Friday, March 23, 2012

The Anti-Diet Zealot.

Spending time this week at the IAEDP (International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals aka my people) conference. I will be back soon with many more tools in my toolbox. In my absence, please note what I think about diets:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shaming NEVER Promotes Health.

Shaming a person NEVER promotes health. Or, anything good.

So why do people keep shaming others to "help" them lose weight?

You probably have heard about Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's campaign to fight obesity (overview here and discussion here.) I was outraged from the start of this campaign because my large clients tell me their experiences in our world where shame has led them to promote self hate not health.

Now, Disney has thrown in its influence, money, and cartoonists to promote body shame and bullying. They just started this Habit Heroes online campaign and interactive Epcot exhibit to fight obesity. I am close to tears reading what this campaign has to offer although thankful that blogger Yoni Feedhoff brought it to my attention. The eye-opening post can be found here. This is just another campaign showing the skinny heroes saving those dumb enough to be fat (please read my pissed off sarcasm).

There is no way this campaign or any like it will promote long term health. Even more, those who are not large can be harmed by this message too. They are taught skinny people are better, stronger, and automatically healthy. These campaigns lay the foundation for bullying and a negative relationship with food.

Those in the fight against obesity often admit, although a tough pill to swallow, maybe shaming is okay because it will get people to make changes. I want to provide some insight as to why this does not work.
What shaming leads to:
  • not wanting to move one's body because one wants to hide it (thus less exercise)
  • not wanting to fuel one's body in a way that feels good during and after eating (thus less fruit, veggie consumption and eating more forbidden foods)
  • more negative self talk and then more depression
  • weight gain
After practicing as a dietitian for a few years, I witnessed smart, strong, beautiful, brave large people trying to attain health although the world kept calling them fat, lazy, and stupid.  Such a challenging task! Imagine trying to work toward health when the world keeps telling you that you are too stupid to realize something is "wrong" with you.

After consulting with experienced colleagues and finishing a master's degree in counseling, I have learned empowerment promotes health. Empowering interactions help people find intrinsic motivation to encourage a healthy life.

What empowerment leads to:
  • moving one's body more because one enjoys it and it feels good (thus more exercise)
  • wanting one's body to feel strong and able to do this movement; also wanting food to make the body feel good during and after eating (thus more fruits, veggies; "forbidden" foods eaten with less frequency)
  • more positive self talk and less depression
  • healthy bodies and minds
I am now off to configure a way to prevent my almost 4-year-old from experiencing this Disney campaign. I want her to love her body and want to promote health; I also want her to appreciate health comes in all shapes and sizes. I will teach her all bodies deserve love and respect. Although now, Disney just made my job so much tougher.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Before you start blaming yourself for eating Valentine chocolate...

Chaotic around food since Valentine's Day?

If you are feeling a bit out of sorts around abundant chocolate sources, you are not alone. And, it is not your fault.

Not. Your. Fault.

Guilty party: new year's resolution diets. The National Dieting Month promotes weeks of deprivation. This experience sets us up to feel uncomfortable and obsessed with banned food. It is our physiology. When our body is deprived of certain nutrients especially calories it will be obsessed with foods. Especially yummy quick acting fun food. Especially chocolate.

Need help believing this? Check out the research.

Want to stop the chaos? Stop dieting. Stop fighting. Call a truce.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Woman and her Mandolin's Simple Empowerment

I am singing her tune! The woman's plea for the media (and the world): stop minimizing my feelings, my experiences, my being because I am a woman. And, allow me to see size diversity instead of "dolls."

You gotta check this out. You'll be tapping your foot to her empowering mandolin tune too. I loved it so much, I just made her an honorary member of my anti-diet militia.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Have you heard of an artist who goes by the name Bone Sighs? I encourage you to check out her website and let it speak. Amazing inspirational work that literally moves mountains. I love this piece and it goes out to all of you who struggle with disordered eating. Know this fight is worth it and in the end will help others do the same.

Amazing art via

Monday, January 9, 2012

Where ED Lives

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This is where ED lives. He is all alone and it is dark. He can't get out. He can't harm others kept under lock and key in my office.

I invite clients to write a letter to their eating disorder (ED) letting him have it. The letters often curse ED and describe the years he took. And, they choose to take no more. Once the letter is written, each is torn to shreds and placed in this vase where it can spend eternity.

I promise my clients they can choose to leave their ED in my office for my "safe" keeping. (Rent free!) They don't have to lug him around anymore.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

National Dieting Month Commercials

Welcome to National Dieting Month. Following Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas it only seems natural: lots of fun food exposure leaving us vulnerable to dieting messages. Those diet companies sure are sneaky. And successful. In making money not promoting health.

The commercials try to stretch body image boundaries while covering it with comedy or fake feel good messages. The underlying message is often one of distrusting our bodies, weight loss brings everything good, and shame on our fat selves.

Case in point, this Crystal Light commercial:

My interpretation of the underlying message: we women need to constantly deprive ourselves to be sure we are good enough for a man to find us attractive. Because without this deprivation, there is no other way to be attractive. Nice. 

What message did you get? Would love to hear them in comments.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Planning Snacks that Feel Nourishing

As you start back to work, consider packing nourishing snacks to have on hand. Our blood sugar naturally dips between 2 to 4 pm which explains our fatigued Facebook daze about that time. 

Which foods to pack? That's up to the kinds of foods that help you feel energized as well as satisfied instead of sluggish and sleepy.

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Especially if you are affected by PCOS, I encourage you to consider experimenting with snacks with a protein + carb combo. I enjoy edamame and they conveniently come in individual frozen packs. Pop them in the microwave for a few minutes and be prepared to feel energized!

Other ones to experiment with could include:
  • apple + peanut butter
  • cottage cheese + fruit
  • Medjool dates + string cheese
  • Greek yogurt + granola

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

January 1st is where motivation lives. Fire-blazing Facebook and Twitter resolutions hog the screen with a good portion from those selling diet products. Although common, New Year's resolutions can be harmful when calorie-reducing diets are the prescription. Dieting is the strongest predictor for weight gain. I want to help protect you from this harm. And, my anti-diet militia is armed and ready for the fight.

As you get used to writing 2012 instead of 2011 (usually takes me until about May), I encourage you to consider how you experience certain foods and movement. Let your body decide your health promoting tools. And, yes, I think your body has this wisdom!

This time of year fuels my passion to protect those vulnerable to calorie restricting diets. My blog and I will be hanging out a lot of the next month. I hope it provides a safety beacon for those harmed by those diet ads.

Check out fellow anti-diet dietitian Rebecca Scritchfield discussing ways to promote health without dieting.
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr