Food Psych #130: How to Fight Fatphobia in Woke Spaces with Melissa Toler

Melissa Toler

Anti-diet educator and writer Melissa Toler comes on the show this week to talk fatphobia in woke spaces, why social justice needs to be a cornerstone of the body acceptance movement, the social determinants of health and the effect of discrimination on wellness, addressing diet culture on a systemic level rather than just a personal one, and much more! PLUS, Christy answers a listener question about how to handle weight gain and hormonal issues that seemingly came out of nowhere.

Melissa Toler is a speaker, writer, and educator. Her work encourages people to make the connection between our culture's oppressive beauty standards and our personal struggle with self-acceptance. She has written extensively on diet culture and the toll it takes on our lives and humanity. Her goal is to help people unlearn harmful messages and behaviors from years of chronic dieting. Melissa also has a background as a pharmacist and certified wellness coach. Find her online at

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 :)

Get Christy's BRAND NEW online course for fellow health & wellness pros, Master Your Anti-Diet Message, at


We Discuss:

  • Melissa’s business changes since her last guest appearance on the show, including why she abandoned the health and wellness coaching sphere

  • Healthism and the diet mentality in the nutrition and dietetics community

  • Why Christy avoids writing publicly about gentle nutrition

  • How the most marginalized folks get left out of the Health at Every Size conversation

  • Why social justice needs to be a cornerstone of the body acceptance movement

  • Calling out fatphobia in social justice spaces

  • The definition of “woke”

  • Internalized fatphobia and diet culture

  • Social determinants of health and the impact of discrimination on wellness

  • The effect of weight stigma on health and the flaws in the current weight research

  • The myth of the “obesity epidemic”

  • Why it’s important to address diet culture on a systemic level, rather than just an individual one

  • How the varying levels of fatphobia impact the individual and the culture

  • Similarities between fat activism and other social justice movements

  • The struggles of addressing size-based discrimination in mainstream activism

  • The hierarchy of bodies, and its roots in racism and classism

  • Diet culture’s influence in the medical community

  • Recognizing the financial incentive of the diet industry

  • Seeking out anti-diet conversations

  • Tapping back into our own intuition around all things, not just food and body, through various means including writing

  • Looking for real solutions and a supportive community to survive in our oppressive world

  • Finding value in making mistakes, embracing continual learning, and moving past the fear of screwing up


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

Can restriction lead to intense health issues? Are there ways we might be subtly restricting or dieting, even if we think we’re eating intuitively? Does fear of weight gain indicate that we might be eating in a way to suppress our body size? What are the various ways that our bodies guard against weight loss? How do we engage in movement without falling into the diet mentality? What if I ease up on the restrained eating, and end up face-first in the cookie jar? How can working with a skilled therapist or health professional help guide us through these food peace struggles?

(Resources Mentioned: Food Psych Episode #127: Intuitive Eating & Health At Every Size FAQs with Ashley Seruya & Christy Harrison, Intuitive Eating Certified Counselors Directory, HAES Community Registry)


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