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.

Grab Christy's free guide, 7 simple strategies for finding peace and freedom with food, to start your intuitive eating journey. You can also text "7STRATEGIES" to the phone number 44222 to get it on the go :)

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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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Food Psych #111: How to Reignite Your Creative Spark with Maggie Ritnour

Maggie Ritnour

Art therapist and Health at Every Size counselor Maggie Ritnour shares how she was introduced to body comparisons and disordered eating in the dance world, how depression and grief led her to restrict her eating, how art and writing helped get her through that difficult period, why art therapy is an important tool in recovery from disordered eating, how it feels to find our authentic voice, how to embrace our imperfections and face our fears, how to push back against diet culture, and lots more! PLUS, Christy answers a listener question about how to best voice your disagreement with fatphobic content in the media.

Maggie Ritnour is licensed mental health counselor and licensed creative arts therapist. She began studying art in high school, and then received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. She obtained her masters of psychology from Antioch University Seattle in 2009. She has experience using art as therapy in work with children, adolescents and adults in hospital settings since 2000.

Maggie is a humanistic therapist who approaches her clients using a multi-cultural framework and trauma-informed lens. She is wholeheartedly committed to the Health At Every Size philosophy. She believes when people get in touch with their own creative voice they often find therapy in the confidence of learning a new language, the ability to speak with their art and listen with their eyes.

Maggie is also a certified Irish dance teacher; she loves to teach and dance as much as possible. She incorporates her knowledge of body movement with her therapeutic understanding of people. Maggie is passionate about using art and mindful body awareness in her work and life. Find her online at

Ask your questions about intuitive eating, Health at Every Size, body acceptance, or eating disorder recovery for a chance to have them answered on the podcast!


We Discuss:

  • Maggie’s relationship with food growing up, including the connection between food and love

  • Food and social connection

  • Vegetarianism

  • Body comparisons, disordered eating, and the dance world

  • Depression, grief, and the desire for food control

  • The financial component of food choice

  • Learning basic life skills like cooking

  • Maggie’s experience in therapy

  • Art, writing, and catharsis

  • Intuitive cooking

  • Art therapy and eating disorders

  • Finding our authentic voice

  • Embracing imperfections and facing fears

  • Learning sustainable coping mechanisms

  • Building confidence vs perfectionism

  • Finding comfort, connection, and trust in relationships and in ourselves

  • The process of art and the process of recovery

  • The inner critic, shame, and empathy

  • Food rules, healthism, and diet culture

  • The gray area of eating disorder recovery

  • Finding efficiency, self-awareness, and competence through practice of therapeutic skills


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