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Food Psych #200: How Diet Culture Harms the Gay Community with Jeff Iovannone

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Activist and scholar Jeff Iovannone joins us to discuss diet culture and harmful body standards in the gay community, how oppression and the AIDS crisis shaped the “normate gay” aesthetic, why every body is a Pride body, how to create a gay men’s body-liberation movement, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about fatphobia in eating-disorder treatment programs.

Jeff Iovannone is an activist-scholar, writer, and researcher from Buffalo, New York who specializes in gender and LGBTQ studies. He is the creator of the blog Queer History for the People, writes a bi-weekly column--entitled Talk Queerly--on LGBTQ culture and politics for the web magazine Th-Ink Queerly, and is a founding member of Body Liberated Buffalo, a volunteer-run activist and advocacy organization that works for body liberation in Western New York. Find him online at medium.com/@jeffry.iovannone.

We Discuss:

  • Jeff’s relationship with food growing up, including being stigmatized for his weight at a young age

  • The mixed messages he received about food growing up in an Italian-American family where food was love but fatphobia was rampant

  • Why coming out as gay and finding gay community didn’t lead to the acceptance he was hoping for

  • How the gay community has its own hierarchy of bodies

  • Body standards and ideals as they relate to gay culture, and the concept of “gay-fat”  

  • How diet culture influences the oppression of the gay community

  • How the historical oppression of gay people helped shape gay culture’s body ideals

  • How the AIDS epidemic further influenced the aesthetic in the gay community

  • The development of what Jeff calls the “normate gay”

  • The morality of being gay as it relates to the morality of control, appetite, and food

  • How femininity and masculinity affect the way we experience diet culture

  • How diet culture prevents the gay community from working together towards liberation

  • Why desire is a social and political issue  

  • The manifestation of toxic masculinity in gay culture, and how it’s related to diet culture

  • Why Jeff started moving away from diet culture and The Wellness Diet

  • How capitalism and marketing techniques target the gay community via diet culture

  • How to change Pride month so it doesn’t center corporate Pride celebrations

  • Why every body is a Pride body

 

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

People make eating disorder recovery sound so easy, so why can’t I recover after three years of consistent treatment? Is my fatphobic treatment team slowing down my recovery? Why do eating disorder providers treat people in larger bodies differently than those in smaller bodies? Is fatphobic eating disorder treatment common? Are there any Health at Every Size treatment options for people that need a higher level of care?

Resources Mentioned:

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Food Psych #199: PCOS and Food Peace with Julie Duffy Dillon

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Fat-positive dietitian Julie Duffy Dillon joins us to discuss common misconceptions about managing polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), how weight stigma harms people with PCOS, why you shouldn’t believe the hype about certain foods causing inflammation, the connection between PCOS and binge eating, the importance of considering that PCOS occurs in people of all genders, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about the problems with a particular multi-level-marketing diet and the concept of “accountability” in the fitness world.

Julie Duffy Dillon is a Fat Positive Dietitian, Eating Disorder Specialist, and Food Behavior Expert who partners with people along their Food Peace journey. Julie began specializing in treating Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in 2005 after noticing the connection with weight bias and eating disorders. She sought training on the physiology and endocrinology from pioneering experts willing to not focus on weight loss and diets to treat the complicated condition. This insight has provided people with PCOS to advocate for their physical and emotional health without torturing themselves with diets.

Julie hosts the weekly podcast Love Food. It is a Dear Abby show for those with eating concerns hoping to rewrite their fate. Listeners pen a letter to food outlining their complicated relationship. Julie and sometimes a guest discuss solutions before Food writes back.

She speaks around the country about anti-diet approaches to PCOS while running a group practice in Greensboro North Carolina. She was the featured expert dietitian and PCOS expert on TLC's documentary My Big Fat Fabulous Life. Find her online at JulieDillonRD.com.

We Discuss:

  • The effects of weight stigma in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) management and support

  • PCOS and My Big Fat Fabulous Life

  • Common misconceptions about PCOS management

  • The psychological consequences of PCOS

  • Julie’s practice-based evidence of PCOS management

  • Research on PCOS and weight

  • The updated evidence-based guidelines for PCOS management

  • The role of omega-3 supplementation for people with PCOS

  • Inflammation as it relates to PCOS

  • Why inflammation and “anti-inflammatory diets” are the latest bogus diet trend

  • Falsely blaming weight for medical conditions

  • The effects of weight cycling on health

  • Carbohydrate cravings among people with PCOS

  • High insulin levels in people with PCOS and what that means

  • Research on binge eating and PCOS

  • Christy’s experience with a misdiagnosis of PCOS

  • How sexism affects PCOS support from healthcare providers

  • Current research that may change the way PCOS is diagnosed

  • The importance of considering that PCOS occurs in people of all genders

  • Why it is important to have gender-affirming care for all health conditions, including PCOS

 

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 is your opinion on programs like Beach Body, and should I stop using and paying for them? Why does this program make you feel bad about yourself? Why is it important to give yourself permission to walk away from programs like this? How is this program different from a diet? How is the concept of accountability related to diet culture? How is movement different from exercise? How are the business practices of these types of program unethical? How are these businesses harmful to the coaches and clients of these programs?

(Resources Mentioned:

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Food Psych #197: Hormones, Disordered Eating, and How The Wellness Diet Harms Your Health with Robyn Nohling

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Nurse practitioner and fellow HAES dietitian Robyn Nohling joins us to discuss her experiences with disordered eating and hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA), how diet culture wreaks havoc on our hormones, why doing less may actually be better for our health, how The Wellness Diet is making us sicker, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to navigate intuitive eating with diabetes.

Robyn’s own health journey has been the catalyst to her career focused on counseling, nursing, mentoring, and teaching in the field of women's health and eating disorders. As a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Registered Dietitian, Robyn specializes in hormone & reproductive health along with eating disorders and disordered eating. She uses a weight-inclusive and non-diet approach and firmly believes health goes far beyond your plate and exercise routine. Alongside her private practice, blog and inpatient NP position, Robyn opened an online learning center in 2017 to both educate other practitioners and empower women to advocate for their own health and healing.

In both her RD and NP practices, Robyn works through the Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size® framework. She is a member of and involved in several women's health and eating disorder organizations including the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals, Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health, and the International Federation of Eating Disorder Dietitians.

When she's not working with women or behind the screen, she enjoys exploring Boston and the northeast with her husband and baby boy, traveling despite her fear of flying, cooking new recipes, hosting others in her home and experiencing the food scene wherever she might be. Robyn loves connecting on social media. Follow her on Instagram and Pinterest, join The Real Life Facebook community, and check out her blog, The Real Life RD.

We Discuss:

  • How Robyn’s relationship with food and her body started shifting in high school

  • How her weight loss was normalized as “healthy”

  • Hormonal and menstrual concerns, and how they are often overlooked

  • How Robyn’s eating disorder evolved throughout college

  • “Ideal body weight,” and why it is bullshit

  • Michael Pollan and the “real food” movement

  • The links between Michael Pollan’s work, fatphobia, and orthorexia

  • Alcohol, and its role in Robyn’s eating disorder

  • What sparked Robyn’s interest in hormonal health

  • Her and Christy’s experiences with hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA), and the lack of support they received

  • The prevalence of disordered eating in the dietetics field

  • Why Robyn feels nursing school was a “healing experience” for her

  • How she got her period back after missing it for 10 years

  • How diet culture affects our hormonal health

  • “Sick thyroid” syndrome, and how restriction can affect thyroid function

  • The lack of evidence for cutting out gluten and dairy for autoimmune conditions

