(152) What if my recovered body is too big? (with Caroline Dooner)

When did you learn that certain bodies were more valuable? When did you start your first diet? Recovering from chronic dieting or an eating disorder can’t all be independent and individual. Culturally we must change together to help support your recovery. Listen to the latest Love Food Podcast episode and hear from Caroline Dooner, author of the book The Fuck It Diet.

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This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

I want to share the work going on within Decolonizing Fitness. The person behind it, Ilya Parker, is a trans person of color Physical Therapist Assistant and Medical Exercise Coach with over 13 years of rehabilitative and functional training experience. He is a social justice advocate and educator whose work centers gender, racial and healing justice.

He decided to merge his love for restorative based movement practices and community advocacy to create Decolonizing Fitness, LLC; which is a social justice platform that provides affirming fitness services, community education and apparel in support of body diversity. Check out www.decolonizingfitness.com.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food, 

You are my best friend and my worst enemy. You are as familiar to me as my own backyard, and yet as foreign as the deepest realms of the ocean. I taste you and smell you and manipulate you with my two hands every day. I read about you. I peruse photographs of you on Instagram. I am obsessed with you. And yet, I hate you. 

Currently, I work as a baker. I graduated last spring with a BS in nutrition. I’ve learned through my career how to meld delicious flavors and bake a custard to perfection. I’ve learned through my schooling how to teach others about ‘balanced’ eating. However, I don’t know how to eat. I’ve cycled through patterns nearly my whole life. Restriction, bingeing, purging, exercising and always compulsively weighing myself. I’ve probably spent at least $200 on bathroom scales. Once, in Italy, I pretended to tour a gym in interest of their membership, just hoping to find a scale. My weight is the center point of my life. Therefore, you are at the center point of my life. 

My childhood was…interesting – as said in a negative, classically Minnesotan matter. I also don’t have the best memory of those days, but I can place pieces together. I ate for comfort, and my high weight quickly became an issue I could not escape. I don’t remember when I was first placed on a diet, but the on-again, off-again dieting cycle started some time in elementary school. My step-mom took me to doctors for weight loss medication. I’d take it, but with limited results. I remember shopping for clothes Old Navy. I remember my embarrassment having to purchase the XYZ T-shirts. I remember my step-mom telling me “if only you could lose some weight, your face is so pretty.” I remember when I was 11, my mother brought me to a plastic surgeon to consider liposuction. Thankfully, he advised us not to take this route because my body was still changing. At school, I was bullied. I remember a child in middle school telling me I was the cause of world hunger. I remember a girl at a birthday party asking me why I was invited. I was ‘too fat’ to sit in the hot tub. 

Everything changed when I was 13. As a bit of background, my father had custody of me during the summer. Most children coveted summers, but I dreaded staying with him. He was almost always working and traveling – leaving me alone with only my stepmom. I felt lonely, isolated and, eventually, angry. I decided to take control: I stopped eating. Between the beginning of eighth grade and the beginning of ninth grade I lost over XYZ pounds. I could finally wear clothes designed for people my age. Boys finally noticed me. My mom finally told me I was pretty. I was also very hungry. I carefully watched my food intake. I obsessively counted calories. And I’d weigh myself every day. In high school, I started hiding my scale because my mom had realized it was an issue. At age 14, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder. 

Since this diagnosis, I have been in and out of recovery. My eating disorder has shifted all over the board. I identify most closely with bulimia, but I also have restrictive tendencies. I still weigh myself compulsively. I hate myself on the days the needle hasn’t budged – I hate myself even more if the needle budges in the wrong direction. Some days I cry to myself in the mirror because I hate what I see. I pinch my fat rolls and tell myself over and over that I am fat and useless. Throughout the tougher battles, I’ve sought out treatment. But when I initially step out of the grip of my eating disorder, that hideous monster wraps his hands around me and draws me back. He convinces me I don’t need treatment. He convinces me I should have an abusive relationship with him instead of a healthy relationship with you. I am fortunate in that I have gone through periods of more mindful eating. Typically, this lasts only for a few months, but those months have always brought freedom and joy. Unfortunately, you’re so entangle with the eating disorder that he never leaves completely. He always finds his way back to me. 

