ALL FIRED UP!

THE PODCAST

WELCOME TO THE ALL FIRED UP! PODCAST,

WITH YOUR HOST, LOUISE ADAMS

Louise is by nature a mild mannered clinical psychologist, but her alter ego – a FIERCE and fearless anti-diet crusader – is taking over! Louise specialises in helping people recover from disordered eating, and she’s COMPLETELY OVER trying to help people when the culture we live in is utterly sick, toxic, and screwed up when it comes to food, exercise, health, and body size.

Louise cannot for a second longer take the rampant injustice of a society obsessed with thinness and health. She can’t STAND how fat people are being treated like second class citizens. She is LIVID about the way weight science is being sold to make a buck off human misery.

And she’s SO OVER the diet bulls**t that she’s shelved her own introversion and started a podcast!

So welcome to All Fired Up!, where Louise delves deeply into diet culture and blows it the hell up! Each week we’ll meet brave and fascinating anti-diet warriors who are also fighting for equality, justice, and freedom. Join us, and get All Fired Up! about building a better world!

Click below to listen to our episodes, and make sure you subscribe on iTunes (or your favourite podcasting app), to make sure you don’t miss a minute!

  • Skinny Sugar

    This week I get All Fired Up with Meg McClintock, dietitian from Choose Nutrition. Meg has had a gutful of her fellow dietitians uncritically promoting new food products which buy into problematic ideas about food. “Skinny Sugar” exemplifies everything that’s wrong with how we’re marketing food these days. Not only does “Skinny Sugar” exploit the fear we’re being fed about sugar and its ‘toxic’ impact on our health, it also directly tells us that we should be feeling GUILTY about consuming sugar. Throw in a COMPLETELY sexist website, some utterly incorrect ‘facts’ about GI, and a dodgy corporate backstory, and we have the perfect recipe for diet culture!!

