size diversity

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)

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Food Psych #127: Intuitive Eating & Health At Every Size FAQs with Ashley Seruya & Christy Harrison

Ashley Seruya & Christy Harrison

This week is a very special edition of Food Psych! Rather than having a new guest on, I felt it was time to have an episode devoted to laying out the concepts and perspectives that we talk about every single week. This episode is ideal for newcomers to the Food Psych crew, for you to come back to when you’re struggling to remain true to the tenets of Health at Every Size and intuitive eating in this diet-culture world, and for you to share with friends and family who need an overview of the philosophy.

My Administrative and Community Manager, Ashley Seruya, joins me this week to pose some burning questions that get to the heart of what this podcast, and the anti-diet movement, is all about. Ashley is a current MSW student at Fordham University and a fellow anti-diet activist and body liberation advocate. She’s passionate about Health at Every Size and recovery, and hopes to one day combine her training in writing, social work, intuitive eating, Health at Every Size, and more to help the world recover from diet culture at large. Keep up with her work through her Instagram, where she shares posts about her beloved pets, self-care, eating disorder recovery, mental health, and more!

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 :)


We Discuss:

  • What is intuitive eating?

    • The 10 principles of intuitive eating, and the connection between intuitive eating and eating disorder recovery

    • Why gentle nutrition comes at the END of the intuitive eating process, and why rejecting the diet mentality is the FIRST principle

    • The role of an intuitive eating coach and counselor

    • How mental health and self-care play a role in the intuitive eating journey

    • The role of diet culture in disordered eating

    • Recovery as a nonlinear process

  • What is Health at Every Size (HAES)?

    • The weight-neutral approach

    • The truth about intentional weight loss

    • The cost of sustaining intentional weight loss

    • Set-point weight theory, the famine response, and breaking down weight science

    • The history of HAES and the non-diet approach

    • Fat activism and the fat acceptance movement

    • How HAES incorporates intuitive eating, joyful movement, and self-care

    • The importance of size diversity in the HAES movement and embracing the genetic determination of body size

    • The caveat of HAES with eating disorder recovery and weight restoration

  • What's the connection between eating disorder recovery, chronic dieting, Health at Every Size, and intuitive eating?

    • The path of eating disorder recovery to intuitive eating

    • The spectrum of eating behaviors, from full blown eating disorders to disordered eating and chronic dieting

    • Diagnosis criteria and the prevalence of undiagnosed disordered eating

    • The importance of a weight-neutral, Health at Every Size approach to recovery

    • Risk factors of orthorexia

    • Why we don’t have a moral obligation to pursue health, and varying limitations to achieving health

  • I have an eating disorder. Can I do intuitive eating?

    • Which principles of intuitive eating we can practice while in eating disorder recovery

    • Why we need to avoid the hunger and fullness parts of intuitive eating while in recovery

    • The concept of nutritional rehabilitation

    • The relationship between emotional eating and disordered eating, and the importance of not demonizing emotional eating as a coping mechanism

    • Why gentle nutrition and joyful movement should wait toward the very end of the process

    • The importance of working with an eating disorder dietitian with HAES and intuitive eating training in the recovery process

  • I'm gaining weight. Am I doing intuitive eating wrong? How do I cope?

    • The difference between body acceptance, body respect, body trust, body positivity, and body love

    • Letting go of internalized weight stigma and body shame

  • How can I trust my body if every time I try to listen to it I end up face-first in a tub of ice cream?

    • The impact of restriction and deprivation on food behaviors, including food insecurity

    • Biological need for increased dietary intake, including during puberty

    • The effect of shame in feeling out of control around food and binge eating

    • Gender identity and struggling with trans issues and body image

    • Understanding that body trust is a process

    • Breaking down the concept of food addiction

  • How can I eat whatever I want if I'm concerned for my health? You're a nutritionist, so shouldn't you be telling me to eat fruits and vegetables?

    • Mental health, discrimination and stigma, and social situations that determine our health status regardless of nutrition (AKA social determinants of health)

    • The shapeshifting nature of diet culture

    • Diet culture’s effect on the medical model, weight science, and dietetics education

    • An intuitive eating counselor’s role in telling people what to eat

  • How do I make sure I don't turn intuitive eating into a diet?

    • How to avoid the hunger and fullness diet

    • How to recognize and root out subtle diet mentality

    • Using self-compassion to get you through the unlearning process

  • What if I'm "too" fat? Is there a threshold where Health at Every Size doesn't apply anymore?

    • Weight stigma’s influence on health status

    • Fatphobia’s effect on internalized weight stigma

    • Stigma resistance and resiliency

    • The effect of weight cycling on health outcomes

  • Aren't you worried you're promoting “obesity”?

    • The many issues with the term “obesity,” the “obesity epidemic,” and pathologizing larger bodies

    • The truth of size diversity

    • Fat acceptance and reclaiming the word “fat”

    • The genetic and environmental influences on body size

    • Finding the joy in life no matter your size

    • Discovering body acceptance and making room for all people to love their bodies

  • As a person in a smaller body, why are you so vocal about fat acceptance?

    • Thin privilege, and using our privilege to speak out for those more marginalized (AKA becoming thin allies)

    • The universality of body shame

    • The influence of weight stigma on eating disorders

    • The parallels of the fat acceptance movement to other social justice movements

  • Rapid fire

    • What is healthism?

    • What is diet culture?

    • What is fatphobia?

    • What is body liberation? And why have you decided to use body liberation instead of body positivity?

    • Why is body liberation/body positivity a social justice movement? (including fatphobia in woke spaces)

    • How does intersectional feminism and femme empowerment factor into all of this? (including the trans experience and grappling with the patriarchy)


Resources Mentioned

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

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