, ultimately that ends up being kind of a negative reinforcement cycle because most diets and meal plans do fail at some point. We can't do them forever because they are very restrictive, and so then we take on this negative, you know identity that we're a failure, that we can't stick to these things. So that's where that guilt and shame can really crop up. Um, what are some diets that you have seen. Just take havoc on the bobby the body today that are popular...

...today, that you just say let's just avoid those completely. Yes, so any diet that is asking you to cut out a major food group and, even worse, a major macro nutrient would be something that highly suspicious of. You know, in ultimately, in reality, most diets don't work. So, whether you're looking at KTO or Atkins or seventy five, hard right. What are some of the other popular ones? Trying to think? So any of those diets are are super restrictive. What would you say? I said the Paleo Diet. Yeah, Paleo, definitely, wait watchers. Num Even, which is super popular now, is, you know, an APP, but it really is just a diet plan with the coach tacked on in your chat messages. So you know all of these diets that come and go. Right, that's kind of the the definition of a fad, right. It's not something that sticks around, it's not something that has long term evidence. Those diets tend to be the most impactful in a negative way and typically what happens is the typical fall up or the typical pattern of restriction and dieting rather is we go on this diet, we stick to the plan. At some point we start to feel like it's not working anymore, we can't stick with it, it's too challenging and we usually write throw in the towel, and that doesn't ever feel very good, and then we end up back at square one and we never really learned. You know, maybe some of those habits stuck with us. If we were eating more regularly or focusing on a certain...

...food, some of those habits can stick with us, but more often than not we really don't learn anything through that process other than, you know, seeking the physical result of weight loss and dieting. So, you know, something to really think about is how sustainable is the Diet that I'm going on? Is it something that I can do today up until, you know, indefinitely? Do I can I do this forever? Basically, when you start a new diet or a habit change, it's a great question to ask yourself is, can I do this forever? So a lot of these diets, you know, we just see that that's not the case. Most people can't do them forever and most people don't. You know, most diets have an endpoint and and that's a huge red flag to me if there's an end period to the Diet. It's like what are we going to do when the diets over? Yeah, I mean, you know, people and that's what the whole Yoyo dieting thing that I think it's really bad for our culture, you know. Yeah, you're so go and as all kinds of horrible it does. Yeah, I mean, Yo die before her. Yeah, where you are going on diet after diet, on and off a plan that can lower your metabolism. It can actually cause more weight gain, so to and we tend to regain the way that we may have lost on the Diet and then actually gain more, even more. So every time we're doing that, we're Yo yoing up and down. Our weight is cycling up and down. Our metabolism is damaged and lowered in that process. And so, yeah, you're absolutely right. In that process it's just incredibly harmful. What about intermit and fasting and fasting in general? Like, you know, there's like people, you know, do fasting for spiritual reasons and you know, and there,...

I mean, you know what what's tell us a little more about that. Yeah, yeah, I mean fasting is a practice that's been around for years, thousands of years, right. So you know, ancient religions used fasting in the religious context to maybe improve their spirituality or their relationship with God, and that's still use today. I mean Ramadon is a great example that, where people fast all day and they don't meet until sundown, right. And so you know, I think when we think about fasting in that way, it's really important to consider your intention behind fasting. So some people's intention is to be closer to God, to be more spiritual, right, and so that your you have this higher purpose beyond Nastick for fasting. Rather that's beyond just yourself and it's not as superficial as maybe how you look or how your body looks that day. Where I see people getting into trouble with fasting is they maybe over eight last night and so their intention is to fast today to overcompensate and make up for what happened last night or over the weekend. And and that is a very vicious cycle that we can fall onto if we're not careful, where we are under eating all day, over eating at night and then undreating again or fasting really the next day to make up for it. So you know, again goes back to intention behind the action. And certainly a lot of people. You know, I have friends and family members who just aren't breakfast people. So technically they're fasting all day, but their intention is more that they have more energy when they skip breakfast. They feel better.

It doesn't, you know, have any negative correlation later in the day where they're like overeating or having all these negative kind of reactions to fasting. So I'm always looking at, you know, what people's reasons are for doing these things. Okay, I mean that's that's very helpful. Hey, guys, thanks for listening. Right. REACHEL and recover will be back next week with Carolyne with with part two. As always, follow us on your favorite social media platform and podcast platform and if you have any questions about Rachel and recovery, please be sure to contact reshout to us either on social media or on Rachel and RECOVERYCOM. And there are tons of new resources out on the website, so check that out. Guys,.

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