Food Psych

I recently started listening to a podcast called Food Psych. I heard about it from someone on Twitter and decided to check it out. It’s about intuitive eating, breaking out of diet culture, eating disorder recovery and Healthy at Every Size.

I’ve listened to about 10 episodes so far. They are long, a little over an hour or so. Each episode starts with a Q&A and then the rest of the episode is an interview with someone new each week, depending on the topic.

I am finding it very informative and interesting.

I learned that bulimia isn’t always about throwing up after eating. It can also mean a binge and then a strict restriction period to “make up for” the binge. I did not know that.

I also learned about orthorexia.

It was interesting to hear this term and learn more about it. Reflecting on my time blogging and reading “Healthy Living Blogs” for almost a decade now, I can see clearly that that whole “thing” was probably orthorexia. Focusing on diet culture, weight loss, over-exercising, being rigid about workout schedules and only eating “healthy foods.” There was a blogger that put a carrot in a hot dog bun instead of eating a hot dog, and a bunch of other truly bizarre (and disordered) things.

I was definitely part of this culture. It makes me think long and hard about my own journey. The podcast talks about how 90% of people who lose weight cannot keep it off. I guess I fall into this category? I lost 110 pounds and kept it off for over 10 years. I think that is pretty commendable. But at the same time, I maintained my weight by strict workout schedules and very low calorie intake. I don’t know that I fall into the eating disorder category per se, but definitely the diet culture category.

Something that happened recently: Logan has been telling me repeatedly lately that he’s hungry. This is after a meal, he had plenty of food during the meal. Michael and I have questioned if he was hungry or bored. We offer “you can have applesauce or a banana or some carrots” and of course he says no. He wants the crackers or granola bar.

This has been very triggering to me. First, I remember being a kid and wanting a snack and my mom would offer fruit or vegetables only. I grew up in a very strict food house, in the 90’s when it was the all low-fat/non-fat/no-sugar craze. So we didn’t get “treats” which lead to me bingeing later.

So hearing my son tell me he’s hungry and he wants to have a sweet treat, is triggering. Michael and I have been very conscious about letting him be intuitive, not being strict with food. We don’t want him to grow up with body issues/food issues etc. I especially don’t want that because I know how it feels and what it leads to.

But here I am, Saturday afternoon when Logan has had some crackers and raisins as a snack (with watered down apple juice to drink) and he’s whining that he’s hungry and I feel MY food issues pop up and I am mixed: do I restrict him? Do I give in and potentially create not healthy eating habits?

Boys can have eating disorders, too. It’s not just girls, even if it USUALLY is girls. I don’t want Logan to grow up like I did. I don’t want him to have body shame, or become obese, etc. It’s a hard balance for me, especially since I am still trying to come to terms with my own food issues.

At one of Logan’s recent “well baby” check up appointments with his doctor, whom I REALLY liked, gave me pause. She weighed him and stuff and suggested we “monitor” his weight. I was flabbergasted. Logan has been in the 97% percentile for height his entire life. 95% sure he will be a very tall boy (my brother is 6’6) because there are a lot of tall men in both sides of the family. His weight was around the 50% percentile, as it has been his whole life as well. I didn’t question the doctor, partly because I was so surprised she even mentioned my toddler’s weight. But I left feeling like “WTF”. Logan is tall and skinny as a rail. His clothes in his size are always a little too big.

This was the first experience as a parent of “Body shaming” my kid. It stuck with me for months. And listening to Food Psych Podcast, I am hearing in these interviews of people who had their body and food issues start at a VERY young age. Like ME. I was 9 when I suddenly realized there was something “Wrong” with my body. (I was not fat in anyway, but I THOUGHT I was.)

I’m working through a lot of things right now, thinking about stuff. But I wanted to pass on the info about the podcast because I am really enjoying it and I think a lot of people will too.

Diet Culture

I’ve been thinking a lot about diets, weight loss, body image, body acceptance and diet culture lately.

I have to admit, I have not been very happy in my skin for a long time now. Pregnancy and post-partum bodies can do a number on your mental health. Struggling to lose the weight after I lost so much weight before, getting close to pre-pregnancy weight and then having that reverse due to medications was a mindfuck.

I tried keto, like many readers know. I lost 10+ pounds, was feeling really good, feeling motivated, then it stopped working. And the next year and a half of keto, low-carb, and some kind of diet cycle like that made me gain and lose the same 10 pounds with no real success.

