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Episode 62. Becca King, the ADHD Nutritionist

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We continue our conversation on ADHD and our relationship with food with the ADHD Nutritionist, Becca King. Becca shares what led to her own ADHD diagnosis and how the pandemic opened up an opportunity for her to focus her attention on helping the ADHD community. She also offers up tips for anyone who is evaluating their own relationship with food and what they should consider when choosing a specialist.

To connect with Becca, check out her website here and find her on Instagram here.

Transcript

 Lindsay Guentzel (00:00):

Welcome back to Refocused, a podcast all about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, hosted and produced by me Lindsay Guentzel. A job hopping, TV and radio personality, and producer who was diagnosed two years ago right before my 35th birthday. Support for this podcast comes from the team at ADHD Online. A telemedicine mental healthcare company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that provides affordable and accessible ADHD assessments and treatment plans, including medication management and teletherapy.

(00:48):

It’s time we all acknowledge the importance of putting our oxygen masks on First. If you missed last week’s episode, I dug into this hard. There’s a reason the flight attendants repeat that line before every flight. We are no good to anyone around us if we can’t breathe. And obviously, not breathing, it’s not good for any of us. But there’s so many ways to analyze the importance of that line. And so throughout the month of January, we’re going to be looking at the different areas in our lives where we can make ourselves a priority. You know, learning to put our oxygen masks on first.

(01:21):

And I’m so excited to welcome Becca King to Refocused. Last week we started the conversation around exploring the connection between ADHD and food with Dr. Marilyn James. And if you missed my conversation with Dr. James, I highly recommend pausing, and going back just so the episode right before this one, and starting there. Because she does a fantastic job of setting us up for today’s convo. Today, we’re talking about doing the work. Making the changes, figuring out what works for us, and moving forward with a healthier mindset and relationship with something we deal with multiple times a day.

(02:01):

And that’s where Becca King comes in. Becca is one of the ADHD experts you’ll be hearing from this month. She is a registered dietician nutritionist from Charlotte, North Carolina, who as an adult with ADHD struggled for years with disordered eating. And that experience is a big part of why she is so passionate about helping other adults with ADHD, many of whom struggle with binge eating, chronic dieting, and body image issues. Comorbidities that are often tied to the way our brains work. And she uses the principles of intuitive eating, and a weight inclusive approach to nutrition, to help her clients find food freedom while improving their self-esteem.

(02:40):

And she so generously shares her wealth of knowledge on social media. If you spent any time on Instagram, down the rabbit hole that is ADHD content, I guarantee you’ve seen her account, ADHD.nutritionist. And she does all of that while also working with clients through her virtual practice. And Becca, I am so excited to have you here on Refocused.

Becca King (03:03):

Yes, I’m so excited to chat with you. Thank you for having me.

 Lindsay Guentzel (03:06):

To get started, I’m hoping you might share a bit about your own ADHD journey, because I’m wondering which came first, knowing about your ADHD, or your education and training as a nutritionist?

Becca King (03:19):

Yeah, so I struggled with food first before I noticed any kind of ADHD things. There were little things along the way looking back now that I’m like, “Oh, it all makes …” Those little things, like why I felt different than everyone else, or there was something wrong with me at the time. But it was when I was a freshman in college … I feel like I have somewhat of a traditional story for a female where I did really well in school. My mom kept me super busy in sports, and I was always on a schedule and things. And when I got to … I had tutors and stuff to help me with school too, so that definitely was very helpful.

(04:04):

But then when I got to college, I struggled with everything. I knew kind of, had a system I figured out for studying, but being able to keep my dorm room clean, figuring out where I needed to be, when I needed to be there, how long it was going to take to get across campus and do all sorts of things was so hard for me.

(04:25):

And my roommate at the time had ADHD, and we ended up living together our second year. And when I was in therapy, I started bringing it up to my therapist. It was like, “I think I have ADHD, because we’re two peas in a pod.” We’re very similar, and struggle with a lot of the same things. And so she tested me. She was like, “Yep, you definitely have ADHD.” And I didn’t really think much of it, or didn’t really think of it outside of the context of school, and helping keep my apartment clean. Didn’t even think about how emotional dysregulation plays into it, or even the connection with food.

(04:59):

It didn’t really connect to me at the time. And it really wasn’t until later on, after I became a dietician that I started kind of thinking about who do I want to work with? And I was working with a really good friend who also struggled with kind of what I call the ADHD binge restrict cycle. But struggled with binge eating, and I was like, “I struggled with binge eating too. Not eating on my stimulant meds, and then binging at night.”

(05:25):

And so I did some polls and some Facebook support groups, and all these women were like, “I struggle with binge eating.” And I was like, “There’s no resources out here for adults, especially with ADHD and nutrition.” Everything was like, “How to feed your kid who has ADHD and is on a stimulant.” Even my nutrition textbook, that it’s just a paragraph about how to feed kids who don’t have an appetite because of their meds. And I’m like, “This is so much bigger.” Nutrition for a ADHD is so much bigger than that. And it was the beginning of the pandemic, so I had a lot of free time to use my hyper-focus to learn everything more that I could about ADHD.

 Lindsay Guentzel (06:04):

Well, and it’s so fascinating that this is, I mean, in a sense, very new for you as well. Because it just goes to show how far we’ve come, but how far we still have to go. To think that not too long ago textbooks didn’t include anything about women and ADHD, and a lot of the struggles that can come when we talk about how food plays a role in our lives.

Becca King (06:33):

Yeah, yeah. It’s really mind blowing to me. I just remember looking things up and being like, “This is it,” and even just seeing when I would read in the literature, it would be a footnote, and what people with ADHD might struggle with was, “Oh, you …” Like eating disorders, and then we just keep it moving. And I’m like, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. We’re just going to gloss over this?” And I’m like, “This is kind of a big deal, because we have to eat every single day, multiple times a day, and it’s really important how our brains work. And we’re just going to gloss over it? That eating disorders, there’s a connection there?

 Lindsay Guentzel (07:09):

And we’ll get into, that because I have my own story of, my ADHD diagnosis explained so much, but I don’t think people who have never had an issue, or an unhealthy relationship with food can really understand how overwhelming it can be.

Becca King (07:28):

It is-

 Lindsay Guentzel (07:29):

It’s life changing.

Becca King (07:31):

… so consuming.

 Lindsay Guentzel (07:32):

Yes.

Becca King (07:34):

In high school, when I … We moved my junior year of high school, and that was when I was like, “I can’t control anything …” Totally on time [inaudible 00:07:43] ADHD, “but I can control food.” And that was kind of my, “So I’m going to become …” I was by no means an unhealthy person, or anything. It was like, “I’m going to become as healthy as possible, and that was a hyper fixation that became very disordered. And for a long time it was like this huge chunk of my brain is being taken up by constantly thinking about what I’m putting in my body, what I’m not putting in my body. Is it the right thing, the wrong thing, too much of this, or not enough of this, or how do I make up for this? And I was like, this is exhausting, and I have so many other things in life I have to do, that I need to figure out, not be thinking about this 24/7.

 Lindsay Guentzel (08:25):

Yes. All of that, yes. So I’m very upfront about acknowledging that, as it is with most things in life, ADHD is not a one-size-fits-all diagnosis, and that includes ADHD, and the connection, or relationship that one might have with food. But if we zoom out, and look at the connection, big picture, what do we know about ADHD, and food, and this intertwined life of, as you mentioned, this big part of your brain that was consumed by it?

Becca King (08:59):

Yeah, I think there’s multiple areas that it kind of impacts. The executive function piece can make, or dysfunction, can make cooking and grocery shopping and organizing, cleaning up your kitchen. It can make all of that really challenging. And [inaudible 00:09:20] have people who maybe don’t have ADHD, even if you don’t have a necessarily bad relationship with food, it can be, “I don’t know how to meal plan,” or the idea of spending your whole, like the traditional, “Meal prep,” of just spend your whole Sunday in the kitchen and prepare your meals for the week, and it’s great. And I couldn’t, even as a dietician, I’m like, “Why would I want to do that? I enjoy cooking, but I don’t want to eat the same thing for lunch every day, unless my brain decides that’s what it wants every day.” But chances are by Tuesday or Wednesday, even if it’s my favorite thing, I might not want to eat it.

(09:53):

And then all that food goes to waste. So there’s kind of that side of things, and then also just being able to, like the interception piece, so being able to pick up on body cues, even if you’re not medicated, you might not recognize hunger cues. So you can go really long periods of time without eating, and then when you do eat, you’re usually ravenous. And so, that can lead to not making always, “The best food choices,” because you’re hungry, so your body wants the quickest form of energy that it’s going to get, which tends to be simple carbs, and things that maybe more ultra processed. Or fast food and things. Not that those things are bad, but a lot of times it’s like, I wouldn’t eat that if I wasn’t ravenous. It’s just like that was what my brain wanted in that moment. And then afterwards, a lot of my clients will be like, “I don’t feel good eating that.”

(10:41):

So that piece will play into it. And then, eating for stimulation, too, I think is a big piece for a lot of my clients. Because I work with a lot of … Mostly women, and they don’t get diagnosed later in life, or typically. And so, a lot of times they won’t even realize, “Oh, this whole time I was a boredom eater,” or whatever. I was just always snacking, and I could never understand why, because I knew I wasn’t truly hungry. And then, making that connection to me is one of my favorite things, was helping people realize that there is that peace there. Because like, “Oh, now that makes so much more sense.”

 Lindsay Guentzel (11:18):

And then, it doesn’t matter what camp you fall into, there’s the shame spiral that happens, and I think for a lot of us … You mentioned, was it the ADHD binge restrict cycle?

Becca King (11:31):

Yeah.

 Lindsay Guentzel (11:32):

Going back, you mentioned meal prepping and meal planning. And I think one of the things that we don’t talk about is that it’s going to look different for everyone. And I think we get this idea of what perfect is, and what perfect would be in our lives. And when we don’t reach that, whether it’s eating healthy, or planning our meals, or prepping our meals, then we go into this deep despair of, “I’m not worthy. I’m not holding up my end of the bargain.” And then it’s like we’re 10 steps back, except for we tried something, and you’re learning from it, but we don’t tell ourselves that.

