addiction

Food Psych #182: Fitness Culture, Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, and Why Health Is Not an Obligation with Cara Harbstreet

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Non-diet dietitian Cara Harbstreet joins us to discuss hypothalamic amenorrhea and the lack of adequate care in conventional and alternative health, the normalization of diet-culture thoughts and behaviors in collegiate athletics and dietetics education, why thin privilege and other privileges don’t necessarily protect a person from internalizing body shame, why you don’t have to engage in or value movement or health, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about whether weight loss is necessary for conception and pregnancy.

Cara Harbstreet is a Kansas City-based non-diet dietitian. She's the owner of Street Smart Nutrition, a food blog that celebrates fearlessly nourishing meals and explores food-related topics. She's also the founder of Libre Connections, a digital platform that connects clients to HAES-informed dietitians for virtual coaching services. Her mission is to provide greater access to the support so many of us need for our healing journeys to take place, as well as providing opportunities for dietitians who aspire to work in this area. She is passionate about advocating for change both within and beyond the dietetics profession. Cara is an active volunteer for multiple professional organizations and recently authored a cookbook, The Pescetarian Cookbook: The Essential Kitchen Companion, to promote a more realistic and simple approach to home cooking for health and happiness. When not occupied with work, she can usually be found checking out the local food scene, spending time outdoors, or experimenting in the kitchen. Find her online at LibreConnections.com.

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We Discuss:

  • How Cara’s parents’ emphasis on family meals positively influenced her relationship with food growing up

  • Thin privilege, and how it and other privileges don’t necessarily protect a person from internalizing body shame

  • The normalization of diet culture in collegiate athletics, and how this affected Cara’s relationship with her body

  • How over-exercising affected her athletic performance and overall health

  • Hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) (aka missing periods), and her experience of being misdiagnosed with PCOS

  • The lack of competent care from conventional and alternative health practitioners when it comes to menstrual and hormonal issues

  • How “fear talk” associated with some medical diagnoses perpetuates diet culture

  • How diet culture skews our view of how much food or activity is “normal”

  • Dietetics education, and how it reinforces diet mentality and behaviors

  • Cara’s experience working at a weight-loss camp for children

  • One of her key strategies to help recover from diet mentality

  • What helped her push diet culture away and start to heal her relationship with food and her body

  • Her experience with the “honeymoon phase” of intuitive eating

  • Why she credits some of her business success to intuitive eating

  • Exploring other forms of movement after her collegiate athletic career

  • Giving ourselves permission to not engage in physical activity

  • Why you don’t owe anybody your health, even if it is something that you value

  • How participating in The Wellness Diet is a form of privilege

  • A quick litmus test to see whether an activity is right for you

 

Resources Mentioned

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Listener Question of the Week

Can weight loss help regulate hormones and increase fertility? Is it possible to try to lose weight without relapsing into eating disorder behaviors? What are some ways that the eating disorder voice or diet culture messaging can show up for people? What is harmful about intentional weight loss? What is likely behind difficulties with conceiving for people in larger bodies and why don’t we hear about them? What is hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) and what are some of its risk factors? What can a person do instead to help increase their chances of conception?

Resources Mentioned

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Food Psych #181: How to "Just Eat It" and Break Free from Diet Culture with Laura Thomas

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Intuitive eating counselor and author Laura Thomas joins us to discuss the problems with The Wellness Diet, why subtle levels of weight stigma are so hard to pinpoint and eradicate, why "emotional eating" and turning to food for comfort are falsely demonized in diet culture, why people in the nutrition field often struggle in their own relationships with food, her new book Just Eat It, and lots more. Plus, Christy answers a listener question about whether the 12-step model works for food issues.

Laura Thomas, PhD is an AfN Registered Nutritionist and Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor specialising in intuitive eating, mindful eating, weight-inclusive and non-diet nutrition. She has a BSc in Health Sciences from the University of Aberdeen, a PhD in Nutritional Sciences from Texas A&M University, and completed her post-doctoral research at Cornell University in behavior change. She is the host of Don’t Salt My Game podcast and was the Nutritionist for the 2017 BBC1 documentary Mind Over Marathon. She established the London Centre for Intuitive Eating in 2017 to help clients and train clinicians in Intuitive Eating. Her first book, Just Eat It: How intuitive eating can help you get your shit together around food was published this month by Bluebird Books. Find her online at LauraThomasPhD.co.uk.

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We Discuss:

  • How Laura’s difficult family life mirrored her complicated relationship with food and her body

  • Why it’s normal for people, especially children, to turn to food for comfort

  • The factors that reinforced Laura’s disordered eating

  • How we were introduced to Health At Every Size®, and why it can be difficult for people to embrace the paradigm

  • Why people in the nutrition field often struggle in their own relationships with food

  • Our experiences with The Wellness Diet, and what helped us realize that it’s actually diet culture in disguise

  • How a lot of “anti-wellness” work is still rooted in diet culture

  • Christy’s FNCE debate, and the response from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

  • The problem with how the “obesity”-industrial complex is trying to combat weight stigma

  • Our gratitude for the pioneers of the HAES® movement and the difficult work that many continue to do

  • Privilege, and how it interplays with HAES work and activism

  • Microaggressions, and how they affect people in marginalized bodies

  • Why subtle levels of weight stigma are so hard to pinpoint and eradicate

  • Why the “o-word” and labeling larger body size as a disease is problematic

  • Laura’s experiences of weight stigma in nutrition academia

  • Her book, Just Eat It: How intuitive eating can help you get your shit together around food

  • The oppressive nature of diet culture, and why liberation is important

  • How Trump embodies 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.

Listener Question of the Week

Does the 12-step model work for food issues? What is the difference between addiction to alcohol and substances and addiction to food? Is the feeling that food has addictive qualities the same as food addiction? What is the role of restriction and deprivation in the addictive qualities of food? What is The Restriction Pendulum? Is it possible to be “starving” without looking emaciated? What do physical and psychological starvation look like? How can intuitive eating stop The Restriction Pendulum? Why doesn’t the abstinence model work with food issues? How does the 12-step model reinforce diet culture? What is the problem with food-addiction research? What is the role of pleasure in human life?

Resources Mentioned

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