What will it take for me to have a normal relationship with food? {Ep 108}

Are you ready to let go of the food rules and embrace body acceptance, no matter your size? Is it time to cast aside the myths we’ve learned through diet culture about what we eat and what we look like? Listen now as I respond to a letter from someone ready to take those next steps.

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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 April, 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

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Episode’s Key Points:

  • You CAN have a normal relationship with food! How do you do that? By placing the blame where it belongs: with society.
  • We live in a world where people judge body size, and where people make assumptions about what we eat based on our size… but this isn’t a true representation of the various experiences that people in ALL bodies have!
  • Most people of size are actually some of the MOST disciplined people out there due to years and years of trying to diet.
  • Weight Watchers just announced a special, free summer program for teens. This is a problem!! Dieting is the number one precursor for eating disorders, and the summer is a particularly vulnerable time.
  • The food we eat doesn’t dictate our moral value!
  • Losing weight and maintaining a smaller body size is about trying to find acceptance from the culture around us… but in reality, diets don’t provide long-term, true acceptance!
  • Diets give us the hope that we’ll be finally treated with respect and be able to participate in our lives to the fullest extent, in ways that we couldn’t before the weight loss. But this is a fantasy! First, losing weight doesn’t grant us these things automatically. And second, diets fail. Long-term intentional weight loss is virtually IMPOSSIBLE! And the diet industry knows it. They COUNT on repeat customers.
  • The blame is not on you. It’s on our world’s fatphobia. But there’s no simple cure for eradicating weight bias! So what have we got to do? We as individuals have to join together and take a stand, and that starts with acknowledging our own internalized fatphobia and rejecting it.
  • Practice respect and compassion with yourself, continue to place the blame on our society, continue to deconstruct your own bias, and eventually you’ll come to a place where you can call out the fatphobia around us. This is how we change the world for generations to come!

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.

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.

The Worst Diets for PCOS

Are you or is someone you know affected by PCOS? I have some bonus episodes for you! Listen now for the first bonus episode all about which diets are the WORST for PCOS management.

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This episode is brought to you by my online PCOS and Food Peace course.

Product links may be affiliate. If you click and make a purchase, there’s no extra cost to you.

Episode’s Key Points:

  • The primary treatment for PCOS is dieting… but diets don’t work long-term! So what do we do?
  • We’re going to look at three different diets and break down why they don’t work for PCOS management…
    • Low-calorie diets: if you have PCOS, reducing calories below a certain point promotes inflammation, which is ultimately super harmful for our health, contributes to extreme exhaustion, drives up insulin levels, and encourages weight gain in the long-term.
    • The Keto diet: Keto diets promote a low-carb, low-fat, low-protein eating style, and if you have PCOS, you need more protein in your diet than the average person! Plus, there’s ZERO published research looking at folks trying Keto plans who also are managing PCOS. The majority of the research also doesn’t look any further than 4-6 weeks, which isn’t long enough to claim long-term weight-loss success!! Long-term, Keto is going to promote weight gain and obsession over your food choices (which can ultimately lead to eating disorder behavior!!).
    • Weight Watchers: WW is similar to the low-calorie meal plan, but it may actually be the WORST for PCOS! That’s because it’s super accessible, and it co-opts body-positive language to pretend it’s not a diet. Plus, they encourage low-fat and low-protein consumption, and remember, if you struggle with PCOS, you need more protein!! Less protein contributes to fatigue! Plus, WW has done their very own diet research that shows that 80% of their participants regain the weight within two years (and it’s probably higher than that!).
  • You deserve a recommendation that’s going to be health-promoting in the long term. So what do you do?? Any kind of style of eating that you’re doing should promote energy and make room for connection with family and friends. You should also make sure to choose something that has been shown to work long-term through the research (including through your personal evidence!).
  • The number one predictor of weight gain is dieting, and the more we diet, the more we gain! But this is NOT your fault!! You’ve been given the wrong tools.
  • Letting go of dieting is NOT letting yourself go… it’s letting yourself BE.
  • Wondering how to promote health with PCOS without dieting? Tune into the next Love, Food bonus episode to find out!

