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Nourish Family Nutrition & Therapy

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Food Insecurity

Food insecurity, as defined by the USDA, is the “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food” or the “limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.” Food insecurity is influenced by a variety of factors and occurs at varying degrees of severity when assessed at the household level.  Food availability, access, stability, and utilization are the four basic components of food security. When any one of these dimensions is threatened or unmet, a household is said to be experiencing food insecurity. Though we usually think of food insecurity at its most severe, it actually exists on a spectrum that ranges from food-secure to food-insecure. There are four levels of food security: high, marginal, low, and very low. 

The USDA outlines the following four ranges of food security:

  1. High food security: Household reports no food access problems or limitations.
  2. Marginal food security: Household reports problems or anxiety at times about accessing adequate food, but the quality, variety, and quantity of food were not substantially reduced.
  3. Low food security: Household reports that the quality, variety, and desirability of their diets were reduced, but the quantity of food intake and normal eating patterns were not substantially disrupted.
  4. Very low food security: Household reports that the eating patterns of one or more of its members were disrupted and food intake was reduced because the household lacked money or resources for food.

Food Insecurity and Disordered Eating Behaviors

Studies show significant eating disorder behaviors among adolescents and adults with food insecurity.

Are you experiencing food insecurity and/or disordered eating habits? Here’s a few tips and resources:

  1. Feeding America has developed a food assistance locator to assist you in locating local resources in your area. Enter your zip code to find a list of food assistance programs in your area. 
  2. Frozen food is an acceptable source of nutrition! Frozen fruits and vegetables are less expensive and last longer than fresh. Low-cost protein sources can also be frozen and thawed later.
  3. Take advantage of the times when you can go to the grocery store and select foods that keep well in your kitchen so you don’t feel obligated to cook and eat everything all at once.
  4. Project HEAL; Access eating disorder treatment for free or at a reduced cost, especially if you live in a marginalized community. This non-profit has the most extensive network of resources for obtaining eating disorder treatment. 
  5. Moonshadows Spirit; Only residential and intensive partial hospitalization programs are eligible for this scholarship. When you apply for this scholarship, you must have a diagnosis or an eating disorder evaluation. Cash awards are distributed directly to participating locations.
  6. Budgetbytes.com; meal planning website featuring low-cost ingredients/meals.
  7. Nourish dietitians can help our clients locate resources and meal plan on a budget. Nourish accepts most health insurance plans, so you can likely receive nutrition counseling at no or low cost. Schedule your initial appointment online here.

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