Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dispelling Nutrition Myths!

Dispelling Nutrition Myths!

I will be hosting my first nutrition workshop at The Awakening Center on Saturday, March 10th at noon, entitled "Nutrition: Separating Myth from Reality". The focus is exploring myths within the world of nutrition and together learning what the reality is behind those myths. As a kick-start for that workshop, I'd like to explore one myth today.

Myth: Don't eat after 8pm because any food eaten that late will make you fat.

The truth: This is an interesting myth because it seems to stem from an original fact that has since been twisted into a complete lie. First, food eaten late at night is not directly converted into fat purely because it is late. This is not how metabolism works. What matters is not the time of day you eat, but the balance of energy in versus energy out over a 24hour time period. For example, if at 8pm, you have only eaten (or taken in) 75% of the energy that you used during the day, your body still needs 25% more energy to be in balance. Therefore, anything eaten - regardless of the time - will actually serve to help the body fuel itself and recover from the day.

So if this is untrue, how did it get started? Some individuals prefer to use this rule because late night eating tends to be mindless eating in front of the television. This can lead to taking in a large amount of energy in a short period of time. So, from that perspective, it can help the person to meet body composition goals to stop eating after 8pm, as long as he/she is not ignoring hunger signals they may have after 8pm.

There is, however, one caveat to this. While it really doesn't matter what time you eat, it IS a good idea to refrain from eating within one hour of bedtime. Why? If you eat and then immediately try to go to sleep, your mind is busy trying to calm itself while your stomach and intestines are busy digesting. This results in less than ideal sleep for you. And studies have shown that those who do not consistently get 7-9 hours of deep sleep each night have a harder time meeting body composition goals. So, a good rule of thumb is to finish your eating with at least one hour to spare before bedtime.

I hope to see each of you on Saturday, March 10th as we discuss more nutrition myths. Please also bring your nutrition questions. Using a format that assures complete anonymity, I'll be answering those questions you always wanted to ask but were afraid to. This is also a great time to learn more about individual nutrition counseling services at The Awakening Center as well as hear about two new, exciting nutrition groups starting in April!

Be extraordinary!


Katie Davis, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN will be hosting "Nutrition: Separating Myth from Reality" on Saturday March 10, from noon - 1:30pm. For more info call Katie at (773) 929-6262 x24 or go to:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What makes life well lived?

A couple weekends ago I went home for the celebration of my grandfather’s 89th birthday. My grandmother, and his loving wife of 61 years, also turned 85 two days prior to his birthday. In celebration of their long and beautiful lives we had a family get together and people drove in from all over the place to be there for this special occasion. We made dinner, played games, and of course listened to plenty of grandpa’s stories. Stories about how my grandma “cornered” him at the ballroom back in 1947 when they first met. Stories about the many years they spent running a dairy and poultry farm and all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into their life’s work. And of course the stories about how things were different “back then”, people worked harder, complained less, and as always the kids were more respectful.

As I sat amongst so many people I loved and listened to this great man tell his stories I found myself thinking, he has a life well lived. What does that mean? What makes a life well lived? I think for my grandfather part of what made his life well lived was his hard work, his travels, and watching is family grown over the generations. But what about my life? Surely I haven’t done anything thus far that could compare to what my grandfather has accomplished. The more I thought about it the more I concluded that a life well lived is one taken a day at a time. If I approach each day as an opportunity, a chance to do something great (no matter how small), then when it’s all said and done I should be able to look back with appreciation for my life well lived. But that’s where the difficulty lies because on days when you wake up late, miss the train, get stuck in the rain, and forget your wallet, it is hard to see this as an opportunity to do or experience something great. Challenge yourself. Today as I stood in the miserable cold wind waiting for the train, I noticed that in the dark the sparks of the train meeting the rail look like a million dancing lightning bugs or maybe little fairies flashing cameras. This simple observation and flight of imagination made my wait more bearable, it brought a smile to my face, and my life was better lived in that moment.


Kaitlyn Gitter

Friday, February 24, 2012

How Depression Lies to You - Part 2

How Depression Lies to You – Part 2

Wow! My last blog article “How Depression Lies to You – Part 1” generated a lot of comments both on line and in my sessions with clients. Depression tells us so many lies!

My friend Gerald Stein who writes “Blogging about Psychotherapy from Chicago” ( reminded me of another lie depression tells us, “You’re always going to feel this way. You’ll never feel any better.” Of course, as I pointed out in Part 1, you know those are absolutes which are not absolutely true – so go put 2 quarters in your jar. :o)

That’s how depression keeps itself going. By telling you that you are never going to feel any better, you give up and sink back down into the depression – thus proving depression’s lie.

Unfortunately there are some therapists who believe this lie as well. Way back when I was struggling with my own pit of depression, the therapist I was seeing told me, “Maybe you should just admit to yourself that you’re always going to be this way. Maybe this is just who you are. You are just a depressed person.” (At the time I didn’t know you were allowed to switch therapists if it just wasn’t working. But again I digress…)

The truth is that every emotion we have, even depression, comes and goes. An emotion is like a wave: it rises, crests and fades. If we step back and notice our emotion, without becoming attached to it, we can allow it to rise, crest and fade.