What did it do? Instead, it made me feel sad, depressed, deprived, frustrated. I felt like I was at CONSTANT WAR with my body, with my weight, with FOOD. Food was the ENEMY.

I didn’t like how I was mentally feeling. Looking at healthy foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, grapes, watermelon and thinking “I CAN’T EAT THAT — it’s BAD FOOD”. Bad food?! What? Since when is fruit and vegetables bad? It really is a hard shift in the brain.

While I do still think high numbers of carbs are not healthy and not what MY body likes…that does not mean I need to be severely restricting my carb intake to 20 carbs a day. That’s extreme. And is it healthy? I just don’t know. I do know that your body needs some carbs for your brain–for serotonin levels. Your body needs carbs for fuel and energy. Carbs feed your kidneys, brain, muscles, and central nervous system. Does that mean eat a donut? Not really. But maybe IT’S OK TO EAT A SWEET POTATO.

What is Diet Culture?

I unfollowed a lot of the “old” bloggers who are perpetuating this lifestyle. You know the ones, I don’t need to say. But they encourage severe restriction, macro counting, cleanses, living on smoothies instead of eating real food.

I unfollowed a bunch of Keto Instagrams I’ve followed for a long time now. They were becoming redundant and I was honestly sick of the constant before and after photos: the morbidly obese picture next to the gauntly skinny picture with a “I lost 200 pounds in a year on keto!” It was not a healthy space for me.

I felt like I was punishing my body, not seeing results, and living in a cycle of unhealthy behavior. Was it an eating disorder? I don’t know. But it wasn’t good. I decided to change it. No more keto. No more “Bad Foods.” I eat carbs in moderation. I eat everything in moderation. Am I still counting calories? Yes. (Some anti-diet culture stuff says not to do that.) Am I still exercising 5 days a week? Yes. It’s not as punishment for eating “bad” foods but because I feel better when I exercise in some way.

I’ve contributed to diet culture. With this blog. With my story. I don’t necessary think that’s bad, but I did contribute. My story was inspiring to a lot of people and I’m glad. I was not healthy at 255 pounds. But that does not mean I need to KEEP DIETING and keep getting skinnier…the whole “I’ll stop when I get to XXX weight” is not a good cycle to be in. Because, XXX weight, is never good enough.

How to Change Diet Culture

Limit Your Social Media Exposure: Do you follow a lot of diet accounts? Whether it’s keto, weight watchers, intermittent fasting, etc. If the entire focus is on weight loss, being SMALLER, severely restricting calories….is it mentally healthy for you? How do you feel seeing those images all the time? Are they triggering? Unfollow.

Think About What Really Matters. Is it sharing that ice cream cone on a hot summer day with your kids? Creating happy memories and traditions? Or do you deny yourself the ice cream because it’s “Bad” and feel miserable, or deny your kids the experience because you are triggered by sugar, or trying to keep your kids from having sugar? (Sure, sugar is not great, but once in awhile, a treat is ok! And I am very serious when I say I do not want to raise my child to have food issues/body image issues like I had my whole life.)

Don’t Try Fad Diets. I still advocate eating in moderation and exercising and weight loss is part of that. But maybe the fad diets, the severity, the demonizing of food is not.

Hide Your Scale. Some websites recommend throwing it out. I am not throwing out my scale. But I am going to limit the usage to once a month. A check in. But I am not going to obsessively weigh myself.

Follow Body Positive People/Social Media. I found a bunch the last few months that have really helped me mentally.

Freeing

Mentally, I feel better. Right now I am 20 pounds over the weight I want to be. I am a size 12, instead of the 10 I was for a decade (pre pregnancy of course). I catch my reflection in a window or mirror and I still feel deflated and wish I was 20 pounds lighter. But, overall I am coming to peace with all of it.

We have family pizza night now, once or twice a month. We get pizza from a local restaurant that has been hit hard by the pandemic and we want to support them. And it’s fun to have a family pizza night. Logan loves it! We are going to get sushi this weekend and see if Logan will try it. 😉

I made zucchini bread last week. I used 1/2 the sugar the recipe called for because I still feel like sugar is not a good thing…but the bread turned out great and it was a nice, healthy dessert. And I didn’t feel guilty eating it.

So that is where I am at these days.