July 22, 2014

Bites from the Eating Psychology Conference

This week is the second annual Eating Psychology Online Conference, and I absorbed as much of it as I could yesterday. Here are some of my favorite quotes from some of the presenters:

Mark Hyman: A Doctor's View of Food,  Nutrition and Health
"The majority of diseases that doctors who are graduating today are seeing are diseases that are caused by food, and that only can be cured by food."
"The food companies are acting like a parasite that's going to kill it's host."

Amy Pershing: Psychology of Binge Eating
"The presence of weight stigma in our culture is fundamentally damaging." (Referring to a survey of people with eating disorders, in which 75 percent of respondents said that weight-related bullying contributed to the development of their eating disorder.) 
"For so many in this culture, women in particular but increasingly men, we've spent so much of our lives either on a diet, or off a diet, or thinking about the next diet, there's been so little time just being a person who eats." 
"Our goal in recovery from binge eating disorder is to ultimately be in a space where our drive, our motivation is to take the very best care of our body, to cherish our body as a home, not think about our body as a billboard to gain approval, because that doesn't motivate change...that motivates shame." 
Regarding health at ever size: "Absolutely every body, right now, in this moment, deserves the best of care. That is fundamentally contrary to shame."

Thomas Moore: A Soulful Approach to Food
"Can you really take care of your soul if you don't cook? I'm not sure." 
"Whenever you get prepared food from the supermarket, your soul suffers. ...If you're going to get fast food, be sure you give something to your soul that day in some other way." 
"Eating healthy food is extremely important, and that can be part of the joy of eating." But: "[Healthy eating] can get out of hand to the point where people forget what pleasure is." 
"It's important to pay attention to other reasons for eatinglike nutrition and healthbut pleasure is something that we often make secondary, if at all." 
"Human beings can do more than one thing at a time...they can eat healthfully and for pleasure." 
"Having deep pleasures that feed your soul is one of the most important things in life." 
"Let's be healthy with food instead of against food."

Lindsey Averill: FattitudeAn Empowering Look at Fat

"My body's perfect, and it's not thin." 
"When I look at food, I think to myself, 'Is that symbolic food that I'm engaging with on a level of emotional desire, or is that actually nutrient food that's feeding my body and making it stronger."

On a somewhat related note, I came across this Beauty Redefined blog post this morning: "Your body is powerful. Use it as an instrument, not an ornament."

Good stuff!

July 21, 2014

Greetings from RDville: Biding my time

Happy Monday! Its been a while since my last RDville post, and not a lot has changed. I'm seeing some private-pay patients at Northwest Natural Health, but the wheels of the insurance credentialing process are grinding sloooooowly. It will take longer than I thought to be able to accept insurance, but I learned that the anticipated timeframe is actually typical, so it can't be helped.

I've been pretty lucky to not have had many problems dealing with insurance as a patient, so maybe this lengthy process* of dealing with insurance as a potential provider is the universe's way of balancing things out. Oh, well. As a reminder, if you want to get on my email list to be notified when I start accepting insurance, you can sign up here. (The form is at the bottom of the page.)

On a happier note, I am finalizing plans for some classes I will be offering starting in August. I'll post details here as soon as things are nailed down, probably later this week!

* Speaking of lengthy processes, I'm currently stuck in a walking boot (well, more of a shoe, really) with no idea of how long I'll have to be in it. I had to practically yell down the hall after the doctor I saw (for all of like 10 minutes) to find out. "Good question," he said. "Gee, you think?" I thought. The answer? If I have a stress fracture (not likely but possible) it could be six weeks! Otherwise, probably two weeks. I injured my foot three weeks ago walking barefoot on the beach for eight miles. It wasn't bad at first, but steadily got worse over the next week with walking, and I walk a lot...or at least I did. I felt a little twitchy this weekend when I couldn't take my dog for a nice long walk, as I usually would. I'm pretty much stuck with upper body weight lifting and some very careful yoga until my foot improves, so I really hope it's not a stress fracture!

July 18, 2014

Dieting, eating disorders and embracing HAES

One concern about our culture’s preoccupation with weight in general, and some of the anti-fat messages that are coming out of the “war on obesity” specifically, is that they may trigger the development of eating disorders in children, adolescents, teens and adults who are predisposed to them. 

An interesting point mentioned in the upcoming book Body Respect by Linda Bacon, PhD, and Lucy Aphramor, PhD, RD, is that, according to research data, a child is 242 times more likely to have an eating disorder than develop type 2 diabetes. In spite of that, it’s the supposed “epidemic” of type 2 diabetes in kids that garners frequent media attention. 

“If it’s about fat, there’s an outcry, but at the expense of other things that are happening,” Aphramor said. 

In yesterday’s post, I talked about healthism. One outcome of our culture’s pursuit of both health and thinness is that individuals who are thin and who exercise a lot tend to receive a lot of praise and positive feedback, as if those things are inherently healthy. In some cases, they could be signs of an eating disorder, in which case that praise could actually contribute to the continuation of what are in fact unhealthy behaviors. 

“It seems like there’s been a shift in how eating disorders manifest now,” Bacon said. “There’s a much higher percentage of people who are using exercise as a form of bulimia.” 

Aphramor said that, as with obesity, eating disorders stem in large part from societal issues. “When we are understanding eating disorders, the problem is not that we’ve got a handful of people with body image issues, but we’ve created a society where it’s difficult to be your authentic self,” she said. “We’re taught sort of an aggressive competitiveness that moves us away from valuing diversity as a celebratory thing, and towards judgment and superiority.” 

"It’s too easy to ‘locate’ the problem in the individual, but the problem is out there in society,” she said. “It certainly gets played out tragically in people’s lives and people’s bodies, but ultimately we need to tackle gender stereotype, physical and sexual violence.” 

For women and men who have a history of chronic diets or a complicated relationship with food and body weight, it can sometimes be difficult to fully embrace a health at every size (HAES) perspective, especially if they are striving for a body size/shape very different from the one they currently inhabit. 

“It’s true, it’s harder to live in this world in a larger body. Size stigma exists,” Bacon said. “We need to help people recognize that they don’t have to change to meet somebody else’s ideal. That’s just painful, but they can move to a place where they feel more embodied and claim their own aesthetic.” 

“I think it good, particularly with weight, to recognize the ongoing ambivalence that people experience, that they can get HAES completely intellectually and still want to be thin, and helping them get comfortable with that uncertainty and ambivalence,” Aphramor said. “It’s not that you wake up completely HAES-ified.” 

She said it’s important to allow for “the sort of messiness of it” so HAES doesn’t become something else to fail at. “When we allow for real life and the to-ing and fro-ing of it, that’s when it becomes a journey of transformation.” 

Aphramor and Bacon both said that many people decide to go on diets as they are beginning to transition to a HAES mindset, largely because they have some conflicted feelings about giving up old dieting patterns. The difference is that they may have less of a judgmental attitude towards themselves, and to others, then they did before. 

Bacon said that this experience can be a valuable learning experience, one that’s more visceral instead of just intellectual, which can ultimately “help them go further in their health at every size journey.” 

“I think it can be really helpful for people to hear that narrative," Aphramor said. "Too often, I think the tendency is to present narratives that are reconciled and neat and have a beginning, middle and end. Life isn’t like that.”

Photo source: Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity