What is Orthorexia?

almondsMany of you have heard this word before: orthorexia. But what is it?

While not an official eating disorder listed in the DSM V, orthorexia is a growing concern in the ED world. The NEDA website tells us,

The term ‘orthorexia’ was coined in 1998 and means an obsession with proper or ‘healthful’ eating. Although being aware of and concerned with the nutritional quality of the food you eat isn’t a problem in and of itself, people with orthorexia become so fixated on so-called ‘healthy eating’ that they actually damage their own well-being.” However, since there is no official diagnostic criteria, it can be very hard to recognize. It’s kind of a “I know it when I see it” situation, which isn’t great for those who suffer from it, because it means many people are probably getting overlooked.

I have orthorexic clients, and they’ve sought help because their “healthy” food choices are starting to ruin their lives. They have anxiety at the thought of eating anything outside their rigid “clean eating” food rules. It’s beyond “healthy eating” and making choices that meet both satisfaction and nutrition needs. It’s an obsession, and sometimes becomes a full-time job.

Aaron and I decided to tackle the topic on our Dietitians Unplugged podcast when he found a blog post that felt dismissive of the issue. If you are wondering if your eating might qualify as orthorexia, give this podcast a listen, and if you think you need it because your life is not your own anymore, reach out to a professional for help.

Cover2Episode 51 – When Caring About Food Becomes Orthorexia

Show notes:

Read the blog that inspired this episode

Need Diabetes Care that isn’t Weight-Focused?

imageRebecca Scritchfield, RDN, and I run a HAES-based virtual support and education group that helps with self-care for diabetes and other metabolic concerns. Get on the email list so you can be the first to find out when our next group is open.

Feedback from participants has been great and we are helping people to get past the feelings of shame that sometimes come with a diabetes diagnosis, especially for those who are in larger bodies, and moving towards positive self-care. Learn more: HAES Care for Diabetes Concerns

Finding Fat-Friendly Health Care

DU + AmpleI am often painfully reminded of the fat phobia perpetuated by the medical community on a regular basis. Not just from my clients and others who have countless stories of being denied adequate health care because of their weight, but also from my own personal experience.

I was 15 years old when I went to the doctor for my annual check-up, stepped on the scale, and was told that I was getting “too heavy” and would have to eat differently. Since at age 15 I was still largely reliant on my mother for meals and my school cafeteria for lunch, I could not imagine what “eat differently” looked like, especially as it pertained to my weight. Luckily, my Mom must have delivered a private screed to this doctor (the one that later dismissed her expanding belly as “weight gain” instead of the ovarian cancer it actually was) because he never mentioned it after that and my strategy to never get on the scale again worked until my early 20s, when I turned to dieting to manage a major life crisis. Notably, after that comment from my doctor, my eating became increasingly disordered as I internalized the shame of that visit.

I was reminded of all this the other day when I went to a “sleep class” to diagnose possible sleep apnea (a long shot, but my doctor thought it was worth a try for some recent stuff going on). The person leading the class explained how to use the equipment we would take home to monitor our sleep that night. She also said, “If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea and you weigh too much, you will have to lose weight, because that is probably why you have it.” She went on to say that thin people had it for other reasons, and that once we lost weight, they could look to see if we also had it for those other reasons. As though our weight was an impermeable barrier that would obscure any other problems we could potentially have.

It took all the willpower in the world for me not to stand up on a table and have my Norma Rae fat-solidarity moment, and luckily we found that no matter what we weighed, if we had sleep apnea, we would get the APAP machine anyway. Because, you know, “you need to be able to sleep so you can lose weight.” Whereas I thought we needed good sleep for health and to feel well, silly me!!

Anyway, all this to say that we need medical care and medical providers that aren’t fat phobic, that don’t prescribe interventions that are temporary at best, and who provide us with the medical care that people in smaller, more conforming bodies get. But where can we find these providers?

That’s where Ample comes in. Aaron and I recently did a podcast with Alissa Sobo, one of the founders of Ample, a rating site for people in marginalized bodies (think fat, trans, people of color, disabled people). The creators of Ample know that when someone fears stigmatization from the doctor, they don’t go, and that can lead to worse health in the long run. But we need to know who can provide stigma-free health care – and that’s where Ample comes in.

I hope you’ll give this great Dietitians Unplugged episode a listen to find out more about Ample and how you can help build this amazing resource. THIS is how we exercise the power of voice that we do have — and we CAN create a better future.

