Principle 5: Feeling Our Fullness- Something We Are Born With

Today I am beyond excited to feature my first guest bloggerCate from Feeling Full Nutrition. When we first discussed collaborating together for my Spilling the Beans on Intuitive Eating Series, I was immediately drawn to Cate’s blog when I opened it to read: “build a longer table, not a higher fence.” Yes!!! For the fifth principle, Cate’s experience in working as a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) provides a unique perspective in feeling your fullness. You guys are going to love this! -Amanda


Hi everyone! My name is Cate and I am excited to be a guest blogger for Spilling the Beans today! I am currently finishing up my dietetic internship through the University of Delaware, and am also credentialed a Registered Nutrition and Dietetics Technician (NDTR) and Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC). Some of my many passions include public health, sustainable food systems, food justice, and breastfeeding education. You can check out my blog over at

Today I’m going to be contributing to Amanda’s series on the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating. So here goes:

Principle Five_ Feel Your Fullness

Back in 2016 when I underwent training to become a Certified Lactation Counselor, one of the first concepts I learned was the importance of feeding on demand. In plain terms, this means feeding infants when they are hungry and stopping when they are full- and can apply to both breastfed and formula-fed infants.

Here’s how it works: If an infant is moving their hands or fists into their mouth, making sucking noises, or moving their arms and legs and whimpering, these are cues they may be hungry and should be offered a feeding. On the other hand, if they close their mouth, stop sucking, or turn away from a feeding, these are cues they could be full.1 Even the tiniest of newborns can communicate these hunger and fullness cues to their caregivers, which is pretty cool!

With the exception of pre-term infants or infants with certain medical conditions2, knowing exactly when, how much, and for how long to eat is an innate knowingness that infants are born with—that we are ALL born with!

Principle 5 Quote Pic

However, for an infant caregiver or parent who may be accustomed to feeding based on portion sizes and food rules, feeding on demand can look very irregular. If fed on demand, some infants may do something called “cluster feeding”, where they want to eat every hour for a number of hours (eating more than you could imagine!)- then go many hours without wanting to feed at all. Unfortunately, clinicians taught by conventional diet culture may also see this type of feeding as abnormal, and may prescribe feeding certain amounts at certain times.

But on a regimented schedule, infants are forced to eat when they are full and refused food when they are hungry.3 Besides not allowing them to trust their innate biology, enforcing this structured feeding can lead to an infant developing side effects like reflux, gassiness, colic, or even rapid or slowed growth. When this happens, a caregiver may want to stop breastfeeding altogether, in favor of some “special” formula to relieve their infant’s “symptoms”- which may never have never have existed in the first place had they fed according to their infant’s hunger fullness cues.4,5


Why I’m bringing this up is to point out that for so many of us, our ability to honor our fullness is skewed before we are even able to walk. And even if you were fed on demand as an infant, chances are your internal regulation may have been skewed as you went through childhood. Clean plate club anyone?

We are taught from a young age that we cannot trust our bodies to know how much to eat. Diet culture tells us there is one recommended portion size for each food, and that this portion size should be used for all people. That’s kind of crazy, considering how different everyone is physically, mentally, and metabolically. Portion sizes have nothing to do with how you should eat. How you eat should be determined by what makes you feel good, and honoring your hunger and fullness.

Trying to find what fullness means for us can be a struggle. I hear you on that. Many of us may have no idea what comfortable satiety looks like. Sure, we may know what it feels like to overeat and be stuffed, but actually feeling full eludes us. A big reason why I named my blog Feeling Full Nutrition is because I want to help people to know what it feels like to feel a sense of joy and satisfaction after a meal. Even if this seems like a far-off dream for you, it is something you can do, because you were born knowing how.


First, take the blame off yourself for having difficulty feeling your fullness. This is not a personal character flaw. I hope from this post, you’ve learned that diet culture, portion sizes, and feeding schedules are instilled in us from a young age.  Its something that’s been drilled into you. Know that you can and will unlearn this.

Secondly, learn what comfortable fullness actually feels like. Here are some descriptions by clients of the authors of the Intuitive Eating Book:

  • A subtle feeling of stomach fullness
  • Feeling satisfied and content
  • Nothingness- neither hungry nor full6

The sensation is unique to everyone, and is difficult to describe. The authors of Intuitive Eating even compare it to describing what snow feels like- you can describe it endlessly, but you have to feel it yourself to truly know.

