health

Food Psych #192: Why We Can’t Fight Weight Stigma While Also Advocating for Weight Loss with Jeffrey Hunger

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Social psychologist and weight-stigma researcher Jeffrey Hunger joins us to discuss why we can’t fight weight stigma while also advocating for weight loss, how “wellness” has been co-opted by diet culture (aka The Wellness Diet), why we need to do more than just tell people “diets don’t work,” the role of critical thinking in taking down diet culture, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to handle cravings for sugar and “processed” foods after a restrictive Wellness Diet.

Jeffrey Hunger, PhD, is currently a postdoctoral scholar in Health Psychology at UCLA and will be joining the Miami University as an assistant professor in Psychology this fall. He received his Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota, Master’s degree in psychological research from CSU Fullerton, and PhD in Psychological and Brain Sciences from UC Santa Barbara. As a social and health psychologist, Dr. Hunger is interested in using insights from psychology to understand and ultimately improve the health of stigmatized groups, including heavier individuals, and racial and sexual minorities. Dr. Hunger’s research is published in top outlets across psychology, public health, and medicine, and has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, NPR, and more. To learn more about him and his work, please visit JeffreyHunger.com.

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We Discuss:

  • The classist dynamics of the “whole food” movement

  • The barriers for working class families to meet current “healthy eating” recommendations

  • How family meals can support a positive relationship with food

  • Diet culture and pressures to be thin within the gay community

  • What initially informed Jeffrey’s current perspectives on weight and health

  • Why we need to do more than just tell people “diets don’t work”

  • How the concept of wellness has been co-opted to mean weight loss

  • Why so many people are attracted to The Wellness Diet

  • Mindfulness practice as an analogy for adopting intuitive eating

  • Stereotype threat, and how it connects to weight stigma

  • How diet culture and weight stigma show up even in weight stigma research

  • Why you can’t truly be anti-weight-stigma while advocating for weight loss

  • The evolution of Jeffrey’s framing of his own work

  • How intentional weight loss is like gay conversion therapy, and why both are harmful

  • Why the framing of weight is important outside of research (i.e. public policy)

  • How everyone deserves dignity and respect

  • How diet culture promotes the moralization of weight and body size

  • Why a multi-pronged approach is necessary to tackle weight stigma

  • Representation, and how it can help fight stigma

  • Why it’s important to name diet culture vs. diets/dieting

  • How Jeffrey and Christy are working to reject diet culture

  • Why you don’t need to be “perfect” to take down diet culture

  • Critical thinking, and its role in toppling the hierarchy of diet culture

  • Health vs. healthism

  • Weight Stigma Conference, and the interdisciplinary nature of the weight stigma field

 

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 can a person trust their intuition when it keeps on craving sugar and “processed foods?” What are some popular phrases and ideas that are espoused by The Wellness Diet? Why is it normal to crave sugar, carbohydrates, and energy-dense foods after a period of restriction? What does “balanced eating” really mean, or look like? What is the “restriction pendulum,” and how is it related to the “honeymoon phase?” What does an intuitive relationship with food look like? How can a vegan diet get in the way of eating-disorder recovery? What are some ways to contribute to animal welfare causes without following a vegan diet?

Resources Mentioned:

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Food Psych #185: How Diet Culture Hurts Your Relationships with Kristina Bruce

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Health At Every Size® life coach Kristina Bruce joins us to discuss how diet culture can affect relationships, how to find self-trust and self-acceptance in recovering from disordered eating, how diet culture shows up in spiritual communities, why health and well-being is about so much more than eating and exercise, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about weight stigma in the military.

Kristina Bruce is a Certified Integrative Life Coach and advocate of the Health at Every Size paradigm. Calling upon her education in health studies, sociology, yoga, meditation, and The Work of Byron Katie, Kristina works one-on-one with people to help them reconnect to their bodies and feel more trusting and accepting of themselves. Find her online at KristinaBruce.com.

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We Discuss:

  • Some of the covert diet culture messaging that Kristina received growing up, despite her parents avoiding overt diet talk

  • The evolution of diet culture, particularly over the last few decades

  • How Kristina’s relationship with her body changed from childhood to young adulthood

  • Yoga culture, and how it uses “spirituality” to reinforce The Wellness Diet

  • How relationships—particularly romantic relationships—can highlight and be affected by disordered relationships with food, exercise, and/or the body

  • What helped Kristina stop dieting and embrace Health At Every Size

  • Her experience of returning to dieting while in recovery

  • Diet culture in spiritual communities

  • Relearning self-trust, and why the “honeymoon phase” is sometimes necessary to get there

  • The body-soul connection

  • Self-acceptance, and its importance in recovery

  • Letting go of our inner critic

  • How relationships transform with recovery

  • Why health and well-being is about so much more than eating and exercise

 

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

Is it possible to challenge the BMI and body-size standards required by the military? How can a person choose between their health and their career? How can individuals advocate for systemic and institutional change? Why are some organizations and people quicker to adopt new ideas than others?

(Resources Mentioned:

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Food Psych #176: Confessions of a Former Weight-Loss-Surgery Dietitian with Vincci Tsui

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Anti-diet dietitian and certified intuitive eating counselor Vincci Tsui joins us to discuss weight loss surgery and its consequences on physical and mental health, her journey from working in bariatrics to specializing in intuitive eating and Health At Every Size®, how dietitians get caught up in The Wellness Diet, what thin privilege really means, disordered eating and how it interplays with bariatric surgery, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to deal with the fear of weight gain in recovery from an eating disorder.

Vincci Tsui is a former bariatric dietitian turned Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and Health At Every Size advocate. She is passionate about helping people find freedom in their relationship with food and with their body, so that they can worry less and get the most out of life. Ultimately, she is on a mission to prove that it is possible to improve health without focusing on weight.

Vincci takes a collaborative and compassionate approach to nutrition counselling and coaching that is rooted in HAES® and Intuitive Eating philosophy. She believes in helping clients learn to listen to their body and their inner wisdom when it comes to making decisions around food, eating and health. Aside from her private practice, Vincci serves as the Community & Content Manager for Food Psych® Programs Inc, and is the author of The Mindful Eating Workbook: Simple Practices for Nurturing a Positive Relationship with Food. Find her online at VincciTsui.com.

Early bird registration for my Master Your Anti-Diet Message course is open for a few more days! If you’re a fellow Health At Every Size practitioner who would like to learn how to refine your marketing messages so that they are aligned with HAES philosophy, sign up at christyharrison.com/message.

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This episode is also brought to you by Poshmark, the fun and simple way to buy and sell fashion (including many plus-sized options!) Get $5 off your first purchase when you sign up with the invite code FOODPSYCH.

We Discuss:

  • How her different privileges helped to protect her relationship with food and body

  • Some of the food rules that she had growing up

  • Why so many people value “cleaning their plate”

  • Thin privilege, and how it can show up in our society

  • Why losing weight isn’t the answer to avoiding weight stigma

  • Why she pursued a career in dietetics

  • How becoming a dietitian changed her relationship with food

  • Diet culture, and how it can affect dietitians and nutrition advice

  • Her work with bariatric surgery patients

  • How current narratives around “obesity” actually helped her become a HAES practitioner

  • The Wellness Diet’s rhetoric, and how it shows up in “obesity” and bariatric care

  • What sparked her interest in HAES and intuitive eating

  • How she tried to introduce HAES concepts to people pursuing weight loss surgery

  • The Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH), and its position on bariatric surgery

  • Finding the middle ground between respecting body autonomy and holding the position that weight loss surgery is harmful

  • Complications that are associated with bariatric surgery, including strictures, nutrient deficiencies, and dumping syndrome

  • Disordered eating, and how it can interact with weight loss surgery

  • Why diagnostic criteria for eating disorders can sometimes be problematic

  • Eating disorders, and how they can get missed in diet culture

  • Nutrition recommendations post-bariatric surgery, and how they can affect a person’s relationship with food

  • How bariatric surgery is presented to patients, and how that can affect their mindset and expectations of the surgery

  • The consequences of bariatric surgery on physical and mental health

  • When bariatric surgery outcomes don’t meet expectations

  • HAES as an alternative to weight loss surgery

  • Finding her niche in HAES and intuitive eating

  • Attracting clients as a private practice dietitian

  • Vincci’s current and upcoming projects

  • The overlap between yoga, intuitive eating and mindful eating

 

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

What if my set point weight is much higher than my current weight? How can I keep my fear of weight gain from getting in the way of my eating disorder recovery? Why is getting rid of the diet mentality and embracing Health At Every Size so important in eating disorder recovery? What are the risks of bulimia and other eating disorders to health? If higher weights don’t cause poor health, then what does? What are some strategies to help overcome internalized weight stigma? Why is it not recommended to jump into intuitive eating directly from an eating disorder? Where can I find support for eating disorder recovery? What if my finances are limited?

(Resources Mentioned: Intuitive Eating Fundamentals course, Food Psych® Podcast episode #172, Slides from Christy’s FNCE debate, Meredith Noble’s work and Food Psych® Podcast episode, Body Positive Instagram Accounts, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor directory, Heidi Schauster’s work and Food Psych® Podcast episode, Jessi Haggerty’s work and Food Psych® Podcast episode, Haley Goodrich’s work and Food Psych® Podcast episode, Marci Evans’ work and latest Food Psych® Podcast episode, Project HEAL, Nalgona Positivity Pride)

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Food Psych #172: The Wellness Diet and Feeding Kids with Virginia Sole-Smith

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Journalist and author Virginia Sole-Smith joins us to discuss why The Wellness Diet is really diet culture in disguise, how journalists like her and Christy played unwitting roles in creating this new manifestation of diet culture, how her daughter’s experience with significant medical issues affected her relationship with food, how to help kids navigate diet-culture messaging in different stages of life, how to teach children about nutrition and health in a non-diet way, and so much more! Plus, Christy shares an excerpt from her "HAES vs. weight management" debate at FNCE (the national dietitians’ conference).

Virginia Sole-Smith is the author of The Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image and Guilt in America. She's also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, Slate, and Elle, as well as a contributing editor with Parents Magazine. She lives with her husband and two daughters in the Hudson Valley. Find her online at VirginiaSoleSmith.com.

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Next Tuesday, November 6 is Election Day! This could be one of the most important midterms 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:

  • Growing up as a picky eater, and what motivated her to try more foods

  • How her relationship with food and with her body shifted in college

  • The subtle ways fatphobia showed up in Virginia’s childhood

  • Third-wave feminism, and trying to marry feminist values with societal expectations of femininity

  • Virginia’s career in the magazine industry, and what sparked her interest in reporting on health and nutrition

  • Being a part of the cultural shift toward The Wellness Diet, and not realizing at the time that it is still a form of diet culture

  • How the so-called “obesity epidemic” was invented in the late ’90s

  • Privilege, and its role in spreading diet messaging in our society

  • How being a mother helped Virginia to see that The Wellness Diet and the alternative food movement are really diet culture in disguise

  • The trauma of having a young child with major health concerns

  • Virginia’s daughter Violet’s journey with a congenital heart condition and its required medical interventions, including being fed with a feeding tube and being on a medically required diet

  • The available research on treating feeding disorders in children: the behavioral approach versus the child-led approach

  • How current feeding therapies mirror diet culture

  • Our society’s reliance on external experts to tell us what and how to eat

  • Using Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibilities (DOR) model to help rebuild Violet’s relationship with food and her feeding cues

  • Diet-culture messaging in schools and elsewhere outside the home

  • Violet’s current relationship with food, and how she is sharing that with her younger sister

  • How parenting advice often reinforces diet culture

  • Sharing the anti-diet message with other parents

  • Accepting kids’ eating habits and helping them attune to their own cues in a helpful way

