I Forgot to Eat the Damn Cake

cake3
I DID eat this cake.

A while back I wrote about my frustration when someone did that thing I now call the Dance of the Dessert, that “should I?/I shouldn’t!” thing and then they do and then they loudly proclaim their guilt to anyone in the nearby vicinity. Seriously: yawn.

Well, something completely the opposite of that happened to me the other day: I forgot to eat the cake. And until now, I didn’t even bother to talk about it.

You see, this is the kind of thing that might happen when you give up dieting and dieting mentality and embrace internally regulated, totally normal eating. You might do things like accidentally forget to eat some cake, even if you intended to. And you don’t feel that bad about it.

In my dieting days, I was definitely the person to worry about eating the cake (though I would still eat it because IT WAS CAKE). I was also the person to sneak back into the break room later on and cut off another “thin” slice and eat it furtively…and then cut off just another “tiny” slice because I I just couldn’t stop…and then I’d scoop up the icing dregs off the edges of the plate and lick the knife clean (apologies to all those who got to the cake after me…it was probably decimated). Ironically, I was the thinnest I’d ever been…but I still felt so wretched for eating that cake. More restriction would follow until the next cake or doughnut or brownie or tart or…

Last week reminded me how far I’d come since then. Two co-workers had birthdays, and therefore there were two cakes being served up during our weekly team meeting. I had just eaten breakfast and so wasn’t really in the mood for cake. I also have a sensitive tummy and I know putting too much in there first thing in the morning will be misery all day. So I declined the cake and planned to come back for some in the afternoon when I like to have a snack and would have a nice appetite for it – there was plenty and I was confident there would be some left by then.

The day wore on. I was out of the office during lunch so I didn’t get to the break room to see if there was cake left to have as dessert. I got back to the office and at mid afternoon had my current favorite snack of banana with Nutella (because Nutella is awesome). I went home.

Then it hit me…I forgot to go back and get a slice of cake. Damn.

It was completely my intention earlier that day to partake in cake, but in reality, I clearly wasn’t feeling it. And that is the wonderful thing about not being underfed or food-restricted all the time – you don’t eat cake just because it’s there and you’re starving. I also know there will be cake again, and that I will probably have some, which is why missing it this time wasn’t such a big deal.

I don’t tell you this story to brag about my internally regulated eating skills. I feel neither good nor bad about forgetting to get the cake. It was a neutral incident, so I don’t feel smug about it as I might have in my food-restricted days. My behaviors do not make me thin. They simply make me relaxed around food.

I’m telling you this because if you are still feeling crazy around food and it’s getting a bit much for you, I want you to know there is hope. If you are struggling with getting to normal eating, I want you to know that it does happen, and it’s a wonderful relief. Internally regulated eating is that happy place where you get to have your cake and eat it too…or not, if you simply don’t feel like it.

Have you registered yet for the Making Friends With Food FREE video summit?

1

I was interviewed for this video series that talked to a whole bunch of experts on non-diet, non-weight centered, body positive health and nutrition – and the best part is – it’s totally free.

So get your dose of non-diet goodness with a video delivered to your inbox every day from July 25 to August 8 and register here now!

Dietitians Unplugged – Our This American Life Breakdown

Episode 12 is available now! Aaron and I had fun talking about the Tell me I’m Fat episode of This American Life.

Listen now:
Libsyn
iTunes
Stitcher

That This American Life Episode: Tell Me I’m Fat

Cover2Have you checked out our latest Dietitians Unplugged episode? Aaron and I — and a lot of people we know — were pretty excited to hear fat being portrayed in a reasonably neutral fashion on the radio (considering how it’s usually portrayed in the media) when NPR’s This American Life aired an episode called Tell Me I’m Fat. So we did what we love to do, naturally: we got together and had a conversation  about it. What did you think? Did you like the TAL episode? Think it was lacking? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear what you thought about both the TAL episode and our episode.

Listen:
Libsyn
iTunes
Stitcher

We’re getting closer to our goal of 20,000 downloads by the end of July! As of this moment, we need 2436

Have you registered yet for the Making Friends With Food FREE video summit?

