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Event: Womentum March Onward, March 7, 2024

Womentum March Onward 2024!

The evening before International Women’s Day and during Women’s History Month, join Womentum as four local healthcare professionals share their stories that highlight the need for a paradigm shift in our approach to women’s wellbeing: separating wellness and our worth from weight, food, and our bodies.

Thursday, March 7, 6:30-8 pm (doors open at 6), The National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole

$40, purchase here. Scholarships available, complete request form here.

The pursuit of health and wellness for women in our society too often leads to diminished personal power in the form of negative body image and a preoccupation with food, exercise, and weight.

This event will arm attendees with the knowledge to make educated choices for how we spend our time, attention, and money on our physical appearance and health. We envision a shift towards celebrating what our bodies can do in the world and also developing our potential beyond our physical self!

About Dr. Kelly Baxter, Family Medicine Physician

Dr. Kelly Baxter is deeply passionate about improving healthcare for those who are at greatest risk of experiencing medical and societal bias based on age, body type, sexual preference, gender identity, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and other forms of discrimination that contribute to worse health outcomes.

Kelly has a special interest in women’s health at all ages. She follows the evolving science of hormone replacement therapy and strives to support women through the menopausal transition. Kelly recognizes the harms of diet culture on mental and physical health. After 15 years in premedical, medical, and residency training, Kelly was shocked to find a complete lack of education around eating disorders and a general lack of understanding and compassion around body image and weight. She has independently pursued training and mentorship in these areas, but she has found the most meaningful education has come from her patients directly. Kelly is humbled and honored to share the sacred space of the patient-provider relationship and feels that all people deserve unbiased and individualized care.

Dr. Kelly Baxter is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. She is certified in Integrative Medicine through the University of Arizona. She earned her bachelor’s degree from University of Wyoming and her medical degree from the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, Washington. She completed her family medicine residency at Saint Anthony North Hospital in Denver, Colorado.

About Mary Ryan, Licensed Clinical Social Worker & Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Mary Ryan’s practice, Beyond Broccoli LLC, welcomes adults and adolescents struggling with a wide range of issues, with a special focus on problems with food, eating, exercise, and body image. She began her professional journey as a dietitian more than two decades ago. Her interest in the many links between nutrition and mental health, and her passion for empowering clients to improve their relationship with food and their bodies, led her to pursue additional education, training, and licensure as a psychotherapist to help clients move beyond the “what” and towards the “why” of eating and other struggles. Integrating nutrition and psychotherapy is particularly important when there are issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, or difficult childhood experiences that impact every aspect of how we function later in life.

About Tanya Mark, National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach

With over 20 years of experience in the field of wellness, Tanya Mark, started her career as a massage therapist and shifted to fitness coaching (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) and then became a Nutrition Therapy Practitioner (NTP). After witnessing client frustration from failed diets and body dissatisfaction Tanya pursued additional education as a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and a Licensed Be Body Positive Facilitator to support her clients in disentangling from diet culture and the false belief that there’s a “right” way to have a body.

Recently, Tanya completed her studies as a Master Level II Health Coach (PN2-MHC) and Certified Sleep, Stress Management & Recovery Coach (SSR). She coaches clients on whole health, beyond nutrition, including physical activity, sleep, stress resilience skills, and help them gain clarity on their personal values, priorities and what they really want out of life — what matters most. Tanya works with clients virtually, 1-1 or in her group Intuitive Eating and Be Body Positive coaching programs.

About Eden Morris, Registered Dietitian & Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor

Eden Morris is a former collegiate softball player turned mountain biker and skier who loves pocket snacks, tacos, playing outside, hanging with her Australian cattle dog, and camping in new places. Eden internalized so many of diet culture’s messages when she was a young girl. She didn’t understand that dieting would damage her body and hinder her performance in sports until she was diagnosed with Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport at age 22. 3 stress fractures in her left foot, osteopenia, and an absent menstrual cycle for 3+ years were the wakeup calls that showed her that health had to be about more than eating “clean” and weighing as little as possible.

Eden has spent the last 12 years immersing herself in the Intuitive Eating framework, making peace with food, her body, and movement. Healing her relationship with food was the healthiest thing she’s ever done for her physical and mental health. She’s a huge fan of mantras and affirmations–she often states, “A well-fed body is a resilient body.” Eden aims to live a life to show you that a fueled body performs better. No matter what phase of life we’re in, no matter what kind of movement we enjoy, our bodies deserve nourishment from foods that give us energy and bring us joy!

Eden works with active individuals of all ages who are looking to learn how to fuel their bodies without restriction, who are ready to appreciate their body for what it does for them vs how it looks, and who want to find a peaceful, accepting relationship toward themselves in order to live a life of empowerment.

Join us for Womentum March Onward 2024!

Transform Your Health With This Superfood

Every year you’re introduced to some superfood promising to transform your health.

Foods with fancy names like acai, agave, goji berries, wheatgrass and Yuzu (which is a Japanese grapefruit).

But you already know about a simple superfood that has powerful health-boosting effects.

That superfood is fiber.

Yet only 5% of Americans eat the recommended amount. The American Heart Association recommends that women and men eat 25 grams and 38 grams of fiber a day from food, respectively. But on average, Americans eat only 10-15 grams of fiber a day.

Are you getting enough fiber in your diet and why should you care?

Because eating the recommended amount of fiber from food can transform your health in many ways.

The Benefits of Fiber

Soluble and insoluble fiber are two types of dietary fiber found in various foods, and they have different characteristics and health benefits.

Soluble fiber

Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance in the digestive tract. It’s found in foods such as oats, chia seeds, barley, beans, lentils, fruits and some vegetables (i.e. carrots).

Fiber-filled chia pudding

The health benefits of soluble fiber include:

  • Lowering your cholesterol levels: Soluble fiber can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by binding to cholesterol particles and removing them from the body.
  • Regulating your blood sugar levels: Soluble fiber slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetes.
  • Promoting satiety: Foods high in soluble fiber tend to be more filling.

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and passes through the digestive system largely intact. It’s found in foods like whole grains, wheat bran, nuts, seeds, and the skins of some fruits and vegetables.

The health benefits of insoluble fiber include:

  • Promoting regular bowel movements: Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and helps prevent constipation by speeding up the passage of waste through the digestive tract.
  • Preventing diverticulosis: Adequate intake of insoluble fiber may reduce the risk of developing diverticulosis, a condition characterized by small pouches forming in the colon wall.
  • Supporting gut health: Insoluble fiber can serve as a prebiotic, providing nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria.

