5 Week Mindful Eating Meal Support Series

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Thursday, January 12, 2017

    Is working on your relationship with food a part of your goals for 2017?

    Marci RD Nutrition is offering a 5-week meal support series with

    eating disorder and Intuitive Eating expert Sarah Patten. Details below!


    Who should consider participating?

    Anyone actively working on their eating disorder recovery as well as those focused on improving their relationship with food, re-learning their body's hunger and fullness cues, and developing self-trust around consuming challenging or “forbidden” foods. Participants must be appropriate for an outpatient level of care and must be working with an individual therapist and dietitian.

    Groups will be led by Sarah Patten, a registered dietitian, eating disorder expert, and Intuitive Eating specialist with Marci RD Nutrition.

    What we offer:

    A five-week meal support series focused on consuming adequate and challenging meals in a supportive group environment.

    Our first group will consist of introductions, an orientation to the keys of effective exposures, as well as personalized goal setting. YOU decide how to best utilize exposures in the groups to follow. The remaining four weeks will consist of mindfulness based eating exercises, dining together as a group, and post-meal processing.

    When will the group be held?

    Tuesday evenings from 7-8:15pm; 1/24, 1/31, 2/7, 2/21 and 2/28 (we will skip Tuesday, 2/14)

    Where we will meet:

    Marci RD Nutrition Counseling Office

    22 Hilliard St., Cambridge, MA 02138

    1st floor, door on the right

    Why join our group?

    Exposure to challenging meals in a supportive environment fosters greater self-trust while decreasing fear and anxiety over time. Food avoidance is a big risk factor for relapse and can hold one back from making peace with food once and for all. This group will help you to become more confident in your ability to feed yourself in an adequate, varied, and enjoyable way.


    $225 total ($45/group x5 weeks)


    In addition to the weekly support from Sarah and the other group members, you will leave this group with a toolbox of resources to take with you!

    Important registration information:

    Group size is limited to 6 participants. Contact Sarah at Sarah@MarciRD.com to reserve your spot. Your spot will be officially reserved once payment is received in full. Registering for the full series is required. We will not accept partial registration.




Amy's Journey- A Guest Blog Post About Recovery

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Thursday, September 01, 2016

Many of you will identify with some of what Amy has to share about her journey to making peace with food and her body. I hope you'll enjoy reading it. I know I did!

I'm a pretty impatient person. I don't really understand people who enjoy the journey... I just want to get to the destination. I just want to be THERE ... that illusive place where satisfaction and contentment live. I've learned that is part of my nature and I'm best served to learn how to work within it and manage it, and stop fighting it.

When I started working with Sarah @ MarciRD, I had that same mindset. I wanted my struggle with food to end – like after a visit or two. :) I wanted to be fixed, healed, whatever – I just wanted to be done with 30 years of battling with food. Imagine my surprise when 2 years later, I am still walking through that door to a neat little office in Cambridge to talk with Sarah.

My first ever visit I was introduced to Intuitive Eating and what it meant to let go of the diet mentality. Of what it meant to give myself permission to eat anything I wanted (at this point I felt scared to death and giddy at the same time!). What do you mean I can eat what I want? What kind of diet it this? Where are the rules, the restrictions? Oh so thankfully, they are out the door with IE. I have found peace with marshmallow fluff. Oreos no longer hold power over me!! I learned to sit, eat, and enjoy food. To really taste food – and use all my senses at a meal. To slow down. And to listen to my body, and trust that it would tell me when I was full. All of this is the complete opposite of what the diet industry tells us – that we need "them", their plan, and their regiment and without it we'll never do it, or we'll fail. It's a lie! There is piece inside of us that knows what we need. We just have to be quiet and listen for that voice to come out! And really, we have to be willing to take the journey ... ugh. And do the work. Bigger ugh.

I have shed a lot of tears in Sarah's office, doing the work. I have laughed, gotten frustrated with myself, fallen back into old habits, been angry with myself and so much more, more times that I can count. Eventually, I listened. I learned. I changed the way I talked to myself. I started paying attention to how different foods made me feel after I ate them. I dug in and figured out why I had struggled for so many years in the yo-yo diet world ... why I binged on certain foods. I forgave the little girl who started sneaking food when she was only 10, and the mom who put her on a diet at that same age. It makes a lot more sense now. I started living true to my nature and honoring the woman I am today. I began being grateful for my fat! Imagine? Because for all the things I went through as a little girl into my teen years, all I got was fat... and it could have been so much worse. I stopped fighting against my fat and started being grateful for all that I am and all I have learned along the way. Aye yiyi ... I started enjoying the journey.

I want to leave you with a paragraph from one of my favorite books, Imagine Heaven by John Burke. What if you saw yourself in a way that was loving, full of grace and full of forgiveness?