    View show notes
    • This week my guest is the amazing Meg McClintock, from Choose Nutrition. Meg is a non-diet dietitian and one of our untrapped guides.
    • Meg was ROPABLE when on her FB feed she saw a fellow dietitian enthusiastically promoting SKINNY SUGAR.
    • This product was emblazoned with the phrase “guilt free”. Because OF COURSE, if we’re even THINKING about eating sugar, we should be feeling guilty, right?
    • I’m just sick of seeing dietitians teaming up with companies and individuals who are creating and profiting from this dysfunctional relationship with food!
    • As dietitians we shouldn’t endorse products that promote this dysfunctional relationship with food. It’s just not on”
    • A health professional should not endorse problematic food messaging. Sugar ‘should’ make us feel guilty?
    • If we just tuned into our foods and eat pleasure foods and not worry so much we wouldn’t feel guilty! Products like this make it difficult to NOT feel guilty about food.
    • They say that this product is here to make us ‘healthier’, but actually this product causes the most unhealthy behaviours and thought processes around food, which actually leads to not nourishing ourselves well!
    • Diet culture invents a problem, invents a problem to solve it, but it’s actually worsening the problem! Marketing 101! Go out & create the headache so you can sell the cure!
    • I have a frustration – dietitians are not the food police! But this is undermined when another dietitian endorses problematic products like Skinny Sugar.
    • Endorsing stuff like this means that people in the community assume this is what dietitians do – which REALLY annoys Meg! Because she works hard to create a safe place from which people can explore their natural relationship with food.
    • Dietitians in Australia are bound by practice guidelines to use evidence based advice only. But, you have to ‘opt out’ of receiving marketing material from our corporate partners – the food companies.
    • Meg opted out!
    • In Australia there are several hundred Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) dietitians. So the food companies are able to exploit the DAA dietitians and almost use them as a sales force, unless, like Meg did, they opt out!
    • In theory, the marketing material is there to inform dietitians about new developments in food and food products. But Meg would like to do that herself, using her critical thought – not to be ‘spoon fed’ by Big Food!
    • It’s a bit of a mess, and something needs to be done.
    • All of these issues are complex, but when Meg saw the Skinny Sugar products being promoted uncritically by a fellow dietitian, there’s the problem in a nutshell.
    • On the plus side, another non-diet dietitian, Tara from the Nutrition Guru & The Chef, also saw the product & got fired up ! She’s planning to write to the company and get some answers.
    • It’s good to see that a lot of dietitians do have a critical eye and have questioned this.
    • You’ve got to look at the messaging that accompanies this product, because “Our food decisions are never just about food”
    • The Skinny Sugar product really jumps on the current trend of anti-sugar that we’re seeing.
    • Meg’s view on sugar: that as a society, we do consume a lot of it, and a lot of anything isn’t great for our health, and, in the case of sugar, particularly our dental health. But, what’s worse than our sugar consumption is the risk of developing a completely dysfunctional relationship with food!
    • Food guilt and angst about what we are eating impacts every food choice we make – and we make a couple of hundred food choices a day! With food guilt we’re missing out on life!
    • I think that the whole ‘sugar is toxic’ thing has probably been more damaging than helpful.
    • The climate of sugar guilt has spurned a massive industry of diet culture products that prey on sugar fear.
    • Like Skinny Sugar – which is actually still ½ sugar, and ½ erythritol, a fruit alcohol (polyol)
    • For some people with irritable bowel, polyols are problematic.
    • Meg is also skeptical about how ‘bakeable’ skinny sugar would be, given that it doesn’t react well to being heated up.
    • The Skinny Sugar website claims that it’s all natural, that it bakes well, that it tastes better than other artificial sweeteners, that it has no calories, that it doesn’t cause insulin spikes. Meg is still unconvinced.
    • One of the more weird claims is that Skinny Sugar has no chemicals, but it is made up of a chemical called erythritol.
    • One of the claims is that it is “zero GI”. and on the website in a Q and A section it claims that by using Skinny Sugar you can ‘halve your GI intake’. But GI isn’t something you can have an intake of…it’s a response to what you eat.
    • There’s so much that’s wrong here, it’s a mess. And that’s before we even start to talk about the Skinny Sugar website!
    • WHY is the website full of 1950’s housewives, with rolling pins?! More specifically, 20 year old 1950’s housewives with enormous boobs and tiny waists, thanking skinny sugar for not making them fat…so they can keep baking for their husbands??
    • WTF! We went back to the last century? We really need to move on from absolutely sexist marketing!
    • It’s so enormously sexist and insulting. Even to baking!
    • The housewives even look slightly horny, just to top off all of the other insulting aspects of this marketing campaign. Baking with Skinny Sugar is not arousing!