Fiber Benefits Blood Sugar Levels

Eating fiber can help prevent or mitigate insulin resistance primarily by stabilizing blood sugar levels and improving overall insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body’s cells become less responsive to the effects of insulin, leading to elevated blood sugar levels.

Checkout the effects on your blood sugar levels when eating pizza alone versus pairing it with a fiber-filled salad.

Fiber and your blood sugar levels

 

Dietary Fiber Takeaways

  • Both soluble and insoluble fiber contribute to general digestive health by preventing various gastrointestinal issues.
  • Fiber-rich diets have been associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
  • Fiber helps promote satiety.
  • It aids in the management of blood sugar levels, making it beneficial for all individuals but particularly those with pre-diabetes and diabetes.
  • Fiber can assist in lowering blood pressure and improving overall cardiovascular health.
  • It supports a healthy gut microbiome by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Fiber-rich foods are typically nutrient-dense and provide essential vitamins and minerals.

So how can you incorporate fiber into your diet to reap all those benefits?

Five Sources of Fiber

  1. Eat more whole grains:
    • Oats: A bowl of oatmeal can provide around 4 grams of fiber.
    • Brown rice: 1 cup of cooked brown rice contains approximately 3.5 grams of fiber.
    • Quinoa: 1 cup of cooked quinoa has about 5 grams of fiber.
    • Whole wheat pasta or bread: Look for products that list “whole wheat” as the first ingredient for a higher fiber content.
  2. Enjoy whole fruits:
    • Apples: A medium-sized apple with the skin can have around 4 grams of fiber.
    • Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries): One cup of these fruits provides roughly 4-8 grams of fiber.
    • Pears: One medium pear contains about 6 grams of fiber.
    • Bananas: A medium banana has about 3 grams of fiber.
  3. Eat your favorite veggies:
    • Broccoli: 1 cup of cooked broccoli offers approximately 5 grams of fiber.
    • Brussels sprouts: 1 cup of cooked Brussels sprouts contains around 4 grams of fiber.
    • Carrots: One cup of chopped carrots has about 3.5 grams of fiber.
    • Spinach: 1 cup of cooked spinach provides approximately 4 grams of fiber.
  4. Swap out meats for fiber-filled plant proteins like beans and legumes: 
    • Lentils: 1 cup of cooked lentils can give you up to 15 grams of fiber.
    • Chickpeas: 1 cup of cooked chickpeas contains about 12 grams of fiber.
    • Black beans: 1 cup of cooked black beans provides approximately 15 grams of fiber.
  5. Add raw nuts and seeds to your oats and salads:
    • Chia seeds: 1 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) of chia seeds has around 10 grams of fiber.
    • Almonds: 1 ounce of almonds contains about 3.5 grams of fiber.
  6. Try these fiber-filled snack options:
    • Popcorn: Air-popped popcorn has around 4 grams of fiber per 3 cups.
    • Raw vegetables: Snacking on raw carrots, cucumber, or bell peppers with hummus can add to your daily fiber intake.

As you increase your fiber intake, be sure to do it gradually to avoid digestive discomfort and drink plenty of water. And as always, check with your primary care physician to see what’s best for you depending on your medical history.

So instead of searching for the next superfood to transform your health, focus on the simply adding in more fiber-filled foods.

P.S. Join my FREE newsletter, Reclaiming Wellness and have tips sent directly to your inbox!

Five Transformative Benefits of the Body Positive Approach to Health and Wellbeing

Maybe you’re curious about the benefits of the body positive approach to health. But let’s be honest. The pursuit of health and wellbeing has become intertwined with the pursuit of a perfect body. From social media influencers to glossy magazine covers, the pressure to conform to unrealistic beauty standards can be overwhelming.

Fortunately, there is a powerful movement that challenges this narrative – the body positive approach. Rather than fixating on achieving one specific “ideal” shape or size, the body positive movement advocates for being the healthiest version of your unique self, in both mind and body.

So let’s dive into why it’s critical to shift away from striving for one specific size or “ideal” image of health and well-being. I hope you find it empowering.

Five Benefits of the Body Positive Approach to Health and Wellbeing

1. Cultivates a Positive Mindset

At the core of the body positive approach lies the concept of self-acceptance and self-compassion.

Instead of berating yourself if you don’t fit into societal’s perfectionist ideals, a body positive mindset encourages you to appreciate and celebrate your body for all that it does. This shift in perspective fosters a positive relationship with yourself, leading you to improved mental wellbeing and reduced stress levels.

When you learn to be more accepting of your body, especially as you move through life stages, you can free yourself from the shackles of comparison and self-criticism, allowing space for self-growth and personal development. 🔥

2. Encourages Health as a Holistic Concept

The body positive approach doesn’t dismiss the importance of health and wellbeing.

Instead, it redefines the concept of health beyond mere physical appearance.

Health is seen as a holistic state, encompassing physical, mental, emotional, existential and social well-being.

This inclusive view promotes balanced and sustainable lifestyle choices that prioritize overall wellness rather than obsessing over numbers on a scale or clothing size.

By recognizing that health is multi-dimensional, you are more likely to adopt habits that nourish both your body and mind.

3. Break Free from Diet Culture

Current approaches to health often revolve around restrictive diets and intense workout regimens, perpetuating a harmful cycle of yo-yo dieting and disordered eating behaviors.

The body positive approach advocates for intuitive eating and listening to our body’s needs. You learn to trust your instincts and respect your body’s cues. This liberated relationship with food fosters a healthier attitude towards eating, reduces the risk of developing eating disorders, and promotes a sustainable and enjoyable way of nourishing our bodies.

4. Boost Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem

In a world that often equates beauty with self-worth, adopting a body positive approach can be incredibly empowering. When you embrace your body and celebrate your uniqueness, you cultivate a strong sense of self-confidence and self-esteem.

This newfound self-assurance radiates into all aspects of your life, from personal relationships to professional pursuits.

By rejecting the notion that your worth is contingent on your appearance, you liberate yourself to pursue your passions and dreams without the burden of body-related insecurities holding you back.

5. Foster a Supportive Body Positive Community

The body positive movement thrives on the idea of inclusivity and support. By embracing this approach, you become part of a larger community that champions body diversity and challenges harmful societal norms.

Engaging with like-minded people who prioritize self-love can provide a valuable support network, allowing you to share your experiences, seek guidance, and together we can celebrate our collective victories.

