(206) What about health and intuitive eating?

Does anti-diet mean anti-health? Does intuitive eating mean letting go of health? Moving away from diets is not neglecting the evidence, it is using it. It’s time to dive into how rejecting diets reunites us with health and dignified care.

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This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how. Use the coupon code ‘lovefood’ at checkout for 30% off during the month of February 2020.

Dear Food,

My ideas surrounding you have always been related to health. Growing up in a larger body, with a mother who was a physician, had me constantly aware and ashamed of myself. For me, you were always supposed to be something I was conscious of. My own doctor would show me where I was on the growth curve, and constantly telling me that my BMI was unhealthy. These experiences were ingrained in me from a very early age. I was told “you burn more calories sitting up rather than laying down” when watching TV and only provided with “healthy” snacks, snacks that I never wanted. I was told to ignore my cravings and, instead, eat a handful of almonds. My mom and I were always dieting together, for the sake of “health”. This quest for health led me to nursing school, hoping to be able to heal my sickness and the sickness of others. This is when I was subconsciously introduced to medicalized fatphobia. The nutrition class I had to take encouraged us to count calories in and count calories out. This only encouraged my obsessive weight loss behavior, getting to a point where I was regularly consuming less than X calories a day and obsessively exercising X days a week. Now that I am in school to become a midwife and also pursuing food peace through intuitive eating, I am much more aware and disturbed by the medicalized fatphobia that I am supposed to take part in. Learning the formula for “ideal body weight” (a real thing that was taught to me in one of my classes), I am “supposed” to be X lbs, a weight I have NEVER reached even with my days of severe restriction. I am learning how to make sure the pregnant people I take care of aren’t gaining “too much weight” during their pregnancy and also how a lot of contraceptives are not designed for people in larger bodies. I desperately want to be a practitioner that lives outside the medicalized fatphobia, but I am worried that if I do, I will be shunned by my coworkers and superiors as a bad provider. I’m not sure how to reconcile my understanding of chronic health conditions that are supposedly related to larger bodies and also my desire to follow Health At Every Size principles.

Everyday Fighter of the System  

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Wake Up Weight Watchers

I have been off the figurative grid the last few weeks to reboot. And, on a whim when I momentarily had wifi, I scrolled through Instagram only to see the horrifying news:

Weight Watchers, the diet company that has already stolen so much time, money, and self-compassion from us, is giving away memberships to teens this summer. 

Why is Weight Watchers choosing to give away memberships??

To teach body dissatisfaction?

To suck more innocent children into the hell of an eating disorder?

To help teens start a life of self blame for weight cycling?

To help promote weight gain?

Diets to Eating Disorders

Too many people have told me their life long and life threatening eating disorder started as a teen walking into Weight Watchers. Often they walked in with their mothers. Or, after the recommendation from their doctor.

As fellow dietitian Laura Thomas says, “Not everyone who goes on a diet gets an eating disorder yet everyone with an eating disorder has gone on a diet.” 

We know eating disorders have a genetic link and going on a diet is all it takes to start the ball rolling for an eating disorder to be born. Think of someone with alcoholism in their family, taking their first drink and that starts an abusive relationship with alcohol. 

Teaching diets to those with the genetic disposition for an eating disorder sets them up to experience the mental illness with the highest mortality rate.

You may be saying….But, Julie, we need to worry about teens with diabetes and eating disorders are rare.

12 in 100,000 children have Type 2 Diabetes (Writings Group et al., “Incidence of Diabetes”) yet 2900 in 100,000 children experience an eating disorder*. Statistically, we need to worry more about eating disorders than increased adiposity.

You may be saying….But, we need to do something about the obesity epidemic. At least Weight Watchers is doing something.

Diets like Weight Watchers are doing something: making us sicker and they don’t work. 

Show me the data from any diet study (including any Weight Watchers research) that keeps weight off long term (that’s at least 2 years) for most people. THERE AREN’T ANY. Somehow diet companies sell a product, make 60 billion dollars a year, the product fails for most people, and the failure is PART of the PLAN. The diet companies KNOW their products don’t work and have convinced us we the people are at fault. 

You know what data we do have? That diets don’t work for most people. As Deb Burgard says, “We need to call the diet industry the weight cycling industry.” Weight cycling raises cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides, insulin, blood sugar. The more we diet, or weight cycle, the more we weigh.


Diets predict weight gain and eating disorders. 

So why in all H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks can Weight Watchers sell a product to our young precious children? How is this safe? Or legal? Or ethical? Or moral?

Why are we ok with this?

I love what my colleague Rebecca Scritchfield has to say about this Weight Watchers announcement in a recent Washington Post article

How can we stop this harm?

Consider signing this Change.org plea to stop this Weight Watchers campaign.

Do you have children that you worry about their eating or weight? 

Listen to this recent Love Food Podcast episode I did with my colleague Anna Lutz. She gives amazing insight.