1

I was interviewed for this video series that talked to a whole bunch of experts on non-diet, non-weight centered, body positive health and nutrition – and the best part is – it’s totally free.

So get your dose of non-diet goodness with a video delivered to your inbox every day from July 25 to August 8 and register here now!

Fat/Food Memes: Just Say No

fat food memesIt is one of the greatest ironies of my life that once I finally stopped dieting, I looked up and saw that everyone else around me had started, or at least were living like they should be on a diet, which is, frankly, almost as bad.

One of the places I see it the most is on social media. Although I have tailored my feed pretty well via my professional Facebook page to only see body positive/HAES/non-diet goodness, my personal page occasionally feeds me an intermittent drip of body hate/food fear messages by way of unfunny memes, sadly by people I actually know (and who are clearly not reading my blog!).

The most recent cringeworthy fat/food memes I encountered were these:

“Attention: Due to recent setbacks, my summer beach body will be postponed another year. As usual your patience is appreciated…”

“I don’t need a personal trainer as much as I need someone to follow me around and slap unhealthy foods out of my hands.”

Hilarious right?? On further critical thought…not so much.

The first one assumes that there is a particular type of beach body that one needs for the beach in the summer, and that if someone doesn’t have this body – well, sorry, no beach for them. I’m going to assume that the body that this meme would deem acceptable is the body type owned by probably less than 5% of the people in the world. So I guess the unlucky rest of us just need to stay home, miss all the summer fun, and wait it out till the Cultural Ideal Body Fairy comes along and bestows its blessings on us. Aaron and I talked about the “summer beach body” BS in this podcast.

The second one is wrong on so many levels it makes my head want to implode. First of all, the idea of “unhealthy” foods is just sooooo 2015. Have we not figured out yet that there aren’t really any unhealthy foods – that it’s really our relationship to food that makes the true difference to our health? Is a donut really going to decimate the health of someone who has a varied and balanced diet and a good relationship to food? No, right?! Then how can any one food truly be labeled “unhealthy?” On a personal note, I find talking about “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods really poor conversational fodder. When did we all collectively decide to stop enjoying what we eat??

I also hate the assumption that somehow avoiding “unhealthy” foods is the health equivalent to exercising. That’s simply not true on the scientific face of it. Studies have shown that exercise is far better than diet for helping to reduce visceral fat (the fat that collects around organs and tends to be more harmful than subcutaneous fat, the stuff that is much more visible) even when no weight is lost. As a dietitian, I’d love to just tell you to have a healthy eating pattern and be done with it,  but I’ve never been able to deny the health benefits of exercise. To say that eschewing movement and simply avoiding those foods you’ve designated as “bad” is somehow going to fix your health…dude, it’s misleading and it’s not even funny. Kill this meme now.

Perhaps in my dieting days I would have enjoyed this sort of bonding. “Haha, let’s all laugh about how bad we feel about our bodies and the way we eat!” Which is weird, because the reason I dieted and lost weight was to feel better about my body (something I achieved only fleeting with this strategy).

In reality, when we share these types of memes, we send a message: I am not in the right body. Other people are not in the right bodies. I do not deserve the food I enjoy. No one in the wrong body should get to enjoy food. We should feel ashamed.

These messages, while seemingly innocent, simply reinforce the culture of body hate and dieting that is weightist and healthist on the face of it and extends its long, gnarly fingers into sexism, racism, ableism, healthism, all the fucking -isms. Creating a hierarchy of good and bad bodies means that you can do that in any other facet of life: sex, ability, skin color, health levels. So let’s just stop, because a culture of compassion and radical acceptance is just so much better.

There are ways to motivate people to eat better and move more and like their bodies that aren’t shame-based. Shaming never made anyone healthier, certainly not in the long run. Meanwhile, if you feel bad about your body, consider why. Could it be the ever-present specter of a culture that practices hate and calls it humor? Reject it and define health on your own terms. And don’t make the world a worse place with shitty memes.

Free Video Series: Making Friends with Food!

1.png

I’m super excited to announce that I got to be a part of this great video series, Making Friends with Food.