In a world that perpetuates perfectionist health and beauty standards, the body positive approach to health and wellbeing emerges as a refreshing, empowering and transformative perspective.

By redefining health as holistic well-being, you can break free from the harmful grips of diet culture and body shaming. You can lead a fulfilling life with compassion, joy, and gratitude for the incredible vessel that carries you through this beautiful journey called life.

Ultimately, that’s my goal as your coach, to partner with you to be your healthiest self in mind and body.

Want to reap the many benefits of the body positive approach to health? If so, let’s have a conversation. ♡ Tanya

Why Calorie Counting Apps Warrant Warning Labels

You grab your phone, tap on a calorie counting app, type in your personal data and out spits your calorie cap for the day. It seems like it’s a benign approach to your nutrition, but is it?

As a former exercise professional and eat this, not that nutrition professional, I thought so. My days were spent measuring out spoonfuls of half and half, scrolling through brands and portion sizes on MyFitnessPal, and worrying about how many calories I was allowed to eat. At the end of the day, depending on my final calorie count, I felt good about myself, or not. I was swimming in diet culture that claims your wellness equals your weight and worth. And like a fish in water, I couldn’t see the harms.

Over a decade later, I clearly see that calorie counting apps are diet culture tools and believe they should come with warning labels.

In brief, calorie counting apps make nutrition seem like a simple numbers game; they’re inaccurate, disconnect us from our own body’s signals, detract from eating as a nourishing experience, create a hyper focus on food and weight (that can be potentially dangerous) and ultimately they don’t promote actual health and well-being.

Let’s dive deeper into those five diet app warnings.

Warning: Calorie counting disconnects you from your body’s internal cues such as hunger and fullness.

That’s problematic because you we born with “interoceptive awareness,” the ability to listen and respond to the direct messages of your body to meet your physical and psychological needs. As an infant, you cried when you felt hunger pangs and refused food when you felt full.

But over time, external food and body messages from family, friends, and cultural ideals may have caused you to over-ride those innate signals. For example, a well-meaning parent may have insisted that you clean your plate when you were full. Or perhaps you ignored hunger to stay within your recommended calorie limits on a diet. If you continued to tune those signals out, you may have lost your body’s trust to meet its needs, so those signals get muted.

Don’t worry, you can tune back into your body’s cues. One approach is called Intuitive Eating, a mind-body eating framework with ten principles that work by either cultivating or removing obstacles to your body awareness.

Ditch calorie counting, the benefits of Intuitive Eating
Ditch calorie counting, the ten benefits of Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating is “a journey of self-discovery and connection to the needs of your mind and body. There is nothing to count: this includes no counting of calories, carbs, points, or macros,” says co-founder Evelyn Tribole. 

And please be very leery of an app’s recommended calorie intake. It’s likely inaccurate for you.

Warning: Every body burns calories differently.

Though you’ll still hear the message that your weight is simply a math equation, in a 2020 Harvard Health article, “Stop Counting Calories,” Dr. Famina Cody Stanford says that the calories-in, calories-out is not only out-dated, but wrong.

The three main factors that influence how your body burns calories include food type, your metabolism and the organisms living in your gut, called your microbiome. Thus, “you can eat the exact same number of calories as someone else, yet have very different outcomes,” says Stanford.

Not only is every body different, but we are nourished by far more than the calories in food.

Warning: Food is more than fuel.

Christy Harrison, author of The Wellness Trap agrees. “Human beings aren’t machines, and our needs for food can’t be quantified with mere numbers. Calorie counting… not only wildly underestimates the energy we need in general, but it also completely fails to understand what it means to be a human being. Calories say nothing about what makes us feel satisfied physically, mentally, and emotionally,” says Harrison.

Focusing on calories may separate us from enjoying eating as a nourishing lifelong human experience. We celebrate over food. We grieve over food. Yet we may avoid eating out with friends, attending birthday parties, or enjoying traditional family dinners to control our allotted calories for the day.

For many, eating has become another “to-do” to check off a list. Fast and distracted eating is common. And if we’re spending our days scrolling through an app to track calories, can we truly be present in our lives and with others?

Imagine bringing presence to your plate, slowing down (if even a little) to notice the taste, texture and aroma of your food and connecting with the company at your table, even if it’s just yourself.

Nourishment is more than calories and nutrients.
Nourishment is not just nutrition.

Furthermore, calorie counting apps may come with unintended consequences.

Warning: Likely to foster a preoccupation with food and your body and may contribute to disordered eating.

A 2021 study by Eikey, 2021, connected diet app use with a fixation on numbers, rigid diet, obsession, app dependency, and extreme negative emotions that can increase the risk of or exacerbate eating disorder behaviors.

Mary Ryan, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, puts these apps in the category of scales.

She says that for some people they may seem benign or even helpful, for a time. But for many people, calorie counting apps “provide yet another way to harshly judge themselves and contribute to lower feelings of self-esteem, self-compassion, and self-efficacy when they don’t ‘achieve’ some particular calorie goal.

“In my view, we already have plenty of ways to beat ourselves up. We don’t need another one” says Ryan.

And finally, calorie counting isn’t a health promoting behavior.

Warning: A focus on calories and weight as the main measure of your health is problematic.

Wellness is far more complex than weight.

Healthy behaviors include getting back in touch with your body’s cues, practicing the basics of good nutrition, and ultimately taking a wide lens look at all the factors influencing your well-being. Consider the healing power of sleep, stress management, movement, social connection, mental health, and purpose in life.

While a calorie counting app may seem like a benign approach to nutrition, take caution and consider a “do no harm” approach that allows your mind and body to be its healthiest, not what diet culture says it “should” be. Tanya

Use change psychology, not a diet, to improve eating habits

Diet plans make us believe we’re the problem if we failed to improve our eating habits on their diet. But key principles of “behavior change psychology” teach us that it’s how diets approach eating habit change as the real issue.

So there’s nothing wrong with you if you’ve “failed” on a diet, or a meal plan. You’re not flawed if you “cheated; nor are you a willpower weakling if you couldn’t establish perfect eating habits in twenty-one days.

Armed with the wisdom of change psychology, I hope you’ll stop berating and blaming yourself, show yourself compassion and make an empowering choice to get off the dieting treadmill for good.

The Seven Myths of Changing Your Eating Habits

Let’s debunk the seven myths of how to change your eating habits, starting with one of the most common ones:

1. Just tell me what to eat

In a 2021 study on human behavior change and dieting, Stanford University scientists confirmed what we already know about human behavior: what we say we want isn’t what we actually want or need.

In the first four weeks of the study, participants received all their meals and snacks. Yet even when eating healthy was made “easy,” participants still struggled to follow the plan, reporting adherence on average of a seven out of ten. Then, in the next eight weeks of the study, participants shopped, prepped, and cooked their own diet compliant meals. And as expected, adherence dropped further to fifty percent.

But what’s the real “ah-ha” from the study?

Participants were given the choice to continue food delivery or shop, prep and cook on their own. And they all declined food delivery. (Mainly, they preferred more variety in their meals and snacks).

And there’s one more stunner.

While participants “were eager to receive shopping lists, recipes, and sample meals,” and “expressed strong intentions of using these materials,” they rarely used them. In the end, participants only made small adjustments to their typical diet.

Ultimately, diets don’t solve the complex challenges that humans have.

2. To improve eating habits, “Just do it”

Next, we might believe that changing our habits is as simple as “just do it.”

Dr. John Berardi, founder of Precision Nutrition and nutrition advisor for companies like Apple and Nike and pro and Olympic athletes, offers a great analogy to illustrate why diets and strict meal plans aren’t effective strategies for change.

He compares giving someone a diet and telling them to “just do it,” to giving a beginner exerciser a heavily loaded weight bar and saying copy me to do a snatch, an advanced exercise. A diet involves complex skills too, forcing you to make a bunch of difficult changes all at once and then sustain them perfectly.

But that’s not how we set someone up for successful change while learning any new skill.

Instead, simply the process of change. Start where you’re at with an assessment of your current nutrition skills. From there, build the ones that you need (versus a one-size fits all diet) with practice, through specific consistent actions that you’re ready, willing and able to do within the context of your life.

Even if you could write a book on nutrition, consider approaching change as if you were that beginner weightlifter. Don’t load yourself with a heavy bar and a complicated exercise that you may not have the ability to do yet.

3. Where’s my willpower?

While willpower is commonly considered a limited resource, current research shows this to be true – only if we believe it to be true.

Willpower, like a muscle, can be strengthened.

With a growth mindset, the belief that anything can be improved with sustained effort, you can build resilience.

4. 21 days, now what?

Additionally, I bet you’ve probably heard that it takes twenty-one days to build a habit.

But James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, disagrees.

James Clear, Atomic Habits, improve eating habits

So again, focus on consistency while developing any new skill like improving your eating habits; no perfection is necessary.

5. Coach, kick my butt

So next, while you may think you need coach “hard-ass” to motivate and keep you accountable to improve your eating habits, think again.

Change psychology research shows it’s human nature to resist being told what to do. Even if we insist it’s what we want and need, that rebellious teenager in you can emerge.

Instead, look for a health coach specializing in behavior change, a “non-judgmental guide, trained in motivational interviewing, appreciate inquiry and allyship” recommends Sandra Scheinbaum in a 2022 Forbes article.

While support facilitates the change process, an effective coaching relationship is collaborative and compassionate. A coach is someone who believes in you and harnesses your natural strengths to support change by nurturing self-efficacy.

6. Just set a smart goal

Furthermore, while we think we just need a clearly defined goal to shift our eating habits, what actually drives successful change is deep clarity on why it’s important to you, beyond your superficial why.

Try “The Five Whys” exercise developed by the Toyota company. Ask yourself why your goal is important to you five times, until the clearest reason emerges, one that honors your personal values and priorities.

Change thrives with a clear purpose.

7. On and off the wagon

And finally, for some reason, (um thanks diet culture), we think we need to be perfect, or we failed when trying to improve our eating habits.

We’re either “on the wagon” or off.

Maybe you’ve seen the image illustrating how change really works – a scribbled line with loops up and down. Yes, change is that messy.

Improving eating habits, change is messy

So instead, what if you kept “the wagon” rolling along with consistency?

What if we normalized and expected bumps in the road?

What if we saw obstacles and challenges not as failures, but as feedback, opportunities for learning and growth?

Now that’s an empowering and effective approach to change rather than labeling yourself a failure, feeling guilty or ashamed for “cheating.”

So the next time you think you want or need a meal plan or diet to improve your eating habits, challenge yourself and remember that’s not how human behavior change really works. ♡ Tanya

How can I eat healthier without dieting?

You want to eat healthier without dieting, so you search for a solution.

You scroll through your social media feed and see a sponsored ad for a trending diet or eating plan. It promises to “fix” your body and make you feel better quickly and this sounds appealing. Because right now, you’re feeling burnt out, like your to-do list is never-ending, there’s just no time for yourself, you just want guidance and a place to start.

But you’re also thinking, “How can I feel and eat better without dieting?” Isn’t there another way?

Yes.

NEWS FLASH:

"How can I eat healthier without dieting?" Good nutrition is a set of skills to learn and practice.
Good nutrition is a set of skills to learn and practice, not a diet.

Eating better is a skill

The great news is that good nutrition is a skill that you learn, just like speaking Spanish or playing the piano. So you can stop searching for diets and eating plans.

And how do you learn anything new?

You break the skill down into bite size chunks, just like you did with Spanish and the piano.

You didn’t learn to do it in 21 days or learn everything all at once, did you? Heck no! Diets force you to overhaul your eating behaviors on day 1 and don’t create long-term sustainable shifts in your eating habits.

So what specific nutrition skills do you need?

Nutrition skill domains

Skill # 1: Eat enough nutrients.

This is a key domain to building balanced meals which balances your blood sugar (glucose, A1c) and prevents diabetes, increases your energy and reduces mood swings and cravings!

So what are the specific practices under this domain?

  • Eat enough protein.
  • Eat enough vegetables.
  • Eat enough quality carbohydrates.
  • Eat enough healthy fats.
  • Drink enough water.

Practices are what you can do to build and improve the skill of eating enough nutrients.

Eat healthier without dieting

Let’s say that you want to practice eating enough protein.

We’ll collaborate on a specific action you are ready, willing and able to do reliably and consistently. Then, we’ll discuss potential challenges and obstacles that may come up for you in boosting your protein intake.

An example of a specific action could be adding an egg to your avocado toast.

But what if somedays you’re just not in the mood for eggs, then what? Or, what if you woke up late, you’re rushing around to make your kids breakfast and pack their lunches and no there’s just no time for your own breakfast?

Together, we will come up with a plan B and C so that you are more likely to make progress.

Success isn’t perfection.

It’s not all or nothing, pass or fail.

Success is progress and it’s on a spectrum.

Maybe one day all hell broke loose and nope, despite backups plans, you ate no protein, no breakfast. It’s ok. You are human. It’s how you are taking care of yourself for the most part and a key tenet of Intuitive Eating.

This is how the deep health coaching process works.

We identify where you’re currently at with your nutrition and self-care skills. Then, you practice, practice practice.

So this is how you eat, feel and live better without dieting.

Non diet nutrition coaching focuses on adding more nutrient dense foods (rather than taking them away) and supporting you in making it happen it within the context of your real life.

Rate your healthy eating skills

Remember, just knowing about the nutrition skills below is not the same as doing and taking action. And just like skill # 1, there are many practices to build under each skill domain.

Skill # 1: Eat enough nutrients.

Skill # 2: Choose better quality foods.

Skill # 3: Eat well consistently.

Skill #4: Eat well intuitively.

This is the process that I’ll take you through to improve your health, whether it’s practicing a specific nutrition skill, adding movement back into your life, creating a nightly routine to sleep better, or adding 5 minutes of breathing into your day to manage stress. These are all health skills and they can be learned with practice.

Diets don’t teach you skills, nor do they give you the time necessary to create true and sustainable change. Instead they promote tons of weird stuff like bananas are “bad,” eating tons of bacon, and limiting your veggies. Ugh.

Eating better is a skill. I’ll say it over and over again.

Kick diet culture to the curb.

So if you want to eat healthier without dieting, immerse yourself in learning, practicing and taking specific actions to gain these four critical nutrition skills.

Eating healthier doesn't require dieting.

Free Assessment

Take my deep health ASSESSMENT to receive your complimentary 30-minute coaching session.

Get started now and move from feeling burnt out and overwhelmed to 💪 feeling empowered, knowing you get expert support and guidance to feel, eat and live healthier — for good!

Why Am I Craving Carbs and Sugar?

If you find yourself frustrated, asking yourself “Why am I craving carbs and sugar,” you can learn why and make peace with food through the process of Intuitive Eating.

But first, let’s talk about some root causes.

Have you tried to solve your “problem” by restricting carbs and sugar completely?

Or perhaps you’ve tried a 30-day sugar detox or a “healthy lifestyle” eating plan “to fix” your cravings for carbs and sweets. And maybe it felt like it “worked” but then after, your cravings returned. 😬

And consider your relationship with simple carbs like breads and cookies. What feelings come up? Maybe you feel guilty, ashamed, stressed, or worried when you eat foods that diet culture labels as “bad.”

I too once had a fraught relationship with carbs and sugar stemming from the low carb trend that said bread and sugar are “bad.”

I used to follow a “healthy lifestyle diet” that restricted grains, added sugar and even the amount of natural sugars in whole foods.

  • I avoided sandwiches and was “good” when I had a salad instead. And if I had a sandwich, I would avoid other carbs that day.
  • I viewed sweets as “bad.” ( I mean everybody knows this is true, right?)
  • I could have berries but not a banana (because some sneaky diets out there say they’re too high in sugar and don’t care if your banana contains fiber that slows down how you metabolize the sugar.) Yikes.

I was “so good,” until I ended up overeating them and even bingeing on them, eating an entire bread basket and six-pack of cupcakes. Then I felt horrible both physically and emotionally – beating myself up, worrying about my health (and if I’m honest – my weight).

But after working for over a decade in nutrition, eating psychology, Intuitive Eating and body image, I learned that if healthy eating doesn’t include a healthy relationship with food, where all foods could fit, it wasn’t truly healthy eating.

healthy relationship with food

Here are four reasons why you may crave carbs, sugars and the solutions so you can finally have a healthy relationship with all foods and your body.

4 Reasons you crave carbs and sugar and what to do about it

# 1 You crave carbs and sugar because you’re restricting food.

One of the number one reasons we crave carbs and sugar of diet culture.

You’re body tells you what it needs, but diets teach us not to listen.

Simply put, if you’re not honoring your unique biological hunger needs, your body will drive you to eat.

And guess what it will drive you to eat more? Yup, you guessed it – carbohydrates and sugars. Carbohydrates such as sugars give you quick energy but like kindling on a fire, also burn out just a quick.  So it might feel like just can’t stop eating sugar if you’re stuck in this cycle.

Have you heard of Neuropeptide Y?

Neuropeptide Y is a chemical produced by the brain that triggers your drive to eat carbohydrates, the body’s primary and preferred source of energy. NPY production is increased by food deprivation, under-eating and during stress. Eating carbohydrates produces serotonin which turns off production of NPY.

And did you know…

When your body is not getting enough of its preferred fuel source (glucose), it will break down protein mainly from muscle to convert it to glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. This process comes at a high cost, as protein is then used as expensive fuel source instead of what it’s supposed to be used for: repair, maintains and builds muscle, hormones, enzymes and cells in the body.

It’s like using batteries in your toaster instead of plugging it in to use electricity – not efficient and potentially harmful.

When people lose weight on low carb diets it can be caused by losing muscle tissue – which is NOT what we want to be doing. Muscle tissue is your most metabolically active tissue (calorie burning tissue)!

KEY POINT: The more you deny your true hunger and fight your natural biology, the stronger and more intense food cravings and obsessions become. Furthermore, honoring hunger is foundational to being able to honor comfortable fullness (yes, read that again if you feel like you’re an over-eater).

Barriers to honoring hunger include:

✅ Diet culture rules: it’s not time (intermittent fasting), skipping meals to “save” calories, not eating after __ pm (even if you’re biologically hungry), diet plan says you can only eat __ calories, certain portion sizes, restricts carbs – so you feel hungry. You ignore hunger or at least try to using your “willpower.”

✅ Chaotic life: you’re too busy, over-scheduled. You can’t (your job doesn’t allow you to) or won’t stop and give yourself the gift of time to nourish yourself. Then by time you eat, you’re ravenous, hangry and might even feel “out of control” with your eating, or beat yourself up for craving sugar.

💡THE SOLUTION: Make sure you’re biologically fed with adequate energy and yes, carbohydrates. Ditch the diet mentality and its rules that take you further away from being able to tune and honor your true biological needs (Principle 1 of Intuitive Eating). Practice honoring your hunger when it’s gentle so that you can make conscious eating decisions and avoid triggering a primal drive to overeat (what you learn and practice in Principle 2 of Intuitive Eating).

# 2 You crave carbs when you’re feeling emotional, stressed.

First, nothing will make you feel more emotional than not getting your energy needs met (read that again). Thus dieting, restricting food (both physically and mentally!) is a stress on the body and can feel very much like emotional eating.

Also recall from above, that when you’re struggling with stress of any kind, such as an out of balance life, your body will produce Neuropeptide Y and trigger your drive to eat carbohydrates: your body’s primary fuel source.

Third, we are all emotional eaters to some degree because we’ve learned to equate food with love and comfort since infancy when we were held, loved and fed.

Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger may only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion. – Evelyn Tribole, Elyse Resch – Intuitive Eating

💡 THE SOLUTION: Cope with your emotions with kindness. These are skills that you will learn and practice in Principle 7 of Intuitive Eating.

# 3 You crave carbs and sugars because you have food rules that forbid them.

Humans don’t like to be told what to do period and that includes with food. We want autonomy over our food choices and nothing amplifies a craving like restriction. If we make something “off limits” – we will want it even more.

Nothing amplifies a craving like restriction

For example if you tell a toddler that he can’t have a special toy that his friend his playing with, guess what, he’ll want that special toy even if other toys are available.

Thus because of dieting, restricting or forbidding foods (physically or mentally not allowing them due to food rules) you’ve made certain foods “special” or off-limits.

A non-dieter that allows all foods in her diet has a completely different relationship with a pan of brownies. She may eat one or more and move on versus a dieter who is fixated on the plate of brownies and feels like he can’t have them in the house as he’ll eat the whole pan. Restriction and food rules cause the physical and or mental seeking – the obsession with forbidden foods.

And let me ask you, when you eat your “forbidden” foods, do you eat them consciously, slowly, truly savoring them? Or do you eat this food fast and distracted, trying to “get rid of the evidence?” In order to feel fully satisfied with any food, we need to slow down and bring presence to our plates. So many of my clients don’t really eat the brownie when eating the brownie. Satisfaction is a key piece of your nourishment.

💡 THE SOLUTION: You learn to make peace with food through a science-backed strategy called habituation and challenge the food police (Principles 3 and 4) by practicing removing all or nothing thinking (such as it’s either 100% bad or good) about carbs, sugars. Do you remember a time when eating an ice cream cone or having a sandwich with 2 slices a bread wasn’t surrounded by the food police? You can return!

# 4 You crave carbs because your meals and snacks are unbalanced.

Like I mentioned above, carbohydrates give you quick energy. But also like kindling on a fire, the energy we get from them burns out quickly.

💡THE SOLUTION: Build meals and snacks, in general, by including all three macronutrients – protein, healthy fat and carbohydrates. There’s no need for perfection – as that’s black and white thinking and, it’s not necessary to be healthy. Read more about building balanced “campfire meals” here.

And remember that carbohydrates include whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans!

It will take time to re-establish a rational relationship with carbs, sugars or your forbidden foods. But with consistent practice, over time, your body will learn to trust that you’re not going to put it on another self-imposed famine and/or forbid certain foods, either physically or mentally. Bagels and sweets will just be another food – nothing special.

Don’t let diet culture steal your life. Life is too short to waste another day struggling with food and your body.

So my friend, I’ll be 100% honest with you. I’ve been teaching Intuitive Eating for years and have found that sure you can read the book, but if you would ♡ to get to where you want to go much easier and much faster, reach out for private coaching or join my next group coaching class!

P.S. Like what you’re reading? Join my community to receive my free newsletter, Redefining Wellness! ♡ Tanya

The anti-diet is called Intuitive Eating

“Eating low-carb is part of my healthy lifestyle.”

“I have to have a meal plan to eat healthy.”

“I’m a sugarholic — I’m addicted to brownies.”

“Without portion sizes, I’ll overeat.”

Healthy eating has become synonymous with food rules, labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” eliminating gluten, dairy, sugar and processed foods, and restricting the evil macronutrient of the year — currently carbs. It has become “normal” to control your eating to get “healthy.”

But notice how this restrictive approach feels. It’s wrought with guilt and shame. It’s filled with fear and a preoccupation with food, creating a stressful relationship to food.

Relying on external rules to determine what we should eat disconnects us from trusting our inner signals to guide us to eat healthfully. We were born with this instinct and can return to our birthright through the process of intuitive eating.

What’s intuitive eating?

Intuitive eating is an evidence-based, compassionate self-care eating framework with 10 principles created by registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch as a solution to a problem they faced more than 25 years ago: “Dieting” doesn’t work.

The 10 principles are designed to enhance or remove obstacles to interoceptive awareness — considered intuitive eating’s “superpower” — a process in which your brain perceives physical sensations arising from the body such as heartbeat, breathing, hunger and fullness.

The 10 principles of Intuitive Eating

  • Reject the diet mentality
  • Honor your hunger
  • Make peace with food
  • Challenge the Food Police
  • Discover the satisfaction factor
  • Feel your fullness
  • Cope with your emotions with kindness
  • Respect your body
  • Move and feel the difference
  • Honor your health with gentle nutrition.

Only recently has intuitive eating gained popularity. Since this summer’s fourth edition release of Tribole and Resch’s 1995 book, “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach,” articles regularly appear in mainstream media such as Self and Real Simple magazines and Goop.com.

Why intuitive eating now?

Because we’re tired of being at war with our bodies. We’re fed up with the 95% failure rate of restrictive diets that an estimated 45 million Americans return to year after year. See BostonMedical.org. We’re frustrated by the dismal statistics that report two-thirds of dieters regain the weight, plus more, within two to five years. We’re craving both the happy and healthy relationship with food and our bodies that intuitive eating delivers.

The intuitive eating process begins with “reject the diet mentality.” But you may say, “I’m not dieting. I’m just eating healthy.” Most of us don’t realize that we’re swimming in diet culture. As Tribole says, we’re like fish in water: We’re not conscious of it.

Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear conversations about being “good” for skipping dessert, needing to make up for “overeating” by skipping a meal or burning it off with exercise, and ordering bunless burgers. This is diet mentality, which has become a “normal” part of “healthy” eating. Thus we must opt out of the diet mentality to engage fully in the intuitive eating process.

Intuitive Eating is an empowerment tool to healthy eating

With popularity comes confusion

Perhaps you’ve read that intuitive eating is just a mindfulness diet or a hunger/fullness diet.

Yes, it includes eating with awareness and honoring satiety is key. But these descriptions oversimplify the process of intuitive eating by cherry-picking one or two of the 10 principles, which are designed to be practiced together, synergistically.

Furthermore, the principles are guidelines, not rules to pass or fail. Instead the process emphasizes a self-compassionate, curious, “for the most part” mindset. There’s no room for restriction, guilt, shame, judgment or the black-and-white thinking of diet culture in intuitive eating.

“Make peace with food” focuses on unconditional permission to eat all foods, especially the ones you feel are your “problem” foods.

Take the pan of brownies. You feel you can’t trust yourself to have them in your house because you’re “addicted” to sugar and will eat them all. But by practicing an evidence-based strategy called habituation — repeated exposures to a food making it less appealing — you can make peace with the brownies.

Common food “problems” such as cravings, emotional eating, binge eating, overeating are often caused by the restrictive, “I can’t have” mentality.

Intuitive Eating is not a weight loss plan

If you encounter an “intuitive eating” plan that promises weight loss, Tribole says to “run away.” Recognize that it’s sneaky diet culture co-opting the term.

Putting weight loss on the back burner is critical to becoming an intuitive eater. Focusing on your weight interferes with your ability to perceive the physical sensations that arise from within your body.

“Honor your health — gentle nutrition” is the 10th principle of intuitive eating. To make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well, you must ditch diet culture confusion that muddles your mind, master interceptive awareness and experience all the principles of intuitive eating.

Finally, Tribole and Resch remind us that healthy eating isn’t perfect eating. “You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one food, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters; progress not perfection is what counts.”

After learning, practicing and experiencing the 10 principles of intuitive eating, the conversations about healthy eating sound different:

* “I can enjoy sandwiches again, guilt-free.”

* “I don’t need a meal plan, because healthy eating isn’t complicated.”

* “Dinner didn’t fill me up, but it felt good not to have the negative head space about getting seconds.”

* “My husband is thrilled that having a pan of brownies in the house is no big deal anymore, just a pleasurable food to enjoy.”

Ah, yes, that last statement was one of my shifts.

Intuitive eating, the “revolutionary” anti-diet approach, is changing lives and healing relationships with food and body. Be a rebel. Let it change yours, too.

To your happiness and health,

  • Tanya

Ready to learn how to eat intuitively? Get started!

(This article was originally published in the September 20, 2020 Jackson Hole News and Guide).

Reject dieting and learn Intuitive Eating

Maybe you’ve heard that diets don’t work and believe that diet culture’s “thin(er) is better” messaging is toxic. Yet you, like millions of other Americans, still want to lose weight.

You find yourself wanting a healthy relationship with food but you’re bombarded by the “New Year, New You” pressure to transform your body.

That makes perfect sense. And I get it because I too, as a former fitness expert and “eat this, not that” nutrition professional, fell prey to the “wellness” marketing that says you must, “look good to feel good.” Who doesn’t want to feel good about themselves? But remember, it’s diet culture that masquerades as “wellness” that convinces you that only one body type is “healthy” and to tie your self-worth to your looks.

Every January the mental berating in your head goes something like this – “Why can’t I just eat well without needing a “plan” to follow? Why don’t I have the discipline to sustain “success” after 30 days?”

Following the rules of “healthy eating” and restricting your favorite foods is exhausting. You feel guilty for ordering a Domino’s pizza or enjoying a Ghirardelli chocolate square after dinner; it’s only ok to eat these “bad” foods on a “cheat day.”

You’re “good” when you control your portion sizes, yet you’re hungry in an hour. But now it’s after 7pm and you “shouldn’t” eat because the “kitchen is closed.” “How can I possibly be hungry? I just ate.”

Or maybe you “can’t” eat because you’re still within your 16-hour intermittent fasting window. The negative self-talk in your head is loud, rigid, and lacking self-compassion. You wish you could stop thinking about food and your body all day, every day.

Does this sound like wellness? No.

What’s creating all this food drama? Diets.

Learn Intuitive Eating and reject dieting

Diets teach us to follow food rules that restrict or ban foods rather than listen to our own body’s food and self-care needs. Many of us believe that “dieting” is healthy eating and good nutrition. It’s not. Eating healthy includes having a healthy relationship with food. It’s approached gently and respects biodiversity – different bodies, have different needs.

The ✨ good news ✨ is that you can:

Ditch diets and learn how to eat intuitively

Dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch created Intuitive Eating in 1995, as an anti-diet, a response to the failure of “diet” plans. Intuitive Eating is a self-care eating framework with 10 principles designed to guide you back to attunement or body awareness – listening for and responding to your individual body’s needs for nourishment – physical, emotional, and psychological.

You were born knowing how to eat. As an infant, you cried when you were hungry and turned your head, refusing to eat, when you were full. But over time, you can lose this natural ability to honor hunger and fullness because external forces interfered.

  • Maybe you had to “clean your plate” even if you were full.
  • Or you were served portioned plates and not allowed to have a second helping despite being physically hungry.
  • Perhaps you weren’t allowed to have dessert unless you ate your vegetables.
  • And cookies or chips were forbidden foods in your home so when available you “binged” on them.
  • Or you learned that you “shouldn’t” trust your body’s signals when you first dieted.

So how do you return to eating intuitively?

“The first thing you do in Intuitive Eating is reject that diet mentality – meaning we’re not getting back on that diet this new year, we’re going to reject those juice cleanses and intense programs and start eating food when we’re hungry, we’re going to start making peace with all food,” says clinical mental health counselor and Therapy Thoughts podcast host, Tiffany Roe.

Interviewed on CBS News this month, Roe discussed Intuitive Eating as the antidote to dieting.

“The difference between a really healthy relationship with food and dieting is you feel connected to your body, you feel satisfied, you enjoy variety, you enjoy life, and you can listen and respond to all your bodies cues. Dieting doesn’t give us that result. Dieting is about restriction, obsession, fixation. And its short-term results never stick. We get stuck in this cycle of depending on dieting” says Roe.

So what if you want to eat pizza tonight and feel you shouldn’t?

“What I am going to say is going to go against everything we’ve learned in diet culture. Eat the pizza,” advises Roe.

“The dieting rules trigger an inner rebellion, because they’re an assault on your personal autonomy and boundaries” says Tribole and Resch. A 2012 research study “Dieting and Food Craving” by Massey and Hill provides evidence that dieters experience stronger cravings for the foods restricted on their plans compared to non-dieters.

Learn to eat intuitively and beat sugar cravings

A healthy relationship with food could be enjoying a green smoothie, because you like it – and pizza. Intuitive Eating takes an all foods fit approach to gentle nutrition where pizza isn’t “bad.”

Instead of restricting and banning foods, Intuitive Eating gently guides you back inside your body asking:

What do you need?

♡ Are you honoring your individual hunger and fullness?
♡ Which foods give you pleasure and make you feel good?
♡ And if not food, what are you hungering for in life – making a difference, more pleasure, connection?

You might have one big question:

Will Intuitive Eating make me thinner?

When your mind is stuck on your weight – the goal of diets, it interferes with the foundational concept of Intuitive Eating – body awareness – listening to the physical cues coming from your own body without diet culture “shoulds” and “shouldnts” getting in the way.

Intuitive Eating is an empowerment tool that guides you to trust your body to settle where it’s healthiest, not where diet and “wellness” culture says it “should” be.

Liberate yourself from diet culture and weight obsession in 2022. Reject dieting and eat intuitively. You are the expert of your own body.

To your happiness and health,

  • Tanya

Ready to transform your relationship to food and your body? Get started!

You might also enjoy Intuitive Eating: Do you need to relearn how to eat?

Don’t let diet madness ruin the new year

“When I was little, someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up and I said, ‘Small.’

By the time I was 16, I had already experienced being clinically overweight, underweight, and obese. As a child, fat was the first word people used to describe me, which didn’t offend me until I found out it was supposed to” says Blythe Baird in her spoken word poem video When the Fat Girl Gets Skinny which has received over 4 million views.

She describes a teenaged life filled with eating “skinny-pop,” complimenting each other’s thigh gaps, trying diets she and her friends found on the internet, “Googling the calories in the glue of a US stamp” and “hunching naked over a bathroom scale, trying; crying into an empty bowl of Cocoa Puffs because I only feel pretty when I’m hungry.”

When Baird lost weight, her dad was so proud that he carried her before and after photo in his wallet, relieved that he could stop worrying about her getting diabetes and finally see her taking care of herself.

“If you develop an eating disorder when you are already thin to begin with, you go to the hospital. If you develop an eating disorder when you are not thin to begin with, you are a success story” says Baird.

“So when I evaporated, of course everyone congratulated me on getting healthy. Girls at school who never spoke to me before stopped me in the hallway to ask how I did it. I say, “I am sick.” They say, “No, you’re an inspiration.

How could I not fall in love with my illness? With becoming the kind of silhouette people are supposed to fall in love with? Why would I ever want to stop being hungry when anorexia was the most interesting thing about me?”

I share Baird’s story with you with urgency, before the new year, to stress the harms of continually reinforcing the societal norms that we’ve been socialized to accept such as dieting before any major life event, “swimsuit season,” beginning every January or actually just dieting in general.

Think of someone you know whose time, energy, money, physical and emotional health and self-worth – whose life is being stolen by the constant pursuit of maintaining or attaining an “ideal” body shape or size, that is, according to diet culture.

Maybe this person is your best friend, your mother, or you.

Nobody diets for fun

Like Baird, we try to control our bodies to belong, to be accepted as “healthy.” We believe we must “look good to feel good” about ourselves, the diet industry marketing messages promise.

Diet culture equates thinness, muscularity, and particular body shapes with health and moral virtue, according to author of Anti-Diet, Christy Harrison. You can spend your whole life thinking you’re irreparably broken just because you don’t look like this ‘ideal” she says.

And even if you have a small body, you may live with fear of weight gain.

I want you to know that you have a choice. Your only option for love and a content life isn’t to be a slave to the scale and other people’s opinions.

Ditch diet culture

You can choose to opt-out of harmful dieting and diet culture.

Dieting is disordered eating and is one of the strongest predictors for the development of an eating disorder, which can occur across the weight spectrum according to the National Eating Disorders Collaboration.

And you don’t have to be actively “on a diet” to be swept up by the culture of dieting.

Disordered eating habits also include preoccupation with food and your weight, feeling stressed about food and whether you’re eating the “right” or “wrong” foods and rigid food rules. It’s fasting, cleansing, detoxing, skipping meals to save calories, avoiding a type of food or food group, drinking laxative teas.

We can take “healthy” eating too far. There’s a term for this, orthorexia, also disordered eating, which is an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy foods.

The risks associated with disordered eating and dieting include developing a clinical eating disorder, osteoporosis or osteopenia, fatigue and poor sleep quality, gastrointestinal problems, headaches, muscle cramps, feelings of shame, guilt, low self-esteem, depressive or anxious symptoms and behaviors, and nutritional and metabolic problems according to National Eating Disorder Collaboration.

And because diet culture is deeply embedded in Western culture masquerading as health, wellness and fitness, disordered eating habits have become an alarmingly “normal” way to “take care of ourselves.”

Nearly 75% of women reported engaging in disordered eating behaviors in a 2008 survey of over 4,000 women done by UNC and SELF magazine.

“Ideal” weight as myth

But you have another option. You can separate “taking care of yourself” and your “health” from some “ideal” number on the scale.

Think about how we determine a “healthy” weight. It’s measured by BMI (body mass index) – just your height to weight ratio. That’s it. It doesn’t consider your eating or movement habits, muscle mass. It doesn’t factor in a long list of behaviors that impact your health such as smoking. It doesn’t consider your genetics, nor the complexities of health. BMI is a poor determinant of health.

Furthermore, ingrained beliefs that fat poses significant mortality risk are not fact.

Research reported in Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift shows that except at statistical extremes, BMI only weakly predicts longevity. People who are “overweight” or “obese” live at least as long as normal weight people, and often longer.

You can’t determine somebody’s health status just by looking at their body size. A small body may be healthy or not and the same is true for a larger body.

Honor Body Differences

With this knowledge, you can choose to honor that your body, other bodies may want to be different than what you and our culture think they should be.

Baird lamented that her “small’ body was the “most interesting about her,” but now as part of her healing “how lucky it is now to be boring,” says Baird.

“My story may not be as exciting as it used to but at least there is nothing left to count. The calculator in my head finally stopped. Now, I am proud I have stopped seeking revenge on this body.”

As the new year approaches and yet another wave of dieting madness tries to steal your self-worth, I want you to know that you have another option: you can ditch the false belief that there’s only one size that’s “healthy,” worthy of love and belonging and make peace with food and your body.

To your happiness and health,

  • Tanya

Ready to transform your relationship to food and your body? Get started!

P.S. (You can watch Blythe Baird deliver her powerful poem, here).

(This article was originally published in the December 8, 2021 issue of Jackson Hole News and Guide.)