religion of dieting

Food Psych #116: Self-Care and Diet Recovery with Jenna Hollenstein

Jenna Hollenstein

Fellow intuitive eating coach and non-diet dietitian Jenna Hollenstein discusses food as self-care, why people fall into disordered eating and alcoholism as coping mechanisms, the connection between dieting and religion, how to tolerate discomfort, the role of diet culture in keeping social progress for happening, how to set boundaries and limits, how to practice self-compassion, and a whole lot more. PLUS, Christy answers a listener question about how to teach and practice fitness from a Health at Every Size perspective!

Jenna Hollenstein, MS, RDN, CDN, is a non-diet dietitian who helps people struggling with chronic dieting, disordered eating, and eating disorders. She uses a combination of Intuitive Eating, mindfulness techniques, and meditation to help her clients move toward greater peace, health, and wellness.

Jenna is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and a Certified Dietitian Nutritionist in New York State. She has a Bachelors degree in Nutrition from Penn State and a Masters degree in Nutrition from Tufts University. She's a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, an Open Heart Project meditation guide, and a meditation guide in the Shambhala tradition.

She co-teaches the Open Heart Project Meditation Instructor Training, an intensive 9-week online course to teach dietitians, therapists, coaches, and yoga teachers how to establish their own meditation practice and then to share the technique responsibly and skillfully with their clients, patients, and students.

Jenna is the author of Understanding Dietary Supplements, a handy guide to the evaluation and use of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and botanicals for both consumers and clinicians, and more recently the memoir Drinking to Distraction. She is currently writing a book about how Buddhist teachings and meditation can change the way we relate to food, eating, and our bodies. Find her online at eat2love.com.

 

We Discuss:

  • Jenna’s relationship with food growing up, including the pathologization of pleasure

  • Food as self-care

  • Seeking the middle ground rather than functioning in the extremes

  • Alcoholism as a self-medicating tool

  • The meandering path to finding peace, healing, and safety in a chaotic world

  • Disordered eating and eating disorders as coping mechanisms

  • The connection between dieting and religion

  • Tolerating discomfort

  • Diet culture’s role in keeping social progress down

  • Jenna’s studies in Buddhism, meditation, and learning how to relate differently to suffering

  • Integrating non-reactivity learned through meditation with disordered eating urges

  • Trusting the structure within us rather than needing outward structure to make sense of our lives

  • Finding the value in not fitting in

  • Vulnerability

  • Self-disclosure of eating disorder recovery and the drive to help others with our experiences

  • Setting boundaries and limits

  • Creating an enlightened society

  • The difficulties of fostering self-compassion

  • Discipline in the Buddhist perspective

  • The “honeymoon phase” in intuitive eating

  • Unconditional permission with our thoughts

  • "The Second Arrow"

 

Resources Mentioned

Some of the links below are affiliate links. Affiliates or not, we only recommend products and services that align with our values.

 

Listener Question of the Week

How can fitness professionals best support their clients who are practicing Health at Every Size? What other things do we need to look out for in the fitness world, other than avoiding talking about calories or thinness and focusing on non-weight benefits of movement?

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Food Psych #94: How to Leave the Religion of Dieting with Alan Levinovitz

Alan Levinovitz

Religious scholar and journalist Alan Levinovitz discusses how diet culture is like a religion, why so much modern nutrition advice is dangerous, why we need to think critically about restrictive eating practices, how suspicion of Western medicine can lead people to believe in harmful "miracle cures," why the "nocebo effect" is causing people to unnecessarily demonize particular foods, and lots more.     

Alan Levinovitz received his PhD in religion from the University of Chicago where he specialized in classical Chinese thought. He is now assistant professor of religious studies at James Madison University, where he teaches classes on religion, Chinese philosophy, and the connection between religion and medicine. His journalism focuses on the intersection of religion, science, and culture, and has appeared in The Atlantic, Wired, The Washington Post, Slate, Vox, and elsewhere. He is the author of The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths About What You Eat (mild trigger warning for frank discussion of diets and eating practices). Find him at James Madison University and on Twitter at @AlanLevinovitz.

 

We Discuss:

  • Alan’s enriching and satisfying relationship with food growing up, including his experience with food as an art form

  • Alan’s experience with body image throughout his life, as well as his differing experience in the world due to his male gender identification

  • How ignoring the personal experiences and struggles of people around food and focusing on the logic can make healing one’s relationship with food seem simplistic and easy, even though it is anything but

  • Debunking dieting, and the ways in which the attachment people have to their belief systems around dieting closely resembles the attachment people have to their belief systems around religion

  • The dogma of nutrition and dieting

  • The power of media representation of the body

  • Alan’s journey into religious studies, including his eventual transition into dietary and food studies as a kind of religion

  • The “nocebo effect”… sometimes, if we are told something is going to make us feel bad, it will

  • Some of the restrictive practices of religion, and the intersections of diet culture and religion

  • The decline of religiosity in relation to the ascension of diet culture

  • Eating as ritual

  • How restrictive religious practices can sometimes spark disordered eating and eating disorders

  • The specific practice of Lent, including how some people view Lent as an opportunity to diet

  • The ways in which some of us deceive ourselves in order justify restrictive practices around our food

  • False promises, charismatic hope, and prosperity gospel

  • How the power of the mind can convince us that food is both healing us or hurting us

  • The issue with the ‘holistic’ health movement, including the intense scrutiny against Western and mainstream medicine

  • Self-identity within our food values and dietary practices

  • The seduction and subsequent failure of black and white rules in relation to food, and how to embrace fluidity instead

  • Buddhism as a path to mindfulness, intuitive eating, and eating disorder recovery

  • How important it is to remember that all bodies are individual, and therefore dietary practices that promise to heal and work for everyone should inspire caution

  • The danger in obsessing over productivity, output, and quantifying every aspect of our lives

  • Putting warning labels on diets and exercise tracking devices like FitBits

  • The importance of not pathologizing sadness, bad body image days, and other negative emotions that are just a part of life

 

Resources Mentioned

 

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