Part of what makes Galen Hope so special is our incredible team. To help you to get to know them, we sat down for a conversation with them. This is our chat with Galen Hope’s Director of Nutrition Services, Rudi Landera, MS, RDN, LD.
To help our clients restore balance and peace to their relationship with food and their bodies, Galen Hope offers nutrition therapy grounded in mindful and intuitive eating. Though often used interchangeably, the concepts have somewhat different meanings.
Mindful eating is being aware of the things that influence our eating, without judgement. These factors include physical cues such as hunger, but also our emotions and state of mind, the setting we’re in, and who we’re with. Mindful eating asks us to be in the present with food, using the senses to explore, savor, and taste different foods. This helps individuals break free from rigid rules regarding eating, and to be more flexible and relaxed with food.
Intuitive eating helps individuals make peace with all types of food, become more attuned to the physical cues of hunger, and gives us unconditional permission to eat when we sense those cues. When an individual is in active eating disorder, or even if they have just been caught up in our society’s diet culture, they can start to ignore internal cues that they need to eat. When this happens, intuitive eating can slip away. Instead of listening to their own bodies, they start to pay more attention to external cues – such as calorie counts, the number on a scale, or judgments about “good” versus “bad” foods.
Using principles of intuitive eating, we help individuals reconnect with those internal cues, honoring hunger and fullness, appreciating the nourishment that all food provides, and treating our bodies with love and kindness.
Rudi shares how she helps clients with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and other eating disorders develop skills such as mindful and intuitive eating to support their recovery and help them heal their relationship with food and their bodies. Landera is a registered dietitian nutritionist, a board-certified specialist in pediatric nutrition (CSP) and a Health at Every Size™ (HAES) healthcare provider with over 10 years of experience in the eating disorders field.
What’s Galen Hope’s nutrition philosophy?
Galen Hope has a mindful and intuitive eating nutrition philosophy. We focus a lot on checking in with our body, our cues, what’s going on around us, and how we feel around the food. We give food a very neutral setting at the table, which means removing judgement from the food itself and giving yourself unconditional permission to eat foods without guilt or shame.
With the mindful and intuitive eating nutrition philosophy at Galen Hope, we focus a lot on our body cues and regaining the connection with those intrinsic cues that may have been lost along the way due to an eating disorder, mood disorder or through anxiety. We want to restore emotional peace.
Why is that important for those with mental health diagnoses?
Even for those without eating disorders, there can be challenges around nutrition and meals. When you’re in the depths of your mood disorder or anxiety disorder, you might be neglecting your nourishment. Other types of self-care can be lacking too. You may be neglecting your hygiene, for instance.
We really want to show that food is important, and it provides way more than just the nutrition. There are so many other values attached to food and we really want to have people explore what values resonate most with them. Is it the social aspect? The emotional aspect? The memories attached to a food, or the taste preference and the taste profile of that food? There are so many things that food brings to us, and food means to us aside from what the nutrition label says. So, we really try and highlight that for both eating disorders and mental health clients.
We really try to make meals as enjoyable and fun as possible. We keep it energetic. We keep the conversation flowing. It’s important, whether you have a mental health diagnosis or you have an eating disorder, to make time for food and meals.
We try to show and demonstrate what normal eating looks like, whether you have a mental health diagnosis or an eating disorder. And we really try to show what honoring our cues and honoring our preferences and honoring our bodies means and what that looks like.
Can you tell us more about therapeutic interventions for clients with eating disorders?
When a client comes to us with an eating disorder, they are going to be put on a meal plan that’s designed personally, and individualized for them, by their dietitian. This meal plan is going to be staff-plated by our care partners, who build their plate exactly as the dietitian prescribed it.
As they go through treatment and they start to gain more knowledge about their cues, more skills around the table, more confidence with their meals, and more autonomy, they we start to build in more challenges. So now, instead of their care partner plating their meals, they will begin to self-portion their own meals with the help of a care partner.
