Asking for Help + Self-Advocating

Hello, hello!

It’s been a hot minute since I blogged out something that wasn’t an Abundantly Enough post so I’m excited to be back. I started a new job as a clinical dietitian in February and I’m so excited to share my thoughts on integrating medical nutrition therapy and HAES/intuitive eating, but between that and classes for my Master’s – I was overrun. It was good to take a break from blogging just from a time management perspective, but I’m learning that sharing here and on social media is one of my favorite ways to reflect on and refine my values, so here we are. I can’t promise consistency or perfection in posting, but I can promise real life and honesty in the hopes that I’ll resonate with you the way that my favorite bloggers do with me.

My counselor said something that really resonated with me the other day – that anxiety happens in the past and the future, but not so much the present. Learning how to live in the present instead of allowing imagined scenarios to run wild is a really grounding way to deal with that. In some kind of roundabout way, I’ve noticed myself being louder about what I need because I know that my present self needs to deal with the present, if that makes sense.

Speaking as a formerly-and-still-sometimes-currently-stubborn person, I’m not huge on asking for help because I can fix everything myself, right? But having a 2017 that included a car accident, a wedding, a cross-country move, and graduate school broke me down and rebuilt me in a way that’s more humble, more open, and more willing to ask for help. In the past 6 months, I’ve asked for more help than ever – and it’s been spiraling up in the best ways. In a weird way, involving more people is allowing me to cultivate a healthy selfishness.

Taking time off to fly home and celebrate my mama’s birthday was the best kind of selfish when it comes to a work schedule. 10/10 recommend surprising people whenever and wherever you can.

I brought in some mentors for my new job that I can bounce ideas off of, help guide me with regulations, and just generally check up on me. Having second opinions is building my confidence, helping me grow, and helping my patients receive the best care because they’re getting both experienced and fresh perspectives. I’m the only dietitian for the facility, so it also helps me feel less isolated in my profession.

I also started seeing a dietitian to help me work through some stress, thyroid, and cycle concerns. I carried a lot of stubbornness last year when it came to taking time off to care for my body and seeing healthcare professionals of my own, and it didn’t serve me well. So rather than self-treat or deny, I’m working with someone who can provide a fresh, outside perspective on the kind of TLC my body is asking for.

I mentioned this on Instagram (ironically), but I’m trying hard to create boundaries around my phone and social media – which feels really new and unsettling sometimes but also really right to not be plugged in 24/7. It’s so nice to be in a social media community that values similar self-care and boundaries that I do, so I can actually turn my brain off and not worry about little picture squares and how to write a caption.

Finally, this question is helping me make decisions in the present and decide where I can advocate for myself and where I can place more/less focus. I tend to think about long-term/future goals only and not what’s happening now, so reframing it to display how my present can fuel my future is super helpful.

How was your week, friends? Eat something good this weekend!

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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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