Food Psych #114: How to Smash Diet Culture with Self-Compassion with Louise Adams

Louise Adams

Psychologist and author Louise Adams discusses why the Health at Every Size approach is essential in treating disordered eating, the problems with the "obesity epidemic" rhetoric, how trauma and body neglect shaped her relationship with food at a young age, why self-compassion is an essential antidote to shame, how to move from a deprivation mindset to an intuitive mindset with unconditional permission to eat, how to set firm and compassionate boundaries, and lots more. PLUS, Christy answers a listener question about how to handle feeling like you need to lose weight to manage a health condition, and how to stop judging yourself for eating "too much."

Louise is an Australian clinical psychologist, author, podcaster, trainer, and speaker. She owns Treat Yourself Well Sydney, a specialist psychology clinic for weight-inclusive health and wellbeing. Louise founded UNTRAPPED, an online diet recovery program, and hosts the All Fired Up! Podcast, where she meets with experts from around the world to debrief, rage, and unpack the (often misguided) messages we’re given about weight, food, exercise, and health.

Louise has a special interest and expertise in weight struggles, eating disorders, and body image. Her practice is rooted in the HAES principles of equitable support for people of all shapes and sizes. Louise’s life goal is to dismantle the prison of diet culture and emancipate people to appreciate compassionate, joyful, relaxed relationships with food, movement, and their bodies.

Louise has published two books. The Non-Diet Approach Guidebook for Psychologists and Counsellors (2014, co-authored with Fiona Willer, APD) is a manual for health professionals. Her latest book, Mindful Moments (2016) is for the general public, a practical guide to applying self-compassion for people who are time poor.

Louise is a member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS), a member of the Clinical College of the APS, and treasurer of HAES Australia.

In addition to everything else, Louise runs non-diet training workshops for other health professionals. She regularly speaks to the media on all issues health related, and has experience on radio, print and television. Read more about Louise at

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We Discuss:

  • Louise’s relationship with food growing up, including not being attracted to food at a young age due in part to  struggling with misophonia

  • The impact of body trauma and body neglect on body image and body growth

  • Body policing

  • Diet culture

  • Relationships and body image

  • Feminism and criminal justice

  • Social justice and psychology

  • The importance of the broader context when grappling with individual struggles

  • Fatphobia in eating disorder treatment

  • Why BMI is an ineffective means of measuring health

  • Eating disorder recovery

  • The “obesity epidemic”

  • Critical thinking and weight science

  • Health at Every Size, the non-diet approach, and intuitive eating

  • Shame recovery

  • Restriction and rebound binge eating

  • Mindful eating and joyful eating

  • Self-compassion

  • Trauma and self-soothing with food (AKA emotional eating as a coping mechanism)

  • Deprivation vs unconditional permission to eat

  • Pleasure and satisfaction

  • Self-care

  • Mindful awareness and non-judgmental awareness

  • Setting firm and compassionate boundaries

  • The anti-diet community


Resources Mentioned

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Listener Question of the Week

Do we need to lose weight to manage other health conditions? What exactly is a Health at Every Size approach to health? How do we eat intuitively and give ourselves unconditional permission while also being conscious of our holistic wellness? Is it possible that we’re eating too much on our intuitive eating journey?

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