Topics include:
– Nourish Yourself with Love
– Let go of Yo-yo diets
– Let go of Perfection
– How to stop eating your Emotions

Once you sign up, from July 26 to August 8, you’ll get a free video delivered directly to your inbox daily. Many of the professionals interviewed for the series are giving away some cool freebies too…you’ll have to watch to see what mine is! Enjoy!

Dietitians Unplugged – Our This American Life Breakdown

Episode 12 is available now! Aaron and I had fun talking about the Tell me I’m Fat episode of This American Life.

Listen now:
Libsyn
iTunes
Stitcher

Re-Post: Congratulations, You Just Cured Obesity

thinkerI’m taking a little blog breather this week to enjoy life, so I’m re-posting one of my favorite post in the past year. I’ll be back soon with new content, but for now…enjoy some vintage Dare To Not Diet.

As a dietitian who believes in non-diet, non-weight focused nutrition, I often find myself explaining my position on intentional weight loss to casual acquaintances who always want to talk to me about weight loss. It usually starts out with someone else bringing up the topic after they have discovered I am a dietitian (there is a reason I don’t volunteer this information easily). They say something like, “Well of course diets don’t work. Permanent lifestyle changes are what lead to lasting weight loss,” or, “Eating less doesn’t work, you have to do interval training in order to lose weight and keep it off,” or, “The only way to maintain long lasting weight loss is to do resistance training.” As though fat people have never tried any of these things ever, and if they just would, they’d have their fatness cured, stat.  *Eye roll*

To which I have to answer: “Actually, no one has figured out a way to create long-term weight loss for more than a tiny fraction of people…and neither have you.” (In reality, I try to be nice about this. But for the purposes of this blog, I get to have a Snark-o-rama, ʼkay?) And then I clarify that I’m talking about basically all the weight loss science that exists out there and how it pretty much shows that long-term weight loss is pretty much a unicorn (as in, it doesn’t exist) for all but a few people. And then, of course, perhaps because I’m a dietitian and why trust someone with an actual degree in nutrition*, or perhaps because I’m a chubby woman who’s clearly just given up on herself*, they don’t believe me.

My favorite person (okay, not really) to argue with on this subject insists that the key to weight loss (even long-term!) is interval training weight weights (despite complete lack of evidence) . When I say that I lift weights and I’m still fat, the answer is invariably, “Well, you’re just not doing it enough.” When I ask how much and how often I should lift weights, the answer is, “More than you’re doing now.” Which is asinine, because he doesn’t know jack about what I’m doing now. When I say that I lifted weights very regularly when I was much thinner and dieting and that I couldn’t build any muscle to save my life AND my weight eventually returned even as I adhered to my regimen, he says it was because I was dieting. When I say I stopped dieting, still lifted weights and gained a lot of weight, it is because I’m not lifting enough. Basically, I’m a fatty who can’t win. Oh, and it’s all my fault.

This seems to be the prevailing attitude among people who all profess to have THE answer to the weight loss “problem.” What it really boils down to is, “Do this thing you might not even like to do, do it a lot, focus your entire life on this, forsake all the other things you might be interested in doing because they won’t produce weight loss, and you’ll be CURED of your fat forever!” Except that, oh yeah, there is zero proof that any of this will work LONG TERM for more than a tiny – like 5% tiny – fraction of people, even if you manage to keep at it.

And by the way, guess who’s tried these “foolproof,” “long-term” weight loss “methods”? (imagine me air quoting vigorously here). Only every fat person that’s ever tried to diet ever. Yeah, that’s right. We’ve tried it. It didn’t work and also, it sucked. If it was something most people could sustain long-term AND they enjoyed it, they’d do it. But we’re not talking about enjoying life here, are we? No, the idea seems to be that we do stuff we don’t like just to chase a body that isn’t really ours. Essentially, we are being punished for our fat. You only get one life on earth, so why don’t you do stuff you don’t enjoy to make sure everyone else is okay with the way you look?*

Let’s take weight lifting, for instance (something I actually happen to enjoy). Even if it did work to induce long-term weight loss for most people, what if someone hates lifting weights? Resistance training isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But in order to lose weight and maintain the loss, someone is supposed to sacrifice their interests and pretty much all their spare time just to make sure they have time for adequate amounts of weight-loss inducing resistance training (assuming one doesn’t make a living lifting weights, which most of us don’t)? Pfffft, thanks but no thanks.