Becca King (12:09):

Yeah. Where it’s like, “I’m not an adult.” I get that a lot from my clients, like, “I can’t even meal plan, or cook meals for myself. I don’t even feel like I’m a real adult.” And I think too, it’s unfortunate, social media, a lot of what’s portrayed as, “Healthy eating,” or whatever is spending a lot of time in the kitchen and doing things like that, that isn’t necessary.

(12:38):

If you enjoy that, and it makes you happy, you can spend all the time you want in the kitchen, but it’s not a requirement. But I think we get in our head because you see so much, you just spend this time cooking and it’s this lovely experience, and from one of my clients. It’s like, “This is not a lovely experience. It is awful.” Or, “I dread it.” But then there’s the other side of the coin, where I’ll always kind of comment about how cooking can be challenging. And then I’ll have people be like, “Well, I’m a chef with ADHD.” And I’m like, “So this is your passion. This is what’s stimulating for your brain. But for other people, it’s this super annoying task that they have to do, sometimes multiple times a day.”

 Lindsay Guentzel (13:16):

And again, going back to, we’re all going to be different. And I think it’s what’s so interesting too, is I have found in my own journey, I did a lot of meal prepping before my diagnosis. And that was well before the pandemic, and I was diagnosed during the pandemic, and then we were still kind of in this flux phase. And so I haven’t gone back to that, but what works for you now might not work for you in a year. And so you constantly have to just be okay knowing that you are trying to do the best for yourself.

Becca King (13:49):

And I think it does change. I think having a very long education for me every semester, your class schedule’s different, everything’s different. So it was always I have to change my routines and adjust accordingly. And I think it kind of taught me some skills after school that different seasons of life, different patterns, or routines, or behaviors work well, and you might have to adjust accordingly. And that is okay, it’s not going to …

(14:17):

Once you find a root, especially [inaudible 00:14:20] years, once you find a system or a thing that works, there’s good chance at some point it’s not going to work, and not for any fault of your own, it becomes … Your brain says, “Oh, we’re bored of this, we might need to change it up a little bit.” Or your environment or something changes, and we have to adjust. And I think it just isn’t always acknowledged that it’s normal to have to adjust, and that’s okay.

 Lindsay Guentzel (14:44):

Yes. Yes, absolutely. I’ve talked about my own experience with disordered eating here on the podcast before, and not in crazy in-depth terms yet, but I think realizing that connection after my diagnosis, and also being able to look back, hindsight is a great tool. So I’m right at the two-year mark of my own diagnosis, and to be able to see the amount of healing I’ve been able to do when it comes to this tumultuous relationship that I’ve had. And I had been unknowingly fueling it over the years.

(15:19):

I didn’t know, truly did not know, that I could have this kind of peace when it comes to food. And I say that, not in a way of putting shame on anyone who’s not there, but in a way of knowing that it is possible. I look back at what I allowed that relationship to become, and I say allowed, because I had no control over it in the moment. But in the moment you don’t know that you think that, that is what you are destined to deal with. And I just, it’s been such a game changer to be addressing the actual problem now. The ADHD is the problem. The disordered eating was a symptom.

(16:06):

And I’m curious, so when we talk about the connection between disordered eating and ADHD, if there’s someone right now who is thinking of starting at the very beginning of examining their own relationship, what are some of the things that they should be looking for?

Becca King (16:25):

That’s a really good question. I think looking at what do you struggle with when it comes to food is a big piece. And I know normally a lot of people will automatically jump to weight, because it’s just how diet culture and even just the healthcare system focuses on, “That’s just it.”

(16:47):

But also just your behaviors. Do you struggle with remembering to eat? Do you have … A lot of times too, we get to deal with all the ADHD challenges that come with food, and then diet culture on top of that. So it just adds this whole other layer that makes things complicated. Where you might not eat something, you might skip a meal or a snack. I have clients with like, “I just don’t want to eat because the only option I have is not a, ‘good’ option, so I’ll skip. And then I wait as long as possible until I’m ravenous, and then I still end up making just the, ‘bad’ decision, because I’m so hungry.” So kind of understanding, and evaluating the rules that you have in place in your life, and are they helping your relationship with food, or are they hurting your relationship with food?

 Lindsay Guentzel (17:37):

It’s fascinating, I think, and obviously nothing in my life is perfect, but to be able to feel like I can eat something, and not feel feelings attached to it …

Becca King (17:48):

Yes, it’s amazing.

 Lindsay Guentzel (17:50):

It is amazing. And I realized one of my areas of concern prior to being diagnosed was feeling like it was going to be my last meal, and it had to be the best, most exciting meal on the planet. And obviously, we know that, that’s not the case.

Becca King (18:09):

Yes.

 Lindsay Guentzel (18:10):

If we go bottom line, food is fuel. And yes, we should enjoy it, but there’s a difference between pretending every night is your 21st birthday, which there were weeks where I was doing that. And then, all of a sudden you understand, “Oh, I can take this meal with me. I can have leftovers” Or finishing the meal, and feeling so uncomfortable, kind of negates all of the wonderful feelings you had in the beginning. And so, once you start to realize, “Oh, I’m shoveling food in because it’s filling this void,” and you slow down, and it really is so eye-opening to understand a little bit more about some of the decisions that we make. And I say decisions that we make, again, going back, a lot of the times they’re not even really decisions we’re making. Our brains are making them for us.

