This amazing podcast series by Julie Duffy Dillon and Kimmie Singh offers you insight, stories of overcoming blame and shame, quite a few swear words, body positivity, medical truths, and much more. A must listen for anyone impacted by PCOS.
I often struggle when first seeing a new client who no longer can stand living in the emotional roller coaster and turmoil that is diet culture, but does not know where/how to start to embrace the 'Health at Every Size' and non diet principles. More importantly , they don't even realise that this is even a possibility.
It has taken me hundreds of hours (literally) of listening to podcasts, reading, webinars and attending professional development days to see how diet culture manipulates, oppresses and takes away a person's ability to be their true, authentic self. I hear it from my clients who are living it. I emotionally identify with them and so desperately want them to see what I can see.
My struggle as a dietitian is: How do I get this information across in a first appointment....a limited time that will often bring up so much hurt and tears that the bigger picture of why those hurt and tears are there can not be adequately discussed due to the immediate pain and distress that brings this person in front of me. I hear you. I have been there.
So, I have been spending time thinking about this. What are the things that have helped me? Where have my 'aha' or 'lightbulb' moments been? What are the podcasts / articles/ books / resources that have really influenced my way of looking at the world, both from my own perspective, and the bigger picture. What can you read/listen to, think about in order to break free from diet culture?
So, this is my list...the things that just get you started. I will add to this as things come up.
My Book recommendations:
Intuitive Eating -3rd edition (Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch):
To learn how to trust your body and eat in a way that nourishes without guilt, Intuitive Eating is IT. There are that many 'aha' and 'OMG' moments as you read this you will get why it has transformed lives.
Body of Truth (Harriet Brown) and Body Respect (Linda Bacon And Lucy Aphramor):
These shine a light on the Bull S#!T that we have been fed and made to believe about our bodies, and also what the science around weight loss actually says (hint...diets do not lead to long term weight loss and better health). If you don't want to purchase them, check our your local library (ask to get them in if they don't have them already).
Body Kindness (Rebecca Scritchfield) and Mindful Moment (Louise Adams):
In recovering from diet culture, disordered eating or really just trying to be the best version of yourself that you can be, these two books are all about self compassion and looking after yourself (because this is what you deserve). Self compassion and shame resilience are also 2 of the key factors in helping to overcome eating disorders.......such an important concept / pearl of wisdom to embrace.
My Podcast Episode Recommendations:
To get to know the Principles of Intuitive Eating either listen to Laura Thomas's podcast Don't Salt My Game Episode #85 (already linked to in a previous blog) on 'What the eff is the deal with Intuitive Eating?'
Or for a more in-depth discussion, go to:
RD Real Talk - Starting on 2/1/18, each of the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating are discussed with a number of guests in a 1hour episode for each principle.
If you are wondering what on earth is Health At Every Size, check out Christy Harrison's Food Psych episode 127: Intuitive Eating & Health At Every Size FAQ's or the ASDAH website (Association for Size Diversity and Health)
Other Podcasts that are on my 'subscribed' list and are there to be an amazing support if you decide to get angry about diet culture, and want to give the middle finger to everything that it represents, then have a listen to:
All Fired Up - Louise Adams
Body Kindness - Rebecca Scritchfield
Do No Harm - DeAun Nelson (* particularly for Health Professionals )
Don't Salt My Game - Laura Thomas
ED Matters - Gurze/Salucore
EveryBody Podcast - Daria Matza
Food Psych - Christy Harrison
Finding Body Freedom - Caitlin Croteau
Nutrition Matters - Paige Smathers
Love Food - Julie Duffy Dillon
PCOS and Food Peace - Julie Duffy Dillon
The BodyLove Project - Jessie Haggerty
Wondering what diet culture is?
A couple of useful websites to start with:_
https://self-compassion.org (in particular some meditation exercises from below)
What about the evidence?_
The Weight Inclusive versus Weight Normative Approach to Health: Evaluating the Evidence for Prioritizing Well-Being over Weight Loss
Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift
Analysing 9 Years of data from UK General Practice records shows the unlikelihood of current strategies leading to a 5% weight loss, and even less likelihood that it will be kept off at the 2-5 year mark .
The Association For Size Diversity And Health (ASDAH) Journal Articles Page
Obesity Stigma: Important Considerations for Public Health
Looking forward to hearing what you think
A really quick, kick ass overview of Intuitive Eating!
Love this post by fellow HAES dietitian Nina Mills as it perfectly explains how we Health At Every Size dietitians work. A must to read if you don't think a dietitian can help you!
It can be really tricky putting together meal ideas with IBS. If you have discussed with your GP/dietitian using the low FODMAP approach for symptom management, here are some extra recipes to try. Enjoy!!
Marci Evans (R.D.) takes a look at 'sugar addiction'. Fascinating information that discusses the science vs hysteria and how diet culture plays a role in triggering our brains response under different circumstances.
If you have PCOS, then listening to Julie's podcasts will change your mind on restrictive diets for weight loss (hint......they only make PCOS worse!).
So, I am going to just write this post from my heart. I don't know how long or short it will be, but here goes.