Once you have thought about this, work on conscious eating to develop a comfortable fullness level for yourself. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Pause in the middle of a snack or meal to check in with yourself. Check in with how your body and taste buds feel. Does the food taste good? Or are you eating it just because it is there? Does your body feel comfortable? Are you still feeling physically hungry? Are you beginning to feel physically full?
  • Don’t feel obligated to leave food on your plate, or finish it all. As chronic dieters or chronic members of the clean plate club, this can be difficult. But instead of thinking about how much you are eating, be fully present with the sensations in your body to tell you when you are finished.
  • Whenever do you finish eating, ask yourself where you are with your fullness. You may want to use the scale back from principle number two.

Remember to be patient with yourself and know that this is a process.  It may take you a long time to get to the point where you feel comfortable feeling your fullness. But remember, you were born knowing how to do this. And even if it may be a feeling buried deep within you, its there.

Here are some journal prompts to work through for the fifth principle.

Principle 5 Prompts

Special thanks to Cate for contributing this week! Be sure to check out her blog and Instagram account. 


  1. DiSantis, K, Hodges E, Johnson S, Fisher J. The role of responsive feeding in overweight during infancy and toddlerhood: a systematic review. Int J Obes. 2011;35:480–492.
  2. McCormick F, Tosh K, McGuire W. Ad libitum or demand/semi-demand feeding versus scheduled interval feeding for preterm infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;2:138-139.
  3. Fildes A, Cornelia H, van Jaarsveld A, Llewellyn C, Wardle J, Fisher A. Parental control over feeding in infancy. Influence of infant weight, appetite and feeding method. 2015;91:101–106.
  4. Hodge S, Murphy P. Crying Newborns: The colic and reflux situation in New Zealand as depicted by online questionnaires. Int J Community Based Nurs Midwifery. 2014;6(8):97-107.
  5. Ventura AK, Inamdar LB, Mennella JA. Consistency in infants’ behavioural signalling of satiation during bottle-feeding. Pediatr Obes. 2015;10(3):180-7.
  6. Tribole, E. & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive eating, 3rd edition. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.
  7. Iacovou M, Sevilla A. Infant feeding: the effects of scheduled vs. on-demand feeding on mothers’ wellbeing and children’s cognitive development. Eur J Public Health. 2013;23(1):13-9.
  8. Rodgers RF, Paxton SJ, Massey R, Campbell KJ, Wertheim EH, Skouteris H, Gibbons K. Maternal feeding practices predict weight gain and obesogenic eating behaviors in young children: a prospective study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2013;10:24.
  9. Tylka TL, Lumeng JC, Eneli IU. Maternal intuitive eating as a moderator of the association between concern about child weight and restrictive child feeding. 2015;95:158-65.
  10. Lampl M, Johnson M. Infant Growth in Length Follows Prolonged Sleep and Increased Naps. 2011:34(5):641-650.
  11. Brick, N. Ad Libitum or Demand/Semi-demand Feeding Versus Scheduled Interval Feeding for Preterm Infants. Clin Nurse Spec.

Principle 4: Challenge the Food Police

In my last post on Intuitive Eating, we discussed the importance of making peace with food and some strategies to begin the process. Chances are that you still may have some underlying rules that you maintain regarding food. That’s normal at this stage. As we explored in the first three principles, your mindset won’t change overnight. You are likely working against years of ingrained restrictive eating rules. However, today’s post is all about challenging your inner voice that defines foods as “good” or “bad” (1).

Principle 4_ Challenge the Food Police

I often get the impression that people think dietitians are the food police. We do have diet in our job title after all. However, other non-diet dietitians and I will tell you that people stuck in the diet cycle are their own worst critics. Have you ever categorized a food as good or bad? Maybe you’ve labeled your favorite chocolate dessert as sinful or told yourself you can’t eat after a certain hour of day. This is the internal dialogue in your head that acts as the food police and leaves you feeling guilty for even taking a bite of your favorite food.

Make Peace with the food police

In order to be at peace with food, you must stand up to the food police. It’s time to think about foods in a neutral light. Eating a certain food doesn’t make us good or bad. Eating one specific food also won’t make you gain or lose weight. The morality of food language is something I talked about in detail in a post from a couple months back. (Check it out for more in depth analysis as to why diet talk is not helpful.) One of the first steps to take in confronting the food police is identifying what your current food beliefs are. Here are some examples to get you thinking:

  • Carbs are bad for me
  • I’ll gain weight if I eat dessert
  • I’m not allowed to eat after 6pm
  • Fat will make me fat
  • Gluten is bad for me 

We often hear statements like these from the media, celebrities, friends, family members, and even our local gyms. We weren’t born with these beliefs about eating. Rather, we have internalized these messages (and many others) over time due to the diet culture environment we live in. Bringing nonjudgmental awareness to your thoughts and then countering them with facts will help you move to a place of peace with food.