As they have started to master those skills, then we move into regulating. In the beginning, they’re expected to finish 100 percent of their meal. As they start to really build their skills, then they get to expand on those skills. What that means for us here at Galen Hope is that they are going to begin to regulate. They are going to be able to really dig deep, listen to their bodies, and hear what their bodies are telling them.
How do I rate my hunger? Am I a “4” hunger, or am I a “3” hunger? How much do I want on my plate? Maybe they portioned a little bit more, and the meal got them a little bit fuller than they were anticipating. They have the ability then to listen to their body at the end and say, “Okay, I am at that comfortable 7, 7.5 or 8 in fullness. I’m not going to finish my plate today because I’m full.”
Conversely, if they’re still hungry, they might be able to have more. If they had maybe under-portioned their plate, they would be able to ask for more, get up and make another plate, and add on a dessert or a side. They really can make their plate their own.
What does a nutrition plan look like for Galen Hope client with primary mental health issues, but who don’t have an eating disorder?
With a mental health diagnosis, a lot goes by the wayside that we don’t think about. It might be that meals just get forgotten, or they might forget to shower. For our clients who need help with this, we work on these activities of daily living. In the beginning, it might be hard if you’ve forgotten to eat lunch every day for the last month. So, we’re re-introducing the food to them and showing them that here it is, this is your nourishment, this is what you need. Their meal plan will also be individualized for them by their dietitian.
However, they might not need as much structure around their meals. Someone who is struggling to meet their needs or are struggling with over-meeting their needs may not really be able to listen to their internal cues. Someone with a mental health diagnosis might also not be able to hear their cues, and so we do provide them with some structure. But in terms of finishing their plate, they don’t have to.
Does Galen Hope incorporate principles of Health at Every Size™ into the nutritional approach?
At Galen Hope, we do incorporate the principles of Health at Every Size™ into our nutrition philosophy and into our therapies here. We don’t treat the body, or the number on the scale. We treat the person.
We know that there are a lot of stereotypes out there in terms of eating disorders. There’s a stereotype that someone with anorexia will be very, very, thin and someone with binge eating disorder might be bigger. The truth is that you can be anorexic and malnourished in any size body, and you can have binge eating disorder in any size body. Anybody – in any body – can have an eating disorder.
What’s your goal for your clients?
My goal for my clients is food freedom and flexibility. I want them to have fun at the table. I want them to enjoy experiences around food and at the table, whether you have an eating disorder or whether you are struggling with a mental health diagnosis.
The table, socializing and eating – all of that can be really terrifying for some people. I want to show them that can be fun and enjoyable. Some of the best moments and times and memories can be had around a table, and everyone deserves to have that be a part of their lives.
My goal for my clients aligns very closely with Galen Hope’s philosophy, “Belong, Heal, Grow.” I want them to feel like they belong at the table. I want them to be able to grow as a person at the table, to heal both at the table and outside of the table. I want them to feel that they are a part of the dining experience. I want them to grow into the person that they want to be around food, without any fears.
I want them to heal their thoughts around food, heal their ability to be around food, heal their ability to make food choices and listen to themselves – what their bodies are telling them, what their food preferences are telling them, and be able to honor that and really take that with them once they walk out these doors.
THE ROAD TO WELLNESS STARTS BY SEEKING HELP. TODAY.
Built on the principles of assertive community treatment, Galen Hope is an eating disorder and mental health treatment center offering individualized treatment options that include Intensive Outpatient (IOP), supported housing, and Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP). As a “Community of Integrated Wellness,” we pride ourselves in fostering a thoughtful and meaningful care experience that can guide our clients on their road to recovery and increased quality of life, regardless of diagnosis. Galen Hope currently offers separate, age-specific programming for adolescents ages 12-17 and adults 18 and up, of all genders.
To learn more, or to join our community for integrated wellness, please contact us today.
Belong. Heal. Grow.