Ample

Listen now:

Episode 50 – Finding Fat Friendly Providers on Ample with Alissa Sobo

Show notes:

Is it Ample? Aaron and Glenys talk to Alissa Sobo, the creator of Ample, the first app that rates businesses specifically on their accessibility and inclusiveness towards marginalized bodies (fat, trans, people of color and more). In this episode, Alissa talks about her origin story of being fat-shamed at the doctor when she was pregnant and why she decided she needed to create a review site for people in marginalized bodies whose needs are just not being met. She also explains how this amazing resources works and how we can all help build on it. This is something all our listeners can help contribute to and we can’t wait to introduce you to Ample! BONUS CONTENT: stay tuned to the very end to listen to our first fun bonus content!

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Need help with non-diet diabetes care?

HAES Care for Diabetes starting soon – get on the mailing list to be notified first when registration opens!

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Why Body Image Work is Crucial

woman sunsetA few months ago I went to a Body Image Workshop hosted by Marci Evans, RD and Fiona Sutherland, RD. But…what’s a dietitian’s work got to do with body image healing??

When we are in school getting our nutrition degrees, we learn all about food safety, how to counsel a nutritious diet, a metric ton of chemistry, and medical nutrition therapy to treat various conditions and diseases. We spent some time learning nutrition counseling techniques too.

But rarely are we prepared for what is often at the root of so many eating problems: a fractured relationship with our body image.

In school, they never gave us the language to understand this, for ourselves or other people, and they certainly never gave us the idea that we might also help the healing.

But in fact, we need to be able to help our clients heal not just their relationship to food and eating, but also their bodies.

I’m not talking about doing the work of a therapist. I’m talking about being able to listen and validate and understand WHY someone could hate their bodies so much that they lose their ability to eat in any peaceful, nourishing way. And helping them to find ways to reconnect with their bodies with self-compassion.

We CAN and SHOULD talk about this with our clients, and in the below episode of Dietitians Unplugged, Aaron and I talk more about how we as dietitians can start doing this work.

Episode 40 – Body Image Work is Crucial

Summer Podcast Round Up 2: From Our Loud Inner Critics to Sugar Addiction

Dietitians Unplugged Episode 37 – Aaron and Glenys Tackle Their Inner Critics

Cover2We all have an inner critic. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. It’s the voice that’s try to keep us safe by avoiding unnecessary risk.

So, yes, sometimes that little voice can be really helpful in keeping us safe…but sometimes it can hold us back by sending damaging and unhelpful thoughts.

In this Dietitians Unplugged podcast episode, Aaron and I talked about our own inner critics, how they manifest, and how we deal with them. This is a truly unplugged (and sometimes unhinged!) discussion that  we’re sure you’ll enjoy and hopefully will give you a few more tools for your self-care toolbox.

Episode 37 – Aaron and Glenys Tackle Their Inner Critics

Dietitians Unplugged Episode 38 – ED Treatment for Marginalized People with Gloria Lucas

DU + GloriaIn this fabulous episode, Aaron and I were thrilled to welcome to the podcast Gloria Lucas, founder of Nalgona Positivity Pride (NPP). I got to see Gloria speak a few years ago at the 2016 BEDA conference on the role of colonialism in historical trauma and we’ve been excited to have her on ever since then.

Gloria shared her story of how and why she came to found NPP, which helps to provide eating disorder resources to marginalized people.  She also talked about how eating disorder communities must learn to do better to include people of color into the discussion and make treatment more available and inclusive of marginalized people.

Episode 38 – ED Treatment for Marginalized People with Gloria Lucas

Links:

Nalgona Positivity Pride

Nalgona Positivity Pride Etsy Store

 

Dietitians Unplugged Episode 39 – Is Sugar Addiction a Real Thing? with Tiffany Haug

DU + TiffanyEver wonder if you’re addicted to sugar? Or some other kind of food? Aaron and I talked to Tiffany Haug, MS, RD, EDOC, who broke down the science of addiction for us, and explains why your diet history makes all the difference in how you approach highly palatable foods. Tiffany also talked about the problem with how food addiction is studied and the problems with the Yale Food Addiction Scale.

Episode 39 – Is Sugar Addiction a Real Thing? with Tiffany Haug

 

 

Summer Podcast Round Up 1: From Self-Care to Body Love

Dietitians Unplugged Podcast Episode 34: Healthism vs. Self-Care with Lucy Aphramor

DU + Lucy

I’ve been a little remiss in the last few months about updating this blog with our latest Dietitians Unplugged podcast episodes. I have been crazy busy this past year – in reality, too busy, because I was trying to do way too much.

It took it’s toll. I had to find ways to triage everything in my life. That meant I had to pick between writing, which I really enjoy, and doing the podcast, which I really love too. It even meant I had to let go of things like updating this blog with the podcast, which pricked at me frequently but also was just something I didn’t have room for.

I termed this self-care. No one can do everything all the time. Some things have to go by the wayside. Until something gave way in my schedule (which it finally did) I decided to only do the very most important things in my life — that was spending time with my partner, going to my job, caring for my clients, podcasting and resting.

The topic of self-care makes a great introduction to this podcast we did back in February about the necessity of self-care, and how “healthlism” — the belief that health is our sole responsibility, and even obligation, and is not affected by our economic status, race, environment, sex, etc. — isn’t really making us healthy in any meaningful way.

UK-based radical dietitian Lucy Aphramor guided us through this topic with her usual eloquence (no surprise that she’s also a poet).  As a radical dietitian, she focuses on the deep roots of what causes judgement, war and shame.

Episdoe 34 – Healthism vs. Self-Care with Lucy Aphramor


Dietitians Unplugged Episode 35 – Metaphors & Storytelling in healing Eating Disorders with Dr. Anita Johnston

DU + Dr. Anita JEating in the Light of the Moon by Dr. Anita Johnson, eating disorder psychologist and storyteller, is one of the seminal works on eating disorders and one of the books that people tell me first helped them in their recovery from EDs and diet culture. We were so thrilled to have Dr. Johnson on our show and talk about how story-telling can be integral to our healing.

In addition to authoring this amazing book, Dr. Johnson is co-creator of the Light of the Moon Cafe, a series of online interactive courses and women’s support circles, and Soul Hunger workshops. She is currently the Clinical Director of Ai Pono Hawaii eating disorder programs with out-patient programs on Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii, and an ocean-front residential program on Maui.

She also gifted our listeners with this handy guide to help discover the meaning behind your food cravings or phobias.

Dietitians Unplugged Episode 35 – Metaphors & Storytelling in healing Eating Disorders with Dr. Anita Johnston


Dietitians Unplugged Episode Episode 36 – You are More than Your Body with Summer Innanen

DU + summerOne of my absolute favorite people in the body positive, anti-diet world is Summer Innanen. She has a genuine, no BS way about her that I just can’t resist. And it’s not just because we’re both Canadian, I swear!

Summer is a professionally trained coach specializing in body image, self-worth, and confidence. She helps women all over the world through her private and group coaching to break out of the diet culture cage and cultivate their inner, rampant untameability so they can wear, say and do what they want. She is the best-selling author of Body Image Remix, creator of the You, On Fire online program, and host of Fearless Rebelle Radio, a podcast dedicated to anti-dieting, body positivity, and feminism.

Listen now:

Episode 36 – You are More than Your Body with Summer Innanen

 

HAES Care for Diabetes is starting again soon!

Rebecca Scritchfield and I are running our virtual groups again focusing on non-diet, non-weight-focused care for diabetes and other related metabolic conditions. Two tracks available starting September 11 and 13. Group size is limited so sign up soon!

Go to HAES Care for Diabetes to find out if this is for you!

 

Podcast: Dressing the Plus Size Dude at Chubstr

DU + BruceWhen I first began my body acceptance journey back in 2010, I started out looking at fat fashion blogs. One of those blogs I found was Chubstr.com. Since then, founder Bruce Sturgell has turned Chubstr into a comprehensive lifestyle site and invaluable resource for large men. Because fat guys should have great clothing too!

In this episode of Dietitians Uplugged, we chat with Bruce about why he founded Chubstr, two things everyone should do when they’re starting to figure out their own style, and some of the best places to find big men’s clothing right now.

Listen now:

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Do you struggle with PCOS and your weight…but don’t want to diet ever again?

If you’ve been given the standard advice when it comes to Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome — which has traditionally been to lose weight — but never want to diet again and aren’t sure the best way to eat for your health and fertility, I have exciting news for you. My friend, registered dietitian Julie Duffy Dillon, has created a course that is 100% diet-free to help those suffering with PCOS, called Your Step-By-Step Guide to PCOS and Food Peace. Registration is open until January 31, so check it out now!
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From Eating Disorder to Intuitive Eating

DU + RobynOne of the best things about having a podcast is that it’s a great excuse to hang out with your friends and also get to learn from them. That’s why Aaron and I were excited to have our dear friend, registered dietitian and eating disorder expert Robyn Goldberg, on the show recently to talk about  progression people take in their recovery from eating disorder to intuitive eating.

Robyn talked about learning to connect with body signals, finding satisfaction with food, the challenges of being in a larger body with an ED, the resistance of health care practitioners to Health at Every Size® and more in this informative episode. 

