Food Psych #191: Stopping a Lifetime of Dieting with Savala Trepczynski

Savala Trepczynski.jpg

Writer and social-justice lawyer Savala Trepczynski joins us to discuss how she stopped a lifetime of dieting and started decolonizing her relationship with food, why pathologizing emotional eating is problematic, how fatphobia shows up even in social-justice-oriented communities, why there’s so little legal protection for discrimination based on body size, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about food planning for long hiking trips and how calorie counting can contribute to bingeing.

Savala Trepczynski is a writer, teacher, and social justice attorney. She is the Executive Director of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at UC Berkeley School of Law, convening scholars, activists, lawyers, and community members at the best public law school in the country to tackle social justice problems.

Savala and her writing about race, gender, bodies and culture have been featured in/on NPR, Forbes, Bust, The Nation, Detroit Free Press, San Francisco Chronicle, and more. She is a regular keynote speaker and panelist on social justice issues, including body-based bias, implicit bias, structural racism, and understanding Whiteness.

She has practiced law in San Francisco and Detroit, MI, and was a law clerk in the Obama Administration’s Office of White House Counsel, where she focused on constitutional law. Before becoming a lawyer, Trepczynski worked at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy.

She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her partner and child. Find her online at

We Discuss:

  • How Savala started dieting at a very young age

  • Generational fatphobia

  • How bodies can be viewed differently by different cultures

  • Savala’s journey to “diet rock bottom,” and how she started to “decolonize” her relationship with food

  • How it’s common to circle around intuitive eating before being fully ready

  • How intuitive eating is often twisted in the service of diet culture

  • Why viewing fatness as a problem is so harmful

  • Eating as a coping mechanism, and how it is pathologized by diet culture

  • The history of the problematization of emotional eating

  • The connections between racism and fatphobia

  • Social media, and its pros and cons

  • How body liberation has helped Savala be a better parent

  • Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility model

  • Creating a diet-free zone for children

  • Diet culture as The Life Thief

  • The power of community in breaking down oppressive systems

  • Fatphobia in woke spaces

  • How different forms of oppression are all connected

  • Savala’s experiences with oppression in her work as a lawyer

  • Why there is little legal protection for discrimination based on body size

  • The compounding nature of marginalized identities


Resources Mentioned

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Listener Question of the Week

Is it possible to food plan for long trips in a way that binge eating can be avoided? Why might a person still binge despite ensuring that they’re having a certain amount of calories worth of food? How does diet culture reinforce deprivation and bingeing? What are some ways that a person can prevent bingeing during/after a long hiking trip? What are some next steps for someone who still keeps binge-eating after allowing themselves more food? How might diet culture and disordered eating influence a person’s career choice?

(Resources Mentioned:

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