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.

Oprah: Science Says It Won’t Be Different This Time

Dear Oprah Science

Oprah got me. She seduced me. Her words, the rhythm, the soothing tones.

I felt the surge of empowerment and everlasting change.

But just as I was being swept up by her promises, I woke up out of my reverie.  Before I knew it, I was throwing my remote across the room, *thankfully* just missing the TV.

I rewound the Oprah Weight Watcher commercial and listened to her words and now I am pissed. You should be too. She is selling us a fantasy.

Each weight loss quest gives us hope. We feel ⎯ this time for sure.  As we make our rigid food lists of “eat this not that“, our minds may feel clearer. Safer. The start of a diet engages our minds in a seductive fantasy of a new day involving happiness, acceptance, and peace.


Oprah speaks about fellow fat women as the target for her campaign because, paraphrasing here: fat women cannot be enough and true to themselves until there is less of them. I disagree: you are enough today, just as you are and at your current weight.

Here’s a dose of reality.

Like this post? Read my reaction to Oprah Winfrey buying into Weight Watchers.

Some are not meant to live in a body with a body mass index (BMI) of 20 to 25

Your body prefers that you weigh a certain amount. It may or may not fit within that narrow BMI weight range. Fighting your genetics and set point sets you up to eat for weight loss, NOT health. Eating for health includes variety, moderation and balance, as well as following hunger and fullness cues. Many Weight Watcher dropouts share they were told NOT to follow hunger cues;  rather, follow the points.Weight Watchers would have you believe that their point system isn’t a diet, just a way of life.  Yet, if it isn’t a diet, then why do they need any points? Why the need to check weight at all? Pursuing weight loss and ignoring hunger cues means you’re  eating for weight loss, not eating for health.

Dieting predicts weight gain

In her weight loss commercial, Oprah mentions “trying and failing, trying again, and again, and again”. I know that many can relate to this; yet why will this time be different? Researchers have long known that diets don’t work, and it’s only a matter of time how quickly the weight comes back on. Reviewing research, we find those who focus on weight loss dieting weigh more. Crazy, right?!?

Considering this information, Oprah didn’t fail. Nor did you. The diet did. Would you buy a product or service that fails over and over? Let’s not let the diet industry get away with this. Here’s fabulous content from Evelyn Tribole RD, explaining why dieting predicts weight gain.

No diet keeps weight off more than a year or two

There’s no research to date that shows any diet, no matter how wildly popular it is, actually keeps the weight off for more than one year. Not one. Most scholarly journals publishing articles on dieting stop at one year or earlier. Articles that look further out than a year have incredibly high dropout rates.

You can live without dieting. Here’s how and why.

Not dieting will make you healthier

Taking time away from diets will help your body stop weight cycling. The yo-yo effect negatively impacts insulin levels, inflammation, and blood pressure. Selecting foods with their sole purpose of losing weight can hurt your health over time instead of improving it. Even if your weight is higher than your body prefers (which it may not be!), ending the yo-yo dieting and weight cycling will be the best investment in your health.

Stop dieting to stop bingeing

Lastly, stepping away from weight loss pursuits will give you the opportunity to feel less craving to binge. Do you feel chaos around food when not dieting? Don’t blame yourself or the food — blame the dieting. Within my clinical work with bingeing behavior, my clients stop bingeing only after they stop dieting.

This January, our eyeballs will be saturated with Before-and-After pictures. They will be amazing. Some unbelievable. Before you let yourself get seduced, remember that it is just a fantasy. Those pictures make it seem like anyone can lose weight permanently when that is possible for just 3% of those who diet.

Remember to ask, what happens after after?

Will you stop the diet cycle? If not now, when?