One of the first things I often ask people to do is make a list of some of the beliefs they have about food. It’s hard to address our inner dialogue until we bring awareness to it. Once we realize our recurring thoughts, we can begin to use a method called cognitive behavioral therapy to reframe them (1,2). Lets’s look at the following example:

Unreasonable thought—cognitive distortion: I should never eat carbs, especially pasta and bread.

Questions to ask:
Is it really realistic or enjoyable to eliminate carbs?
How do I feel when I don’t eat carbs?
Do I tend to crave carbs more when I take them out of my diet?

Don’t carbs play a role in my body’s daily functions?

Thought reframed: Whenever I have eliminated carbs in the past, I have felt tired and don’t have the energy to do the activities that I enjoy each day. 

Once you have begun to reframe your thoughts as you come up, you can then reflect on the result. For this example, perhaps you have found that you are more focused in class or at work and have more energy to hit the gym after dinner. Maybe you learn that you don’t binge on foods now that they are no longer off limits.

Find ways to challenge your inner food critic this week. This may entail sitting down and journaling about your dieting history and some of the distorted views about food that you have. You might also keep a special note section on your phone to jot down any thoughts as you notice them. I have included a  handout and journal prompts to get you started.

Principle 4 Prompts

Want to share some of the distorted thoughts that you notice and how you have addressed them? Don’t forget to use the hashtag #SpillingTheBeansOnIE on social media or tag me in any posts while you are going through the principles with me.


  1. Tribole, E. & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive eating, 3rd edition. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.
  2. Tribole, E. & Resch, E. (2017). The intuitive eating workbook. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.



Why I Love Being a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Today is National Registered Dietitian Day and I am feeling all of the nostalgia towards my relatively short career as a dietitian. I can still remember the timeframe I became interested in pursuing a career in nutrition. I was a junior in high school. Prior, I had been interested in interior design or possibly business. However, in my Biology II class, I was struggling to maintain my A. (If you knew me back then, then you know that losing my 4.33 GPA was the end of my world.) Our last chapter for the semester was on nutrition. I made that chapter my life to get my desired grade. In the prospect of achieving a desirable grade, I realized that I genuinely enjoyed learning about nutrition. From there, I started researching the career more. I could write an entire post on my journey to becoming a registered dietitian and how my obsession with food and exercise influenced that, but today I want to focus on the reasons why I love my career.

Why i love being an RDN (1)

Reason 1
After 4 years of undergraduate study, 2 years of graduate school, and my dietetic internship, I’ve immersed myself in countless hours of nutrition education. While I love using this knowledge in my own day-to-day life, it is incredibly rewarding to help others learn more about food. We are always bombarded with the newest trends in dieting.  However, dietitians have the background knowledge to be able to look at the science and tell clients whether this makes sense. An excellent example of this is Robyn Nohling’s post about the ketogenic diet on her blog recently. Dietitians dig deeper than news headlines. We are typically trained to understand research design and peer-reviewed publications. We also understand the limitations of research. I personally love translating research into advice for my clients to guide them in the right direction. Dietitians get to play detective—move aside Sherlock Holmes! 

Reason 2
This may sound cliché, but working with students and future dietitians has been a passion of mine since my time at South Dakota State University. Back then I was a member of the Dietetics and Health Sciences Club (DHS Club) and later was elected as president my senior year. By nature, I am a competitive person, but I’ve always loved building up my friends and classmates in nutrition. I mean, why not?! Our DHS Club also started a series about getting matched to an internship. We showed videos, provided resources and handouts, and invited guest speakers to our meetings. Naturally my interest in working with students led me to speak for the Club after becoming a dietitian myself. Now I even offer additional services specifically for students through my website. I love working with students as a preceptor or inviting students to volunteer at some of my Hy-Vee events. It’s a win-win for all! I know how much of a role my preceptors played in my life and I hope that I can be even a fraction of a positive influence for future dietitians.



Reason 3
While I love the science of nutrition, gaining lifelong friendships has been the best part of my career—hands down! I may be bit of a softie, but I teared up while rounding up pictures of a few of my dietitian friends. I don’t see these ladies and gentlemen nearly as much as I’d like to. After losing my good friend, Angie (the cute blonde in the middle of the upper right picture) this past summer to cancer, I have begun to understand how important it is to nourish the relationships in my life.