"Knowing how God sees you, sets you free to accomplish the things that God created you to accomplish. It sets you free to use your unique gifts, time and resources to make an impact that lasts for eternity – not to prove that you're worth something, but because you're worth EVERYTHING to God. "God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this, it is a gift from God... For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:8-10".


National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2016 & Sarah Patten

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Saturday, February 27, 2016

Sarah Patten is a passionate eating disorder specialist who works with me in my practice. She is going to close out National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2016 by sharing with each of you "The One Thing She Wishes People Knew About Eating Disorders." Take it away Sarah!

Picture Source

Typically, when a person finds out that I'm a dietitian, I'm instantly assaulted with a barrage of questions regarding nutrition, the latest diet fads or super foods, and what my job actually entails day to day. When they learn that I don't endorse diets, food fads, or even promote weight loss and instead work with those struggling with eating disorders or disordered eating, the questions continue - but take on a different tone of curiosity and misunderstanding.

It never ceases to amaze me that eating disorders, which effect roughly 30 million Americans and have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness, remain so mysterious to the general population. There is so much information that I wish I could convey to the world about eating disorders. So much insight and understanding that might foster greater compassion for those struggling and perhaps even increase the minimal research funding allotted to fighting this serious condition. My mind overflows with misconceptions I could correct or statistics I could offer to help educate, but when asked to consider the ONE thing that I wish people knew about eating disorders, the answer is simple:


Eating disorders are not limited to society's perception of the anorectic body type – but instead are rampant in people of all shapes and sizes. And although weight loss and a malnourished appearance can definitely be a serious indicator of an eating disorder, weight is by no means the only measure of the extent to which a person is suffering. For those struggling with an eating disorder, the reinforcement of this narrow belief contributes to feelings of “not being sick enough/thin enough/starved enough” or beliefs that “I don't have an eating disorder if I'm not “underweight” or emaciated.”

How can this knowledge help us? For starters, it can help us to be aware that we simply can't make assumptions about a person's relationship with food based on their body size. With this knowledge, we can work towards changing the way we might comment on another person's body, whether to their face or behind their back. Be mindful that your seemingly innocent comment on a coworker's weight loss may actually be interpreted very differently than you intended. Let's compliment other's on their strengths, praise their contributions, and appreciate their personality rather than focus on what their body looks like.

For those struggling with an eating disorder, hopefully this message will help you to challenge that internal critic telling you that you're not “sick enough” or “worthy of help or support” because of what your body looks like or what the scale says. Your weight in no way reflects your worth and certainly doesn't dictate your need for support. Healing from an eating disorder means learning to love, accept, and most importantly CARE for yourself no matter what your body looks like – you're worth it.

Want to Know What's Amazing About the Human Brain?

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Monday, June 01, 2015
Enjoy this guest post by Sarah Patten, who also happens to be very fascinated by the brain. Her words will inspire you to nourish that most vital (and as it turns out hungry) organ!

Riding a bike has brought me joy for as long as I can remember (after mastering the whole “no training wheels thing” as a kid...), but it's been a while since I've had my own wheels to ride around town on. That all changed when I recently found the perfect “starter bike,” and just in time to ride along the Charles in the beautiful sunshine! I have also recently discovered that I like to ride my bike while listening to the “TED radio hour” podcasts to achieve the added bonus of doing a little learning while I pedal.

One of the episodes I listened to recently was titled “What is so special about the human brain?” and I found myself listening with raptured attention (while still being mindful to obey all traffic laws and stay aware of my surroundings) as the speaker discussed how our brains function, how they've evolved, and just how much more there is to be discovered about their complexities.

The most fascinating part of the podcast to me was when Suzana Herculano-Houzel, a neuroscientist at the Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas in Rio de Janeiro, discussed her research regarding what makes the human brain different from that of other creatures and how the evolutionary process allowed this to be so.

It turns out that it isn't the size of our brains which determines how cognitively advanced we are (evidenced by the fact that creatures like elephants and whales have much larger brains than we do), but instead it's the amount of energy that our brains consume. Although the human brain accounts for only ~2% of our body weight, but uses ~25% of all of the energy that our bodies requires to run daily. To illustrate this with an example, if you were to eat a ~2,000 calorie/day diet, 500 of those calories would be used solely to fuel your brain.

Why is it that the human brain requires so much more energy than our closely related counterparts? It's due to the fact that almost 20% of the billions of neurons in our brain are located in the cerebral cortex – the area of the brain which allows us to plan ahead, reflect back, and learn from our mistakes. This 20% is significantly greater than our closely related cousins, the apes. In her TED talk, Suzana Herculano-Houzel discusses how this came to be, and the answer sparked great interest in my own “nutrition focused” brain. It turns out that in order to add new neurons, the brain requires added energy, so the increased number of neurons in our cerebral cortex is actually more “energetically expensive.” Apes eat a diet of raw foods consisting of bark, leaves, etc and spend ~8.5 hours/day gathering and eating food in order to meet their energy needs. If human beings were to eat in the same way, we would need to spend ~9.5 hours every single day focused on finding and eating food in order to maintain the brains we have today.

In order for our brains to evolve beyond that of an “ape brain,” our ancestors had to find a way to take in more calories than were available through just raw foods. How did they accomplish this? Through the advent of cooking! By cooking their food, they were able to access more energy by making the food softer and easier to chew and digest. This discovery allowed them to spend less time devoted to gathering food and eating while increasing their energy intake to allow for more neuron formation. The added bonus was that it freed up the majority of their days to allow for participation in much more interesting (and further brain stimulating) tasks. So by being able to increase our energy intake, we were able to literally grow our brains into more highly functioning tools AND allow for the freedom and flexibility for those brains to be put to good use and further developed. Definitely a positive reinforcement cycle!

All of this fascinating information left me with some “food” for thought. The above content is just one more reason to insure that your body and brain get the nourishment they need. Without adequate energy intake, our brains aren't able to function optimally and quite literally “grow” to their highest potential. In addition, the brain picks up on this energy scarcity as a sign that food needs to become the main focus, so it makes sense that those caught in restrictive eating patterns feel they can think of nothing but food. Do yourself a favor and “free up” some of that brain space to take part in more interesting and fulfilling activities outside of eating – there's a world of possibilities out there to discover!

Lent: Supporting or Derailing Your Health?

  • posted by Marci Evans
  • Friday, March 27, 2015

This post is written by Sarah Patten, a registered dietitian nutritionist with Marci RD.

I hesitate to type these words for fear of jinxing what I'm about to say, but after being pummeled with blizzards for the past few months and experiencing the official snowiest winter in Boston's history, it seems as though the worst is over and that there is a hint of spring in the air. The sun feels a bit stronger, the days are a tad longer, and we've had a couple of days now where the temp feels slightly more tolerable. Things are looking up!

With the onset of spring comes thoughts of flowers blooming, birds chirping, and for those who observe – the lent and Easter season. Lent is the Christian season of preparation before Easter. Traditionally, it's a time to reflect prior to the Easter celebration. Not all churches observe Lent, but those that do encourage a period of “fasting, repentance, moderation, and spiritual discipline.” Though it's roots are in spirituality and religion, the forty day period of Lent has somehow transformed in our society for many people to be a time to “give up” or “deprive” oneself of something that they enjoy or feel “indulgent” around. Almost all of us have heard chatter surrounding other's Lent goals – most typically we hear about people giving up chocolate, fried food, junk food, meat, dessert, eating after 6, or maybe even snacking altogether.

How has this religious tradition morphed into an opportunity for us to create even MORE rules around food? For some, this may be a challenge they choose to embrace with the best intentions. But for others, it appears to be more of a guise to diet and restrict their intake in the name of spirituality.
All of these thoughts came to mind after meeting with one of my clients a few weeks ago, just as Lent was beginning. I have been working with this client for quite some time on healing her relationship with food, rejecting the diet mentality, giving herself unconditional permission to eat, and not basing her self worth on the number displayed on her scale. This client has made tremendous positive progress in her relationship with food and has been increasing her focus on improving her body image and the way she talks to herself. It's been a pleasure to watch her evolve along this journey, and I was blown away when she came into our session a few weeks ago reporting that upon hearing all of her friends and coworkers talk about what “bad foods” they were planning to give up for Lent, she decided to put a different spin on this period of reflection. Instead of depriving herself of the foods she enjoys, she decided to give up negative body comments and negative self talk for forty days!

I was truly inspired by hearing these words. How fabulous to spend one's energy devoted to fostering a positive body image and speaking kindly to oneself rather than creating yet another set of temporary food rules. That's not to say this new challenge has been easy. My client has continued to notice these automatic negative thoughts popping up, but with her heightened awareness, she is able to catch them and reframe them much more quickly. Through our weekly sessions since Lent began, I've heard her speak about how much more beneficial it feels to have an encouraging and supportive inner voice rather than a critical and negative internal dialog. She's hopeful that the changes she's made in self talk will remain long past the Easter holiday – a profound shift that couldn't have been accomplished by giving up something like chocolate. Although the season of Lent is approaching it's end, I would encourage all of us to learn from this example. We all deserve to speak kindly to ourselves and our bodies 365 days/year – why not start today?

What goals, for Lent or otherwise, have had a positive impact on your health?