  • Stress, cortisol, and their effects on hormonal health

  • How The Wellness Diet is actually making us sicker

  • Diet culture in conventional and alternative healthcare

  • Why diets and food rules can be appealing

  • How disordered eating clouds our intuition

  • Robyn’s experiences with pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • The harmful messages regarding body size for people who are pregnant or postpartum

  • Intuitive eating, and how it can benefit reproductive health

  • The need for more research on HAES®, healthcare, and fertility

  • What it would take to shift fertility medicine toward HAES

  • Robyn’s course for health professionals

 

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 with diabetes or another chronic condition navigate intuitive eating? What can make intuitive eating particularly difficult for someone with type 1 diabetes? What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and not having diabetes? What are some intuitive eating skills that can apply for people with diabetes? Why is it important to make peace with all foods in diabetes? Why is it OK for people with diabetes to sometimes have blood sugars outside of the “normal” range?

(Resources Mentioned:

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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 #195: Why Fatphobia Hurts All of Us with Sofie Hagen

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Comedian, author, and fellow podcaster Sofie Hagen joins us to discuss her new book, Happy Fat; how fatphobia affects people of all sizes; why health isn’t a matter of individual responsibility (and why framing it as one is oppressive); how science often gets twisted by diet culture and the media, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to define “health” outside of diet culture.

Sofie Hagen is a stand-up comedian, author, podcaster, fat activist and blogger. A modern legend in her native Denmark, Sofie burst onto the British comedy scene by winning Best Newcomer at Edinburgh Festival 2015. Her 2016 follow-up, Shimmer Shatter, was a second total sell-out, which followed again with another sellout show in 2017, Dead Baby Frog. Sofie has spoken to millions as host of her successful Made of Human podcast, as well as Secret Dinosaur Cult and Comedians Telling Stuff. Her first book, Happy Fat, is published in the UK by 4th Estate on May 2, 2019. Find her online at SofieHagen.com.

We Discuss:

  • The many factors that contributed to Sofie’s negative relationship with food growing up

  • Why fat people are resilient, not weak

  • The different levels of fatphobia, and how they relate to thin privilege

  • The discomfort of acknowledging our privileges and biases

  • How we all have a role to play in social justice

  • Sofie’s history of depression and binge-eating disorder

  • Sofie’s and Christy’s experiences in therapy

  • Why the “individual responsibility” narrative is oppressive

  • How body positivity has been co-opted by diet culture

  • Sofie’s rebellious nature as a child

  • How she was introduced to feminism and body liberation

  • Her new book, and what it was like to share it with people around her

  • Responding to people who are indifferent or opposed to body liberation

  • The parallels between The Wellness Diet and how Hitler talked about health

  • The history of diet culture and weight stigma

  • Fatphobia in progressive spaces

  • Why fat jokes are cheap and harmful forms of comedy

  • How fatphobia affects everyone

  • Jes Baker’s body currency theory

  • How diet culture and American culture reinforce the harmful belief that we all can be “above average”

  • Science and research, and how it’s often twisted by diet culture and media

  • Corporate sponsorship of “o-word” research

 

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 is “health” defined in the Health At Every Size® paradigm? How are fitness level and health related? Is it possible to be healthy without being fit? What is the difference between “having health” and “being healthy?” What is the difference between diet culture’s and HAES®’s versions of health? Is it possible to be fit and not in good health? Can people with chronic conditions have health? What are some of the factors that contribute to a person’s health? What are social determinants of health, and how much do they contribute to health?

(Resources Mentioned:

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Food Psych #194: The Truth About Weight-Loss "Success Stories" with Carrie Dennett

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Fellow anti-diet dietitian, certified intuitive eating counselor, and journalist Carrie Dennett joins us to discuss her experiences with “successful” dieting and being part of the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), why she ultimately stopped dieting and embraced Health At Every Size®, the many problems with the NWCR, why the vast majority of intentional weight-loss efforts fail, how weight stigma affects people of all sizes, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about whether to expect weight loss with intuitive eating.

Carrie Dennett is a Pacific Northwest-based registered dietitian, Certified Intuitive Eating counselor, journalist, author and blogger. She writes a weekly nutrition column for The Seattle Times and contributes regularly to The Washington Post. Carrie is the author of Healthy For (Your) Life: A Holistic Approach to Optimal Wellness, which blends intuitive and mindful eating with a non-diet approach, current nutrition science, and a lot of nutrition myth-busting—principles she also brings to her virtual private practice. She is a second-career dietitian who worked as a newspaper journalist for many years before earning her Master of Public Health in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington. Find her online at NutritionByCarrie.com.

We Discuss:

  • The positive and negative aspects of Carrie’s relationship with food, body, and physical activity growing up

  • How easily children can pick up on diet-culture messaging

  • The harmful effects of weight shaming

  • Carrie’s early experiences with dieting, and how that led to years of yo-yo dieting

  • What made her decide to become a dietitian

  • Her experience with, and criticisms of, the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR)

  • The history of the NWCR

  • The research on the failure rate of diets

  • The problem with the siloing of research

  • What motivated Carrie to give up on dieting

  • Paradigm straddling in the dietetics field

  • How learning about the social determinants of health helped to shift Carrie and Christy’s thinking about health

  • How Health At Every Size® is becoming more incorporated in dietetics training and practice

  • Self-compassion, and its role in examining our own biases and dietetics practice

  • Why it’s important to fight against societal weight stigma, not just internalized weight stigma

  • Why social justice is an important but overlooked part of dietetics practice

  • Privilege, and how it can affect our relationship with diet culture

  • How privilege doesn’t provide complete protection from diet culture and body hatred

  • Weight stigma, and how it affects people of all sizes

 

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 weight loss possible with intuitive eating? How does diet culture condition us to desire a smaller body? Why do some people have a smaller body than others? What is “thin privilege”? Why is it important to acknowledge size diversity? Why is diet culture a Life Thief?

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Food Psych #193: Feminism, Marketing, and Breaking Free from Diet Culture with Kelly Diels

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Writer and feminist marketing consultant Kelly Diels joins us to discuss the links between diet culture, patriarchy, and anti-feminist marketing practices (aka The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand); the role of abundance in healing from diet culture; how to reclaim your life from The Life Thief; understanding and healing our relationship with money; and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about what to do if you’re one of those weight-loss “success stories” who’s actually just in the throes of disordered eating.

Kelly Diels (she/her) is a writer and feminist marketing consultant. She writes about a phenomenon that she calls "The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand," which she does not think is a good thing for women or our world. Kelly believes, instead, that we are culture makers and can create the culture we want to live in, right now. Kelly is also the Director of Marketing and Communications for SheEO (all opinions are her own). Find her writing and online workshops at KellyDiels.com.

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:

  • Kelly’s fraught relationship with food growing up

  • The societal messages about femininity that contributed to her eating disorder as a teenager

  • Kelly and Christy’s experiences as outspoken children growing up

  • The links between diet culture and patriarchy

  • Why adolescence is a high-risk time for eating disorders, especially for femme-identifying teens

  • How breaking free from diet culture has changed Kelly’s parenting

  • Why adolescence is a good time to introduce systemic analysis

  • The role of the Health At Every Size® and fat acceptance movements in Kelly’s recovery from anorexia and bulimia

  • Taking your life back from The Life Thief that is diet culture

  • How experiencing fatphobia can give people a heightened ability to recognize systemic oppression

  • Signs of a cultural shift toward increased fat acceptance

  • Community, including virtual communities, and their importance in recovering from diet culture

  • The “contagious” nature of cultural change

  • How Kelly was introduced to feminism, and how it helped her recover from the trauma of sexual abuse

  • The many anti-feminist practices in marketing today, and how it led her to her current work as a feminist marketing consultant

  • The meaning behind her motto, “We are the culture makers”

  • Why our friends and family can influence us more than big brands

  • The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand (FLEB) and how to divest from it

  • The men’s-rights activist lineage behind many FLEB marketing techniques

  • Why money and resources are important in divesting from FLEB

  • The parallels between the traumas of diet culture and poverty

  • Abundance, and its role in healing from diet culture

  • Creativity and ingenuity as survival tools

  • The creativity inherent in many of the coping mechanisms that are demonized by our society, such as binge eating and addiction

  • Media and resources as a form of community

  • Kelly’s work with SheEO

  • The difference between how women and men spend their income

  • Understanding and healing our relationship with money

  • The importance of having money and resources for survival, especially for marginalized people

 

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

Where does the “95-98% of diets fail” statistic come from? Is it true that of the small percentage of people who are able to maintain long-term weight loss, most are struggling with some form of disordered eating? What is the true meaning of “body positivity?” How can a person be happier in a larger body when they know that they are engaging in unhealthy habits that are contributing to weight gain? What does Health At Every Size actually entail? How is HAES a holistic approach? Why are higher body weights generally considered unhealthy? What are some factors that could lead to people in larger bodies having more negative health outcomes? Why is it important to recover from disordered eating? How can weight stigma and other forms of discrimination contribute to poor health? Are there any health conditions that can only be managed with weight loss?

(Resources Mentioned (TW for all research papers mentioned for specific weight numbers, o-words, fatphobic language, and/or description of disordered eating behaviors):

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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.

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:

  • 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 #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

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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 #175: The Truth About Digestion and Gut Health with Marci Evans

Fellow anti-diet dietitian Marci Evans is back! We discuss the intersection of digestive disorders and eating disorders, the risks associated with elimination diets, the role of the gut microbiome in digestion and health, the importance of consistency in self-care and well-being, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about why she as a dietitian doesn’t advise people to shift their food choices to less-processed foods.

Marci is a Food and Body Image Healer™. She has dedicated her career to counseling, supervising, and teaching in the field of eating disorders. She is a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian and Supervisor, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and Certified ACSM personal trainer. In addition to her group private practice, Marci launched an online eating disorders training platform for dietitians in 2015 and co-directs a specialized eating disorders dietetic internship at Simmons College. She volunteers for a number of national eating disorder organizations and has spoken locally and internationally at numerous conferences and media outlets. She loves social media and you can find her on all outlets @MarciRD. Find her online at MarciRD.com.

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We Discuss:

  • What Marci has been up to since she was last on the podcast

  • Christy’s upcoming book

  • How Marci became interested in digestive concerns in her work as an eating disorder dietitian

  • The risks associated with the low-FODMAP diet and other elimination diets

  • Alternative therapies to elimination diets

  • What defines a functional gut disorder

  • The overlap between eating disorders and functional gut disorders

  • The role of mental health in digestion

  • Why we shouldn’t dismiss psychosomatic symptoms

  • Whether eating disorders lead to functional gut disorders, or vice versa

  • The common risk factors between disordered eating and digestive issues

  • The mechanisms that lead to digestive concerns in eating disorders

  • Why symptoms can sometimes persist after recovery

  • How any disordered eating behaviors can contribute to gut symptoms

  • How dieting can lead to digestive concerns

  • The gut microbiome, and its role in digestion, weight, and health

  • Why it’s too early to draw many conclusions from gut microbiome research

  • The consequences of a restrictive diet

  • The limitations of nutrition and weight research

  • Anti-diet dietitians and medical nutrition therapy

  • Pelvic floor disorders, and how their symptoms can be similar to functional gut disorders

  • Why in many cases dietary interventions should be the last resort, not first-line care

  • The importance of consistency in self-care and well-being

  • Christy’s own experiences with digestive symptoms

  • Stress-management techniques, and how they can help calm gut symptoms

  • Body image and its intersection with digestive disorders

 