While I have friends outside of my profession, there is something I cherish about having dietitian friends. My friends outside the field probably don’t want to hear me rant about the specific struggles of my job. But my dietitian friends can always relate and then vent about their struggles as well. We also celebrate the little victories within our field. In the era of social media, my group of dietitian besties has only expanded. The day I was matched to my dietetic internship in 2014, I connected with my now friend, Kailey. The catch? We’ve never actually met in real life. Such millennials. Luckily, we will FINALLY be meeting next month. I’m blessed to have dietitian friends all across the globe. 🙂



Taiwan Friends

Reason 4
I’m not sure about other professions, but the learning doesn’t stop once you pass your RDN exam. While maintaining continuing education hours may sound like a pain to some, I love it! I’m always tuning in for webinars. Recently I enrolled in a special private practice class online. This has been incredibly useful in building my business and also learning more about the profession. The beauty of learning outside of an academic setting is that I no longer feel the same pressure to obtain perfect grades. Now I learn because I genuinely want to. I highly recommend Today’s Dietitian and Wellseek. Many of the webinars I watch are free, but I have no problem paying a little bit to learn about topics I am passionate about. Plus, I can write them off as business expenses for my taxes. 🙂


Reason 5
Hallelujah for the Non-Diet movement in the dietetics world! You might be surprised to know that my original interest in dietetics was weight loss. Oh how things change! Here are a few of my favorite posts that spread the non-diet message:

Happy RDN Day! Not a dietitian? Be sure to reach out and thank one for all they do today! 🙂


Principle 3: Make Peace With Food

While I think that all of the principles of intuitive eating are important, making peace with food may top my list. We kicked off this series by rejecting diet mentality and then we learned to honor our hunger. Now, it is time to make peace with food and give yourself unconditional permission to eat (1).

Principle 3. Make Peace with Food (1)

It would be difficult to continue on the journey of intuitive eating without first addressing this principle. In the second principle we talked more about biological deprivation, but principle three relates more to our psychological deprivation.

Unconditional permission to eat? Say what! I totally get it. When I tell people that there are truly no foods off limit (minus allergies, of course), they think I must be joking. We live in the era of a new fad diet every other day, so it probably seems like there must be some kind of catch. But there’s not!

While this may sound liberating, the idea of no food rules often elicits fears in most people as well. This is the nature of diet cycling and restriction. We tend to cling to our food rules and the false promises they offer. But take a moment and reflect with me. Think of a food that you’ve forbidden yourself from eating or labeled as “bad”. Now consider your relationship to that food. As soon as you told yourself it was off limits, did you find yourself craving it more? Did you have your “last supper” in preparation for your latest diet? This is often the case. In fact, forbidden foods tend to have a paradoxical rebound effect that actually triggers overeating.

Dietitina Impedes Habituation
via Intuitive eating, 3rd edition (1)

There are a number of theories and studies that can help explain why we crave these foods more. Some studies illustrate that forbidden foods even sound more attractive to non-dieters. In a study from 2007, a group of kids was given M&M’s but told that they could not eat the red ones (2). While we all know that each of the colors has the same taste, which color do you think they were immediately drawn to? Naturally the red M&M’s were all they could think about. Similar studies have been repeated. You’ve probably noticed this in your own life. As soon as you feel deprived of something, the more you want that item. Sometimes people even notice this with more nutritious foods. When I studied abroad in Taiwan, for example, I was surrounded by an abundance of noodles and dumplings. However, by the end of my trip, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a fresh salad. This was because I had been deprived of such foods for a period of time.

A lunch box I ate while in Taichung, Taiwan

Another trend that is often seen in dieters is the all-or-nothing or what-the-hell effect (3). This often occurs when people set themselves up with food rules and as soon as they perceive that they’ve broken the rules it’s “What the hell! Might as well throw in the towel today.” This is followed by bingeing on the foods you consider to be off limits the rest of the day. When people perceive that they broke their food rules, this triggers overeating (4).

So how can you transition from restrictive eating to allowing all foods a place in your life? 

When working with clients, I often will have them make a list of the foods that they consider to be off limits. To help jog your memory, it’s helpful to categorize these foods by grains, fruits, sweets/desserts, processed foods, and fats/fatty foods (5). Once the list is compiled, I often have people set specific times when they will eat those foods and document their experiences. In the process, you might even notice that the foods you have been fearful of don’t appeal to you as much as you had anticipated. This also helps with habituation and makes foods seem like less of a luxury that you will binge on.

