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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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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

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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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