Food Psych #143: Body Politics & Anti-Diet Activism with Maria Paredes

Maria Paredes

Health at Every Size psychotherapist Maria Paredes joins us to talk about how diet culture and the diet industry target the most marginalized folks, why activism is an important part of helping people heal from food issues, embracing the gray areas in recovery, the “recovered” vs “recovering” debate, remembering that there’s no way to do intuitive eating perfectly, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about someone’s partner’s smaller body triggering the diet mentality in them.

Dr. Maria Paredes is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Clinical Supervisor, Certified Eating Disorders Specialist & approved IAEDP supervisor, and owner of Three Birds Counseling & Clinical Supervision in Greensboro, NC. She helps rad women and men make peace with food and with their bodies, and live fuller lives, free from negative thinking, fear of food, and body hate. She believes ALL bodies have worth and that ALL individuals deserve to enjoy food, move in ways that feel joyful, treat their bodies with kindness and gentleness, and experience authentic connection with themselves and others. Maria recognizes that this healing must occur within the individual therapeutic relationship as well as within the larger, cultural environment, and thus embraces the role of advocacy and activism. She also works with individuals experiencing anxiety, infertility/pregnancy loss, and PCOS. Maria teaches courses in UNC-G’s Counseling department and provides clinical supervision and training to new professionals working toward their licensure as therapists or dietitians. Maria is Mom to 3 young girls and hopes that they will grow up to experience the wonder and power of all their bodies have to offer, without believing they must shrink themselves. 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.


We Discuss:

  • Maria’s relationship with food growing up, including learning about “good” vs “bad” foods, associating food with family time, and being pushed to eat past fullness

  • Maria’s experience with purging and disordered eating, and the complex relationship that behavior had with trauma and relief

  • The various ways that all-or-nothing thinking and behavior showed up in other areas of Maria’s life

  • Intergenerational trauma, how our parent’s upbringing affects our relationship with food, and the ways in which deprivation can show up in our lives outside of diet culture

  • The conflicting messages Maria received around her religious upbringing

  • Embracing the gray, and remembering that there’s no way to do intuitive eating perfectly

  • #MeToo, feminism, and making space for people to speak out

  • Oprah and the insidious nature of diet culture even in the face of success

  • How diet culture and the diet industry targets the most marginalized folks

  • Maria’s experience growing up in Westchester County, noticing the extreme focus on appearance, and the relief in moving elsewhere

  • What led Maria to seek out counseling as a profession, and the ways in which the therapeutic relationship is valuable for both clinician and client

  • The recovered vs recovering debate, Maria’s experience recovering within diet culture, and knowing how to pick our battles

  • Maria’s experience getting diagnosed with PCOS, the lack of education around proper management and care, and why we shouldn’t be prescribing weight loss

  • Weight bias within various health-provider fields, and the prolific nature of advice based on diet culture rather than research

  • The value in staying curious, and the scary parts of turning your back on the weight management paradigm

  • Christy’s experience spreading the intuitive eating and Health at Every Size messaging

  • The role of “activist therapists” in the healing process, and thinking about the individual vs the collective

  • Revisiting the word "victim," and the importance of naming things for what they are

  • Having empathy for people who do engage in internalized oppression, and the privilege of escaping that oppression

  • The potential oppressive nature of intuitive eating, and the privilege embedded in being able to find full recovery

  • Maria’s experience raising daughters in our current cultural climate, modeling body neutrality, and trusting that they’ll be resilient through the struggle


Resources Mentioned

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Listener Question of the Week

What do we do if our partner triggers the diet mentality in us? Are there resources out there for those of us feeling that way? How much does the thin ideal contribute to this struggle?

(Resources Mentioned: Lindy West’s article, Rachel Wiley’s spoken word piece, Dawn Serra’s Food Psych Podcast episode, Caleb Luna’s Food Psych Podcast episode)

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