In contrast, I also ask people to make a list of foods that truly appeal to them. You are now allowed to explore foods and your preferred flavor palate. At times this process can be frustrating, because people realize that foods lose some of their allure when they are always available to you and not off limits. This transition allows you to see foods in a new light. Instead of looking at them as “good” or “bad”, you might ask yourself more questions. Is this food satisfying? How does my body feel after I eat this food? Does this food taste good to me? Do you feel connected to your taste buds and the flavors?

Have fun with discovering the foods you love! You can save/print this handout to remind you of the principle as you go.

Principle Three Prompts
Don’t forget to use the hashtag #SpillingTheBeansOnIE on social media or tag me in any posts while you are going through the principles with me.


  1. Tribole, E. & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive eating, 3rd edition. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.
  2. Jansen, E., Mulkens, S., & Jansen, A. (2007). Do not eat the red food!: Prohibition of snacks leads to their relatively higher consumption in children. Appetite, 49, 572-7.
  3. Herman, C. & Polivy, J. (1984). A boundary model for the regulation of eating. Eating and Its Disorders. New York, NY: Raven Press.
  4. Urbszat, D., Herman, C., & Polivy, J. (2002). Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we diet: effects of anticipated deprivation on food intake in restrained and unrestrained eaters. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 111(2), 396-401.
  5. Tribole, E. & Resch, E. (2017). The intuitive eating workbook. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

5 Thoughts

Sometimes my thoughts are just not coherent enough to form one solid post. TBH they are often all. over. the. place! This is definitely shown in the numerous to-do lists I’m always compiling and re-compiling. I think when I have several projects going (teaching, taking a teacher class, business, actual work, etc) it can be hard to focus on one thing at a time. So in the spirit of my scattered brain, I just wanted to talk about five random thoughts of mine recently.

Calendar Edited

1 random thought1
During college, reading sort of lost its appeal when I was forced to read textbooks. (I about get traumatic flashbacks just thinking about that organic chemistry book!!) But when I was younger, I always had a book in my hand. I looked forward to being in the summer reading program every summer for as long as I can remember. Now that I am no longer forced to read textbooks, I’ve finally started getting into the groove of reading again. Often times I waste so much time on social media on my cell phone when I could be reading. Recently I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to take that time to read instead. I downloaded the Kindle app on my phone so I always have a book on me. So far I’ve read 2 books this month! My genre has definitely been in the “self-help” realm. (Let’s be real, I can use all the help I can get!) I just finished 10% Happier by Dan Harris and Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown just prior.

What other books do you recommend? I’m compiling a reading list!


2 random thought1
I used to be one of those people on the Arctic Zero and Halo Top bandwagon. I mean, you could eat the entire container for x amount of calories. But since incorporating Intuitive Eating in my practice and own life, I’d much rather eat my favorite ice cream. Can you say Talenti Caramel Cookie Crunch Gelato? Yup, my mouth is watering.

While I can understand why people may opt to eat the lower-calorie versions, I just prefer to have the one that is most satisfying to me. For me, that’s not Arctic Zero or Halo Top. I also tend to think that these options promote binge eating which is something I tend to try to get away from with my clients. (But more on that a different time. 🙂 )

3 random thought1
I swear I’ve tried every face product under the sun. While in grad school, I finally went to a dermatologist. I was prescribed Spironolactone for my hormonal acne (which shows up right around my mouth). I was on it for a couple of years, but recently I decided I wanted to see what would happen if I went off of it. (Note-I don’t recommend going off medications without advising with your physician first). Prior to going off of the medication, I had started using more natural beauty products. My skin looked the best it had looked in my 26 years! So I wanted to experiment and see if my new routine would stand on its own. So far I’ve had a couple of flare ups around my mouth in the last couple of weeks, but nothing major. These are some of the products I have been using most recently (pictured). I like products from Cocokind and Franklin and Whitman’s (not pictured) in particular. This last year, I’ve stopped wearing as much makeup and switched to BareMinerals foundation as well.  That has probably helped a lot too.

I’m DEFINITELY no skin expert. I’ll save that for the dermatologists of the world. But I like seeing what other people use in their routine. 🙂

Skincare Edited

4 random thought1
Getting enough sleep has been a constant battle my entire life. I’m just not good at sleeping. (Unless you count my ridiculous nap habit).  There was even a period of my life in the 3rd grade where I slept walk. (I’m sure my mom can tell you how fun that was to deal with). I’m naturally more of a night owl and so even on days where I’m going to work the next day at 7am, I have a tough time going to bed earlier. When I first started my new job as a Hy-Vee dietitian, I initially developed a bedtime routine…then life got busy. And here I am at square one. I love hearing of other blogger’s bedtime routines. It sounds like the perfect way to end the day. After how exhausted I have been the last couple of weeks, I think it’s perhaps time I prioritize sleep again.