    • The website also keeps referring to ‘we’ – very familiar language! And talking about recipes going back generations etc etc. But, it’s actually very difficult to find out who “we” are – who is Skinny Sugar? They don’t even appear to have a business name!
    • We did find that the owner is Neil Page, owner of Ausconnect Traders, which has been operating since May 2016. Neil is an expert strategy executive (and a white male) good at ‘exploiting international and domestic marketing opportunities’.
    • It’s right there – exploiting! Not because he wants to help us! Neil’s love of baking is suspiciously absent from his Linked In profile!
    • It looks to me like Neil likes exploiting stuff. This is as far as we know as to who Skinny Sugar is. Are they connected to Big Food? Who knows? There’s a real lack of transparency!
    • Meg – most processed food is made by a small number of food companies.
    • SS is now in Woolworths, and their magazine had a spread recently featuring their sexist horny housewife marketing stuff. Eye roll. Face palm.
    • Baking in heels – because we all love putting on our heels when we bake!
    • What can we do, apart from not buying these products!
    • We also found that the Country Women’s Association – the CWA – are endorsing this?
    • Who approved this!
    • Do the CWA women really use this product in their recipes?
    • Just the term Skinny Sugar – are you for real! Skinny is in everything – even drops to put in water! Skinny cocktails – it’s so everywhere that we’ve forgotten the impact and implication of that word. We should NOT forget that each time this word is used in a desirable way, it upholds diet culture.
    • In diet culture, it is completely normal for these diet concepts to be in everyday conversation.
    • Weight loss is the golden goose. Everyone wants it and they’ll pay a lot of money for it. Meg’s been told by business coaches that although she is an anti-diet dietitian, she should “tell them that you’ll help them lose weight and then do non-diet”. To which Meg says NO  – I’m not going to collude with diet culture!
    • But when you push back and say no, people don’t get it.
    • Business coaches tell us to ‘bait and switch’ – promise weight loss then do non-diet.
    • This SS is not even bait and switch. It’s just straight up sells the golden goose.
    • People who don’t even feel guilty about sugar yet will see this product and think – maybe I should feel guilty!
    • We have to step out of the matrix! We’ve got to get out of the food prison and live a free life.
    • I’m going to take the kids to Woolworths and have a critical discussion about the messaging. So I can help protect them from the toxicity of diet culture and not passively absorb it.
    • SS is all marketed to women – the packaging is pink! No men are baking!
    • The sad thing is – this must work. We need to challenge this!
    • Hopefully this SS will not sell and sink without a trace. The good news is very few likes on their FB page! Hopefully people have looked and said – nope.
    • Side effects of erythritol – headaches, diarrhoea, tummy upsets – not mentioned on their website!
    • Sugar substitutes do have an impact on our feelings of satiety. When we’re eating sweet stuff, our brains expect it, but there’s no calories, we can develop more cravings for something sweet! Our satisfaction signal isn’t triggered with fake sugar
    • These products also interrupt our tuning into our bodies and interrupt experiencing pleasure.
    • We see many clients who talk about developing disordered eating habits – like bingeing – as a direct result of going on supposedly ‘sugar free’ diets. It’s important to remember that binge behaviour is a direct result of restrictive dieting! But this type of risk is never addressed by products like this.
    • Neuroscientific research shows that dieters are more responsive and vulnerable to food marketing, and also more likely to binge!
    • Trying to gain a sense of control around food by trying to restrict it is actually more likely to lead to being out of control. Whereas when we embrace more intuitive eating styles, and learn to let go of control and instead listen to and trust our bodies, we regain a true sense of ‘control’ which is better described as bodily autonomy or trust.
    • The more we try to control stuff, the more out of control we feel, and the more we let go of these rules, tune into our body, the more in control we’ll actually be!
    • Imagine if mindfulness was ‘big food’ – all food packaging would say ‘this is just food – this is green crunchy food…..this is kind of spicy food….what do you feel like?’
    • All the nonsense on food labels….”no Nasties” – what?? “Natural goodness – sorry what is goodness? All sorts of things that are natural can kill you! – funnel web spiders are natural and they’ll kill you”
    • Labeling foods as ‘natural’ is just exploitative
    • This is a great thing we can take from stuff like this – we need to challenge ourselves – what is the intention of this messaging? Critical eyes on. Keep thinking through it. What is the goal of this message? Most likely it’s not about your wellbeing!
    • It’s a teachable skill – we can teach our kids about it!
    • It’s a proud moment when we can see our kids push back against diet culture.
    • The non-diet dietitians are the ones who have largely opted out of these relationships with marketing Big Food. if you have a question or a niggle, ask a non-diet dietitian!
    • It’s encouraging to see more and more people pushing back against diet culture and its nefarious marketing strategies!