There is a reason the weight loss industry is hauling in $60 billion a year – it keeps selling the same shoddy product over and over again to the same people (like, all of us) without ever actually working. If there was a way to produce sustainable weight loss that worked for most people, we’d have all figured it out, done it, and eventually the weight loss industry would cease to exist because we’d have all lost weight and kept it off. But we didn’t. And it keeps existing. And this weight-loss mentality is actually doing more harm than good by contributing to body shame, disordered eating and exercising, weight cycling, and even more weight gain for a lot of people.

So then I hear, “Permanent weight loss is hard work and people are just lazy.” First of all, short-term weight loss is no piece of cake either, but most of us who have tried it have lost at least some weight initially. And you know who works hard? Just about everyone. Yep, turns out the world is not full of lazy people. In a world of ever-increasing working hours and people with multiple jobs, we live in a society that is well-acquainted with hard work. Sometimes it’s hard work we don’t even like, but we do it anyway. But somehow we’re just lazy about losing weight permanently even though we’re willing to pay $60 billion a year for it? This is some serious non-logic.

So, no big surprise here, but nope, no one has “cured” fatness yet. Sorrrreeeeee!

The good news is, that doesn’t mean we need to give up on our health. Although they won’t necessarily cause most people to lose weight (yes, they may cause some people to lose weight, just not a statistically significant proportion of people), actual, doable lifestyle changes that support health are much easier to make and sustain compared to what you have to do to induce and sustain weight loss. So why not do the things that are achievable and sustainable, like listening to internal hunger and satiety cues to prevent overeating, adding more fruits or vegetables to our diet to boost our nutrient intake, or finding more ways to move enjoyably?

These things are easy to do in the absence of hunger and deprivation, or misery of doing stuff that you hate that often accompanies weight loss efforts. And while they might not “cure” our fatness (just as nothing has been shown to do), they will make us healthier. And maybe even happier.

*Sarcasm is a sweet, sweet balm.

Dietitians Unplugged Podcast – Listen now:

Libsyn
iTunes
Stitcher

Is There a Fat Human Biome?

fatmouseA friend of mine sent me this article about Sandra Aamodt’s new book Why Diets Make Us Fat: The Unintended Consequences of Our Obsession With Weight Loss. Check it out, she said. Lots of shares on social media.

I’m excited to read this book since Sandra Aamodt has been a pretty staunch anti-diet advocate in recent years. She first came to my attention in this Ted talk. The research discussed in the article centers on the human biome of the gut – the trillions of bacteria that live in our GI system, which is something I’ve been interested in for the last 20 years since I first discovered probiotics – and how our gut microbes might affect our weight.

The article talks about the research done on the biomes of mice and how different body sizes are produced when they alter the biome of bacteria-free mice (which are produced in the lab; bacteria-free humans or mice do not occur naturally). It then goes on to talk about the research based on children who had been given antibiotics early in life and their prevalence for overweight/obesity (the article’s words; you know I prefer “fat” as a body descriptor).  The article, however, makes some wild assumptions and conclusions, and I’m wondering how closely it hues to the tenor of the book.

I’m definitely of the mind that antibiotics have been overused and abused for the last 40 or more years and that’s one of the reasons why antibiotic resistant microbes have developed (MRSA, drug resistant TB). On the other hand, antibiotics are one of the reasons humans are living longer – even despite the supposed “obesity panic epidemic.” So I worry about this kind of information getting filtered through the fatphobic lens of our society and being turned into, “OMIGOD I cannot give my child antibiotics or she will turn out to be FAT.” I’m worried, in essence, that this will become the new iteration of the current anti-vaxxer madness. What if a baby needs antibiotics to save his or her life? Will they be withheld to prevent fatness? This might sound extreme, until you look at the increase in pertussis (whooping cough) and measles outbreaks that were most likely due to anti-vaccination hysteria.

