Food and anxiety: when the pursuit of health impairs broader nourishment

Needed is a thoughtful nutrition company on a mission to create broader nourishment through better supplements, fundamentals focused education, and community. We empower mamas and mamas-to-be to better identify nutrition needs, and to address them through products that work better in the body and in daily life. 

Last year, we launched an event series called Nourishment Beyond Nutrition is Needed that combines expert-led education with womens’ circle-like sharing, on a range of topics related to supporting mamas and mamas-to-be. The conversations often expand beyond nutrition, as nutrition alone is not enough for full nourishment. We believe the most empowering (and therefore nourishing) ways we can support our community are in i) providing education that empowers women to know the facts (not just others’ opinions, or fad-driven information), and 2) bringing women together with health practitioners and other experts, as there is great comfort in shared experience and knowing we are not alone. 

We’ve recorded several of these events, and are excited to share these powerful conversations with our broader Needed community. First up, a conversation about food, anxiety, and women's health. 

Food and Anxiety: when the pursuit of health impairs broader nourishment

August 29, 2019 at Soul Care House in San Diego

Watch the replay here 

Panel of Experts

- Dr. Ari Calhoun, Naturopathic and Functional Medicine Doctor

- Dr. Elana Roumell, Naturopathic Doctor, Cohost of Whole Mamas Podcast, founder of Med School For Moms

- Katie Brooks, LCSW, PRYT, and founder of Good Therapy San Diego

Why this Topic?

The pursuit of health is a popular and admirable goal. However, in this pursuit, there is a risk of falling into disordered eating behavior, including experiencing anxiety surrounding consumption of food. Disordered eating behavior is common -- a June 2011 study estimated that between 21% and 57.6% of the general population have eating behaviors that are characteristic of orthorexia, a condition where sufferers have an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. Orthorexia exists on a continuum, and manifests differently from person to person.

Many women in our community, including a number of health practitioners, have past experience with disordered eating to one degree or another. Food anxiety is an especially important topic for mamas and mamas to be, given the changes to normal eating patterns many women experience in pregnancy, as well as pregnancy and postpartum body mass changes. Mamas in our community have expressed interest in getting support around avoiding passing on their food anxiety to their children, and learning to properly nourish themselves (nutritionally and emotionally) to support their fertility, pregnancy, and transition to motherhood. 

Why you should watch the recording? 

At this event, we held space for a non-judgmental and empowering discussion to promote understanding, acceptance, and transformation for those impacted by orthorexia and other eating disorders. 

Dr. Ari, Dr. Elana, and Katie bring personal and professional experience with disordered eating. They share the facts around what is disordered eating, what are the signs and symptoms, what are the predisposing factors, and what are the steps to recovery. Dr. Ari and Dr. Elana also beautifully share the stories of their personal struggles with orthorexia. And, the entire room opened into discussion guided by these questions:

  • From a physical or psychological perspective, how are your food restrictions nourishing you?
    • ie. protect you from “x”; provide a sense of self worth or accomplishment 
  • From a physical and psychological perspective, how are your food restrictions robbing you of nourishment?
    •  ie. social engagement; enjoyment of food; occupying mental space; distracting you from the present
  • What areas of your life need to be nourished?
    • ie. is there a troubling area of life that is fueling this behavior; is this behavior detracting contentment in other areas of life?
  • On this journey of nourishment, ________ is needed. 

Additional Resources

Participants received food anxiety support cards (wallet-sized, to have handy anytime) covering disordered eating warning signs and steps to recovery.