pleasure

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

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

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.

This episode is 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 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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Food Psych #178: The Truth About High-Weight Anorexia with Erin Harrop

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Weight-stigma researcher Erin Harrop joins us to discuss how anorexia is treated (or not) in people of different sizes, how diet culture and weight stigma influence treatment and recovery for disordered eating, the problem with the “atypical” anorexia label, how improving eating-disorder treatment in people with larger bodies can benefit everyone, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about what to do if you develop binge eating in recovery from restrictive eating behaviors.

Erin Harrop received her B.S. and MSW from the University of Washington, where she is currently a fourth-year doctoral student in social welfare. Her research interests concern eating disorders, substance abuse, and weight stigma. She sees weight-based discrimination as a critical, and often ignored, social justice issue, and her research agenda seeks to address this limitation by focusing on the systemic factors of weight stigma which impact the illness journeys of eating disorder patients. She employs an interpretive, critical feminist theory and anti-oppression lens to her work, as well as an explicit Health at Every Size® approach to the promotion of health behaviors. Her research is informed by her clinical experience as a medical social worker at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where she has worked for the past five years. Erin recently was funded for two NIH TL1 Translational Research Training grants for her dissertation research with women who have atypical anorexia. Erin is also active in the student group, SWAG (Sizeism, Weightism Advocacy Group), which she co-founded in 2012. Find her online at facebook.com/erin.harrop.3

From now until New Year’s, we’re offering gift subscriptions to the Intuitive Eating Fundamentals course. It’s the perfect gift for someone looking for anti-diet inspiration, or put it on your wishlist so that others know to get it for you. For more information, visit christyharrison.com/gift.

This episode is 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:

  • “Intuitive cooking,” and how it helped to bring experimentation and joy to Erin’s relationship with food

  • Gendered messages around food

  • Diet culture, and how it steals our pleasure from food

  • Learning to trust our body’s desires for different foods

  • How diet culture and The Wellness Diet can twist our expectations of intuitive eating

  • The Restriction Pendulum

  • The role of Health At Every Size®, fat activism, and intuitive eating in Erin’s eating-disorder-recovery journey

  • Pushing beyond the “Recovery Diet”

  • How diet mentality and weight stigma amongst eating-disorder clinicians and treatment centers can hinder people’s recovery

  • Erin’s personal experiences in treatment as someone with anorexia in a lower-weight and higher-weight body

  • Why improving eating-disorder treatment for people in higher-weight bodies would improve treatment for everyone

  • Erin’s research on how anorexia is treated (or not) in people of different sizes

  • The reliance on weight in anorexia diagnoses, and how that is causing harm

  • How restriction, not weight loss or low weight, leads to the medical complications associated with anorexia

  • The delays and gaps in eating-disorder care

  • How our own biases can affect eating-disorder treatment and recovery

  • Why we shouldn’t make assumptions when people say that they’ve “restricted” or “binged”

  • How diet culture blurs the line between normal eating and disordered eating

  • Why we need to validate people’s problematic experiences with food

 

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. From now until New Year’s, we’re offering gift subscriptions! It’s the perfect gift for someone looking for anti-diet inspiration, or put it on your wishlist so that others know to get it for you. For more information, visit christyharrison.com/gift.

  • Erin’s Facebook page and email

  • This episode is 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.

     

Listener Question of the Week

What can a person do if they’re still binge eating after they stop restricting their food? How can they accept their body while believing that they’ll gain weight eating so many calories? What are some less-obvious signs of disordered eating or thinking that can still lead to a feeling of deprivation? What’s the difference between physical and mental restriction? What’s the difference between diet culture and diet mentality? How are diet mentality and binge eating linked? Where can a person get support to overcome diet mentality and pursue eating-disorder recovery? How can a person tell whether they’re binge eating as a result of restriction or as a coping mechanism for difficult emotions? What are some ways that eating-disorder treatment can hinder recovery?

(Resources Mentioned: Anti-Diet, Health At Every Size, and Intuitive Eating Providers for Disordered-Eating Recovery, Food Psych® podcast episode 151 with Judith Matz)

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Food Psych #173: How Diet Culture Steals Our True Culture with Melissa Carmona

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Health At Every Size® counselor Melissa Carmona joins us to discuss how her Colombian roots shaped her relationship with food and body, the role of discrimination and food insecurity in triggering her disordered eating, how diet culture took her away from her heritage, how to set boundaries with people who are less receptive to the HAES message, how she’s helping her young daughter preserve her natural intuitive eating skills, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to handle overeating after a period of food insecurity.

Melissa is a bilingual Clinical Mental Health Counselor in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her experience as a counselor includes helping people heal from eating disorders, trauma, depression, and anxiety. She works through a HAES® and Intuitive Eating lens, which has allowed her to view other aspects of our identities through that same lens as well.

Being the daughter of immigrants, growing up in Colombia (South America) and having Latinx roots are an essential part of what shaped who she is—including her personal beliefs, the route of her career, and the relationship with her body and food. It was in Colombia that she had her first exposure to mental illness and the stigma that comes with this as well.

The experience that she’s had in both the USA and Colombia is allowing her to reflect on the influence that culture has on the way we see and treat ourselves, and being able to acknowledge her privileges or lack thereof within these have also been a powerful awakening of how much control our cultures can have over any type of healing that needs to happen in our lives. Find her online at ThreeBirdsCounseling.com.

Tomorrow, November 6 is Election Day! This could the most important midterm elections 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:

  • How her family’s Colombian roots influenced her relationship with food

  • Beauty pageants in Colombian culture, and how this affected her relationship with her body

  • The mixed messages that she received about food and body growing up

  • How the desire to fit in contributed to her eating disorder

  • The role of food insecurity in binge eating

  • The problem with restricting the types of food that can be purchased with food stamps

  • How dietitians and nutritionists cause harm when prescribing weight-loss diets

  • The importance of cultural awareness in healthcare

  • How her eating disorder stole her connection to her cultural background

  • Reconnecting with the pleasures of food in eating disorder recovery

  • The discrimination she faced when she moved to the US

  • The influence of oppressive patriarchal systems on diet culture

  • What led Melissa to her work as a counselor and in social justice

  • Helping clients navigate our current political climate

  • How Melissa’s work in Health At Every Size has influenced her own relationship with food

  • The sneaky, shape-shifting nature of diet culture

  • Seeing her young daughter naturally eat intuitively

  • Imagining what the world would be like without diet culture

  • Sharing the HAES message with her family members, and setting boundaries with those who are less receptive

  • Connecting with personal experience instead of science

  • The negative experiences that her family members have had with bariatric surgery

  • The difficult journey through diet culture to HAES

  • Recognizing a person’s worth beyond their size

  • Why we shouldn’t compliment people on weight loss

  • How we start receiving diet culture messaging at a very young age

  • Sharing the anti-diet messages we wish we had heard when we were younger

 

Resources Mentioned

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

  • Audre Lorde’s work

  • Maria Paredes’s work, and her Food Psych® Podcast episode

  • Gabriela Stein’s work

  • Nalgona Positivity Pride, and founder Gloria Lucas’s Food Psych® Podcast episode

  • Melissa on Facebook and Instagram

  • Tomorrow, November 6 is Election Day! This could the most important midterm elections 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.

     

Listener Question of the Week

How do I handle overeating after a period of food insecurity? What can the Minnesota Starvation Experiment teach us about the effects of deprivation? (CW/TW if you decide to look up the study.) How do diet culture and diet mentality affect our eating? What are the subtle ways that we might be experiencing deprivation, and how can we overcome that?

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