P.S Language warning!!
First do no harm.
Part of the reason why I work as a dietitian is because it's in my nature to care and to want to help. I will put myself out for others, and give 110%, even if it means pushing my boundaries. I thought I had the right knowledge that can help people be healthier, and I wanted to share that.
However, some of the science based knowledge that I have used in the past, that was taught to me at Uni, and in journal articles, further education seminars etc has been biased, and I am pissed off with that. I am pissed off about continuously being given the message (both as a dietitian, and a human being) that a person's weight is mostly within their control through what they eat and how much exercise they do, and it's their fault if they can't maintain a 'normal weight'. Not being able to achieve or maintain that 'normal' weight we are told is then a large reason why people develop chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Of course, no one wants these or their complications.
I am also pissed off with all the messages out there pushing an ideal look that most people will never manage to attain, or if they do, they have a pretty screwed up relationship to food and their body in trying to maintain it. What is viewed as 'normal eating' and behaviours around food is actually often quite disordered and damaging. But, it is so common because diet talk and body comparisons and putting yourself down are conversation starters, what we discuss in the lunch room, at Mums' group, parties, around the dinner table, with the gym instructor (shall I go on?) and is accepted as totally OK. I have felt a failure as a dietitian when my 'expert' advice has not lead to sustained weight loss for most people. I have felt taken aback when clients have judged me by how I look. One in particular still stands out after 15 years. He said 'I am glad you are thin because I would have turned around and walked out otherwise'. So, more value was placed on what I looked like than what I had to offer. I was too young to realise that this type of thinking keeps so many of us trapped in the need to look a certain way. And the consequences of that mean so many more words than I can write here because so much has to do with patriarchy, feminism and intersectionality. Words I am just beginning to understand the meaning of but still have a lot to learn. This type of talk, these attitudes and behaviours are not OK.
I think I realised pretty early in my career that putting most of the blame onto an individual for what they weighed was not ok, and I focussed more on behaviours and learning that person's story. I focussed more on how their blood sugars, cholesterol, blood pressure, bowel symptoms, are they feeling more energetic, are they feeling stronger within their body, sleeping better etc were, rather than weight, and I certainly never felt comfortable being the 'food police'. However, I took a neutral stand to the message that weight loss is important for outcomes. I was unable to empower my clients with the knowledge that I have now, because I didn't have it back then.
Through the non-diet lens, and taking a Health At Every Size view, I now have an entirely new approach to how I can empower people to improve their self care and wellbeing.
When the focus is put mainly on food choices and exercise, it totally misses all the other factors that can be impacting on someones health and capacity to care for themselves with kindness and compassion. (Of course, I still talk a lot about food, but in a different way)
Factors such as socioeconomic status, genetics, weight stigma, fat phobia, poor self care practices, poor sleep, loneliness, lack of connection, physical ability, depression, shame and stress (from many sources) just to name a few ALL have an influence on your wellbeing and hence risk and management of chronic disease. Why are we not told this over and over??
Don't get me wrong, I am not against a person losing weight if their behaviours are keeping them at a weight that is higher than what their body is meant to be at. I just don't know if when we start looking at your situation, you will lose weight, gain weight or stay the same. It depends on so many factors.
I see the difference that working as a HAES dietitian has.
When people leave a consultation with me, I know I have the right approach when comments like the following are made: 'Thanks. That was so useful', ' The last dietitian I saw was nothing like you', ' I am glad I didn't cancel my appointment'.
What really hits my heart though is when I can save someone from getting deeper into a poor relationship with food and their body. If there are tears of relief from a teenage girl when I tell her that I am not going to put her on a diet to lose weight, I have done no harm.
What does it take though for us to reject the idea that we are obliged to pursue weight loss?
It takes trust, bravery and self compassion.
Trust that doing no harm means following the Intuitive Eating Principles and not diet culture. Trust that you will look after yourself better if you reject diet culture. Trust that your body will settle at whatever weight it is meant to be at, not what you decide it should be. Trust that I can share this message with others and they will want ME to coach them rather than a Weight Watchers meeting, the latest fad diet book, the PT from the gym, the girls at work etc. Trust in myself that if I want to follow what I believe in my heart, I can work hard enough to get this message out.
Bravery because going against what is normal can be hard.
Hard for me as a dietitian because so many people believe that weight loss is what they need and what they think all dietitians do. Bravery because I am going against what I have been taught and trusting the new research in this field. Bravery because people may not feel that the 20+ years of knowledge I have in many areas of nutrition mean anything unless weight is included.
Hard for everybody who has struggled to be OK with their weight because being brave means going against weight biased medical advice which will probably be uncomfortable. Bravery because we have to talk about feelings, and be willing to feel them. Bravery because people think you are giving up if you are not pursuing weight loss.
To not judge ourselves for our past ways of thinking or how this may have impacted on not only the people around us, but also ourselves.
So, if you are struggling to make peace with food and your body, and are ready to be brave, trusting and self compassionate, I am here to help.
My favourite podcasts, blog posts and articles.......