At the same time that I struggle, those around me don’t notice a thing. They praise me for my dedication to working out. They commend my healthy eating. “Oh, what’s for lunch today? A salad? Classic.” My co-workers don’t feel my isolation when they’re enjoying a staff lunch of barbeque while I quietly eat raw vegetables. My family doesn’t understand my pain when I’m the only one to deny dessert. They love my self-control. I tell them I’m a baker and I get sick of sweets. Really, I’m denying myself the current satisfaction only so I can secretly eat to no end later. As a baker, though, I still find enjoyment in you. My friends and I are fanatics of the restaurant industry, and I do admire you as a work of art. The eating disorder likes to deprive me of this adoration and leave me only with desperation. 

Food, you make me so confused. I don’t know if I want to work with you full-time. I don’t know if my joys for cooking and nutrition are true, or if they only stem from the grips of my disorder. I am confused with my path in life, and my relationship with you is blocking my view. I want to remedy our relationship so I can navigate my future, but my self-hatred and fear of weight gain keeps me from full recovery. Although treatment has helped, I still feel trapped and terribly alone. Will I ever find my way out of this terrible maze?

Sincerely,

The Broken Baker

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!

(142) Food is all I think about (with Tonya Beauchaine and Tracy Vazquez)

Are your thoughts always on food: what you will eat, why did you eat it, and how to not eat it? Do you want more control yet can’t seem to get behind the wheel? Listen to the latest Love Food podcast where we explore the tough parts of eating disorder recovery, the nuance of making it work for you, and how to step into your power.

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This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

I’ve just discovered the Body Love Box and it looks like a fantastic resource for people who live in large bodies or anyone who wants to improve their body image. It’s a monthly subscription box that gets mailed to your home and it includes things like body-positive stickers and pins as well as deeper resources on body acceptance, health at every size and intuitive eating. Each box includes items from fat and marginalized creators, and pays them a living wage for their work.
The monthly subscription can be found at www.thebodylovebox.com, and use the code LOVEFOOD for 15% off your first month.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear food, 

I hate you; and I love you. You are all I think about. You dominate my sense of self worth. Sometimes I restrict you, sometimes I overeat you, a few times I have gotten rid of you. I worry that I will never be able to free myself from you.

I recently began eating disorder recovery and it is harder than I had ever thought. How are you supposed to recover, when there is still a part of you that enjoys your eating disorder? How are you supposed to change, when disordered eating has been your way of life since middle school? How are you supposed to make peace with yourself, when you look in the mirror and hate what you see?

I tell myself that I am faking it; that I only do these things for attention. I eat in secrecy, lie about what I have eaten, and want people to look at me as “the girl with the eating disorder”. I find it hard to eat around other people, for fear or judgment and embarrassment. I tell myself there is no way I can actually have an eating disorder, because people with eating disorders aren’t able to feel normal any time food is involved. But sometimes, for me, I don’t have a problem eating. I’ll give myself “free days” or “free meals”, in which I can eat what I want and not feel guilty about it. Usually these days consist of me eating unhealthy, feeling bad about it afterwards, and then just continuing to do it, saying I will “make up for it tomorrow”. And then there are days where I will eat once, or twice, and that is all I get for the day. I’m allowed one meal, or X in the morning and Y and Z later, often with a workout in between. Sometimes food is around me and I eat it just because it is there, even if I am already full. Sometimes I am so hungry that I can’t focus on anything else. (Omitted sentences followed.)

I wonder what it would be like to have a good relationship with you, food; to not spend all of my time thinking about you. I wonder what it would be like to eat three meals a day and not feel guilty afterwards. I wonder what it would be like to wear the types of clothes that everyone else wears, but I am too ashamed to put on my body. I wonder what it would be like to go on a shopping trip alone without having it end with me staring at myself in the dressing room mirror, wondering why I even left the house that day, and vowing never to eat again. I wonder what it would be like for my friends to see me as someone other than a weak, hopeless, mess whom they have to worry about daily. I wonder what it would be like to EAT when I am hungry and STOP when I am full I wonder what it would be like to not have food control my life. I wonder what it would be like to eat well, have desert if I want to, exercise because it’s fun, love my body, and be happy. I wonder what it would be like to be free.

Love,

Your greatest enemy and your best friend

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!

There’s a reason why you feel chaotic around food.

How did the diet industry aka the weight cycling industry get so powerful?

Most products that do not provide long-term results fail to make it in the market place. Imagine if you had a car that drove fine yet after 12 weeks stopped working even after trying to repair it. Would you blame yourself, the driver? No, you’d go back to where you purchased the car and demand a refund.

