Alive and Well Podcast: A Healthy Perspective on Nutrition

Hello there! I was recently interviewed as a guest on the Alive & Well podcast regarding nutrition and health promoting ways to think about the food we eat. You can listen to the podcast here: http://aliveandwellpodcast.com/julie-dillon/ or scroll below for the highlights 🙂 I hope it provides more mojo for your Food Peace journey.

A few main points that were discussed:

  • You’re not failing the diet, the diet is failing you.<— Such a key point!!
  • The keys to health are the food peace journey and intuitive eating. <—Not dieting!
  • It’s important to give yourself unconditional permission to eat. <—-It’s not letting yourself go. It’s letting yourself BE!

Highlights of the podcast include:

The Food Peace Journey

“So many people believe that if they’re not dieting, they’re letting themselves go. That’s simply not the case. We’re all born knowing what to eat and how much, but we lose that along the way.”

“The journey usually feels more like counseling than a diet regimen. It’s about helping us understand why we view food the way we do.”

“Intuitive eating is a big piece of this as well. It’s simply finding a way to rely on your own hunger and fullness cues and establishing ways outside of eating to cope with emotions, while also having permission to eat what you want.”

Losing Weight as a Part of the Food Peace Journey

“Weight loss isn’t a behavior and it’s not the goal of the journey, which is hard for a lot of people to accept. Some people’s body weight, as they make peace with food, really won’t change much. We have to get to a place where we respect that our bodies may not change even when we’re living a healthy lifestyle.”

Navigating the Unconditional Permission to Eat

“Unconditional permission to eat scares a lot of people. The more our brain is exposed to a food, the less our brain gets excited about it. Our brain is always rooting for us to have a variety of foods so when we get used to a certain food, we no longer crave it. That’s why we generally don’t want to eat the same food multiple days or weeks in a row.”

“Relationships are equally or more important than the food you eat, so when you keep yourself from eating food and generate a craving for it, you give it more power than it should have.”

Disordered Eating and Eating Disorders for Women in Mid-Life

“Eating disorders do not only affect young women. Many, many women begin an unhealthy view of food and eating disorder midway through life, or around 45 years of age.”

“These eating disorders are often caused by big life changes such as moving, divorce, or a change in career. Thirteen percent of women in midlife experience the effects of some sort of eating disorder.”

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The only way to end Eating Disorders is to end the WAR on “obesity”

 

While reading my Instagram feed during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I have been inspired by the recovery conversations. I have seen memes, blog posts, and heard podcasts empowering us to advocate for the changes in how we view eating disorders.

Eating disorders don’t fit the stereotypes. I admit I used to recognize eating disorders in just thin white teen girls. Don’t make the same mistake!

Eating disorders come in all sizes, all genders and gender identities, all ethnicities, and all backgrounds. You cannot tell if someone is experiencing an eating disorder by looking at someone.

Never.

I met with my first client affected by an eating disorder in 1999. Since then modern science has been able to connect so many dots to allow us to better understand eating disorders.

Here’s what we know:

  • there is a genetic link to eating disorders. Just like someone with a genetic predisposition for alcoholism avoiding alcohol, those with certain genetic traits should avoid certain behaviors to help avoid setting themselves up for an eating disorder. Does this guarantee no eating disorder will occur?? No and it does set up a protection from it and brings down the likelihood.
  • Which behaviors should be avoided? Dieting, pursuing weight loss, and/or manipulating food to promote weight outcomes. Diets have been found in research to predict eating disorder behaviors.
  • While not everyone who diets gets an eating disorder, diets set a person up for metabolic long term consequences like high cholesterol, high insulin, high blood sugar, and high triglycerides. These consequences are connected to weight cycling, that yo-yo effect from going on a diet and losing weight, then regaining the weight, then dieting again.
  • Most people experience some sort of disordered eating because of diet culture. We are taught at an early age that fat is bad and we should eat to avoid it all costs.

I like to imagine a world free of eating disorders and disordered eating. Imagine everyone experiencing this earth free from food and weight worries? Imagine what we would do if we didn’t have to worry about our weight, or what we would eat and not each day?

Imagine how much shit we would get done.

While we are dreaming, let’s work back a bit toward reality. What would be different in this eating disorder free world? What could we bring from this dream land to make it more like our current world?

I know what would be different.

We would no longer be fighting obesity.

We would not consider certain bodies “an epidemic” with billions emptied into eradicating these bad bodies.

We would no longer make judgements based on sight to predict health, intelligence, and worth.

Tap. Tap.

I need to check into your dream world for a second. Let’s be sure we are on the same page.

Be sure to note this dream world is NOT full of skinny people.

It is not full of people with BMIs of less than 25. or 30. or 40.

This lower BMI world is still FULL of eating disorder. More disordered than currently.

No longer fighting obesity to end eating disorders doesn’t mean no more fat people.

No longer fighting obesity means we catch up with science and decency:

No longer fighting obesity means we stop fighting bodies.

No longer fighting obesity means we honor size diversity.

No longer fighting obesity means appreciating health comes in every size.

And every size should exist. Every size should have access to care, education, employment.

Every size is celebrated for the soul it carries.

We will only find solutions to end eating disorders and disordered eating if we end fat phobia.

Why?

  • Making size a moot point will eliminate the need for diets. Eliminating the need and industry for diets will prevent those with the genetic predisposition for an eating disorder from as easy access to the pathology.
  • Recovering from an eating disorder means abstaining from diets. How can one abstain from diets when culture dictates that dieting is normal eating or pursuing weight loss is healthy? With diets no longer in style, healthy eating will include eating for self-care, variety, and satiety.
  • Fear of gaining weight is a significant part of the eating disorder experience. Unfortunately, our world normalizes and justifies this fear because of health misinformation, confirmation bias, and fat phobia. Eliminating this cultural fear of fat will help those recovering to do the same. Honestly, I cannot imagine anyone able to recover from this part of their eating disorder until this is eradicated.
  • Many people have a body who’s preferred weight is higher than the cultural norm. Try recovering from an eating disorder yet your eating disorder team says your weight is too high? Huh?? Yes it happens and way too often. Fat phobia within the eating disorder field is abundant and this prevents those needing to be at a higher weight from full recovery.

There are more reasons and time is short while I type this. I want to push publish before I pick up my kids from school 🙂 So I am leaving this incomplete until I can add more. Maybe you want to add more too? Shoot me an email (julie@juliedillonrd.com) and I will add yours, crediting your thoughts. ✌🏾

The Should Eat Fantasy Compliance

How many diets have you been on? When was the first one? Most people have been dieting in some shape or form….or coming off a diet…or preparing to go back on a diet….for as long as they can remember.

Can you relate?

I believe we live in a culture that has trained us to distrust our bodies and think we need to follow orders to pick out dinner options. 

We should be eating this. We should be eating that. We must not eat this after 7, or else…

Or else what?

All these shoulds lead most of us toward shame, guilt and distrust of our own innate wisdom. You were born knowing how to eat and how much. All those diets disconnected you from that. 

You may be wondering, “But I feel so good when I am dieting, at least for a little while.”

Totally. Diets and preparing for them give the notion that things will be alright soon. Just the decision to embark on a diet can relax and calm you. Your head may feel clear for the first time in a long time.

The first few days or weeks of a diet can give off a buzz of excitement and kudos from well-meaning friends and family.

Can you feel it? That’s diet seduction.

And it is just a fantasy.

The reality is diets are only short term. They are unsustainable. This is not just a belief of mine rather evidenced-based in literally hundreds of research studies.

So why do you blame yourself for the diet ending?

If diets don’t work for most people, why do doctors and dietitians recommend them?

If diets are actually harmful long term…promoting weight cycling, higher insulin levels, higher triglycerides, higher blood sugars, depression, and negative body image….why are they recommended to improve health?

Those are important questions with a really nasty answer:

The world is so fat phobic that it cannot wrap its head around the notion that weight loss is not a behavior. And, medical science has yet to find ONE diet that works to promote health and promote maintenance long term for most people. Even more, this mind control is rooted in white supremacy and misogyny.

You see how people of size are treated in our world: chairs don’t fit, airplanes won’t accommodate, and culture hasn’t provided equal treatment in academia, the military, or employment.

This constant discrimination sends anyone trying to find a way to fit in. To find more ease in a world that says their body is not acceptable.

A fat body dieting is complying with the orders: eat this not that. Do all that it takes to weigh less. Even if it hurts.

And each time you comply with the orders, the fantasy of equal treatment and a better life fill your head.

This is The Should Eat Fantasy Compliance.

This is the reason why you keep getting sucked back into Diet Culture and it is so important. You are just doing what you are told while craving equality and decency.

Unfortunately The Should Eat Fantasy Compliance distracts us all from the facts that diets don’t work for most people and they are harmful. It also distracts us from the bigotry that comes from weight stigma, racism, and gender inequality. 

I want to stand with you radically rejecting diets and reconnecting to your own innate wisdom for health.

This week’s Love Food podcast episode (107) is one of my all time favorites because it gives you the tools to stand up to the villain. In this episode I go through the 4 pillars to Food Peace: permission, pleasure, consistency, and variety. Take a listen here or via your favorite pod catcher.

Until then, call out the real villain. And take off that shame cloak. It is not for you. It never was.

 

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help.

Listen to the Love Food podcast and find new ways to rewrite your fate with food and body.

You can find it on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, your fav pod catcher or right here.

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.

Huh?

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.

Warmly,

Julie

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.​

Body Positive PCOS New Year Resolutions

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

Are you tired of new year resolutions related to weight loss yet wonder what else to focus on?

As the new year approaches you may find yourself surrounded by diet culture at its annual peak. This is particularly difficult time to avoid diets.

Here are are 5 New Year’s resolutions that will help your PCOS while maintaining a weight-neutral approach.

Experiment with giving yourself permission to eat.

Allow yourself to eat without restriction and rules. This is scary at first, but eliminating the rules will allow you to better listen to your body.

Take a leap of faith, and trust yourself to shake off the rules created by diet culture.

Eliminating food rules will even make eating a more wholesome experience that creates space for connection, creativity, and warmth around food.

Engage in movement that brings you joy.

Let your body be present and fully engaged in movement. Move in a way that lets you feel connected to your body.

Strip away the judgments about stamina, duration, and frequency.

Simply let your body be.

Eat enough protein.

Julie recommends that people with PCOS experiment with eating 10 to 20 grams of protein in the morning and evening. Shift your focus away from labeling foods as good versus bad, and focus on eating enough.

Observe how this change affects your energy levels and PCOS symptoms.

I have found it helpful to create a list of go-to meals with enough protein. I like to be ready for the unexpected, so my go-to meals range from take-out to super fancy recipes.

Observe how your body reacts to different foods.

Be your own scientist as your discover how to best manage your PCOS.

Be a neutral observer as you explore how you feel after you eat different types of foods. You may find it helpful to take notes throughout this process. Observe how specific foods affect your energy levels, mood, and appetite.

Remind yourself that you can use this information as you please. This does not mean that you have to eliminate any foods that do not leave you completely energized and satisfied.

Don’t be scared to say, “no.”

Say “no” to people, ideas, and healthcare professionals that are not serving you and your PCOS experience. Listen to your gut instinct.

Stepping away from experiences that are not serving you will create space for experiences that are aligned with your values.

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

Julie can show you how!