Body Kindness Book Club

Exciting news!

On Sundays this May, Amy and I are hosting a virtual book club! We’re digging into Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, and we’d love for you to join us.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Pick up a copy of Body Kindness.
  2. Join the Abundantly Enough Facebook group.
  3. Read along with us!
  4. Tune into our live Sunday videos to add your thoughts and keep the conversation going!

SCHEDULE

We’re tackling one section per week – here’s how it will look:

Sunday, May 6 | Part One: What You Do
Sunday, May 13 | Part Two: How You Feel
Sunday, May 20 | Part Three: Who You Are
Sunday, May 27 | Part Four: Where You Belong

If you can’t read along with our schedule – don’t worry about it! We’re archiving the videos, so all you need to do is join the group and read at your own pace!

We can’t wait to see you there!

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First, Do No Harm | A Response To “Is the Anti-Diet Movement Leading Us Astray?”

a response to "is the anti-diet movement leading us astray?"

Trigger warning: the articles mentioned in this post contain diet language and weight talk.

“Is the anti-diet movement leading us astray?”

I have to admit – I scroll through social media a lot during the day, as I think most of us do. I think it’s fun to follow friends and blogs, and I love the HAES community I’ve found. It’s life-affirming for me to discuss my values with people that share them, and it refreshes me when motivation is low. But when I saw the above headline being shared in my circles, my mind started spinning and my stomach dropped.

Intuitive eating and HAES have gained a lot of buzz lately, but also (as with anything rising in popularity) a lot of criticism. Usually, I’m up for an open discussion! It’s not my job to show up perfectly for anyone else, nor is it yours. But I highly value IE and HAES, and I like to share that with others.

The problem is, these articles fail to understand even the most basic concepts of HAES. Instead, they take culturally acceptable norms and project them onto a movement aimed at challenging those very assumptions. They disregard the science, and put appearance on a pedestal. And they certainly don’t take into account the several factors that influence health (not one of which is weight). So, today I’m tackling some of the problems and assumptions in that article – because we as practitioners owe it to our patients and ourselves to first, do no harm. (For the record – the article did quote Rebecca Scritchfield, one of my favorite body-positive RD’s! It just included a lot of diet culture messaging and I’d like to clear some things up.)

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WHAT ANTI-DIET STANDS FOR

First of all, all of the articles I’ve read have a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be anti-diet. Anti-diet doesn’t mean “disregard all health recommendations and exist entirely on highly palatable foods.” It doesn’t mean you don’t care about your health. Anti-diet is pro health.

Here’s some things we know: dieting predicts weight gain. Size acceptance and intuitive eating improve outcomes. Weight stigma has negative psychological and physiological effects.

So instead of a stigmatizing, rigid, and harmful approach to “health” that applauds those with the genetics that allow them to achieve a culturally approved aesthetic, we’re offering an approach that fits and honors the health of all individuals. To slap a literal “one size fits all” recommendation on patients is a disservice to not only our patients, but ourselves – it’s lazy medicine.

When we recommend that patients leave dieting behind, we’re recommending that they release the pursuit of weight loss – an endeavor we know to be unsuccessful and mentally, physically, and emotionally taxing. Focus is taken away from external cues like an eating plan or calorie count, and turned inwards to what you like, and what feels good in your body. Instead of eating trendy “superfoods” because we think we have to, intuitive eating opens us up to discovering a wide variety of foods that are pleasurable and satisfying to us. It’s not a diet. It’s freedom. (For more on how health behaviors align with a non-diet approach, read this and this).

Anti-diet stands for:

  • Value and care for all people, regardless of size
  • A flexible way of thinking about health that acknowledges differences between individuals
  • Fighting the assumptions often assigned to people in larger bodies
  • Defining health in a way that’s enjoyable to us as individuals

Weight is an outcome, not a behavior – meaning it’s not something that we can control. Instead of a focus on weight, the anti-diet approach places focus on the whole patient, health behaviors, and the patient’s wants and wishes.

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DIET CULTURE IS MORE EXTREME

Every time I hear someone describe this approach as extreme, I remember what it was like the last time I dieted. The crazy tactics I tried to use to avoid certain foods, force-feed myself the “trendy” health foods of the day, and how stressed I was if I ate more than my daily allotted calories. I’m not going to list actual eating disorder behaviors here, but let me assure you – they’re more extreme than diet culture.

The “extreme-ness” of dieting is viewed as “worth it” in our culture because of the high value that is placed on having a specific type of body. What diet culture is really saying is, “It’s only extreme if it doesn’t fit into my personal values”, aka: “I find it extremely shocking that you dare disagree with me.”

This viewpoint that anti-diet values are “extreme” seems to stem from social media. The argument is made that anti-diet posters show just too dang many highly palatable foods like pizza and ice cream. As my sweet friend Haley puts it, responsible social media means that if we’re going to show food, we have to show all of it. It’s natural and normal to eat those foods, among many others. It’s fun to share pictures on social media. And nobody is obligated to sit there and type a pages-long caption about how much they ate of the pictured food or what decisions went into choosing that food.