But noticing that you’re in the beginning of a depression, usually just starts up depression’s lies: “OMG, I feel down in the dumps. Today’s going to be horrible! You’re not going to feel any better. You might as well just stay in bed all day.” And you know what happens with that – you get more depressed. And when you get more depressed, depression just tells you more lies – and you get more depressed – which generates more lies – and you get more depressed.

By this time usually clients point out to me, “But don’t I have a chemical imbalance in my brain. Isn’t it a fact that my brain causes my depression?”

Well, yes and no. When I was depressed I took antidepressants because I was told that I had a chemical imbalance in my brain. I didn’t find that it was that helpful. I worked hard with various therapists over a course of years, and I found my way back to the “person I was meant to be.” Now, I feel truly different; I don’t even think of myself as a depressed person – and I don’t take medication. And if my depression was truly caused by a chemical imbalance, how could that be?

I do not want to imply that taking medication is bad or wrong. Antidepressants are much better now than they were in the 1980’s when I was struggling. Some of my clients find that medication is like a light switch – it makes a huge difference in how they feel and think.

No one really knows what causes depression. I always wonder, “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” Do the lies that depression tells you cause the chemical imbalance or does the chemical imbalance cause the lies that depression tells you?

If you ask a friend to think of the saddest day of their life, they will feel a physical change in their mind and body: a feeling of heaviness comes over them, an ache in the chest, a pressure behind their eyes, a sapping of energy. Now if we were able to test their brain, there would be a chemical change – simply by thinking a sad thought. If we asked the same friend to now think of the happiest day of their life, they would experience different physical, mental and emotional sensations – again, simply by thinking a happy thought.

Ugh! That last sentence made me think of the movie Pollyanna: “Let’s play the glad game. Let’s be glad we don’t need the crutches!” I don’t want this blog to be, “All you have to do is just think happy thoughts and you won’t be depressed!” But we know that listening to the lies of depression fuels the depression. And the deeper we sink into the depression, the harder it is to do the things we know will help lift us out of the depression. But just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it is impossible. And it doesn’t mean that you will always be this way, forever.

I would love to hear your questions, comments, suggestions, feedback about this – both positive and negative. I’ll write more in my next blog.

Namastè, Amy

Amy Grabowski, MA, LCPC is a psychotherapist who truly enjoys helping others find the person they were meant to be! She dedicates this blog to someone she loves who struggles with depression.

I found the image “Don’t Believe The Lies” on a blog by “Alizah Grace” – you may want to read her post: “Pants on Fire” -

You can buy the “Don’t Believe The Lies” t-shirt at:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How Depression Lies to You - Part 1

How Depression Lies to You - Part 1

Depression lies to you! Let’s face it head on: Depression is a mean old lying liar! If depression was on TV it would be Tommy Flanagan, the Pathological Liar from SNL. If depression was at a party, you would avoid it like Debby Downer! If depression was a co-worker, you would not believe 98% of what it told you. Depression lies!

I know depression lies! I worked really hard to stop believing the lies depression told me years ago. And I want so badly to help you stop believing depression’s lies too.

The problem with depression is that you don’t believe it is lying to you. You believe what depression tells you. Why? Because depression lies to you about YOU! And because depression may have been lying to you about you for such a very long time, you are so used to what depression tells you that you don’t even question the truthfulness of it.

Sometimes depression lies about other people: “People don’t really care.” But that lie may lead to another lie which is about you: “You’re so unimportant that no one cares.” Or “You’re so boring that no one cares.” Or a bigger lie, “You’re so unlovable that no one cares.”

Even though I could go on and on about all the different lies that depression tells, I am going to zero in on just one lie – although I must admit I am having a hard time figuring out which lie to focus on because all of depression’s lies are so destructive. I promise that in my next blog article I will punch the living daylights out of another of depression’s lies.

One way that depression lies is by using ‘absolutes’ that are not ‘absolutely true.’ An absolute is a word like: always, never, nothing, nobody, everyone, everything… - you get the idea. It is absolutely true if I said, “I have never climbed Mount Everest.” (It’s probably absolutely true to even say, “I will never climb Mount Everest.” But then again, I may surprise myself someday.) It is not absolutely true if I said, “You’ll never get your book published.”

(Notice how different depressed Parts may use different pronouns – a young depressed Part may say, “I’ll never be good enough.” While another older more critical depressed Part may say, “You’ll never be good enough.” But I digress….)

When depression lies to you and says, “You’ll never get your book published” you feel like you are fighting an impossible battle and want to give up. When you give up, that just reinforces the lie that depression just told you. If we say a true statement – try to substitute another word for the absolute – it doesn’t have the same defeating ‘one, two punch’ of the depressed lie: “It’s been hard to find a publisher for my book. I will continue to search until I find one.”

Since depression has been lying to you for such a long time, it may be hard for you to think of a substitute word. I suggest thinking of your best friend, what would you say to him or her. If your friend said, “I’ll never get my book published” would you say, “Yeah, you better give up trying?” No. You would encourage your friend, “Hang in there. I know it’s been hard, but keep trying. It could be right around the corner. You can’t tell when it will happen for you.”

I encourage my clients to make a game out of catching the absolutes that are not absolutely true. Put a glass jar on the counter of your kitchen. Every time anyone in your household uses an absolute that is not absolutely true, put a quarter in the jar. When the jar is full, treat yourself to something fun or pampering – go to a movie, get a massage, buy a new novel.

At first you’ll notice how many absolutes that are not absolutely true you actually use – and depression may even try to lie to you about that, “You’ll never stop doing this. You’ll always be this way.” (Hey, there’s 50 cents towards your massage right there!) After a while you’ll notice that you can catch depression in the middle of a lie, “You’ll nev…. Stop, that’s not absolutely true!” Eventually you’ll get in the habit of speaking the truth to yourself.

I would love to hear from you – what lies does depression tell you? Do you have any depression fighting tools that work for you?

I want to thank Zazzle Insights for permission to use the image above. You can purchase this card and send it to a depressed friend (or buy it for yourself) at



Amy Grabowski, MA, LCPC is the Founder and Director of The Awakening Center. She has written a book: “Both Halves of Recovery from Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating.”

Does anyone know a publisher? :o)

Monday, February 13, 2012

February the 14th

With Valentine's Day coming up, it becomes almost inevitable to become consumed by this Hallmark holiday that wants us to believe that buying chocolates and flowers for our loved ones will make them truly happy. As cheesy as this may sound, I appreciate these Holidays because it gives us all an opportunity to be in the same loving mindset. Besides, it is one of the very few days of the year where one will not be judged by others for trying to show some appreciation. Showing affection for a loved one, friends, family, a pet, etc., is extremely rewarding but I think Valentine's Day can be a good way of reminding ourselves that the rest of the year we should focus on rewarding and appreciating ourselves above all. Valentine's day is one day out of the year, and the other 364 days can really be used to pay attention to what our body is telling us we need, to what makes us truly happy and truly upset, to what inspires us, and finally, to what makes us feel at peace at the end of the day. One of the reasons I love holidays so much is because they give us an opportunity to show a side of us that we have been hiding all year. Valentine's day likes to target our sensitive side, and while for some this day might be a good way of releasing true feelings, for others it becomes dreadful because this day can really make them deal with their emotions. I say we use Valentine's day as a way of reminding ourselves that the rest of the year is about loving ourselves, so that on this day we can share that with our loved ones and not dread the day on our calendars.

By: Diana Hinojosa

Diana is the undergraduate intern at the Awakening Center. She is a drop-in support group co-leader on Tuesday nights and is a student at DePaul University with a double major in psychology and journalism.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Katie Davis: Becoming a “Mindful” Eater

By:Diana Hinojosa

Katie Davis, a registered dietician and nutritionist, is looking forward to providing the clients at The Awakening Center with the best well-rounded treatment. She believes that the combination of a therapist and a dietitian working together is ideal because the client will be receiving complete care all in one place when both their emotional and physical struggles are being addressed.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know the staff and the clientele,” she says, “But mostly, I just want to be able to better adjust the clients’ relationship with food.”

Having received her undergraduate and graduate studies from Michigan State University, Katie took some time to work with collegiate athletes, where she began to notice there was an abundance of incorrect information circulating about nutrition. In working with her clients she found that it was not about telling them what to eat, but more about figuring out their relationship with food and what was keeping them from having the relationship they wanted.

She says, “I have a really strong passion for helping clients come to the point where they can eat normally. This means that they can eat what they want when they want to, but also feel like they can stop at any point and still really enjoy the food. I don’t think enough dietitians address that.”

Katie does not encourage diet plans because she does not believe they are effective long-term or realistic for a client that needs to address a deeper emotional struggle.

“Instead of doing diet plans and menus I like to get my clients back to appetite awareness. I want them to recognize when they are full and hungry and really pay attention to how it makes their body feel when they eat one food versus another,” she says, “Giving somebody a diet might be effective for a few weeks but at some point everybody gets sick of being told what to eat. In the end they typically gain the weight back because the problem is not the food, it is something deeper.”

Katie believes people have become very good at ignoring body signals so her efforts aim to get to the client to listen to his or her body in order to eat a well rounded diet. It is about being a “mindful” eater, and helping her clients pay attention to how their bodies really feel while eating a meal. This process encourages people to break down their barriers and figure out what their true struggles are.

“The thing I like the most and the thing I like the least about this field is the same," she says, "Nutrition is a very tangible topic; everybody thinks they know something about nutrition. But unfortunately there is a lot erroneous information out which is causing confusion and harm. Nutrition is a part of everybody’s life, and everybody deserves to have a truthful and comfortable relationship with food. That's where I come in.”