5 random thought1
I’ve been so distracted with working lately, that I haven’t had as much time with my friends as I’d like. Finally this last weekend, I went home for my friend, Tasha’s bridal shower and bachelorette party. It was a great reminder of how important it is to take a break from working and prioritize time with friends. I’m already looking forward to the wedding and a mini vacation to Colorado next month.

Tash and me

Bach Party Unedited

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! I will be teaching a Kids in the Kitchen class at Hy-Vee tomorrow, then relaxing and cooking the rest of the weekend.



Why I Dislike Before & After Pictures

They seem to pop up everywhere. Whether you are scrolling through your social media feed or a commercial promoting the latest weight loss regimen flashes across your television—they are difficult to escape. I’m talking about “before and after” pictures, of course. It’s easy to get caught in that trap. You see a “transformed” body and instantly want to throw your money at that product or program.

Before After Photo Cover

Being an anti-diet dietitian, it probably comes as no surprise that I am not a fan of “before and after” pictures. By now, most of us are at least somewhat aware that with current photo editing technology, it’s pretty easy to manipulate the appearance of your physique. Even without editing, a person can twist and turn their body in such a way to create the illusion of change in the new photo. These are all the more obvious reasons why I don’t care for comparison photos. Nothing new here.

What if I told you I don’t care for any kind of #TransformationTuesday photo?

I know what you’re thinking. “But Amanda, what about the pictures where people show a needed weight gain between the two photos? Why wouldn’t you be in favor of that?

My answer is simple—before and after pictures, of any kind, continue to draw focus back to our physical appearance.  Isn’t that part of what got us in this weight-obsessed predicament to begin with?

Before after quote.png

While I don’t think there is anything wrong with being proud of progress you make in your eating disorder or chronic dieting journey, the “before and after” photo trend often reinforces misconceptions of what an eating disorder looks like. For example, many of you have probably seen photos of someone while they were struggling with an ED as a “before” photo and the next picture shows them in their recovered body. Often, you see a noticeably thinner body in the first photo. While this can certainly come across as inspiring to some, this is problematic for others. People in EDs often tell themselves “oh but I’m not that skinny, so my eating disorder isn’t that bad.” This happens all too often. However, the truth of the matter is that EDs and disordered eating does not discriminate based on size. I often still find people comparing their bodies to the people in any of these “before and after” photos and justifying to themselves that they are not “sick enough.” The use of photo comparison further exacerbates this problem.

Awhile back, I remember hearing the phrase: “true humility is not thinking less of yourself: it is thinking of yourself less.” That quote really stuck with me. I couldn’t help but think of all the time in my life I have wasted by fixating on my physical appearance so much. That’s time I will never get back.

Humility Before After Post (3)

At the end of the day, for me it all boils down to what I truly value most in life. For the longest time the cognitive dissonance between striving to be thin versus what I truly value (family, friends, relationships, helping others…my dog!) did not bring me happiness. Once I let go of caring as much about my outward appearance, it freed up all this extra time to focus on the things that I actually care about in life.

Oh and while we’re on the topic of things I love, I thought I’d share the only “before and after” picture I am a fan of—my dog, Bela. ❤

Before and After Bela

It comes down to sitting with yourself and thinking about what it is you care about. What are your goals in life? What is important to you? How do you want to be remembered? I think if you are honest with yourself, you will find that the answers to these questions have nothing to do with your outward appearance at all.



Winter Recipe Roundup

If you follow me on Instagram or my Facebook page, then it’s no secret that I’ve been on a cooking and baking kick the last month or so. I’ve been stumbling upon so many wonderful recipes on Pinterest and dietitian friends’ blogs! I can’t take credit for these beautiful dishes that I have posted pictures of (though I wish I were the brains behind them!) However, I did want to compile some of the recipes into one post for you. Then, if you message me looking for the link to a recipe that I posted about, you can go right to here instead. So I wanted to give these awesome recipe curators credit–because life is pretty neat when we give each other credit for ideas! 😉

Spilling the Beans Winter Recipe Roundup

25011024_1676928479039230_8436285280901660672_nSweet Potato Hash Inspiration

26067299_511049575945695_7748240105722085376_nVegan Nachos Inspiration

24177903_843351809179874_7686215400668790784_nButter Garlic Herb Chicken with Zucchini