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 eat intuitively when you are choosing mostly highly-processed foods? Shouldn’t dietitians and health advisors be advising people to move away from fast food? How can you attune to your internal cues when there is so much external messaging associated with fast food and highly-processed foods? What does the science say about how our food environment and how it affects our eating habits? Why do we need to be skeptical of Brian Wansink’s research? What made his research so popular and widely cited? How can listening to our internal cues versus external cues change our eating habits? What is “gentle nutrition” in the context of intuitive eating? Why is gentle nutrition the last principle of intuitive eating? Why doesn’t Christy advise people to shift away from choosing fast food and highly-processed foods? What is the connection between food insecurity and disordered eating?

(Resources Mentioned: Food Psych® Podcast episode #127, Restrained Eating and Food Cues: Recent Findings and Conclusions, Food Insecurity and Eating Disorder Pathology - TW/CW for the last two resources for specific numbers and fatphobic language )

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Food Psych #174: How to Make Peace with Your Body in Pregnancy & Beyond with Angela Garbes

Angela Garbes.jpg

Angela Garbes, author of Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy, joins us to discuss how pregnancy changed her relationship with her body, how writing her book helped her develop greater body acceptance, how our society dismisses body diversity and encourages body hatred, the importance of self-compassion, the lack of diversity in science and medicine, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about whether eating dessert every day is a sign of “sugar addiction.”

Angela Garbes is a Seattle-based writer specializing in food, bodies, women’s health, and issues of racial equity and diversity. Garbes began writing for The Stranger in 2006, and became a staff writer in 2014. Her piece The More I Learn About Breast Milk, the More Amazed I Am is the publication’s most-read piece in its 24-year history, and the inspiration for her book, Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy. Garbes is an experienced public speaker, frequent radio and podcast guest, and event moderator. She grew up in a food-obsessed, immigrant Filipino household and now lives in Seattle with her husband and two children. Find her online at AngelaGarbes.com.

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.

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We Discuss:

  • How growing up in an immigrant Filipino household affected Angela’s relationship with food

  • How being a person of color influenced her relationship with her body

  • Some of the contradictory messaging around food and bodies in Filipino culture

  • Christy’s relationship with food and her body, and how her careers in journalism and dietetics helped her in her recovery

  • Pregnancy, and how it changed Angela’s relationship with her body

  • Realizing that the problem is not with our bodies, but with societal ideals

  • The judgment that often comes with parenting

  • Having generosity and compassion for ourselves and others

  • Acknowledging the strength it takes to survive and stay alive

  • Angela’s book, Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy

  • Her path to becoming a food writer and author

  • How she almost had a career in public health and nutrition

  • Breastfeeding her daughter, and how it inspired her to write her popular piece, The More I Learn About Breast Milk, the More Amazed I Am

  • How the process of researching and writing her book helped her own body acceptance

  • Wishing that we’d heard more positive messaging around bodies growing up

  • Appreciating body diversity

  • Why Angela included parts of her own story and beliefs in her book

  • The lack of diversity in depictions of pregnancy

  • Our society’s policing of pregnant bodies

  • Intuitive eating in pregnancy

  • The surprising lack of evidence behind many of the recommendations for pregnancy

  • How intuitive eating can help with fertility

  • The non-inclusive history of science and medicine, and how that affects our understanding of bodies today

 

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 having dessert every day a sign of “sugar addiction?” Am I not getting intuitive eating in some way? Is it possible to be addicted to sugar? How do diet culture and the Wellness Diet reinforce the idea of “sugar addiction?” Is it possible to eat sugar every day and still be healthy? What are some of the benefits of eating sugar? What is the difference between intuitive eating and the diet mentality? What does “unconditional permission” mean

(Resources Mentioned: Food Psych® Podcast episode #80 with Marci Evans, Food Psych® Podcast episode #139 with Lisa DuBreuil, Sugar Addiction: The State of the Science (TW: weight/BMI numbers), etc.)

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