Food Psych #92: How to Break Free from Body Shame & Learn Mindful Eating with Non-Diet Dietitian Fiona Sutherland

Fiona Sutherland

Fellow Health at Every Size dietitian Fiona Sutherland shares how early experiences helped her develop empathy for people struggling with weight stigma, why she almost quit dietetics and how she ultimately found her way to the anti-diet movement, why we need to take pleasure in food, how she's working to bring the Health at Every Size approach into training for dietitians, and lots more!

Fiona Sutherland is an Accredited Practising Dietitian & Nutritionist from Melbourne, Australia. She is Director of Body Positive Australia & The Mindful Dietitian, specialising in Mindful Eating, Eating Disorders, eating behaviour and body image from a Health At Every Size and Non Diet Approach. She is also a Sports Dietitian, consulting for The Australian Ballet. Fiona is passionate about supporting people & communities heal their relationship with food and body, and is an advocate for bringing Non Diet Approach training into Universities throughout Australia. Find her at TheMindfulDietitian.com.au and BodyPositiveAustralia.com.au.

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We Discuss:

  • Fiona’s relationship with food and her body growing up, including learning about the moralization around food and that certain bodies were considered “better” than others (also known as size discrimination, weight bias, and fat phobia)

  • Fiona’s experience with thin privilege, including her own internalization of diet culture

  • The protective elements of thin privilege, including potentially avoiding the disordered eating or diet path due to fewer societal expectations to “control” weight gain

  • Fiona’s experience being the older sibling of someone living in a larger body

  • The natural, intuitive wisdom that our body is born with and the ways in which diet culture drives that wisdom out and promotes disconnection

  • How diet culture and diet mentality language seep into our vocabulary to the point that it is normalized and unchecked

  • The normalization of dieting and the ways in which it is unquestioned even by those whose core values don’t jive with diet culture

  • The morality attached to body size

  • How historical parallels to many other civil rights issues are mimicked within the size diversity, anti-diet movement

  • The importance of finding our voices and our radical values within the body activism sphere

  • Fiona’s concept of radical nourishment, including fulfilling our needs outside of food and encouraging our desire for pleasure

  • Fiona and Christy’s experiences with clients involved in 12-step programs and struggling with other substance addictions while also dealing with an eating disorder, as well as the abstinence model in relation to food

  • The addiction model in relation to food, including the lack of definitive research and the integral consideration of guilt and restriction that leads to bingeing and feeling out of control

  • The perception of control and holding things tightly versus holding things gently

  • Giving yourself space for compassion for when food choices end up making our bodies feel uncomfortable and for when we are attempting to let go of food rules

  • Fiona’s experience with gymnastics, and how her coach helped her and her team avoid body criticism

  • How to cultivate care and connection to your body through its many changes throughout life, including the specific female experiences of postpartum, puberty, and menopause

  • Fiona’s evolving experience as a practicing dietitian, including the value in all dietitians understanding their own experience and learning from their clients

  • Fiona’s experience in dietetics school and her continuing education, including her tendency to question her education and the lack of Health at Every Size and coaching education within the program

  • Fiona’s experience taking time off to teach outdoor education to young children, along with the practical education it gave her in lived experience and the human condition

  • Fiona’s first dietetics job at a weight loss clinic, her introduction to a non-diet approach and intuitive eating and her subsequent rebellion within her weight-loss-centric job, and her eventual transition into eating disorder work and sports nutrition

  • Fiona’s later work in dietetics, including a focus on teaching dietetics students about eating disorders and HAES, working with ballerinas on eating disorder prevention, and working with athletes on body image concerns post-career

  • How major life changes impact how we feel about our bodies

  • The ways in which we can practice HAES through stealth, and how that may allow us to make a difference in spaces that need the message the most

  • The importance of exposing dietitian students to HAES education and showing them that there is another approach

  • Fiona’s experience with her mindfulness practice, including how it transformed her client work and her expansion into the mindfulness world professionally

  • Christy and Fiona’s journey finding a community within the dietetics world through eating disorder work and HAES

  • How important it is to make room for making mistakes, whether it’s as a professional or within your personal intuitive eating journey

  • Yoga and the body positive movement, and the ways in which some yoga practices can be nourishing and others can perpetuate the same diet-centric movement practices

 

Resources Mentioned: