Confessions of a Dietitian

by Nicole Geurin, MPH, RD

It’s easy to make assumptions about me because I am a dietitian.  You might think that I carefully manage my calorie intake and that I tell my clients to do the same.  Let me set the record straight.

Part 1: Why I am actually thin.

Unlike many people mistakenly assume, I am not thin because my nutrition knowledge has enabled me to master the ‘perfect’ diet.  (There is no ‘perfect’ diet, nor do I strive to achieve one.)  I am also not thin because I enjoy playing tennis and being active.  While I enjoy these lifestyle habits because they help me to feel well, they are not the reason that I am thin.  (Nor are they are moral imperatives for others to adopt, regardless of size.)

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A Fat Runner’s Path to Intuitive Exercise

by Lindsey Schuhmacher, MA

I like to run. I like the sharp, morning air in my lungs. I like when my breath finds its rhythm and all of a sudden it doesn’t feel like work anymore. I like how alive I feel afterwards, with fresh ideas swarming in my head and optimism lightening my step. It hasn’t always been this way. Like many people with disordered eating and exercise backgrounds, my relationship with running wasn’t always so simple.

I am fat. I have always been or identified as some form of fat. Even during the times when my weight dipped low enough to be at the high end of the “normal” range of the BMI, I felt fat. That is because I have grown up in a culture with an “ideal” image of health and beauty that I can never attain. The strange part is that I was at my least healthy, physically and psychologically, when I approached the ideal most closely and would regularly receive compliments about my looks and health. I was also repeatedly asked for advice about how other people could get to where I was. Looking back, I feel sad for myself and for those who wanted to emulate my negative behaviors.

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Dear Fathers: Your Son’s Body Is Just Fine

by Dawn Clifford, PhD, RD

Dear Dads,

Please leave your son’s body alone. Your son’s body size and shape is just fine. He doesn’t need to fill out, bulk up, slim down, or get ripped.

Your son received genetic material from you and his biological mother. That DNA will largely dictate his body, both as a child and as an adult. So if there’s anything that doesn’t seem quite right about your son’s body, it’s all you (…well, at least half you)!

Your son’s body will change naturally throughout his childhood. He will grow out, he will grow up, and he may also remain a bean pole. Quit trying to change it.

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Unlearning Fat Phobia Is A Lifelong Process

by Melissa Toler, Pharm.D.

After performing at this year’s Super Bowl half-time show, Lady Gaga’s stomach was at the center of some good old-fashioned body-shaming on social media. Super Bowl viewers took to Twitter and Facebook to express their disapproval of her belly fat and suggested that maybe she should have hit the gym a little harder before the big show. It caused enough of a ruckus that she responded on her Instagram account with a brief post to acknowledge that she is proud of her body… and we should be too.

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Not On the Menu: Intuitive Eating and Autism

by David Preyde

The areas of diet and nutrition are a minefield. It’s almost impossible to reach a consensus, as there are so many different — and contradictory — theories, ideas, and values. If you are a healthcare professional, it can be hard to know how best to serve your clients.

One idea that’s gained a lot of traction recently is intuitive eating. It’s a pretty great concept: instead of worrying about the different components of food, how often to eat and how much, you simply pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you. If you eat when you’re hungry, it’s supposedly easier to maintain a healthy relationship with your body. In addition to being a great tool for clients, it also makes your job less complicated.

Allow me to ruin this for you.

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Raising a Ruckus: Calorie Counts on Menus

by Andrea LaMarre, MSc.

Over the past week I have been asked, more times than I can count: “What are you making such a big fuss about?” This question has come on the heels of a recent change in legislation in my home province of Ontario that has made it law for restaurants with over 20 locations to include calorie counts on their menus. These calorie counts are abstracted from all other nutritional information, and they must be as large as the price of the item.

In early December, I was approached by a number of others from within the eating disorder research, advocacy and prevention community who suggested that I start a petition to have this legislation repealed. Alarmed that the legislation was to come into effect, presumably without consultation from the eating disorders community, I did so. Just after Christmas, after approximately 400 people had signed the petition, I started to receive media requests – dozens of media requests. Suddenly I found myself with the interesting task of providing the kind of sound bite for an article that would make people at least pause for thought around this new item on the menu.

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Fitbit? No Thanks.

by Nicole Christina, LCSW

Ok. I admit they look cool. Especially the Jawbones. They look like something I might buy in the Museum of Modern Art catalog. Or a fashion statement worn by a character in the film Bladerunner. But I have a real beef with this supposed “health trend”.

For the benefit of discussion, imagine using this computerized tracking system for your dog; counting their steps, weighing and entering their kibble into an app. Doesn’t it make more sense to use your pet’s behavior to judge how much exercise and food they need? Don’t they have an internal system which tells them when to eat and how much to exert themselves?

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The Paradox of Privilege: A Call for Voices

by Dr. Jenny Copeland

(Side note: this piece is not the result of original insight, but rather the result of labor from generous folks of color, as well as queer, transgender, disabled, fat, and other oppressed people who shouldered the task of educating people with privilege, such as myself. I would not have this perspective without their work.)

Silence. They say it’s golden. That it’s deafening. That it speaks volumes.

Silence can be powerful. It can be oppressive. It can build walls to hide behind.

In reality, it is all of these. All of these, and more.

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Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: A Very HAES Holiday

by Lindsey Schuhmacher, MA

When I was a teenager, I lived with my older sister. We had an oversized magnet on the fridge that said “Eat, Drink, and be Fat and Drunk.” We thought it was funny. In some ways, I still do. It sets you up for one thing, but then surprises you with an irreverent version instead. But now I see things other than humor in it. I recognize a deep paranoia that accompanies the idea of letting go and really enjoying something. I sense a fatalism that says that if we eat and drink what we like, it will inevitably lead to outright gluttony.

With the holidays fast approaching, I encounter that paranoia on a daily basis. “Oh no!” I seem to hear everywhere, “There will be loads of yummy food around! This is terrible!” While this may seem like a “good problem” to have, considering the privilege involved in having access to parties and copious amounts of food, if you believe that a morsel of yummy food will start you down a slippery slope towards excesses you dare not imagine, it makes sense to be terrified!

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Fat Studies: May the Next Generation of Fat Kids Be Free of Self-Hatred

by Mikalina Kirkpatrick

I am a Women, Gender, and Sexualities Studies (WGSS) major at Portland State University in Oregon. I concluded my junior year with a 2016 Spring term of Fat Studies immersion. I was the teaching assistant for an online class called Gender and Body Image and I took an online senior capstone class called Embracing Size Diversity. I then decided to round out the term with a last-minute eight hour bus ride to Vancouver, BC to attend the fourth annual International Weight Stigma Conference.

After a lifetime of fat phobic schooling, this was 10 weeks of incredible, unusual, validating, and empowering education. If education has the potential to reshape the world, it’s really exciting to think about the next generation of gym teachers, nurses, teachers and others who work with kids going through this kind of educational experience.

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