Host: Dr. Scott Jablonka (Carolina Movement Doc)
Guest: Meg Carber
Today’s guest is Meg Carber, an anti-diet dietitian who started “Nourished + Strong,” a company that works with athletes and other individuals. Their goal is to use people’s relationship with food as a tool to improve their performance as well as meet other health goals.
In this episode, Meg expounds on her work on applying anti-diet as an approach to healthy eating. She emphasizes the importance of calories and water intake for full recovery from injury or eating disorder while preserving normal bodily function.
- “A lot of the food that we intake, can really address some of the pain issues”
– [Dr. Scott Jablonka]
- “Nutrition is just a unit of energy, and that either helps promote inflammation…or it helps to recover from it”
– [Meg Carber]
- “Your Nutrition and what you eat is super important for your performance and overall health but so are all the other things we don’t often talk about”
– [Meg Carber]
- “I think the average human doesn’t understand how much they actually need to be eating”
– [Meg Carber]
- “We really want to uncouple this belief that our looks are tied to our health and our worthiness”
– [Meg Carber]
- “When your goal is to get back into the gym or on the pitch or the field faster… you better be eating enough for your body to have those calories to heal”
– [Dr. Scott Jablonka]
- [00:26] Intro
- [00:49] Today’s topic is on Body Image Issues with respect to our relationship with food.
- [03:52] Introducing our guest, Meg Carber.
- [05:12] Meg shares her background.
- [07:48] What kind of athletes reach out to you?
- [11:34] What is the process that you go through for each athlete that reaches out to you?
- [16:15] What would you say are the biggest issues clients often present with?
- [24:18] The importance of water intake.
- [26:24] Tips for increasing water intake.
- [30:41] What is eating healthy?
- [35:24] How to connect with Meg
In this discussion, nutrition will be the area of focus. Specifically, our relationship with food as it relates to body image. While a Physical Therapist can address this kind of topic, it is beneficial to have a dietitian, like our guest Meg, join the conversation.
Meg Carber & Nourished + Strong
Meg has been a dietitian for almost 10 years. She completed her undergraduate studies and an internship in Philadelphia before moving to North Carolina. With a deep interest in Clinical Nutrition and the human body, she moved into private practice. She created her company called “Nourished + Strong,” in 2018.
Nourished + Strong is a group of anti-diet dietitians that specialize in eating disorders, disordered eating, and athletes. The goal of the group is to help people reconnect with their bodies and understand their unique needs. Although through different approaches, the anti-diet perspective unifies them.
The company works with all types of athletes, especially cross-fitters, motorsports athletes, soccer players, swimmers, endurance athletes, and more. Often there are three categories of people who reach out: those who are trying to maintain physical activity while working through an acute eating disorder, those with a history of an eating disorder who know the value of performance nutrition but want to avoid the dieting experience, and those who are simply curious about the anti-diet approach. Society has erroneously boiled down nutrition into “eat more to gain weight or eat less to lose weight.” But Nutrition is a unit of energy that can also help promote or reduce inflammation.
Interested clients are referred to the website where they can request a discovery call through. In this call, Meg discusses their expectations and past experiences to truly identify if their program is the best fit. As such, the company does not accept all applications, and some are referred out. After the call, the first appointment is set, and it lasts for 90 minutes. The intention is to find meet the client and how nutrition fits into their lifestyle. Other areas discussed in this first visit include belief systems, sleep, stress management, CNS regulation, and movement habits, all of which are important for overall health and performance.
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Each client has a unique experience based on their needs; there is no fixed period to work with clients. Usually over at least 3 to 6 months they meet with clients every two weeks or less. While this unique approach sounds like a typical sales line, each client’s experience must come from a place of understanding their goals and needs, addressing them even as they change over time. This creates a trustworthy relationship between the client and the dietitian that will continue to be of benefit to them.
Athlete challenges with diet
The challenges of most athletes can be grouped into three. The first is many athletes are aware of something happening in their bodies but do not understand it. As such, they make decisions from this place of poor understanding. However, 99% of the time there is a completely normal, neutral, physiological, or psychological explanation for how they feel. Another issue is undereating especially among active athletes; an equation called “Energy Availability” subtracts energy you’re utilizing, from the energy you get from food, showing how much energy is left to utilize for normal healthy physiological functions, recovery, or performance. Another common misguided mindset is conflating appearance with performance. For example, assuming that thinner athletes are faster. Here it is important to look into why the appearance is so important and if it may be affecting the goals of the program.
The true role of calories
The role of calorie intake in healing is always stressed especially for athletes recovering from injuries and trying to get back into action. Many of them believe they should cut down on calorie intake. Calories are critical for healing.
The importance of water and hydration
Another point of note is drinking water. Our body is made up of water, especially parts like the intervertebral disc. Not drinking enough water can slow down back pain healing. Drinking water is so simple yet very powerful. Water is involved in almost every process in the body. When we’re dehydrated almost every process can suffer. Even 2% dehydration can negatively affect endurance and performance. Dehydration can also cause reduced aerobic capacity, changes in reaction time, cognitive function, temperature, heart rate, and perceived exertion such that working out seems more strenuous than it should.
There are ways to increase water intake, one of which is drinking water before drinking anything else in the morning. A lot of people drink something else straight away which shortens their opportunity to hydrate. Secondly, each individual has to figure out what form of drinking water works for them better: cold, warm, and preferred container. Additionally, water can be made appealing by squeezing lemons into it. Athletes working out for an hour or more may require electrolyte replacement. Hydration also affects brain function. Dr. Jablonka notices the difference in his thinking and concentration when he is dehydrated. When you’re dehydrated, the brain shrinks up just enough to keep on functioning but with symptoms like headaches, mental fatigue, or irritability.
Focus on your needs
The healthiest way of eating is whatever is in alignment with your needs and preferences. Eating healthy involves identifying what fuels you without depriving you physically or mentally, and is sustainable. We need to stop shaming each other for the things we eat because, in the end, we’re all human.
Find | Dr. Scott Jablonka (the Carolina Movement Doc)
Find | Meg Carber