Becca King (19:03):

And I think one of the reasons I love the intuitive eating framework is because it really does help you kind of slow down, and really reflect on your actual relationship with food, and how it makes you feel in your body. And it is this shift from, it does kind of stop being worth it almost. Obviously, there’s a lot of other work that has to be done sometimes if you struggle, especially with the overeating or binge eating side of things, where you might feel out of control around food.

(19:35):

That there gets to this point as you start working on that relationship with food where it’s like, “Yeah, I don’t like feeling this way, and I actually like walking out of a restaurant and not feeling I need to unbutton my pants when I get home, or go take a nap because I’m so full.” And it’s like that’s actually more enjoyable of an experience, it just takes time. You’ll have little moments where that’ll happen, or maybe you’ll have a snack or something where you’re like, “Oh, I can stop and put this away. Or like, “Oh, I can have a cookie, or two cookies, and I don’t have to eat the whole batch of cookies.” And those moments just slowly build on each other over time.

 Lindsay Guentzel (20:15):

I feel like the way I’ve maybe been talking about, it sounds like I woke up one day and the problems were all solved. And I don’t think that, by any means of the imagination. And I think the one thing that has been really helpful is actually just talking about it. Because then you hear from other people who have similar experiences, and I think that’s the one thing that stands out regardless of what you look at with ADHD, is we’re all learning as we go because it is so new. And you think about, I mean, I lived almost 35 years on this planet without knowing how my brain worked, and how all of a sudden it’s like, “Hey, this is …” You get a little manual.

Becca King (20:58):

Yes. I know. I think for me, I always thought I was going to have a eating disorder. And I was like, “This sucks. I’m just going to have this eating disorder forever.” And then, working on my relationship with food, but also understanding the ADHD piece of the puzzle was huge. Because I was like, “Oh, it’s not just that I’m trying to control my body size, or be this type of super healthy person, or something like that.” I was like, “There’s other pieces to this puzzle that I was totally looking over as to why there was challenges going on.” And then, you can start to work with your brain to figure out what works for you.

 Lindsay Guentzel (21:39):

Well, let’s talk about ADHD, and using food to self-medicate. Because I think that this is something that even prior to my diagnosis, I knew I was doing. I knew I was emotionally connected to food. And I know that this isn’t isolated to just people with neurodiversity. I think we don’t fully acknowledge sometimes how much we live in a world that is controlled by food. It’s fueled by food. We celebrate, there’s food. We grieve, there’s food.

Becca King (22:08):

[inaudible 00:22:08].

 Lindsay Guentzel (22:08):

We’re bored, there’s food. It’s this pattern that plays out. But I think it plays out differently a lot of the times for people who do have ADHD.

Becca King (22:18):

Yeah, and I think the stimulation piece, so for people who maybe don’t know what that means is you’re, basically just like medication kind of stimulants give your brain the dopamine that it needs, food, especially carbs and things that are higher in sugar, are going to be a source of dopamine for your brain, essentially. Or anything that provides an enjoyable sensory experience, and food itself is a huge sensory experience. So especially things like … A lot of my clients like crunchy foods, or certain really strong flavors that are stimulating, or all of it kind of combined together, or how your [inaudible 00:23:00] pistachios and things that are very, you can play with, with your hands.

(23:04):

Those sorts of foods just because of that experience are stimulating. I like to look at it emotional eating. Where it’s like, demonizing it doesn’t really do any good, or saying you should never do that. That just doesn’t make sense to me to deny yourself something that might help. But just understanding what you’re doing, and then what other maybe tools you can add to that toolkit. So that food isn’t the only thing, but there might be moments where it’s like “This is what’s going to serve that purpose, and how can I be as mindful as possible to maximize that sensory experience?”

 Lindsay Guentzel (23:38):

Well, it’s kind of like me loving the fact that sour patch kids are sour, but also rip up the roof of my mouth. And there is something that’s really enjoyable about that, which sounds real messed up when you say it, but it is. It’s the sensory side of you’re like, “Oh, yeah, it’s totally stimulation.”

Becca King (23:58):

Yeah. I remember as a kid, Swedish Fish was one, probably the first. If I had to pick, the first thing I remember eating as a source of stimulation would be sitting in front of the TV, and just for nothing else other than I really liked the taste, and chewing it, and it was fun, and I would just eat, and eat, and eat until I was like, “I have a stomach ache.” My mom would buy these Costco size things of Swedish Fish, and I would just sit and eat that. And I was not hungry. My hands needed something to do while I watch TV, and that was what it was.

 Lindsay Guentzel (24:33):

Yep, totally. I’m curious, when you look at your career, and where you’ve been, and where you are right now, what’s currently your biggest concern when we talk about the connection between ADHD and unhealthy food relationships?

