Food Psych #160: How to Fight Healthism and Embrace Body Positivity with Elizabeth Scott


Psychotherapist and co-founder of The Body Positive Elizabeth Scott joins us to talk about the problems with concern trolling and healthism, why it’s helpful to be vulnerable when defending the Health at Every Size paradigm, the process of unlearning diet culture and oppression, why dietitians are in the best position to support body acceptance, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how healthcare practitioners can unlearn everything they’ve been taught about weight and make peace with food and their bodies.

Elizabeth Scott, LCSW, is a San Francisco Bay Area psychotherapist who has been helping people learn to love their bodies and lead happier, more productive lives for more than 25 years. In 1996 Elizabeth co-founded The Body Positive, a nonprofit organization that builds grassroots, peer leadership programs to prevent eating disorders and other forms of self-harm. As Director of Training, Elizabeth instructs treatment professionals, educators, and students to use the Be Body Positive prevention model to promote resilience against body image problems and eating disorders. Find her online at

We're brought to you today by The Splendid Table Podcast, the show for curious cooks and eaters!


We Discuss:

  • Elizabeth’s relationship with food growing up, including experiencing food in abundance during her childhood

  • The role of feminism and dance in Elizabeth’s understanding of her body and the development of her body image

  • The different factors that support embodiment, the definition of “healthy embodiment,” and the current research around embodiment

  • How valuable just one positive influence can be on embodiment and body image

  • The power in the adolescent development of autonomy, and how we can harness it to further the anti-diet message

  • Elizabeth’s professional path, including her training in social work, what led her to work with eating disorders, body hatred, and embodiment, and how she discovered intuitive eating and Health at Every Size

  • The story of the birth of The Body Positive, and the model of peer-led change

  • How we can prevent the co-option of the body-positive movement

  • The history of body positivity, and its roots in fat activism, feminism, and Health at Every Size

  • Why the term “body positive” still has value for the community, and how we can embrace radical body-positive work

  • How race, gender, sexuality, and more ties in with body positivity

  • The ways in which we can confront our fears and take responsibility for them

  • Diet culture, the thin ideal, and the supposed hierarchy of bodies

  • The problem with concern trolling and healthism

  • Why we need to talk about trauma, sizeism, and emotion, and be vulnerable when defending Health at Every Size, intuitive eating, and size diversity

  • How to promote improved self-care, and why shame is an ineffective strategy

  • Why dietitians are in a great position to support body acceptance, food autonomy, and body trust, and ultimately change the culture

  • The process of unlearning diet culture and oppression, and why we need to put gentle nutrition on the back burner in our journey towards healing our relationship with food

  • How to fight back against the scare tactics that are often presented to people about their health

  • Why we need to have self-compassion if we’ve promoted dieting in the past

  • The promising data coming out of the work at The Body Positive, and what they’ve seen produce lasting improvement in body esteem and self worth

  • Why changing our relationship with food and our bodies takes time

  • What we gain when we leave dieting behind

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 we seek out health in a non-diet way? Why are the terms “overweight” and “obese” stigmatizing? What is the science behind weight stigma, and how does weight discrimination affect health? How do we respond to concern trolling? Why do we need to be critical of people

(Resources Mentioned: “Moralized Health-Related Persuasion Undermines Social Cohesion” by Susanne Täuber, “Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift” by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, Linda Bacon’s Food Psych Podcast episode, Lucy Aphramor’s Food Psych Podcast episode, “Perceived Weight Discrimination and 10-Year Risk of Allostatic Load Among US Adults.” by M. Vadiveloo and J. Mattei, “Is intuitive eating the same as flexible dietary control? Their links to each other and well-being could provide an answer.” by T.L. Tylka, R.M. Calogero, and S. Daníelsdóttir, Deb Burgard’s Food Psych Podcast episode, Jes Baker’s first and second Food Psych Podcast episodes, and my Intuitive Eating Fundamentals online course)

Get the Transcript of This Episode

Join my email list to get the transcript delivered to your inbox instantly!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Food Psych #125: Healing Your Relationship with Food & Overcoming Disordered Eating with Lisa Pearl

Lisa Pearl

Health at Every Size dietitian Lisa Pearl joins us to discuss breaking down internalized weight bias, how we relate to food and our bodies, fighting back against diet culture, the importance of a HAES approach to eating disorder treatment, body image and finding self-compassion, and so much more! PLUS, Christy answers a listener question about letting go of the weight-loss ideal.

As an undergraduate, Lisa double majored in biology and nutrition. Her postgraduate studies have included clinical nutrition, expressive movement therapy, fellowships in adolescent medicine, nutrition support and psychiatry, and executive coaching.

Lisa began her work as an eating disorder specialist more than 30 years ago at Children’s Hospital in Boston. During her tenure at Children’s Hospital, she worked with a team to seek new and better advances in treatment for eating disorders. With their support, she was able to incorporate many new treatment ideas including behavioral therapy groups, family meals and parent groups, expressive movement therapy and yoga, and a mindful eating program. Lisa has been an advocate for HAES throughout her career.

While at Children’s Hospital she received national recognition for demonstrating the need for a multidisciplinary team approach to the treatment of eating disorders and for her work with the Joint Commission for Hospital Accreditation to improve patient care through the inclusion of nutrition therapy for eating disorders.

Through the years Lisa has continued to push the envelope of innovation with presentations at local and national conferences. She has worked as a consultant for MIT, Harvard University, Boston Ballet, and numerous independent and public schools for prevention, education, and treatment of eating disorders. She has written health curriculums and protocols for numerous public and private organizations. Lisa has directed internships and provided mentoring for dietetic, social work, and medical students. She has served on the Board of Directors for Anorexia, Bulimia Care, Feeding Ourselves, and MEDA.

Lisa has received the ADA’s Recognized Dietitian of the Year Award and the Governor’s Commendation for Excellence in Public Service. In 2012, she was honored at MEDA's Annual Gala.

Lisa has volunteered as a community organizer for City Year and Habitat for Humanity as well as working on school boards, and various community efforts to bring awareness to human rights.

Most recently, Lisa is spearheading a new graduate program at Simmons College for clinicians who would like to work in the treatment of eating disorders. This program will provide dietitians with the opportunity to receive both academic training as well as internship opportunities. Connect with Lisa online to learn more about her private practice, CNC360, and her other work.

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 :)

Join the Food Psych Facebook group to connect with fellow listeners around the world!


We Discuss:

  • Lisa’s introduction to relational theory, and how that introduced her to the idea that we have a relationship with food and with our bodies

  • The need for a shift to Health at Every Size, body diversity, size acceptance, and body positivity

  • Lisa’s relationship with food growing up, including learning the myth that nutrition can cure all ills

  • The detrimental effect of gymnastics on Lisa’s body image

  • How family trauma can impact our relationship with food and our bodies

  • Lisa’s exploration of the dietetics field

  • The demonization of Western medicine in favor of natural methods

  • Uncovering intuitive eating and mindfulness as a path to eating disorder recovery

  • How important community and mentorship is to the Health at Every Size, body liberation, intuitive eating movements

  • Lisa’s experience restructuring an eating disorder treatment center and introducing a multidisciplinary team approach

  • Persevering through diet culture, and how far the Health at Every Size movement has come

  • How fat acceptance and Health at Every Size fit into eating disorder treatment

  • The ways in which shame immobilizes and paralyzes people from living their life

  • Internalized weight bias and fatphobia in the eating disorder community

  • Finding body acceptance and self-care without weight loss

  • The protective quality of disordered eating

  • Compassion as a healing technique

  • The sociological elements of chronic dieting and disordered eating

  • Developing new programing for dietitians that is Health at Every Size, size-acceptance focused

  • Finding your voice and community in the body liberation movement

  • The importance of self-compassion and casting aside shame in the unlearning process

  • Learning from our mistakes


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 we handle weight gain, and get past the weight loss ideal? Are there certain life events that are particularly triggering in terms of body image? What’s the deal with the wedding industrial complex, and how does it reinforce patriarchy and the thin ideal? What do we do if we don’t want to be weighed at the doctor’s office? What’s the cost of maintaining restrictive weight loss? (Resources Mentioned: Amber Karnes’ Food Psych Podcast episode, Glenys Oyston’s Food Psych Podcast episode)

Get the Transcript of This Episode

Join my email list to get the transcript delivered to your inbox instantly!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by Seva