An Open Letter to the Wellness Industry: I Give My Clients Oreos and Ice Cream -- and Here's Why.

An Open Letter to the Wellness Industry: I Give My Clients Oreos and Ice Cream -- and Here's Why.

In the event we’re not acquainted, I’m a (holistic) nutritionist and certified intuitive eating counsellor who specializes in disordered eating and eating disorder recovery. I count my lucky stars every day that I get to do this meaningful and deeply fulfilling work. 

 

While I, too, have been seduced by the compelling rhetoric of diet culture in all of its degrees and forms, my stance is firmly anti-diet and weight-neutral. Of course, not everyone agrees with or echoes this positioning — understandable, given the coupling of health with aesthetics and the “change your body, change your life” (and by extension, “change your food, change your body”) rhetoric widely promoted by our culture.

Understanding Disordered Eating and What It Means to Heal

Understanding Disordered Eating and What It Means to Heal

Few people understand treatment and best practices when it comes to eating disorders — including health professionals. I know this as someone who works with eating disorders first-hand. But the same can also be said about disordered eating. 

In a culture that glamorizes eating disorder symptomatology (restriction, weight loss), it can be difficult, if not impossible, to separate which pieces belong to an eating disorder and which belong to diet culture. Fat-positive Ragen Chastain has previously said that we prescribe to fat people what we diagnose in thin people. And though fat people are also diagnosed with eating disorders including Anorexia Nervosa, this is pretty true. 

We may look aghast at an emaciated woman whose circulation is so poor her feet have turned purple and her face as sunken in, yet we feel it’s perfectly acceptable to encourage the same habits and behaviours in someone occupying a fat body, including semi-starvation and restriction, over-exercising, calorie counting, and the use of Bulimia-like medical devices. You know, the types of tactics used to entertain people on The Biggest Loser

How to Stop Restricting in Intuitive Eating

How to Stop Restricting in Intuitive Eating

Whether you’re new to intuitive eating or have been at it for a while, I think you’re going to benefit from today’s discussion about (unconscious or unrealized) restriction. I’ve received many questions and comments lately that all revolve around restriction and today I'm digging deep into it to shed some light on where you're limiting yourself. 

For example:

…You want to eat a plate of vegetables, but doing so makes you feel “virtuous” — and triggers you to eat something you deem “bad”, “unhealthy,” or “indulgent.” 

…You don’t want to deprive yourself of sweets, but you don’t feel satisfied by the amount of sugar you’re eating until you feel you’ve overdone it. 

…You’re trying to create new health habits and behaviours, but your mind is always rebelling or resisting these changes. 

How to Move Away From Wanting Weight Loss in Intuitive Eating

How to Move Away From Wanting Weight Loss in Intuitive Eating

Okay, I want to become an intuitive eater, but how do I shelve the weight loss goals? And why should I?

I’ve given a lot of thought about this both personally and professionally. On one hand, moving away from weight loss goals, the oh-so-degrading “body goals”, and so on can feel impossibly hard. 

I want you to take a moment to acknowledge that, and to know that I acknowledge it, too. It is tough, especially when it seems like everybody and your neighbour is on a diet, a new eating plan, trying to “eat clean”, or some variant of the above. 

Just because you’ve committed to intuitive eating doesn’t mean you automatically stop wanting the things you’ve always wanted. It doesn’t mean you will automatically love your body. It doesn’t equate to an automatic, amazing relationship with food.

How Fat Acceptance Could Encourage Health for All Bodies

How Fat Acceptance Could Encourage Health for All Bodies

Fat. Everybody’s got an opinion, including yours truly (I know you’re surprised.)

Whether it’s spoken directly or insinuated, health has a singular look (which, if you ask me, is pretty interchangeable with the Western beauty ideal). It’s thin, white, straight, cis. It supports the industrial yoga complex by wearing $100 tights and drinking coconut water on the reg. 

It calls for glowing skin and regular detoxes, cleanses, and charcoal lemonade. It trains for marathons and thinks nothing of investing in a $20 plant-based, organic lunch. 

I’m not saying these things are wrong (though some are questionable); many of them are nice-to-haves, including expensive pilates classes and refreshing cold-pressed juice. 

What Are We Doing to Prevent Eating Disorders?

What Are We Doing to Prevent Eating Disorders?

 

There’s a fine line between “health” and too far

 

Over the last year I’ve become interested in, among many other things, how we use and abuse “health.” How health oppresses. Health — and “health foods”, such as green smoothies and chia seed puddings — as status or currency. Health as the new wealth, so clearly articulated in the term “wellthy.” 

 

I used to believe — and a large part of me still does — that access to nutritious food could change the world. I wanted to deepen my “nutrition practice,” consume all the vegetables, and generally work on myself in ways that seemed meaningful but actually felt superfluous. An improved version of myself was a self who readily eschewed ketchup chips for carrot sticks, who ditched “carbs” for an extra serving of vegetables, who worked out instead of sleeping in.

What Body Positive Practitioners Do For Self-Care

What Body Positive Practitioners Do For Self-Care

Self-care is a challenging topic — and one none of us can seem to clearly define. What is self-care? Is it a manicure and pedicure? Is it a day at the spa? Wine night with a bunch of awesome people? Sleeping in on a Saturday? Is it fancy, time-consuming, and expensive — a luxury — or something far simpler than that? And what is its purpose?

I think a lot about self-care. As someone who finds habit formation triumphantly difficult (I’m a rebel, according to Gretchen Rubin), mastering the little things takes enormous effort. And you know what? That’s okay. So when I think about self-care, I think a lot less about addition and much more about subtraction. I think a lot less about rules — self-care being another thing on the to do-list, or something else to punish myself with — and more about permission

I asked other body positive, anti-diet practitioners to share in this topic and offer their view of what self-care is and what they do to show themselves love.

WHY DO I STILL FEEL OUT OF CONTROL AROUND FOOD?: DEEP DIVING INTO RESTRICTION

WHY DO I STILL FEEL OUT OF CONTROL AROUND FOOD?: DEEP DIVING INTO RESTRICTION

When coaching clients through the intuitive eating process, many people find unconditional permission a super tough act to integrate. 

If you’re relatively new to intuitive eating and slowly working through the intuitive eating principles, you may feel ready to throw in the towel. You’re eating all the things! You’re eating the cake! You’re honouring your hunger and fullness cues! 

You’re eating with attunement! You’re enjoying dessert, feeling comfortable around potato chips, and going out for ice cream with friends. All experiences and pleasures you previously denied yourself. 

But regardless of what you tell yourself, you still feel out of control. You worry you’ll never stop eating. You worry you’ll never stop gaining. You find you can’t not eat an entire pint of ice cream in one go. If there’s cake in the house, you’ll find it. Cheeseboards? Game over.