Becca King (24:52):

I think something that I always find interesting, is I see in a lot of articles and things where it’ll be talking about eating disorders, and then also putting obesity, which I don’t love the term, but that’s a whole other thing. But putting those two things next to each other, and/or recommending dieting after acknowledging that there’s a much higher risk of developing an eating disorder if you have ADHD. And I’m like, “Dieting is not the answer.” It’s not, and it doesn’t …

(25:22):

Losing weight isn’t going to mean that your ADHD is going to get better, there’s no … That doesn’t make sense to me. That, or sometimes just a lot of the, “Eat this, not that,” too with just removing, putting a lot of unnecessary restrictions on ADHD is about what they should or shouldn’t eat. The research isn’t super, super strong there. And it puts just a lot of stress, I think, especially on parents who are looking for maybe more natural ways to manage ADHD. But they might have ADHD themselves, and it’s like to read every food label to make sure it doesn’t have certain ingredients.

(26:00):

Is this organic, or this, or that is a … And cook everything from home, and don’t use [inaudible 00:26:07] more, like foods that are processed, or made to just be more convenient to make cooking easier, and saying that those things are somehow bad. And I’m like, “You’re just putting a lot of more work on a parent, or an individual for something that might, in all caps, bold, it helped with managing your symptoms when there’s a lot of other treatment modalities for ADHD that have a much bigger impact.

(26:36):

And a lot of times it’s not necessarily focusing on these certain foods, but just working on … like ADHDers’ eating patterns. Most of my clients don’t eat consistently throughout the day, or don’t eat enough protein, or eating enough fruits and vegetables. I’m like, “We should start with some of the basics, and then if there’s other things that are maybe you notice are impacting your symptoms, discussing, figuring those things out.” But it always jumps straight to, “What should I take away from my diet because I have ADHD? And I’m like, “Let’s just look at what you’re doing first, and see what’s going on.”

 Lindsay Guentzel (27:12):

Well, and there’s such privilege that comes with being able to live a life where you are eating everything that you’re supposed to, and not putting any [inaudible 00:27:21] bad in your body, and having time to read the labels, and understanding what they mean, and it’s just, it’s impossible.

Becca King (27:28):

Yeah. And it’s expensive too. A lot of the things I see, I’m like … Especially if you’re paying to go to therapy, or you’re paying for coaching, or you maybe have other medical things going on. To tell someone that they need to eat a whole foods, never eat processed, anything super … All these things, it’s not realistic. And then there’s a lot of guilt. Another place we experience guilt and shame as ADHDers because you’re like, “Oh, I should be doing this thing that everyone’s talking about, but I can’t afford to. I don’t have the time to.” Or it’s like, “I don’t have the executive function to be able to do all of these things on top of the rest of the things I have to do in my day-to-day life.

 Lindsay Guentzel (28:13):

Long before I was diagnosed … I say long before, it was like a year, but maybe two years. A year, year-and-a-half, two years before I was diagnosed, I came to the conclusion after examining how I was feeling that I needed to cut out gluten. And I am not saying that there’s any connection between my brain, and ADHD, and gluten. I’m just saying that I felt terrible eating it. I would almost poop my pants at least once a week. Just putting it out there. I felt terrible. And the second it was gone out of my diet, I felt better.

(28:47):

I had less brain fog, and then throw in the ADHD diagnosis. But my point of sharing that is you mentioned it’s not possible to go throughout life without coming in contact with processed foods. And I feel that way as somebody who doesn’t eat gluten. I’m not celiac, but I have a sensitivity to it. And the added stress of going out and trying to make sure that there’s something that I can eat so I don’t feel terrible. It is exhausting sometimes. And so we’re just setting ourselves up for a breakdown by making the rules way too strict.

Becca King (29:26):

Or that pendulum between restriction and binging. Even if it’s something … And especially if it’s something you don’t necessarily need to cut out, of restricting it, and then having the opportunity, or you have a really strong craving for something then end up eating it and binging. And there’s certain foods too where it’s, if you feel … Even feeling stress around certain foods can cause your body to have a negative response to eating it. Even if there is no actual sensitivity.

(29:57):

I have another dietician friend who was a super chronic dieter too, and she would think she … I think it was gluten and dairy she thought she had issues with. And she was like, “It wasn’t actually the gluten and dairy, it was that I would eat a whole entire pizza in one sitting. So yeah, I’m not going to feel good.” I’m not going to feel good after I eat a whole entire pizza. No one’s going to feel good eating a whole pizza to themselves. In our brain. It’s like, “Oh, no, it has to be the ingredient. Where it’s like, no, that’s just probably more than what someone needs in a sitting to eat.

 Lindsay Guentzel (30:33):

Yes, and I will say that some of the moments that stood out of my own issue with needing to cut out gluten, I feel like there was maybe a box of Cheez-its laying there. But it is. It’s, again, we go back to this idea of what food is supposed to be used for. And I think it’s almost been demonized against us. And I say that specifically for women, and I don’t mean to say that men haven’t been targeted by diet culture. But I remember vividly in middle school being like, “Oh, the Special K diet,” where it was like … And then the Subway diet, and the SlimFast diet. I mean, my entire life has been being told how to eat to have a body that was probably never possible to begin with.

