Food Without Fear
By Cheryl A. Cuddahy
For many, the beginning of a new year is a time for renewal and reflection, and this time of year can be a perfect time to learn more about food attitudes and how they affect us.
Lunenburg Public Library will host registered dietitian and nutritionist Minna Scholten for a discussion of how food attitudes affect healthy eating, enjoyment and habits. The talk is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 26, from 1 to 3 p.m.
Minna will focus on how people think and feel about food, and the influence of those attitudes on their well-being. There will also be a cooking demonstration and the chance for those in attendance to try some of the food.
The program is offered for free to the public at the library, 1023 Massachusetts Ave. Space is limited, and registration is required.
Minna lives in Lunenburg. Besides being a registered dietitian and nutritionist, she is also the successful owner of her private practice Acorn Nutrition.
Her goal is simple: to help people develop ease in eating and esteem for their bodies. She offers counseling, education and consulting, and uses a non-diet approach and the Health at Every Size Paradigm.
“My objective is always for folks to become more confident and comfortable with food,” Minna says. “Our culture is awash with dietary advice about what to eat and what to avoid at all costs. When you get right down to it, we make a lot of our food decisions based on fear.”
Minna wants to get to the root of that, addressing the fundamental question of how our relationship with food affects our eating.
“Attendees can expect to be surprised, perhaps challenged to think differently, and to share good food and conversation,” she says.
Minna was exposed to all kinds of amazing cuisines while growing up working at her mom’s natural-food store, The Granary Natural and Ethnic Foods, in State College, Penn., for 29 years.
“I became a dietitian because I love how food can foster connection to ourselves and each other as humans,” she says. “As I have evolved as a practitioner, I’ve come to understand that adverse life experiences, including oppression, poverty, trauma and painful histories with food and body image, can create disconnection. Most of us need at least a little healing work when it comes to food and body, and that’s where I aim to help.”
Minna says the non-diet approach is a vetted, evidence-based practice framework that helps people eat in a way that aligns with their internal cues for hunger and satiety while honoring their values, preferences and medical needs.
“Non-diet practitioners recognize that weight is not a proxy for health ,and advocate for affirming, inclusive care for people with larger bodies,” she says. “I help people learn to trust themselves with food, instead of placing their faith in the arbitrary and often harmful food rules promoted by diet culture.”
Minna believes dieting creates a mindset rooted in deprivation and restriction. Moreover, it often doesn’t do what it claims!
“Dieting has, time and time again, been shown in research to be a predictor of future weight gain,” Minna says. “Exploring food attitudes and healing from the detrimental effects of our diet-driven culture is the necessary first step toward eating for well-being.”
Minna says what makes her most happy is helping people live their best lives, and hosting educational talks, presentations and counseling helps her spread the word.
“I hope people leave with a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of what healthy eating is for them, as well as how they might be able to explore that further,” she says. “The new year is a time when folks become rather reflective about their food practices, habits and their bodies. A lot of this reflection is rooted in guilt, shame or disappointment with the way we eat. These are actually terrible motivators for behavior change! I want to help people let go of all of this nonsense and start seeing the big picture of what health and well-being really means.
“Life always changes,” she adds, “but the need to nourish ourselves is ever-present. Food should be a source of comfort and support, not stress.”
For more information or to register for this event, call Lunenburg Public Library at 978-582-4140. To find out more about Minna, visit www.acornrdn.com
Got a column subject or item for Community Conversations? Email ccuddahy@sentineland enterprise. Read her blog at blogs.sentineland enterprise.com/community conversations.