Thai Vegetable SoupThai Curry Vegetable Soup

24253781_338152339926979_713842415206662144_nSlow Cooker Creamy White Chicken Chili 

25006805_199789580584988_7910305791783993344_nRoasted Veggies Inspiration

24845924_529303767424170_1251582473968549888_nCashew Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet

24177280_1506440916138885_4145991441895653376_nPumpkin Streusel Muffins

25017436_1878587225695239_2373181039783706624_nGinger Snap Cookies (w/ almond flour)
Christmas Gooey Butter Cookies
Seriously Soft Molasses Cookies
 (I made these for the holidays, but they could be enjoyed all times of year 🙂 )

24331933_450523538676756_8958394111132434432_nPomegranate Orange Scones

26868880_2045965112350598_5128385564982116352_nVegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well, I’m off to enjoy the weekend. Do you have big Super Bowl plans. I’m over here still sulking about the miserable Vikings lost two weeks ago. Ugh! But I still plan on partaking in the Super Bowl madness.

Have a fantastic weekend! 🙂


Principle 2: Honor Your Hunger

I am finally back to my Intuitive Eating series. Phew! What a crazy past couple of weeks! It feels like I have hardly had a second to breathe since Christmas. Between holiday celebrations, weddings, and work events, I looked at my calendar today and all of a sudden it was January 23rd. How did this happen?! I love being busy, but I am always thankful when life slows down a little bit and I have the time to take better care of myself (ie. sleep and exercise for me).

Today I want to jump right in with the second principle of Intuitive Eating. (If you missed the other posts of the series—check out the new page I created to combine all of these posts.
Principle 2. Honor Your Hunger

The first principle was all about working to get out of the diet mentality that has likely been deeply ingrained in you. Now it is time to tune in to your hunger and also honor it. Learning to listen to your hunger will set the stage for rebuilding your trust around food (1).

Think for a minute about all of the things that your body does naturally for you. Your lungs provide you with oxygen. Your heart pumps blood throughout your body. You get the gist. These are all a part of your basic physiological needs. Just like your body needs air, water, and sleep, it also needs food. So why is it that we so often deprive ourselves of what our bodies need to carry on their daily functions? I once heard another dietitian ask the question: “When you need to use the restroom, you don’t just hold it and try to ignore that urge—so why do you do the same with your hunger cues?”

Our bodies are much smarter than we give them credit for. When we are not fulfilling our energy needs (ie. eating), our bodies detect this as starvation and respond accordingly. A classic example of this comes from the famous Ancel Keys Minnesota Experiment (2,3). This study was set during World War II and was designed to help famine sufferers. 32 healthy men were selected due to their superior mental and physical health. Over the course of the study, the men were required to cut their average caloric intake in half to simulate a semi-starvation state. The response bore a striking resemblance to what we see in chronic dieters today. Here were some of the findings that stood out:

  • Metabolic rates decreased by 40%
  • Participants experienced food obsession and heightened cravings
  • Eating styles changed
  • Bulimia episodes were reported by some participants
  • Some engaged in deliberate exercise to increase their food rations
  • Personalities changed

These findings were remarkable, but certainly not surprising based on what we know to be true today. You have probably experienced many of these same side effects of deprivation in your own life. While eating and hunger is often portrayed as something we can manipulate through “self-control” and restriction, there are actually nerve cells of appetite located in the hypothalamus region of our brains (4). Therefore it is not a matter of willpower, but actually a biological drive. However, when we restrict, this actually switches on neurochemicals that induce eating. For example, Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is one of these chemicals produced in our brains that turns on a switch for our drive to eat carbohydrates. We often find the NPY levels to be the highest in the morning after a period of fasting while sleeping. As you can imagine, the NPY is only further revved up by mid-afternoon if you also skipped breakfast. This might explain a sense of “hanger” and potential binges when you have gone too long without eating.

Bottom line—we need all of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fats) on our plates. It’s not uncommon for people to turn to cutting out carbs to dangerously low levels (ie. ketogenic and paleo diets). However, our bodies need carbohydrates as the preferred source of energy for the central nervous system and to fill-up our depleted glycogen stores.  If you’re not getting carbs, then your body starts to compensate by breaking down muscle to be converted as glucose. While people may claim that they are losing weight on these low-carb diets, you are actually losing about 3-4 pounds of water with each pound of muscle lost (1). Spoiler alert—please just don’t go on a ketogenic diet!!