Becca King (31:26):

I think the average age girls start thinking or talking about dieting now as 10 or younger, which is-

 Lindsay Guentzel (31:33):

So sad.

Becca King (31:34):

Breaks my heart. Because I’m like, “You’re not even probably … You haven’t even started puberty probably yet, and you are trying to control, or thinking about controlling the way your body is shaped.” Because that is what the messaging is. And usually for men it’s more about being strong, and maybe more jacked, or ripped or whatever with your muscles, but they don’t have whole … Other than Men’s Health, maybe, there aren’t major publications that are based off of how to fix men’s bodies, [inaudible 00:32:10].

 Lindsay Guentzel (32:10):

I literally had this conversation with friends the other night. It was a group of guys, and I was like, “You did not get Victoria’s Secret magazines delivered to your home every month for a decade with Tyra Banks, Marissa Miller.” I mean, come on. I laugh, because it’s like, thank goodness I’m past that. But it’s so hard. I mean, you say the average age is 10, and that sounds about for my moment of knowing that there were expectations.

Becca King (32:46):

And it adds on top. And there’s even research to show between ableism, and that phobia that if you are in a larger body, and you do, and you are neurodivergent, that you might seek to control your body or pursue making your body smaller, because you’re more likely to experience the effects of ableism being in a larger body. And so it just really, it stinks, I think a lot, really.

 Lindsay Guentzel (33:15):

Yeah. It’s such a heavy topic, and it affects everyone so differently. And so, I want to spend the next however many minutes just talking about some of the things that people can do to get started. Now obviously, you offer coaching. People can find out more about that by going to adhdnutritionistllc.com. And of course you’re on social media, adhd.nutritionist. But if someone right now were like, “It’s the new year. I want to start examining my relationship with food,” where’s a good place to start? Because obviously it feels like it’s a slippery slope for a lot of us.

Becca King (33:59):

I usually think very broadly, and would say that because it’s a new year, and usually what everyone thinks is, “I’m going to become healthy, so I’m going to go on a diet to lose weight.” I would encourage you to maybe look at your eating patterns and your behaviors, and what, from a broad, zoomed out lens could you do more of? Let’s say I don’t eat a lot of vegetables right now, or I only have vegetables once a day, or something like that. Maybe I focus on how to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my eating patterns, because that … There are health benefits associated with eating fruits and vegetables.

 Lindsay Guentzel (34:39):

And I hate saying it, but it’s the same thing with regular exercise. When you eat vegetables regularly, you actually start to feel really good, but we don’t get a notification. Your phone doesn’t chime and say, “Hey, you’ve been eating vegetables every day for the last three weeks. Don’t you feel awesome?” But when you start to think about it, you’re like, “Oh, when I get sleep, and when I exercise regularly, and when I eat foods that make me feel good, okay.”

Becca King (35:08):

And I would also take notes of your eating experiences. Not from a, “Was this a good food or a bad food.” But, “How does this food make me feel when I eat it?” For me a good example, donuts, I like donuts. They’re not my favorite sweet thing. And when I did work in an office setting, people would bring in donuts … Mind you, at the time I worked in weight loss. So they’d bring in donuts and eat them. And I’m, none of the patients can technically eat this, because it’s, “Not on plan.” I’m like, “You guys are being cruel going and eating a donut, and then these poor clients on a diet can probably smell the sugar.”

(35:47):

But I wouldn’t eat a donut during my workday, because I knew that it would make me crash, and I wouldn’t be able to pay attention, probably. Or I’d want to go take a nap. It was a decision of, if I want a donut, I can have one, obviously. But I probably am not going to eat it during my workday, because I know how it’s going to make me feel afterwards.

(36:07):

But if I’m hanging out with my girlfriends, and we want to go grab a donut and some coffee, yeah, I’ll go do that, no problem. But just knowing, having a better awareness for how certain foods might impact your day, or make you feel. And you can use that as kind of a way to guide food choices too. Something doesn’t make you feel good, you don’t have to eat it. Or if you don’t like eating something, you don’t have to force yourself to eat something. Even if it is something, maybe that’s more nutrient dense, maybe it’s how you prepare it, or there’s probably another option out there. If you don’t like broccoli, you don’t have to eat broccoli. There are plenty of other green vegetables that will serve the same exact purpose.

 Lindsay Guentzel (36:49):

Well, that segues perfectly to my topic of food rules. And we’ve talked a little bit about how some people feel like, “Oh, well, I’m not making gourmet meals, or I’m not meal prepping, so I’m failing.” But it’s like, cutting up food, cutting up fruit, cutting up vegetables, opening a bagged salad and heating up pre-cooked chicken breast, or whatever it is that is your fancy, that is cooking. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart in the kitchen to cook. And I think it’s that style of setting this rule of what it’s supposed to be.

Becca King (37:32):

Yeah. I think we get that in our head. And that could be a day … I usually will tell my clients to rank their meals that they like by how much executive function it takes them. And there’s probably some meals that don’t require a lot of brain effort for you or things. I’ve made things so many times, that they’re very low executive function for me, and I love those meals.

