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Here’s part two of my interview with professor, researcher and registered dietician Michelle Neyman Morris.

Below, Morris reveals how readers can eat mindfully (along with sharing helpful resources), why we tend to gravitate away from nutrient-rich foods and how to find a reputable dietician.

Check out part one here.

Q: An important part of nourishing your body is knowing when you’re hungry and when you’re full. But many people have lost touch with their bodies. How can individuals become better in tune with their satiety and hunger cues?  

A: We’re born with these abilities but lose them if they’re not nurtured. Many of us have to relearn to identify these cues. While it may take time and discipline, it is possible!

You can work with a registered dietitian or therapist trained in practicing mindful eating, or you can work on your own using any number of resources, including hunger/fullness scales, workbooks like Eat, Drink and be Mindful by Susan Albers, which I’m currently using with my graduate students.

Jan Chozen Bays’ book, Mindful Eating, comes with a CD of guided mindful eating meditations, and there are some great websites on mindful/intuitive/attuned eating as well. For many of us with mindfulness-based practices such as Vipassana meditation, this is a lovely extension and offers multiple opportunities a day to practice.

For some, much progress can be made by simply eating without distractions. Turn off the TV, computer, cell phone, put down the book (even if it’s on mindful eating) and just eat, checking in with your body every now and then, and non judgmentally noticing the thoughts and feelings that arise and pass away.

Q: What do you think typically prevents people from truly nourishing their bodies with vitamin-filled foods?

A: Simply put, we live in an environment surrounded by opportunities not to. We have the “luxury” of a cheap, convenient, highly palatable food supply. I put “luxury” in quotes because there’s a huge downside of our current food system. Convenience foods serve our ever busy, ever fast paced, instant gratification seeking society.

These very foods are engineered with intense flavors that may not truly satisfy. They may leave us wanting more and make whole, unprocessed foods seem bland and boring by comparison.

If you’re used to intense “orange flavor” created chemically in a lab, an actual orange (especially if it traveled 1500 miles to get to your grocer) may be a disappointment.

If we value good food and make nourishing our bodies a priority, we will put the time in to make sure our kitchens are stocked, we have some basic cooking skills, and we prepare and eat more whole foods that are nutrient dense.

By the way, depending on your choices, this approach can also be convenient and inexpensive.

Q: One of your specialties is disordered eating. How do dietitians help individuals who are struggling with disordered eating?

A: Registered dietitians (RDs) can be valuable members in a team treatment approach working with those struggling anywhere along the disordered eating spectrum. Special training in eating disorders is required and can be obtained by RDs through continuing education opportunities, or working in consultation with a therapist who also specializes in this area.

The RD can help to normalize the client’s eating patterns by introducing mindful eating, dispelling food and nutrition myths that may be held, and using motivational interviewing techniques to set goals with clients when they are ready to make behavior changes.

Q: When searching for a reputable dietitian, what should individuals look for when making their decision?

A: Whether for disordered eating or other concerns, often word of mouth can be useful, especially if you live in a small community. Regardless, ask them about their training and their nutrition philosophy, especially if you desire treatment that is HAES [Health At Every Size] centered.

Also, inquire about any advanced degrees or special training they’ve had in your area of concern. All Registered Dietitians will have a registration number, and in some states will also be licensed.

Don’t be shy, think of this as a relationship that may last over time and where there needs to be a good fit.

More About Michelle Neyman Morris

Michelle Neyman Morris received her PhD in Nutrition from the University of California, Davis. She was a lecturer in the Nutrition and Food Science Department at San Jose State University from 1996-2000, where she also completed the Dietetic Internship (DI). Dr. Neyman Morris is currently Interim Chair, DI Director and Graduate Coordinator in the Department of Nutrition & Food Sciences at California State University, Chico. She has co-authored numerous peer-reviewed manuscripts, and has received teaching awards and several research grants, including a CSU, Chico Lantis Endowed Professorship. Her research interests include nutrition education across the lifespan utilizing the Health at Every Size® (HAES) paradigm. Dr. Neyman Morris is committed to increasing the presence of the HAES approach in dietetics curriculum and practice. She moderates an international listserv for HAES dietitians, and implements and evaluates HAES curriculum at the undergraduate, graduate and DI levels, with research outcomes presented at regional and national conferences.


Come back tomorrow for the last part of our interview!