  • The demonization of sugar amongst parents and kids

  • Helping kids navigate diet culture at different stages in life

  • How to talk to children about food and health in a non-diet way

  • Having compassion for people who are still stuck in diet culture

 

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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Food Psych #170: How to Combat Fat Stigma with Cat Pausé

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Fat-studies scholar Cat Pausé joins us to discuss why you can’t fight “obesity” and fat stigma at the same time, the effects of stigma on health, how fat studies differs from conventional paradigms, the implications of using the word “fat,” and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about why elimination diets shouldn’t be the first line of treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Cat Pausé, Ph.D. is a Senior Lecturer in Human Development at Massey University. She is lead editor of Queering Fat Embodiment (2014, Routledge), and coordinated two international conferences - Fat Studies: Reflective Intersections (2012) and Fat Studies: Identity, Agency, Embodiment (2016). Her research is focused on the effects of fat stigma on health and well-being on fat individuals and how fat activists resist the fatpocalypse. Her work has appeared in journals such as Fat Studies, Feminist Review, and Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, as well as online in the Huffington Post, The Conversation, and in her blog. Her fat positive radio show, Friend of Marilyn, is travelling the world – make sure your city is on the tour! Find her online at about.me/FriendofMarilyn.

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We Discuss:

  • Cat’s positive relationship with her body as a child, despite a “confused” relationship with food

  • The fat-positive role models that she had in her life

  • How pop culture can spread diet culture messaging

  • What influenced her to become a feminist

  • Learning about asking for more and getting her needs met

  • How diet culture teaches women to socialize over dieting

  • Speaking to our parents and loved ones about our changing relationships with food and bodies

  • Slipping into younger versions of ourselves when we’re around our parents

  • How Cat learned about the field of fat studies

  • The difference between fat studies and conventional paradigms like critical obesity studies or weight studies

  • Why you can’t fight “obesity” and weight stigma at the same time

  • The defining characteristics of fat studies

  • Framing stigma within fat studies versus weight studies/healthcare framework

  • The implications of using the word “fat”

  • Why we need to turn our attention to the experiences of people in superfat bodies

  • Privilege and its role in fat studies work

  • Why Cat no longer uses the “fat isn’t unhealthy” argument

  • Fat stigma as a social determinant of health

  • Our role in the work of fat liberation

  • Cat’s latest project, Fat Studies MOOOs

 

Resources Mentioned

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

  • Submit your questions for a chance to have them answered on the podcast!

  • My online course, Intuitive Eating Fundamentals, which includes monthly listener Q&A podcasts and access to my private Facebook support group

  • The Diet Myth by Paul Campos

  • Michael Gard’s work (TW: o word)

  • Paul Ernsberger’s work

  • Deborah Lupton’s work

  • Angela Meadows’ work (TW: o word)

  • Chris Crandall’s work

  • Cat’s Fat Studies MOOO

  • Cat’s about.me page, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram

  • This episode is brought to you by LinkedIn, where a new hire is made every 10 seconds. Go to linkedin.com/foodpsych to get $50 off your first job post.

  • Save money with Paribus! Paribus monitors online retailers to make sure that you get the best price, and will even help you get compensated if your shipment arrives late. Head to GetParibus.com to sign up.

  • This episode is also brought to you by TomboyX. Visit tomboyx.com/foodpsych and check out their special bundles and pack pricing. Food Psych listeners will also get an extra 15% off with the code FOODPSYCH!

     

Listener Question of the Week

Can you incorporate an elimination diet along with intuitive eating concepts in people with IBS? What is the link between disordered eating, mental health concerns, and gastrointestinal (GI) issues? What is the “nocebo” effect, and what is its role in GI concerns? What is the science behind certain diets for IBS? What are some other ways to manage IBS without going on an elimination diet?

(Resources Mentioned: Psychological features are important predictors of functional gastrointestinal disorders in patients with eating disorders, Disordered eating practices in gastrointestinal disorders, Alan Levinovitz’s Food Psych® Podcast episode)

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