Love Food Podcast Episode 000: A Concerned Dietitian’s Letter to Food

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Ep 000 ImageClean eating. Low carb. Low fat. Do this not that. Now what? Eating is getting too stuffy and complicated.

Throw open your windows to allow a new stream of health, wellness, and peace. Time to examine your dusty food belief knick-knacks.

What if you could write a letter to food? Pen to paper, you hash out the love/hate relationship and food’s undeserving power. Details go back years, to your first childhood diet trying to fit in. How you relate to food chronicles many of your life’s ups and downs.

In this letter, you examine your dusty food beliefs and wonder which go in the trash, are for others, and which remain in your heart.

What if you wrote this all down and food wrote you back? This is Love, Food.

Food behavior expert and host, Julie Duffy Dillon is rolling up her sleeves to get to the bottom of what is really healthy. This award-winning dietitian seen on TLC’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life has a secret: food is not your enemy and your body is tired of the constant attacks. Show topics include:

  • emotional eating
  • weight concerns
  • binge eating
  • orthorexia
  • body image
  • eating disorders
  • dieting
  • parenting and food
  • healthy eating
  • stress eating
  • food addiction
  • mindful eating
  • non diet approaches

Pull up a chair to your dusty kitchen table and set it for a meal. Ask food to sit alongside you and chat over coffee. Or a margarita. You have some reconnecting to do. In that connection is Love, Food. In that conversation is health and peace.

Here’s my Dear Food letter in Episode 000. Enjoy!

Dear Food,

When I was a new mom struggling with sleep deprivation and thoughts of inadequacy, I got a chance to travel to Europe with a friend. I hadn’t had a moment to myself in 18 months then flew to Paris and whoa. Paris. Such a romantic eclectic energizing adult place. The sight, smells, sounds feed me. And, Food, High five for that amazing banana and Nutella crepe while I got lost in Paris’s Latin Quarter. Do you remember how I was crying? not because of my constant feelings of failure that came with motherhood. Instead, I was so happy. So happy to be lost and alone and no one could find me. I was in that moment in gratitude for the moment and myself. I was happy being me. And strangely, eating such a lovely iconic French street food helped deliver that to me.

We haven’t been properly introduced Food. My name is Julie and I am a registered dietitian/nutritionist. Thank you for avocados, olives, and French fries. Thank you for energizing me with calories after I gave birth, which let me tell you felt like marathon. Do you remember the giggles my husband and I had while we took our first bites of wedding cake? Who was the first to smash it into who’s face? I don’t remember, it’s not important. What’s important is that you, food, have brought a connection to joy. You’re a vessel to experiencing life and its most important and mundane moments.

You may be wondering why I am writing. So here it goes: I have studied food and eating behavior for 16 years. I am fascinated with how and why we eat. A great dietitian whom I look up to, Ellyn Satter, says “When we take the joy out of eating, nutrition suffers.” We are suffering, Food. Have you heard about all the diets? All. The. Diets. We have clean eating. Low carb. Low fat. Paleo. Low calorie. Cabbage Soup.We also have hidden ones like “lifestyle change.” And just eating healthy. I believe these ideas started for good with heart centered intentions. But, wow, things are getting bad.

The first few years I was a dietitian, I worked with adults trying to lose weight. I also worked with large kids. I saw people trying so hard to lose weight in any way possible. I also saw them beat themselves up only to witness health care providers pushing them when they were down. Fat people given less care, treated differently. I was sucked in to this way. I feel much shame now. Knowing what I now know. {Deep sigh.} We told folks to try harder that dieting would make them healthier. When people, some children, would come get weighed in and gain, our eyes communicated our disappointment. Many never came back. I never understood why. I think I appreciate it now.

After 3 years of this work, I had to take a break. I wasn’t helping anyone get healthier. I completed a master’s degree in mental health counseling and found a new job as a dietitian. With my shiny new tools now I could finally help people lose weight. You know what happened…or really what didn’t. No one lost weight. Or at least for long. Instead I started to notice the mind fuck that dieting brings to the participant. It’s a seductive fantasy to start (THIS WILL BE THE TIME!), first days being good and feeling like a success, then a roadblock. Maybe a week in or 6 months or a year yet eventually. All hit something that made all the weight come back plus more. Food, I thought I was going crazy. Then I looked into the stats…3 to 5% of dieters keep the weight off 2 to 5 years post diet. This was the first time I realized it wasn’t me. It wasn’t my clients. It wasn’t your fault either food. The blame: diets.

Part of my job included working with people affected by eating disorders which exposed me to these amazing philosophies that countered dieting like Intuitive Eating, Mindful Eating and Health at Every Size approaches. During this job, I would teach these healing practices and then teach a weight loss class. I felt like such a fraud. My work suffered and the boss noticed. I was called into her office and bawled like a baby admitting that I was ethically compromised. Dieting is hurting these clients and I can’t contribute anymore, I said. My boss told me: As dietitians we have to wear many different hats. Some we like and some we don’t. And, to keep our jobs we need to wear all these hats. I got the message and quit 2 weeks later.

Food you’d be proud of me: I don’t teach diets anymore. And, I am teaching other dietitians to do the same. I have found other body positive practitioners and they’ve supported and supervised me to help people heal their relationship with you. I know it sounds weird to think of an eating relationship but there are many reasons. First, we make over 200 eating decisions a day. We think about you a lot! Second, I have found that the way we experience food mirrors how we relate to others and ourselves. Having a safe and stable way of eating that includes pleasure and promotes health helps us in every other area of life. This may not make sense yet I hope it does over time.

Here’s the main reason I am writing: I am worried about us. Everyone is so fat phobic and diet obsessed that we’ve disconnected from ourselves. Disordered eating is now considered normal. And, unfortunately, more are sick and feeling ashamed from all this.

I think you can help us out food. I want folks to be able to write you a letter detailing what’s makes eating so tough. You may notice an increase in fan mail or hate mail…sort of depends on perspective! Anyway, I would appreciate it if you could get back to us on some solutions…how to help us get back to enjoying food, reconnecting us to our own innate wisdom to promote health. Most don’t believe they have that and I know we all do!

I will have those interested email me at LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com and we can discuss.

I hope this all makes sense. If not, that’s ok too. I am just wanting to help and sort this out.

Warmly,

Julie

Food writes me back!

Dear Concerned Dietitian,

Your letter is so timely. All of us…veggies, fruits, carbs, sugar, fats, desserts…got together recently and talked about the good old days. The days when we all were a normal part of a person’s life and we were all together. Now, we have a tough time keeping up with who is good and who is bad. Sometimes one of us is both! Concerned dietitian, we would love to give input and insight into this important topic of food for health and well-being. We are tired of the dieting industry confusing us and keeping people from enjoying us. We will treat each letter with much kindness and respect. This will be tough work and important work.

We look forward to these next steps. Love, Food

Thank you for listening to my Dear Food letter. Do you have one? I would love to read about your struggles around food. Feel chaotic? Bring it. Feel crazy? Write it down. Crave normal eating? Get out your pen and paper and give me the details. I am Julie Duffy Dillon: Registered dietitian and food peace promoter. I want to help you enjoy eating again. Please send your email to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com.

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series. Give me feedback via Twitter @EatingPermitRD or leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!