Diet culture has done such a loud and effective job of stigmatizing food, that we have to be just as loud and frequent in our posting of those “forbidden foods”. If there’s one thing I want my followers to know, it’s that I don’t make my eating decisions based on what will look good on the ‘gram, or give much thought to if I have too many desserts back-to-back on my feed. Like unrestrained eating, those little square pictures will balance themselves over time.

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HOW IS THIS SERVING PEOPLE IN BIGGER BODIES?

Pretty well, thanks. A size-neutral and intuitive eating approach actually helps stabilize weight and improves health outcomes, as opposed to a weight-centric approach. Favoriting a weight neutral approach removes stigma and protects our patients from its effects. How are patients supposed to trust us if we don’t value their whole health? Who are we to decide who does and does not deserve a holistic, patient-centered approach?

When people ask “how does this serve people in bigger bodies?”, they are assuming that people in bigger bodies are automatically unhealthy, that they want to change their body size, and that they have control over their body size. They’re saying that the only health that matters is physical health, and that weight loss is the only way to get there (no and also no). The big takeaway: anti-diet is primarily about ceasing to focus on weight as an indicator of health – it’s more of how we can use our internal cues and knowledge to guide healthful eating, sleeping, moving, and social patterns in a way that helps us live out our values.

Healthcare is a service field. That means we serve each and every person that needs our help and knowledge, and that we don’t discriminate based on anything.

You deserve quality healthcare. You deserve to be heard. You deserve to be viewed as a whole person, not one value. So no, the anti-diet movement hasn’t gone too far. It’s not even halfway done yet.

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3 Non-Food Blogs I Love

three non food blogs I love

I was talking to my pal Amy the other day about how it’s ironic that even though I’m a dietitian, I’d actually love if people thought less about food. I.e., if they made decisions based on what sounds good, what would feel good in their body, and what fits in their budget instead of if they have the calories or points left in the day, or how they’re going to “work it off” later. I think it’s awesome to be a part of this blog-y and social media community that embraces size diversity and intuitive eating! But I also think it’s awesome to have interests other than the food you eat and the workouts you do.

So, on that note… today, I’m sharing three of my favorite non-food blogs that I read each week. The best part is, none of them have tons of sneaky, diet-y posts hiding in the archives.

Image via the DIY Playbook

THE DIY PLAYBOOK

I have never in my life found a home blog that fits so well with my personal style. The DIY Playbook is what my dream house looks like, and so 5x every week I basically get to dream along with them about what my house could look like! I have a solid 10+ posts bookmarked, from tutorials to decor inspiration, for when Drew and I become homeowners. Also, I love when you feel like you could be friends with the authors behind blogs – which I could definitely see with these girls! They also have ties to my hometown of St. Louis, so they pretty much can do no wrong in my eyes.

Favorite posts:

How to Dress Up a Store Bought Cake

Create a Functional Entryway in an Empty Hallway

Built-In Reveal (I am now obsessed with the idea of built-in storage and Drew’s eyes may fall out from all the rolling them he’s doing)

Image via The Small Things Blog

THE SMALL THINGS BLOG

I found Kate’s blog on Pinterest when Pinterest, Youtube, and blogs were all new, so it’s been fun to follow her style (and adorable kids!) for the last few years (like, 8 years. We go back, guys). I feel the same way about beauty as I do about food: it’s not something to overthink, but it’s fun sometimes to see if you can add extra fiber/protein to a recipe or learn a new braid to put in your hair. Also, it makes me feel super legit to know about the right ways to blow-dry your hair or blend eyeshadow. I mean, I’m not good at it… but I do know how to. Also, Kate has the best Instagram stories of anyone I follow.

Favorite posts:

Blow-Dry Mistakes You May Be Making + How to Fix Them

Date Night Makeup (I actually own this eyeshadow so I’m biased, but I’m there for anything natural looking)

How to Stretch and Soften Braids

Image via Blair Blogs

BLAIR BLOGS

So, to be completely honest, Blair’s blog and sharing platform has taken a shift towards Youtube instead of written blogs… but I’m counting it and I love a good vlog. I watch these a lot in the morning while I get ready – there’s something about how cheerful and productive these vlogs are that makes me feel like I’m starting my day on the right foot! I also appreciate how real some of these vlogs are – Blair did a monthly vlog series (Rooted) last year and spoke about finding community in a new town, and it sounds like she’s talking straight to me. Last year, I also moved away from family into a very small town, and it’s so comforting and refreshing to hear I’m not alone and I don’t have to love it all the time.

Favorite posts:

Why My Approach to Food is So Relaxed

Full, But Not Busy

3 Things to Do On Saturday Morning

If you have favorite blogs, I’d love to hear about them and check them out! Have the best week, y’all!

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