Are you a fat teen?

Hello. I want you to know I see you. I don’t want you to change. You are acceptable as you are right now. You deserve to feel at home in your own skin and not torture yourself with a diet. Weight Watchers is a diet that doesn’t work for most people. Did you know you can trust your body to promote health? You have hunger, fullness, and satiety that let you know what your body needs. Don’t believe any diet sheet or think following points should dictate your worth. You are worthy already. That’s the point.

You don’t need them. 

But, we need you. 

Getting sucked into Weight Watchers or any other diet will only distract you from all that you bring to this world. 

Please don’t try to shrink yourself. Take up space. All that you want and need. I want to hear you and see you.

We need you not the points.



Here’s the footnote in case you dig that research stuff:

*K.R. Merikangas et al. “Lifetime Prevalence of Mental Disorders in US Adolescents: Results from the National Comborbitity Survey Replication-Adolescent Supplement.” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 49, no. 10 (2010): 980-9.

Weight Loss Isn’t the Answer for your PCOS

Kimberly Singh, Julie’s resident nutrition grad student ⇢also affected by PCOS!⇠ is back to blogging on PCOS topics. Enjoy!

It’s that time of the year again.

Everyone is revving their engines to prepare for a new lifestyle filled with vegetables and water.

They are starting their elimination diets and shaming their prior self for indulging in things like sugar and bread (gasp).

As they start this new lifestyle with blind optimism, they are sure this time will be different.

Not like last January, or the one before that, and so on. In a few weeks to months the craze will wear off, and most dieters will be back to eating sugar and whatever else they currently deem unhealthy trash.

Sound familier?

If you have PCOS this is probably a familiar cycle.

You already know the shame and pressure to change your body’s size through restrictive dieting and rigid exercise. 

As if society’s pressure to shrink yourself wasn’t bad enough, you probably have doctors promising you that all of your PCOS nightmares will end when you drop the weight.

Who wouldn’t want that?

They paint this beautiful picture of your PCOS symptoms vanishing with the proper amount of restriction. If you just do it right and long enough you will be practically cured.

However, they fail to warn you about the increased risk of eating disorders and weight cycling among dieting people with PCOS. They rarely ask about a history of binge eating disorder, which is common in people with PCOS. And last but not least, they fail to warn you that dieting causes you to ignore your body’s internal method of regulation.

Diets inherently tell you to ignore your body and listen to the blanket of shame that society throws on people of size. 

Healthcare professionals prescribe weight loss for PCOS as an ultimate solution, ignoring the weight cycling that usually accompanies the PCOS experience. The reckless prescription of restrictive diets to a population at an increased risk of eating disorders causes harm to people with PCOS.

Not only does dieting lead to weight gain (the literal opposite of what PCOS dieters expect) but it also poorly affects their health.

Diets discourage people from knowing how to use food as fuel for their bodies. Julie finds that by urging her clients to observe reactions to different foods, they are able to identify how to best energize their bodies and manage their PCOS.

People with PCOS get energy from food in a different way from others, and by turning down the volume on dieting, they are able to better hear what their bodies prefer. I have found it to be helpful to log how I feel 1-3 hours after eating different foods. 

Dieting can seem so appealing, especially for those of us with PCOS. It promises a whole new shiny life-a better version of yourself that is lingering inside of you and waiting to be released.

It can even sound like the only solution to your PCOS, but it is not.

You are the only solution. 

You have the internal wisdom to guide yourself to health and happiness, and don’t let diet culture tell you otherwise.

As the new year begins, I urge you to ditch your diet. I urge you to stop restricting. Stop listening to messages about weight loss filled with shame, and start listening to your body.

Here are some of my favorite resources when diet culture has me in the dumps:

  • Weight-neutral podcasts: some of my favorites are Love Food, Dietitians Unplugged, Food Psych, She’s all Fat.
  • Lindy West’s writing has a great balance of humor and realness of the fat experience.
  • Intuitive Eating (<–this is an affiliate link) is a must-have. It will help you unlearn diets.
  • And last but not least: myself! When I am present and grounded with myself, I know that diets are not right. Self-compassion and mindfulness help me get through my toughest moments.

Want to find a way to treat your PCOS without dieting?

Jeanes, Y. M., Reeves, S., Gibson, E. L., Piggott, C., May, V. A., & Hart, K. H. (2017). Binge eating behaviours and food cravings in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Appetite, 109(Supplement C), 24–32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2016.11.010

Lee, I., Cooney, L. G., Saini, S., Smith, M. E., Sammel, M. D., Allison, K. C., & Dokras, A. (2017). Increased risk of disordered eating in polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertility and Sterility, 107(3), 796–802. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.12.014

Mann, T., Tomiyama, A. J., Westling, E., Lew, A.-M., Samuels, B., & Chatman, J. (2007). Medicare’s search for effective obesity treatments: Diets are not the answer. American Psychologist, 62(3), 220–233. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.62.3.220

Morosi, A., & Jeanes, Y. (2017). Food cravings, binge eating and emotional eating behaviours in overweight and obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 76(OCE1). https://doi.org/10.1017/S0029665117000155

I’m poor and fat. Now what?? {Ep 96}

Are you struggling to make peace with food while simultaneously grappling with food scarcity? Is poverty and food insecurity contributing to feelings of deprivation? Listen now for ideas on how to navigate this food peace challenge.

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This episode is brought to you by my online course, Your Step-by-Step Guide to PCOS and Food Peace. Sign up now to get on the waitlist for the next enrollment period in January 2018, and receive my FREE road map: Your First 3 Steps Toward Food Peace with PCOS. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

Episode’s Key Points:

  • I just got back from BEDA! I had the honor of presenting at the conference, as well as meeting previous Love, Food guests and listeners!!
  • Lack of food access is a real food peace problem! When our body doesn’t have consistent access to food, food gains a lot of power in our lives.
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Only once our basic needs are met (food, shelter, oxygen, etc.) can we can reach higher levels.
  • The Hierarchy of Food Needs by Ellyn Satter: If someone doesn’t have access to food, you can’t work on changing eating patterns to support health.
  • Living in poverty causes oppression, and oppression physically harms our health.
  • PCOS is connected to many health markers that we KNOW are connected to oppression and poverty (high blood pressure, insulin issues, high triglycerides etc). Struggling with both simultaneously exacerbates the problem!
  • Poverty, living in an oppressed body, and experiencing chronic microaggressions sets us up for living in a fight or flight response. This can make conditions like PCOS MUCH worse!
  • Being pushed to diet long-term ALSO causes these negative health outcomes due to increased inflammation.
  • Most people who diet and lose weight with regain that weight in the long run, and most people who regain weight will actually regain more weight than they lost initially. This means that weight loss efforts are actually weight cycling… and weight cycling ALSO contributes to inflammation, high blood pressure, high insulin levels, high triglycerides, etc.
  • PCOS, poverty and discrimination, dieting, and weight cycling ALL contribute to inflammation, high blood pressure, high insulin levels, high triglycerides, etc. in the long term!!
  • You probably aren’t addicted to food… your body is just telling you after years of chronic dieting that you need food!! Make sure you’re eating enough, especially if you’re in a larger body and people are shaming you for your food intake, and that feeling of addiction will likely decrease.
  • Access to healthcare is also a problem here… we need equal access to health for ALL bodies!! 25% of health is determined by behaviors, and 75% of health can be attributed to genetics and the social determinants of health… this means that poor access to healthcare, food, and resources will impact your health negatively. So we need to promote health EQUITY if we want a healthy population!
  • Practice permission and cast aside shame.

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series.

The Love Food Podcast Episode 48 with Lauren Anton


Do you feel like your preoccupation and shame around food and your body end up making you miss out on parts of your life? Do you feel embarrassed and judged by your size, and often find other peoples’ comments about your weight triggering? Are you a person of size trying to navigate the professional world of health and nutrition while still feeling comfortable in your own skin? Listen now for some solutions on overcoming the shame and judgment around your body size.

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Key Points:

  • The importance of size diversity in the nutrition and dietetics profession.
  • Diets and kids: So often, kids are put on diets at a young age because they are considered “overweight.” This often does more harm than good, and ends up creating a breeding ground for a disordered relationships with food to grow.
  • Lauren Anton joins to answer the writer’s letter!
  • The unfair expectations placed on people in the health and wellness professions to look and act a certain way.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded folks who subscribe to an all-foods-fit, HAES mentality rather than people who are obsessed with food, calories, over-exercising, and dieting in order to avoid being around people who might be entrenched in weight stigma.
  • Some schools are adding advocacy and size diversity to their nutrition curriculum!
  • Weight loss is not the goal!!! Let’s be advocates of size diversity, rather than forcing everyone into one specific body type.
  • Would you say an English bulldog should look like a pit bull???? AKA, our bodies are the size and shape they are meant to be, and we should never try to force them to be something different.
  • “The body’s gonna do what it will.” – Lauren
  • How we relate to food mirrors how we relate to others and ourselves.
  • If we let judgment control our food choices, it only leads to weight cycling and a tumultuous relationship with food.
  • We must learn to love, respect, and accept ourselves!
  • Being in a larger body is not the bad thing. The way we treat and perceive the larger body is the bad thing.
  • Mindful eating and hunger/fullness techniques are not another diet!
  • Part of engaging with food is allowing joy.
  • You are worthy of nourishment no matter your size!!!

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series. Give me feedback via Twitter @EatingPermitRD.


This episode is sponsored by my friends at Green Mountain at Fox Run.
A special promotion for Love Food listeners:
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