restrict-binge cycle

Food Psych #155: Diet Culture in the "Natural" Health Field with Sarah Thompson


Certified Body Trust Provider and Health at Every Size recovery coach and consultant Sarah Thompson joins us to talk about the barriers she faced to getting an eating disorder diagnosis, the ways in which diet culture has infiltrated naturopathy and Chinese medicine, the lack of Health at Every Size education in healthcare programs, the false connection that diet culture makes between larger bodies and being unhealthy, weight bias in “food addiction” theory, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about whether bingeing on fruits and vegetables is a sign of orthorexia.

Sarah Thompson is an eating disorder recovery coach, consultant, and writer based in Portland, Oregon and transplanted from Akron, Ohio. Her writing focuses on a wide range of philosophies - Body Trust®, Health at Every Size®, Intuitive Eating, Fat Liberation, eating disorder recovery, and more. She seeks to share what she has experienced and learned from her own discovery and journey with body liberation. Sarah definitely does not have all the answers, but she’s super excited to share what she has learned so far.

Even while Sarah is fat, female, and queer, she recognizes that being a working-class, white, and cis gender woman has afforded her many privileges. She strives to listen and learn from experiences that differ from hers.

Outside of her professional work, Sarah is an ice cream connoisseur, Grey’s Anatomy expert, avid movie buff, and lover of dogs, cats, horses, and ducks. Find her online at

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We Discuss:

  • Sarah’s relationship with food growing up, including being body shamed at a young age and learning that her size was connected to the food she ate

  • Her experience with sneaking food, and how she learned to not feel shameful for those actions later in life

  • Her experience with formal dieting programs and weight loss, and her path from disordered eating into an eating disorder

  • How objectification and sexualization played a role in her body shame

  • Sarah’s experience with the restrict-binge-cycle, and the pros and cons of her experience with Overeaters Anonymous

  • The barriers she faced to getting an eating disorder diagnosis, including the “food addiction” model of Overeaters Anonymous and weight bias

  • The false connection that diet culture makes between larger body size and being unhealthy

  • The value in harm-reduction techniques for food-behavior struggles

  • Sarah’s experience in the naturopathic community and the Chinese-medicine community, and the ways in which it fueled her disordered eating and chronic dieting

  • Sarah’s exploration of body-positive social media accounts

  • The historical roots of Whole30, paleo, and The Wellness Diet in naturopathic medicine

  • Sarah’s experience with weight-based microaggressions, and her journey to learning how to set boundaries around diet talk and weight-loss talk

  • The healthism and diet culture embedded in the “natural” wellness field and the healthcare system in general

  • The ways in which diet culture has influenced Chinese medicine and naturopathy, despite their roots in body trust

  • Sarah’s use of acupuncture to manage mental health struggles, and the ways in which she’s felt unsafe in her body over the years

  • The lack of Health at Every Size education in healthcare programs, and the inherent weight stigma that is often taught

  • The role of trauma in health issues, and how it often is ignored in favor of food-focused and weight-focused solutions

  • Why the naturopathic community might be more open to HAES and the anti-diet paradigm than Western medicine

  • Sarah’s path to coming out of chronic dieting and disordered eating and transitioning into a non-diet, intuitive-eating approach

  • Why we don’t need to cut out food groups to alleviate allergies or digestive issues, and the different treatments that are out there aside from dietary changes

  • How to weigh whether or not changes in your eating are worth it, mentally and physically

  • What “holistic” health really means, and why we need to consider discrimination and systemic issues


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

What does it mean if we start bingeing on fruits or vegetables? Can an eating disorder turn into orthorexia in recovery? How does deprivation contribute to bingeing? Do we need to investigate why we’re cutting out certain foods, even if we have ethical or environmental concerns around certain foods?

(Resources Mentioned:,,

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Food Psych #151: Emotional Eating and Diet Culture with Judith Matz


Anti-diet therapist and author Judith Matz joins us to talk about shifting the focus of emotional eating toward the underlying deprivation and diet mentality, why turning to food to meet emotional needs isn’t an “eating problem” but a “soothing problem,” how diet culture and marginalization rob us of the ability to meet our needs, why Health at Every Size and intuitive eating are better approaches for true health, Judith’s work teaching other therapists about weight stigma, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to frame public health efforts to change the built environment in a way that doesn’t stigmatize people in larger bodies.

Judith is the co-author of two books on the topics of eating and weight struggles.

Beyond a Shadow of a Diet: The Comprehensive Guide to Treating Binge Eating Disorder, Compulsive Eating and Emotional Overeating has been called “the new bible” on this topic for professionals. The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating, Acceptance and Self-Care was a #1 bestseller on Amazon and a favorite resource for therapists to use with clients. She is also the author of Amanda’s Big Dream, a children’s book that helps kids to pursue their dreams – at any size!

Judith has a private practice in Skokie, IL, where she focuses her work with clients who want to get off the diet/binge rollercoaster and learn to feel at home in their bodies. Through her individual counseling, groups, workshops, presentations and books, Judith has helped thousands of people to develop self-care skills that increase physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing without a focus on the pursuit of weight loss. Through educational programs, she is dedicated to helping people end the preoccupation with food and weight and to fighting weight stigma.

Judith is a popular speaker at national conferences and descriptions of her work have appeared in the media including the New York Times, LA Times, Allure, Fitness, Self, Shape, Today’s Dietitian, Diabetes Self-Management, Psychotherapy Networker, NBC News Chicago, Huffington Post Live, and she appears in the documentary America The Beautiful 2. Find her online at



  • Judith’s relationship with food growing up, including how intuitive it was when she was young, and how that changed with the introduction of body comparisons and commentary from peers

  • Recognizing the connection between restriction and binging

  • Judith’s experience with weight gain, weight cycling, and the restrict-binge cycle

  • How thin privilege shielded Judith from some of the negative impact of diet culture

  • The ways in which we can make children resilient against fatphobia and body shaming

  • The bonding experience of dieting and the toxicity of weight-related compliments

  • How many of us are complicit in diet culture even when we don’t realize it

  • The Weight Watchers announcement about their free program for teens, and why it’s unethical to be pushing intentional weight loss onto impressionable young kids

  • Why Health at Every Size is a better approach for true health

  • The shame attached to the diet-binge cycle and the inevitable weight regain

  • Judith’s professional work in mental health and therapy, and her experience working in a diet-centric program

  • Why eating behaviors aren’t all about the psychology, and why intuitive eating needs to be factored into the healing process for people struggling with binge eating

  • The ways in which physical deprivation, rather than emotional eating, drives binge behaviors

  • Why we need to suss out the influence of the diet mentality on our food choices before we ask questions about whether or not we’re emotionally eating

  • Judith’s work teaching other therapists about weight stigma, and how professionals who continue to perpetuate the diet-centric paradigm are complicit in the oppression of people in larger bodies

  • The problem with assumptions about eating behavior based on body size

  • Shifting the focus of emotional eating from being an “eating problem” to being a “soothing problem”

  • Utilizing compassion on our journey to find new coping mechanisms, and why we can always use food as an emotional coping skill

  • Shifting from being in control to being in charge

  • How leaving behind dieting and shifting to intuitive eating can decrease anxiety and allow ourselves the space to take care of ourselves through depression and other stressors

  • The ways in which diet culture and marginalization rob us of the ability to meet our needs

  • How marginalization and food insecurity affects our relationship with food and our ability to heal, and how the restrict-binge cycle becomes protective and adaptive in this situation

  • The grief process of letting go of dieting

  • The negative health outcomes related to weight cycling and weight stigma, and the health benefits of intuitive eating

  • Judith’s efforts to integrate Health at Every Size and social justice into her therapeutic practice

  • The positive and negative implications of social media, and how diet culture has gotten more aggressive while resources have become more abundant

  • Why diet culture is The Life Thief, and how it robs people of meaningful conversations



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




How do we support health for everyone and support increased access to health-promoting variables without resorting to fatphobia? Are there ways to sneak weight-incisive language into public health research? How can changes in the unit environment improve people’s health, regardless of body size? Are there ways in which individuals can develop a compulsive, extreme relationship to exercise or food commonly thought of as “healthy?” How does cultural familiarity with certain foods affect people’s ability to interact with these foods? What research is out there about weight stigma and health disparity related to social inequities?

