#5: What does healthy really mean?

with Jennifer Harris, RDN, LD, CEDRD of the Ellyn Satter Institute

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In this episode we discuss:

  • how jennifer’s work in the area of eating disorders led her to the conclusion that the Satter eating competence and feeding dynamics models are the ultimate prevention

  • Common misconceptions about “healthy eating” and unintended consequences of hyper-focus on nutrition

  • the definition of eating competence and its four domains

  • positive eating attitudes - feeling good about gathering, enjoying food, and the traditions surrounding it

  • food acceptance skills - learning to like new foods

  • internal regulation - trusting your inner process of knowing how much to eat

  • contextual skills - the skills and resources to be able to pull together meals and snacks in a thoughtful way

  • the benefits of eating competence on sleep, self esteem, physical activity, nutritional quality of diet, and biomarkers

  • the importance of “how” we feed our kids over “what” we feed them

  • benefits of following the “division of responsibility” in feeding children

  • knowing where your job as an adult ends and the child’s job begins

  • the trust in your child required to begin the dor

  • ellyn satter’s quote “start in the room you’re in and build the house around it”

  • The evidence-based satter feeding dynamics model

  • the value of commitment to structure and routine

  • research showing the benefits of family meals

  • how focusing on food virtue can sometimes lead you to miss other behaviors that foster true health and wellness

  • jennifer’s answer to the million dollar question


Jennifer Harris of the Ellyn Satter Institute helps us understand why healthy has more to do with how we feed our children than what we feed them.

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Jennifer Harris is a registered and licensed dietitian nutritionist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and feeding and eating disorders not otherwise specified. She works at CentraCare Health in St. Cloud, MN, where she has over 24 years of experience. She also serves on the faculty of the Ellyn Satter Institute, a not-for-profit that provides training and resources for the public and professionals on Ellyn Satter’s Feeding Dynamics and Eating Competence models. Jennifer is an expert and leader in the teaching and practice of the models, and has incorporated them in her own practice since 1996.

Connect with the Ellyn Satter Institute on their website, blog, and Facebook.

Jordan Best