Reclaim your hunger

In order to begin to honor your biological hunger, you need to start listening for it. One of the first exercises I have clients work through is keeping a hunger and fullness journal. Notice how I didn’t say to keep track of what you are eating using the Fitbit app. I often find that those tools actually lead to more food obsession in both my personal and professional experience. Instead we are taking a different approach to tracking. Check in with yourself several times during the day. If journaling isn’t your style, you can use the Notes app on your phone to jot down what you notice. Not sure what to look for? Here are some common indicators that you are hungry:

  • stomach is growling or gurgling
  • headache
  • feeling faint or lightheaded
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability

Once you start to see a pattern in your body’s hunger cues, you can then begin to use this scale to identify your hunger and fullness level.

The hunger Recovery scale

As you start to notice the patterns in your eating, I encourage people to feel somewhere in the “satisfied” to “full” spectrum while eating. As for preparing for your next meal, it’s important to do your best to avoid falling in the “ravenous” spectrum. Don’t feel defeated if this is challenging at first. Just think of all of the years you spent feeling guilty about eating. It will take a little bit of work and patience to get in tune with your body.

SidenoteI do also want to mention that if you have been severely restricting your intake or fall in the eating disorder/disordered eating category, Intuitive Eating is not going to be appropriate for you just yet. Often when your biological hunger has been silenced for so long, you aren’t necessarily well-equipped in this stage to determine when you are hungry or full. I encourage you to work with a care team that includes a dietitian with eating disorder experience to help you through the early stages of recovery. As always, you can always contact me for help as well. 

I also want you to know that just because you aren’t hungry, this doesn’t mean you can’t eat. Food is also a form of pleasure that can bring joy to your life. Sometimes we also don’t notice our hunger in the rush of life. For example, when you are nervous for an event, you might have suppressed hunger. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat because you don’t have hunger pangs. Intuitive Eating is also about honoring your body’s need for nutrients to thrive.

Cacoa Cookies

As promised, I have included a handout that summarizes the second principle of Intuitive Eating and a journal prompt to help get you started with this journey.

Principle 2 prompts

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #SpillingTheBeansOnIE on social media or tag me in any posts while you are going through the principles with me.


  1. Tribole, E. & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive eating, 3rd edition. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.
  2. Keys, A. (1990). Recollections of pioneers in nutrition: from starvation to cholesterol. Journal of American College of Nutrition, 9288-291.
  3.  Kalm, L. M. & Semba, R. D. (2005). They starved so that others be better fed: Remembering Ancel Keys and the Minnesota Experiment. The Journal of Nutrition, 135(6), 1347-52.
  4. Ahima, R. S., & Antwi, D. A. (2008). Brain regulation of appetite and satiety. Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America37(4), 811–823.

Setting Intentions

We are already off to a roaring start to 2018. If you are like me, then you like to wait about a week before setting intentions for the new year. This allows me more time to reflect on the previous year and make a thoughtful decision on the intentions I want to set for the upcoming year. You don’t have to have a new year to set intentions. You can also set weekly and monthly intentions for yourself. Check out my video to learn more about the process that I personally use when setting my intentions.



Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bites

I’m on the road to Illinois this weekend to celebrate one of my good friend’s weddings. To say I am excited is an understatement. This will be the first time that I am reunited with my best friends from grad school since we walked across the stage at Illinois State University in May 2016. There is something special about having other dietitian friends. It’s much easier to relate to one another because we share similar career triumphs and struggles. We also can talk about nutrition-y things without boring one another.

Fun friends, long conversations, lots of laughter? Yeah…this weekend is going to be good!

While I am blasting nostalgic playlists with my girls on the 8 hour drive from South Dakota to Illinois, I wanted to leave you with this easy recipe that I sampled at my Hy-Vee location last week. I got positive feedback on these and wanted to share it with you guys.

Chunky choc PB protein bites1

These were one of those pleasant mistakes that you stumble upon in the kitchen. My recipe was originally inspired by this one. However, in my rush to get my demo set up, I purchased half the wrong ingredients. Instead of smooth peanut butter, I grabbed the chunky peanut butter. It seems that people are either “team chunky peanut butter” or they are not. I tend to be not a fan. However, I had already opened the jar and there was no going back. My other mistake was that I didn’t purchase the mini chocolate chips like I normally do for protein bites. Luckily, they turned out nicely! I actually liked the little crunch that the chunky peanut butter added to the bites.

PI Protein Bites (3)

Printer Friendly Version

Let me know what you think! Were the changes in the recipe a hit or a miss?