Food Psych #117: How to Practice Health at Every Size with Deb Burgard

Deb Burgard

This week we’re talking with Deb Burgard, one of the founders of the Health at Every Size movement. The psychotherapist, author and activist discusses weight stigma in the healthcare system, pursuing joyful movement, size oppression and the exclusion of fat bodies from eating disorder treatment, her discovery of fat activism and feminism, how to find joy and healing, and much more! PLUS, Christy answers a listener question about how to keep yourself nourished in a stressful work situation.

Deb Burgard, PhD, FAED, specializes in body image, eating, sexuality, health, and relationship concerns. She has helped bring into the world the Health at Every Size model, the website, Great Shape: The First Fitness Guide for Large Women, and numerous book chapters and research articles. An activist and an internationally known speaker trying to change the forces that create oppression and barriers to health, she trains clinicians to integrate social justice concerns into their treatment models. She can be spotted at conferences hula hooping, and dancing in the pool, as her overarching goal is to bring back recess for all. Find her online at and on Twitter at @BodyPositivePhD.

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We Discuss:

  • Deb’s relationship with food growing up, including observing dieting from a young age

  • Deb’s introduction to fat activism

  • Limitations on women’s sexuality in the context of feminism

  • Social justice and the origins of intersectionality

  • Lived experience vs. theoretical understanding

  • Identity and oppression of fat bodies

  • Weight stigma in the feminist community

  • Size diversity as a biological given

  • The thin ideal and the pathologization of fat

  • Fatphobia in the queer and gay community

  • Deb’s studies in dance and how it opened her up to body acceptance, radical body love, and fat acceptance

  • Movement, exercise, and fat bodies, including finding weight-neutral spaces for intuitive movement

  • Deb’s work in intuitive eating

  • Breaking down the binary with food and movement

  • Historical and personal trauma from dieting

  • Giving strength to the intuitive voices rather than the disordered ones

  • The levels of interpersonal discussion

  • The shutting down of emotionality in favor of capitalism

  • Coping with internal pain

  • The current problem with access to recovery and healthcare services

  • The history of the Health at Every Size movement

  • Fatphobia and weight stigma in eating disorder treatment and the healthcare system

  • Anorexia in larger bodies

  • Fat oppression and resilience

  • The lack of individual representation of fat bodies

  • The joy, healing, and energy found in human connection


Resources Mentioned


Listener Question of the Week

How do we make sure we’re eating enough when we have work or life situations that get in the way of nourishing ourselves? What are the best ways to eat consistently in order to stave off bingeing in challenging meal-time circumstances? How do we advocate for ourselves in these kinds of situations?

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