Food Psych #173: How Diet Culture Steals Our True Culture with Melissa Carmona

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Health At Every Size® counselor Melissa Carmona joins us to discuss how her Colombian roots shaped her relationship with food and body, the role of discrimination and food insecurity in triggering her disordered eating, how diet culture took her away from her heritage, how to set boundaries with people who are less receptive to the HAES message, how she’s helping her young daughter preserve her natural intuitive eating skills, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to handle overeating after a period of food insecurity.

Melissa is a bilingual Clinical Mental Health Counselor in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her experience as a counselor includes helping people heal from eating disorders, trauma, depression, and anxiety. She works through a HAES® and Intuitive Eating lens, which has allowed her to view other aspects of our identities through that same lens as well.

Being the daughter of immigrants, growing up in Colombia (South America) and having Latinx roots are an essential part of what shaped who she is—including her personal beliefs, the route of her career, and the relationship with her body and food. It was in Colombia that she had her first exposure to mental illness and the stigma that comes with this as well.

The experience that she’s had in both the USA and Colombia is allowing her to reflect on the influence that culture has on the way we see and treat ourselves, and being able to acknowledge her privileges or lack thereof within these have also been a powerful awakening of how much control our cultures can have over any type of healing that needs to happen in our lives. Find her online at ThreeBirdsCounseling.com.

Tomorrow, November 6 is Election Day! This could the most important midterm elections in our lifetime, so make sure you have a plan on when and how you’re going to get out and vote. Visit Vote.org for general election information, including registering to vote, and VoteSaveAmerica.com to find out about events and rallies in your area.

We Discuss:

  • How her family’s Colombian roots influenced her relationship with food

  • Beauty pageants in Colombian culture, and how this affected her relationship with her body

  • The mixed messages that she received about food and body growing up

  • How the desire to fit in contributed to her eating disorder

  • The role of food insecurity in binge eating

  • The problem with restricting the types of food that can be purchased with food stamps

  • How dietitians and nutritionists cause harm when prescribing weight-loss diets

  • The importance of cultural awareness in healthcare

  • How her eating disorder stole her connection to her cultural background

  • Reconnecting with the pleasures of food in eating disorder recovery

  • The discrimination she faced when she moved to the US

  • The influence of oppressive patriarchal systems on diet culture

  • What led Melissa to her work as a counselor and in social justice

  • Helping clients navigate our current political climate

  • How Melissa’s work in Health At Every Size has influenced her own relationship with food

  • The sneaky, shape-shifting nature of diet culture

  • Seeing her young daughter naturally eat intuitively

  • Imagining what the world would be like without diet culture

  • Sharing the HAES message with her family members, and setting boundaries with those who are less receptive

  • Connecting with personal experience instead of science

  • The negative experiences that her family members have had with bariatric surgery

  • The difficult journey through diet culture to HAES

  • Recognizing a person’s worth beyond their size

  • Why we shouldn’t compliment people on weight loss

  • How we start receiving diet culture messaging at a very young age

  • Sharing the anti-diet messages we wish we had heard when we were younger

 

Resources Mentioned

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

  • Audre Lorde’s work

  • Maria Paredes’s work, and her Food Psych® Podcast episode

  • Gabriela Stein’s work

  • Nalgona Positivity Pride, and founder Gloria Lucas’s Food Psych® Podcast episode

  • Melissa on Facebook and Instagram

  • Tomorrow, November 6 is Election Day! This could the most important midterm elections in our lifetime, so make sure you have a plan on when and how you’re going to get out and vote. Visit Vote.org for general election information, including registering to vote, and VoteSaveAmerica.com to find out about events and rallies in your area.

     

Listener Question of the Week

How do I handle overeating after a period of food insecurity? What can the Minnesota Starvation Experiment teach us about the effects of deprivation? (CW/TW if you decide to look up the study.) How do diet culture and diet mentality affect our eating? What are the subtle ways that we might be experiencing deprivation, and how can we overcome that?

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