(37:56):

And then there’s some where it’s going to be a day where I really want to be in the kitchen and do more hands-on stuff. And that’s not every single day of the week. And that’s totally okay. And I used to think for a while, every single night I needed to be making these really complex recipes that take a long time, and would exhaust me. And then I’d be like, “I can’t do anything the rest of the night, because I just spent an hour cooking this meal for myself.” And now, I have meals that take 15, 20 minutes at most to make.

(38:26):

And they’re delicious, and they’re nourishing. They have a protein, and some carbs with some fiber, and some veggies, and probably some sort of yummy dip or sauce or something, because that’s just how I roll. And they’re delicious, and I like it. And I’m like, “I can actually go keep doing things in the evening, because I’m not spending my whole evening cooking.”

 Lindsay Guentzel (38:47):

And I also think once you start to get into that pattern of building meals off of what you have, I call it … Well, I don’t call it, people call this fridge foraging, which I was introduced to a few years ago. And you start to get more comfortable not having a recipe, or not doing something extravagant. And I’ve actually found if I take photos of what I’ve made, and I save them into a folder, or I keep them as a favorite, I can look back, and it’s like it’ll spark inspiration. And I think some of us feel like, “Well, I don’t have a food calendar, or I don’t have a dinner schedule set up.” And it’s like, “Yeah, some people just don’t do that. They can’t work that way, and-

Becca King (39:27):

Then I grew up in a family that never did that, and I never really realized it till I became a dietician. I was like, “We never … There was no calendar on the wall with what the meals were.” It usually was on the way to school, or on the way home from school, my mom might ask what we want for dinner tonight. And that was about it. And my parents are still the same way. I’m pretty sure both are undiagnosed ADHD. And that’s just how it is.

(39:53):

[inaudible 00:39:57] to use some of their creativity, and for me to use creativity, but it was never this intense process of planning it out. It was like, what’s a protein that we have in the fridge? And usually that would be what you would … And a vegetable, and what can we make with that? It helps to have a stocked pantry, and a stocked fridge, or at least non-perishable or frozen things that you can keep on hand. Very helpful to have, I think. So that way you can get creative as needed, or at least the things you know use often. If there are certain items you use a lot of, making sure that you have those things available.

 Lindsay Guentzel (40:34):

I’ve also found that I think we get sucked into these food rules about what is appropriate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And I’m always like, “If you like something, and you want to eat it at breakfast, and it’s not sweet, or eggs, or whatever that is, eat it.” I think sometimes we’re so pigeonholed by rules that people have set, and it’s like, “They’re not around. They’re not going to come and yell at you. Do you.”

Becca King (41:02):

Yeah. That happened to me where I was like, “I’m …” I woke up one day, I was like, “I’m craving a salad. I guess I’m going to have a salad for breakfast. This is weird.” And I was like, “Oh, this is actually delicious, and I like it.” But it’s just figuring, or moving away from that idea of what is or isn’t a meal.

 Lindsay Guentzel (41:21):

I want to wrap up by asking, because I’m sure there are people listening who are like, “I would love to work with Becca.” What are some things that you encourage people to think about before starting to work with a nutritionist? Because I’ve worked with a nutritionist in the past, and again, this was so long ago, and knowing what I know now about my ADHD, it makes sense that it was a short stint, but it is a commitment. And I’m just curious. It’s one of those things that I think because we’re so impulsive. That people are like, “Oh, I need to do this to make the next step.” And I just would love to know what is the process in your mind that people should consider?

Becca King (42:07):

Yeah, I think if you are looking for, even if it’s [inaudible 00:42:12], but if you’re going to work with a dietician, just asking them what their understanding is, or if they have experience working with folks who have ADHD. Because if not, I have a lot of clients who have worked with other dieticians or nutritionist who don’t have any understanding of ADHD. And they’re like, “Here, try this recipe with 20 steps, and 20 ingredients, and half of them are things you definitely aren’t going to have just hanging out in your pantry.” And then they don’t do it. And they’re like, “Why didn’t you make the thing I told you to make?” And they’re like, because that was a no-go from the beginning. I told you I have ADHD.” And if they don’t understand, they’re like, “Okay, cool. You can still do it, just get over yourself.”

(42:56):

And it’s like, “You just literally don’t understand.” I think asking someone what their understanding is, I think is a great place to start, because then you can know that someone will … Having an understanding of how your brain works, and can provide you support or accommodations for things that maybe other people who might not understand those things would be helpful. And the other piece I would say is, if you’re more newly diagnosed, it might be, “Hey, I need to work on my foundational ADHD, and then maybe management,” and then look at your relationship with food after things maybe are starting to get more managed in your day-to-day, or maybe starting therapy and things like that. And then getting to the place where it’s like, “Okay, I have tackled these. Usually for a lot of my clients, food is the last piece of the puzzle where they’ve worked. They’ve been in therapy. They’ve done maybe coaching and other things to kind of manage your ADHD.

(43:56):

And they’re like, “Food’s still a struggle for me,” but they’ve developed tools in other areas of their lives too, that they’ve figured out that, that works. So then I can support them by helping them incorporate that with food. Like, “Oh, hey, how do you remember you have doctor’s appointments, or important things that you have to get done for work? How can we apply those things to remembering to eat your meals or your snacks throughout the day?” And that, I think, just having those skills can be a helpful place.

