medical system

Food Psych #196: Diet Culture’s Racist Roots with Sabrina Strings

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Sociologist and author Sabrina Strings joins us to discuss her new book, Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia; the history of how “race science” led to the development of diet culture; the many problems with using weight as a measure of health; how culture influences science; and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to tell the difference between diet-culture rules and intuitive observations about foods that help us feel our best.

Sabrina Strings is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine, and a former Berkeley Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology and the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Women in Culture and Society, The Feminist Wire, and Feminist Media Studies. Find her online at uci.academia.edu/SabrinaStrings.

This episode is brought to you by Poshmark, the fun and simple way to buy and sell fashion, including lots of plus-sized options. Download the free app and enter invite code FOODPSYCH for $5 off your first purchase.

We Discuss:

  • How Sabrina’s grandmother influenced her relationship with food growing up, as well as her current sociology work

  • What is considered a “desirable” black body

  • Her decision to become vegetarian, and now pescatarian

  • The role of cooking in her and Christy’s relationships with food

  • Sabrina’s grandmother’s reaction to diet culture

  • The life-and-death situation that inspired Sabrina’s graduate studies

  • The problems with conflating weight and health

  • Her experience with fatphobia in the medical system, despite being within the “normal” BMI range

  • How weight stigma in healthcare worsens health

  • Her book, Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia

  • Why BMI continues to be used as a measure of health, despite evidence proving otherwise

  • Weight research, and its ties to the weight-loss industry

  • The racist roots of diet culture

  • The history of “race science”

  • The links between “race science”, politics, and capitalist interests

  • Why science is not completely objective

  • How culture influences science

  • Spreading the Health At Every Size® message to the mainstream medical community and education

  • The need for cultural competency in healthcare

  • The increasing acceptance of HAES® and anti-diet work

  • The role of religion in the establishment of diet culture

  • The coded ways we talk about race

  • How the racist origins of fatphobia affect white women, too

  • Intersectionality, and how racism reinforces other oppressive hierarchies

  • Why all body ideals are unattainable

  • How beauty is both empowering and oppressive

 

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 someone tell the difference between a diet-culture food rule, and what makes their body feel their best? How can someone figure out how much to eat without restricting, and also without eating too much so that they don’t feel well? What are some of the ways that diet culture can co-opt intuitive eating? Can our physical symptoms always be traced back to what and how much we eat? What are some other potential reasons why a “large” nighttime snack might leave someone feeling tired the next day? Where might diet mentality be showing up in self-judgments of eating “large” amounts of food? What are some coded words that diet culture uses to mean “fat” and reinforce fatphobia? How can internalized fatphobia and diet-culture beliefs contribute to struggles with intuitive eating? What are some of the subtle differences between unconditional and conditional permission to eat? Why is it normal to eat to the point of discomfort in the early stages of intuitive eating?

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Food Psych #171: Healthcare Without Diet Culture with Jennifer Gaudiani

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Physician and eating disorder specialist Jennifer Gaudiani joins us to discuss how healthcare professionals are doing harm by perpetuating diet culture, why people with eating disorders are often missed in our medical system, medical outcomes she has seen in some of her patients who have adopted Health At Every Size®, the role of social justice and acknowledging privilege in our work, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about whether it’s a contradiction to be an eating-disorder treatment provider who also does bodybuilding and fitness competitions.

Jennifer Gaudiani, MD, CEDS, FAED, is the Founder/Medical Director of the Gaudiani Clinic. Board Certified in Internal Medicine, she completed her undergraduate degree at Harvard, medical school at Boston University School of Medicine, and her internal medicine residency/chief residency at Yale. From 2008 to 2016, she was one of the leaders of the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders. She left after serving as its Medical Director to found the Gaudiani Clinic, which provides expert in-person and nationwide telemedicine outpatient medical care to patients of all genders with eating disorders/disordered eating and to those in recovery. The Clinic is a HAES-informed provider and embraces treating people of all shapes and sizes. Through a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach, the Clinic cares for the whole person, in the context of their values.

She has lectured nationally and internationally, is widely published in the scientific literature as well as on blogs and is a current member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Eating Disorders and the Academy for Eating Disorders Medical Care Standards Committee.

Dr. Gaudiani is one of very few outpatient internists who carries the Certified Eating Disorder Specialist designation. She is also a Fellow in the Academy for Eating Disorders. Find her online at GaudianiClinic.com.

This episode is brought to you by Paribus. Paribus helps you save money by monitoring 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.

Ready to learn how to cook, make movies, write books, and more from the masters? MasterClass has launched the All-Access Pass – a thoughtful gift for the home cooks or lifelong learners in your life. Food Psych listeners can get the All Access Pass at MasterClass.com/FOODPSYCH.

This episode is also brought to you by TomboyX. Go to 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.

We Discuss:

  • How her privilege and family background shaped her relationship with food

  • Her sister’s struggle with bulimia, and how that influenced her work in eating disorders

  • Weight stigma in the medical field

  • Recognizing the harm that we as health professionals have done in perpetuating diet culture

  • When she realized ‘calories in, calories out’ doesn’t work

  • How she discovered the Health At Every Size® model and began to use it in her practice

  • Why people with eating disorders are often missed in our medical system

  • What an initial assessment looks like at her clinic

  • Medical outcomes that she has seen in some of her patients who have adopted HAES

  • The importance of having a multidisciplinary, HAES-informed team

  • The links between our healthcare system, the supposed “obesity epidemic,” and diet culture

  • How our bodies adapt to starvation

  • “Survival” genetics vs. “sensitive” genetics

  • How diets can make health issues worse

  • Why she doesn’t recommend moderation (and what she recommends instead)

  • Letting go of diet fads and embracing all foods

  • What draws people to problematic alternative-medicine practices, and what providers can do to help them re-engage in evidence-based healthcare

  • How she’s continuing to learn and integrate HAES into her practice and her book

  • The role of social justice and acknowledging privilege in our work

  • Jennifer’s book, Sick Enough: A Guide to the Medical Complications of Eating Disorders

  • The problems with our current diagnostic criteria for eating disorders

  • Atypical anorexia nervosa, and its high mortality and complication rates

  • How we can stop the spread of 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.

  • 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

  • Carmen Cool’s work, and her Food Psych® Podcast episode

  • Deb Burgard’s work, and her Food Psych® Podcast episode

  • Hilary Kinavey’s work, and her Food Psych® Podcast episode

  • Desiree Adaway’s work

  • Jennifer’s book, Sick Enough: A Guide to the Medical Complications of Eating Disorders (TW: Contains detailed descriptions of eating disorder behaviors)

  • Gaudiani Clinic

  • Jennifer and the Gaudiani Clinic on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

  • This episode is brought to you by Paribus. Paribus helps you save money by monitoring 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.

  • Ready to learn how to cook, make movies, write books, and more from the masters? MasterClass has launched the All-Access Pass – a thoughtful gift for the home cooks or lifelong learners in your life. Food Psych listeners can get the All Access Pass at MasterClass.com/FOODPSYCH.

  • This episode is also brought to you by TomboyX. Go to 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

Is it contradictory for eating disorder professionals to promote body acceptance and intuitive eating alongside bodybuilding and fitness competitions? What is diet culture? Would bodybuilding and fitness competitions exist without it? How are other sports related to diet culture? What if you’re an eating disorder professional with diet culture beliefs? How do you approach someone who is sharing triggering content?

(Resources Mentioned: Sand Chang’s Food Psych® Podcast episode)

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