The article closes with, “For now, we can take a couple of lessons from this research. Parents should minimize antibiotic use in children, especially in the first year of life, because changes in gut bacteria at that age can have lasting consequences. The average child in the United States receives ten to twenty courses of antibiotics before age 18, increasing the risks of asthma, allergies and inflammatory bowel disease, in addition to obesity and diabetes.” Can we really take these lessons yet? I’m not advocating for the cavalier use of antibiotics in kids with a mere runny nose, but as far as I know, there is simply not enough firm data to jump to all these conclusions (remember that correlation does not equal causation). The science is far from clear, and people still die regularly from simple bacterial infections in countries where they have no access to antibiotics. I’m afraid this kind of simplistic pronouncement is just going to panic parents more than needs to happen.

So let’s use some commonsense here, please. Yes, we shouldn’t abuse antibiotics; no, we probably shouldn’t withhold antibiotics from children if they truly need them just because there is a chance they will end up fat later on in life.

I’m also concerned about the potential for the research on the human biome to be abused by the diet industry in the name of eradicating fat people. How far will we go (read: how far will the diet industry go) in trying to change the biomes of fat people in order to make them into thin people? I’ll tell you this: I for one am not swallowing any poop pills to facilitate a bacterial transplant no matter how thin it might make me (as has already been proposed in recent research. Ew.). I already know what I need to do to be as healthy as I can be at the size I’m at now (knowing that many factors are beyond my control); I don’t need to literally swallow shit on top of everything else I do.

And what if we find out (too late, as always) that one person’s gut microbes aren’t good for someone else? Or that our personal biomes hold certain advantages for us and that changing that environment removes those advantages? Count me out, thanks.

I know that Sandra Aamodt will make the case that diets don’t make us thinner like they purport to do, and probably make us fatter in the long run. I am hoping she has used the research around the human biome to make the case that our weight is not really within our control, and that there are many complex factors that go into determining our body weight that we cannot necessarily influence.  I truly hope she advocates for size diversity and body acceptance. Because what we don’t need is another hare-brained scheme – like dieting to lose weight has proven to be – to make further assaults on the bodies and minds of fat people.

Dietitians Unplugged Podcast download challenge!

Will you help Aaron and I get to 20,000 downloads by the end of July? We need around 7,000 more at this moment – about half of what we normally get in a given month. If you have enjoyed our podcast, consider sharing it on social media, or for professionals, recommending us to your clients. And if you can leave us a rating and review on iTunes, this helps boost our visibility and spread the non-diet, HAES® message further and wider.

Listen:

Libsyn
iTunes
Stitcher

Baby Steps to Going Diet Free

Cover2Happy Canada Day (today) and U.S. Independence Day (Monday)! Ready to declare your independence from dieting?

One of the things Aaron and I hear people say quite often is that they are just not sure where to start when it comes to learning how to eat according to internal hunger and fullness cues. For this episode, we decided to reveal some of our favorite first steps to moving away from a dieting mentality and toward normal eating. If one thing doesn’t work for you, just try another. And remember, it’s all experimental, there are no hard-and-fast rules here (as there are with dieting), so be gentle and kind with yourself.

Kick back and listen, and then enjoy some yummy barbecue (or your party food of choice) this weekend to celebrate your independence from food rules. Oh, and leave off the side of guilt – it’s been sitting in the sun for hours.

Listen now:

Dietitians Unplugged on Libsyn

On iTunes

On Stitcher

Special July podcast challenge: We’d love to get to 20,000 downloads by the end of July and we need your help – at this very moment we need 8,055 more downloads to reach that goal. We can do about half that just from our normal traffic but we need help with the rest, so if you like or even love our podcast, consider sharing it on social media.  And don’t forget to give us a rating and review on iTunes – this helps improve the marketing iTunes does for us. You will earn our undying love and appreciation (though know that you already have that for just showing up in the first place).

Be Your Own Beloved Update

I had a fantastic time in Vivienne McMaster’s Beloved Beginnings class. She really knows how to get someone to take a great photo, so much so that I’m excited to share a few of mine from the class. If you’re having trouble loving yourself in photos, Vivienne’s classes are the place to be. I’m hooked, so I hope to see you there in a future class!