What if you bought a microwave that after just a few months stopped heating food? You would probably contact the warranty and they would send you a new one. What if the next one did the same? I have a feeling you wouldn’t blame yourself you would never buy that brand of microwaves again.

The company making these microwaves would eventually lose business for a poorly made product. They might even go out of business.

The market would demand them to fix it or face the consequences of losing customers.

The diet industry has eluded this marketing regulator. Instead, the diet industry has designed diet pills, meal replacements, plans, calorie counts, gym memberships, etc that fail for the majority long term.

Instead of failing in the marketplace, the diet industry has found a way to blame the product’s failure on the user rather than the product. Rather genius yet this point of blame is the foundation of your negative relationship with food.

Why did this happen? How is the diet industry getting away with this?

This certainly would be a glorious area of study and I have a feeling their magical marketing powers are rooted in evil like white supremacy, patriarchy, misogyny, and other oppressive systems.

Makes sense to me that our relationship with food can feel so chaotic and draining: we blame ourselves for each fumble yet gaslighted to believe we just aren’t smart enough.

We need to call this out for what it is.

And it is time for you to reclaim your power.

(137) Does set point mean I will always be fat? (with Stefani Reinold)

What does your body want to weigh? Have you heard of set point theory and wonder what it means for you and your body? Will it always look the way it does now? Or will it get smaller or larger? Listen to this latest episode of Love Food with special guest Stefani Reinold MD from the It’s Not About the Food Podcast.

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This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food,
I began my intuitive eating journey recently with a non diet dietician who specializes in treating ED and PCOS. According to her you are not the enemy and once I get my PCOS under control and reject diet culture my body will return to my setpoint. I am oversimplifying but you get the point.
My problem is that for as long as I can remember I have always been fat so I don’t know that I trust that knowledge. Could it be that there are people whose set points are in the “morbidly obese” range?
Well I guess I was a normal weight once until about age 5. At 5 I was the tallest girl in class. Taller than all the boys even and yes heavier. I wasn’t overweight just much taller than all the rest but adults would comment when they went to pick me up I was too heavy. I was too tall at my 8th birthday for the ball pit my parents had paid so much to reserve for my birthday. I was so “big”. They meant tall but I thought they meant fat.
I started gaining weight because my main abuser didn’t like fat girls and found them unattractive. Back then you were my friend because you protected me from him and most men and cat calls. Now I see I built my own prison and am left wondering if some people don’t have a healthy set point?
Sincerely,
Confused in Cleveland

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!

(122 Season 2 Finale) I think about food all day long (with Heidi Schauster)

Have you struggled with a complicated relationship with food, and all its twists and turns, for way too long? Maybe your family taught you body hate and ways to diet instead of enjoying food and pleasurable movement. This week’s letter writer has really tried to heal their relationship with food yet can’t stop thinking about food, bingeing, obsessing, and hating on their body. Can things change? Can they show their young family a different way?? Listen now for Season 2 finale with special guest Heidi Schauster, author of Nourish.

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This episode is brought to you by my online course, Your Step-by-Step Guide to PCOS and Food Peace™. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

Check out the Love, Food Podcast store. All T-Shirt designs have at least one with size range options from XS to 5X. All proceeds go to funding this labor of love to keep it as a free resource for you.

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

The transcribed episode can be found here.

Episode’s Key Points:

  • Special guest Heidi Schauster, registered dietitian and eating disorder specialist of A Nourishing Word
  • As human beings, we are designed to think about food–on average, about 200 times per day.
  • When thoughts about food interfere with your relationships and connecting to joy in your life, this is called food preoccupation.
  • A restrictive mindset (and/or actual food restriction) often goes hand-in-hand with food preoccupation, leading to particular foods becoming “charged” and transformed into binge foods.
  • Non-judgmental observation of the thoughts and feelings you have around your daily food choices and interactions with food is an important first step in neutralizing food and healing your relationship with these “charged” foods.
  • If possible, seek out a registered dietitian who specializes in disordered eating. Avoid dietitians that label foods “good” or “bad” or prescribe limitations of foods.
  • Healing from food preoccupation means leaning into your own internal cues and not relying on external methods for food choices.
  • Your body does not need to be fixed. Our culture is what is broken.

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.