If you are in eating disorder recovery, or know someone who is, we think you’ll find this episode invaluable.

Listen now:

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Get help with eating now!

Last call for my online course at a very low price — the discount ends this Sunday, December 31 and class starts January 8! Get all the details to see if this is what you have been looking for.
Dare to Eat…as much as you want, without guilt, in total freedom.

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Podcast: Diet culture, yoga and self-empowerment gurus


DU + DanaBrene Brown, Geneen Roth, Glennon Doyle, Oprah — women who want to empower us, all of them. That’s the message we’ve gotten, certainly, and many of us have felt the empowering effects of these women’s words on our lives.

But some of them haven’t gotten the message lately that worrying about weight loss or going on restrictive diets aren’t exactly empowering — or effective for that matter.

So when our friend Dana Sturtevant, MS, RD from Portland, OR’s Be Nourished sent a  wonderful video rant to their Body Trust Network members about this very topic (among others), we knew we had to get her on the podcast and talk more about this and, like, everything else. Yoga, self-empowerment gurus  promoting diet culture, social justice, true self-care, and how Dana found her way into the HAES® way of practicing are all here.

Listen here:

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Tired of chasing your weight?

Let’s face it. Diets suck, and they don’t even work. If your weight has gone down and then up, up, up, and you’re not sure of what to do next, take my FREE 3-day mini course to take your first steps to getting free of the weight-loss-diet treadmill. Go here now to start.

Enrollment open!

My online program, Dare to Eat, which teaches intuitive eating skills, is open for enrollment from now till the end of December at a special price. Check out the details.

 

Sayonara, The Biggest Loser

DU + TBLLast year, Aaron and I did a podcast on how much we hated the terrible, exploitative show The Biggest Loser. Some data had just come out about how participants metabolisms had all but flat-lined and stayed that way for years after their time on the show. For us, it was no surprise, but it was good to finally see some data supporting what we already knew (and what data from other studies also showed).

Imagine, then, how delighted we were when we heard that The Biggest Loser would NOT be returning this year for another round of fat-people abuse. We REALLY needed to celebrate this – and who better to celebrate with than a former contestant of the show?

Kai Hibbard was a season 3 contestant who came in second that year. Since then, she’s become an outspoken critic of the show and its tactics, a proponent for body positivity, and an all ’round riots-not-diets kind of sHero. When we contacted her to see if she’d like to come on our podcast and toast the end of this shit-show of shame, she was all in.

What followed was an honest exposé of her time on the show, how she developed extremely disordered eating during and after the show, her eventual recovery and transformation into a body positive warrior. Yes, there is lots and lots of swearing, too.

And while we have no doubt this is not truly the end of the exploitation of fat people for the profit of network TV, we think it was a nice little nail in the coffin. We need to celebrate every win against diet culture.

Listen on:

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Find Kai at her website or on Facebook

PCOS and Weight

DU + JulieI’m amazed to say that before a few years ago, I had never heard of the condition Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS for short). A friend in college had first mentioned that she thought she may have it, but couldn’t get a firm diagnosis.

Since then, I’ve met many more women who have PCOS – so many, in fact, that I have a hard time believing the statistic that 1 in 10 women have it. If I had to guess, it’s more than that – but the typically poor attention and research around many complex women’s medical conditions will probably hinder proper diagnosis and of course, appropriate treatment.

PCOS causes hormonal imbalances, can hinder fertility, may be related to unexplained weight gain, and is related to insulin resistance and diabetes. One of the common treatments suggested has been weight loss – and you know how a HAES® dietitian feels about that. Weight loss in absence of any medical condition is already difficult to achieve and nearly impossible to maintain. PCOS makes it even harder. And as we know, it is in all likelihood a temporary solution at best, with the most likely result being even more weight gained in the long run.

That’s why I’m so glad my wonderful colleague and fellow podcaster, registered dietitian Julie Duffy Dillon, is an expert in the area of PCOS. She’s on top of all the latest research. So, of course, I reached out and said, “Julie! Make sweet, beautiful podcast magic with us on this incredibly complex condition!” and happily she said yes without hesitation.

If you or someone you know struggles with PCOS and related weight gain or insulin resistance, I think you’ll find this episode of Dietitians Unplugged incredibly enlightening and reassuring. There are things you can do for your health and your fertility, but luckily, one of them isn’t suffering under the tyranny of yet another weight loss regimen.

Listen on:

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Check out Julie’s excellent podcast, Love, Food and her free PCOS Roadmap. She also has a PCOS and Food Peace Support Group on Facebook.

 

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