 Lindsay Guentzel (44:26):

One thing that I will share that has worked wonders in our house is we keep a freezer plate in the fridge to remind us to pull something out of the freezer so that it defrosts before we get home from work, because the freezer’s stocked. But if you aren’t planning ahead to take it out, you get home from work and you’re like, “Nothing’s thawed out.”

Becca King (44:48):

That is very smart. As a kid, my mom would … I have a younger sister, so she would have to go pick my sister up from school, or take her to practice or something. And I’d be at home, and she’d be like, “Hey, make sure you take the chicken out and put it in the sink to thaw before I get home. And then I would hear the garage door opening and like, “Oh my gosh, I forgot to do the chicken, and run and put it in the sink. And her being like, “Man, it’s still really frozen.” I’m like, “That’s crazy. I wonder why.”

 Lindsay Guentzel (45:17):

Never done that. I’ve never done something as the garage door was opened.

Becca King (45:23):

Like, “Oh man, I said I was going to do that thing, and I totally forgot that I said I was going to do that in the however long it was since you told me.”

 Lindsay Guentzel (45:36):

Becca, this was such an awesome conversation. I hope we can do it again. And then in the meantime, people can find more from you on your website, adhdnutritionistllc.com, over on social @adhd.nutritionist. And thank you so much. And honestly, I hope you know all of the stuff that you put on social, because that is a huge commitment and energy and time, and I want you to know you were one of the first people I followed after my diagnosis on social, and just the time and energy you put into that, it’s really wonderful. And I’m so grateful that this community has somebody like you, so thank you.

Becca King (46:17):

Oh, thank you. I love getting to make content. It’s definitely a lot of work, but it is really nice to have people be like, “Okay, someone actually understands me and what I’m talking about with food, and I’m not crazy” [inaudible 00:46:35] I’m not the only one. I think just knowing you’re not alone, like you said earlier, I think is huge. Because I never talked about binge eating. And I like logically knew other people struggled with binge eating when I was struggling with it. But because I didn’t talk about it, that healing process took a lot longer, and it was just so much more isolating. Because my brain was like, “No one else is struggling with this,” even though I was like, “I know that’s not true,” but that’s how it, in the moment, it really felt.

 Lindsay Guentzel (47:00):

Well, thank you so much for joining us on Refocused, and we’ll connect soon.

Becca King (47:03):

Sounds good. It was really nice to chat. Thanks, Lindsay.

 Lindsay Guentzel (47:07):

A huge thanks to Becca King for sharing her time and expertise with us. To learn more about her and the work she’s doing, you can find her on social media @adhd.nutritionist, and through her website, adhdnutritionistllc.com. Refocused is produced and hosted by me, Lindsay Guentzel. Our production team includes Al Chaplin, Sarah Galbard, Sarah Platanitis, and Phil Rodman.

(47:38):

Support also comes from Keith Boswell, Claudia Gotti, Melanie Mile, and Suzanne Spruit. The show’s music was created by Louie Inglis, a songwriter and composer based out of Perth, Australia, who was diagnosed with ADHD in 2020 at the age of 39. To work with Louie, you can find his email as well as links to his work shared in the show notes. To connect with the show or with me, you can find us online, @refocusedpod, as well as @lindseyguentzel. You can also email us directly at podcast@adhdonline com.

ADHD Online will be closed on January 16 in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday. 

Live support will be unavailable on Monday, January 16. Send us an email or leave a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible when we return on Tuesday, January 17.

Please note that each clinician sets their holiday hours and may be processing your requests during this time or they may be out as well.

As always, you can still take our assessment at anytime online, whenever and wherever is best for you. 

ADHD Online corporate offices will be closed on December 23, 26, and on Monday, January 2 in observance of the holidays.

As always, you can still take our assessment at any time online, whenever and wherever is best for you.

Please note that each clinician sets their holiday hours and may be processing your requests during this time or they may be out as well.

Happy Holidays from the team at ADHD Online!

Our ADHD Online corporate office will be closed Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25 so our employees can enjoy this special time with their families. 

As always, you can still take our assessment at any time online, whenever and wherever is best for you.

Please note that each clinician sets their own holiday hours and may be processing your requests during this time or they may be out as well.

We will resume normal business hours Monday, November 28. Thank you for your understanding and patience as our staff enjoys time with family to celebrate the Holiday.

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The patient completes our asynchronous assessment and receives the report from a doctorate-level psychologist within 3-5 days.

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**If available in your state

Assessment and
Treatment Plan Development**

The patient completes our asynchronous assessment and receives the report from a doctorate-level psychologist within 3-5 days.

The patient schedules an initial appointment with one of our providers to develop a treatment plan through a secure virtual appointment. We provide you and your patient with a copy of our full report. You take it from there.

**If available in your state

Assessment

The patient completes our asynchronous assessment and receives the report from a doctorate-level psychologist within 3-5 days.

We provide you and your patient with a copy of our full report. You take it from there.

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Prescriptions via telemedicine for Schedule II (stimulants) medications are not permitted by state law in South Carolina. Patients can receive prescriptions from our providers for non-stimulant medications.