(Resources Mentioned: "Weight Science: Evaluating the evidence for a paradigm shift” by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, Linda Bacon and their Food Psych Podcast episode, Lucy Aphramor and her Food Psych Podcast episode, "Weighed down by stigma: How weight-based social identity threat contributes to weight gain and poor health,” Journal of Social Issues, Vol 70, Number 2)

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Food Psych #149: The Truth About Binge Eating with Amy Pershing


Anti-diet therapist and Binge Eating Disorder expert Amy Pershing joins us to discuss how our fatphobic culture hinders eating disorder recovery, how diet culture steals our personal power, the healing that can be found in getting angry, the role of restriction and trauma in binge eating, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about quick ways for primary-care providers to talk to patients about intuitive eating and HAES.

Amy Pershing LMSW, ACSW is the Clinical Director of the Center for Eating Disorders (CED) in Ann Arbor. In 1993, she developed “Bodywise™,” a comprehensive treatment program to serve a growing population of clients coming to the center with binge eating disorder (BED). In 2008, Pershing and Chevese Turner, CEO and founder of Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), joined forces to found Pershing Turner Consulting LLC which offers training to clinicians treating BED nationwide.

Pershing has pioneered an integrated approach based on almost 30 years of clinical experience. Her approach is strengths-based, incorporating Internal Family Systems, mindfulness strategies, Self Compassion interventions, and a range of somatic trauma techniques. Her approach also integrates intuitive eating and movement and a “health at every size” philosophy. Pershing offers two- and three-day Intensives for those in recovery, as well as “Hungerwise™,” a 10-week program for ending chronic dieting and weight cycling offered jointly with with St. Joseph Mercy Health System in Michigan.

Pershing lectures internationally and writes extensively on the treatment of BED and her own recovery journey for both professional and lay communities. She has been featured on numerous radio and television programs speaking about BED treatment and recovery, relapse prevention, weight stigma, and mindful eating and movement. She is the winner of BEDA's Pioneer in Clinical Advocacy ward. Pershing has also served on a variety of professional boards and is the Past Chair of the Binge Eating Disorder Association. Her book, published by Taylor and Francis, will be out in late summer 2018. She maintains a clinical practice in Ann Arbor. Find her online at

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We Discuss:

  • Amy’s relationship with food growing up, including learning conflicting narratives related to food

  • The ways in which parents try to shield their children from fatphobia and weight stigma

  • The many different iterations of diet culture over the years

  • Amy’s experience with restriction and hunger, and internalizing the moralization of food and the virtue in being hungry

  • Amy’s discovery of intuitive eating, and why food preoccupation is an inevitable side effect of restriction

  • Why foods with quick energy are most desireable in times of deprivation, and the role of pleasure and joy and eating

  • Diet culture’s message of personal responsibility and blaming the victim

  • How body shame and the thin ideal feeds into diet culture

  • Diet culture’s shift from aesthetics and the beauty ideal to health and “clean eating”

  • The classism embedded within the moralization of food

  • The seduction of the thin ideal, including the messages around desirability and love

  • Amy’s experience with weight stigma

  • How our fatphobic culture hinders eating disorder recovery

  • The value in weight-inclusive communities and the Health at Every Size message

  • The intersection between body image and self-compassion

  • Amy’s experience with the restrict-binge cycle and Overeaters Anonymous, and how she eventually reached out for help and support in her path towards recovery

  • The soothing effect of food, and understanding that food behaviors are often more about coping than about willpower

  • Amy’s training in trauma, and learning that our body will push us towards survival

  • How feminism, gender studies, and learning about the trauma of weight stigma informed Amy’s professional path

  • The power of shame and trauma narratives

  • How we attach moral value to movement, and how Amy embraced joyful movement

  • The power in throwing food and movement rules out the window in the recovery process

  • How Amy’s clients and colleagues have taught her to appreciate beauty in new ways

  • The value, healing, and power that comes with getting angry at the systems that oppress us

  • How diet culture steals our personal power, and how moving away from diet culture allows us to take that power back and put it towards more beneficial pursuits

  • Amy’s process of finding organic structure around movement and food

  • Why we need to focus on self-care, not self-control

  • The other ways in which the beauty ideal oppresses those around us


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 do primary care providers give compassionate care around intuitive eating and Health at Every Size? What are some ways that physicians can promote an anti-diet perspective when they only have a short amount of time with each patient? How does weight stigma and chronic stress put individuals at risk for health conditions that are often blamed on a larger body size? How do referrals play a role in helping people break free from diet culture?

(Resources Mentioned: Body Respect by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, Intuitive Eating, 3rd ed. by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch)

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