    Resources

    The horrible Skinny Sugar Website

    The incredible Meg McClintock’s Choose Nutrition website

    A little more about Erythritol

    We also mentioned Tara, dietitian from The Nutrition Guru & The Chef

    Neil Page’s Linked In Profile

    The Country Women’s Association webpage

  • Why Michelle Bridges Sucks: A Feminist Perspective

    Michelle Bridges (I know, I’m sorry). Personal trainer on the Aussie version of The Biggest Loser, fervent cult leader of wildly popular online starvation program the 12WBT, and media darling of Aussie diet culture. We all know she sucks, but this week on All Fired Up! I speak to an incredible woman who has literally WRITTEN A BOOK ABOUT WHY SHE SUCKS! Author and feminist warrior Natalie Jovanovski hasn’t just got mad – she got even. By dissecting EXACTLY what’s wrong with the Bridges of this world, in her amazing book Natalie unpacks the way our food culture is spreading toxic messages of female oppression, and making women police themselves! This is a not to be missed episode!

    View show notes
    • Michelle Bridges has released a new book “Keeping it Off”. Apparently a TV celebrity on the world’s most fat-phobic show has solved something that 70 years of weight science research has been unable to: the secret of weight loss maintenance. Can you hear the sarcasm?
    • Michelle Bridges epitomises everything that’s wrong with the fitness culture we have right now.
    • MIchelle Bridges is a personal trainer who gained notoriety on the Australian version of The Biggest Loser. She also developed an online 12 week weight loss program and has written several books on weight loss. All of them are extremely judgemental and weight biased.
    • I came across a new book by author Natalie Jovanovski called “Digesting Femininities: The Feminist Politics of Contemporary Food Culture,” which has an entire chapter on the topic of Michelle Bridges (MB from now on!) and why she sucks. Natalie’s perspective on this is so illuminating.
    • We have Level A evidence that when people lose weights on diets, they regain the weight. It’s highly unlikely that MB has found the answer!
    • MB personifies a liberal-individualist version of femininity. Liberal-individualism is a fancy way of saying that people are to blame for their weight. In diet culture, the focus is always on you as an individual. But what we know from weight science is that individual factors do not explain the vast majority of factors that go into what a person weighs. The fact is, most of these are beyond our individual control.
    • When diet culture blames the individual for not embodying a physical ideal, we set up a really toxic and disordered relationship with food and eating.
    • We’re using a product that doesn’t work (dieting) and then being blamed for the product’s failure.
    • MB does a great job of blaming people for not succeeding at dieting. Natalie critiques MB’s book “Losing The Last 5 Kilos”, all about losing this menacing last 5 kg that we’re all supposed to be wanting to lose.
    • MB perpetuates the idea that we should always try to be more perfect – and by more perfect, she means skinnier. Looking ‘beautiful’ is repeatedly conflated with health. It’s difficult to disentangle these messages that she keeps sending. She uses messages that relate to aestheticism as a way to promote health which is really confusing.
    • Really it’s about appearance but let’sl pretend it’s about health
    • Actual excerpt from MB’s book Losing The Last 5kg’s: “Take a photo of yourself in your underwear or swimmers. I know I’m really pushing the friendship here, but you’ll be so glad you did this when you reach your goal”. There’s no friendship there – it’s a facade! And NO emphasis on health here – it’s judging your appearance!
    • MB sets up the “before and after shot” – this magical future moment when you’ll finally be happy with yourself. This is not a promotion of health it’s a promotion of sexism and superficiality!
    • Why are we trying to look smaller? Naomi Wolf  in the Beauty Myth talks about women’s desire to be smaller is about feeling not worthy enough to take up space.
    • Policing your body to be pleasing to men…
    • Body policing is a harmful form of gendered socialisation. We are taught from early on that we need to scrutinise our bodies and our appearance.”
    • All of this so we don’t get judged by this anonymous, invisible male gaze.
    • In UNTRAPPED I use the analogy of prisons. Diet culture is a giant jail, within which is food jail, exercise jail, and body jail. The idea of the body police is akin to the jailers.
    • The idea of the “Panopticon” – a structure within a jail, an architectural solution in prison design. In the middle of a prison, there is a central structure, a tower, which observes all of the prisoners. The prisoners can’t see into the Panopticon but the Panopticon is like a giant eye, always watching. The idea of the Panopticon was that because prisoners never knew when they were and weren’t being watched, they would start policing themselves. This is what it’s like to be a female in diet culture: it’s like we have this constant invisible eye, scrutinising us, so that we eventually begin to scrutinise ourselves.
    • In UNTRAPPED, we talk about how we internalise this constant scrutiny. And then we start to believe that not liking our bodies is ‘normative’. It’s ‘normal’ to not like our bodies.
    • Michelle Bridges’ slogan “don’t think just do it” – is evidence of her lack of reflection or thought about the messages that she is sending, the harm she is doing.
    • Her mantra is “Just Fucking Do It” – she ripped it off from Nike – and they ripped it off from a comment by a serial killer at a public execution! How creepy is that?
    • It’s so mean!
    • Just fucking do it – what is it? Are you telling me to be healthy? Are you telling me to lose weight – yes! Why should I lose weight exactly?
    • It’s absolutely irrational. But it’s successful! Why is she so successful?
    • Because it gives this illusion of control. And women are so desperate to feel in control in a world which gives such limited choices.
    • If we win at the beauty games – we win!
    • In the media she presents herself as the successful aftershot.
    • The emphasis in her books is – you are not happy with yourself, I am somebody who feels happy with myself, therefore listen to me and I can make you happy with yourself. And that’s deceptive.
    • She’s built a career on exercising. Not everyone has time for that, and it’s not a moral imperative!
    • It’s never about tackling structural inequality to improve health! We never hear her talk about workplace equality!
    • She also proudly contributes to weight stigma. Like her comment where she said she’s never met a happy fat person.
    • Lipo-literacy – being able to look at someone and judge their ‘health’ based on their appearance. Stolen from Samantha Murray – who wrote The Fat Female Body.
    • We go around making big claims about people’s health based on what a body looks like! You can’t know a person’s health just by looking at them.
    • It just tells us that weight stigma is very entrenched, and getting more aggressive.
    • The twin evils of the thin ideal and the ‘obesity epidemic’ is creating a pathogenic environment of diet culture – these messages are spreading virally, they are toxic, and will cause far more harm than any good that may come out of their healthy diet messages.
    • The obsessive focus on health is increasing our eating disorder rates. There is more of a division between the ‘healthy elite’ and the people who are struggling.
    • We’re not used to hearing about orthorexia, the unhealthy obsession with health, and this is where diet books capitalise on health anxiety.
    • We’re hearing a little more about the danger of health obsession. It’s a virus! I like thinking of Michelle Bridges as a virus. It’s much more useful than thinking about the obesity epidemic.
    • We need some sort of immunisation against these messages
    • We need to acknowledge that the Panopticon exists, that we didn’t create it.
    • UNTRAPPED is all about seeing our internal Panopticon and rejecting it! Once you see it you can’t un-see it. Once you see this culture for what it is – you can’t un-see it, and you become a lot more powerful after that rather than how can I change my body!
    • How can I smash down my prison rather than how can I become a model prisoner.
    • A sociological focus on culture is very important if we hope to reduce eating disorders.
    • It’s a lot ‘easier’ to focus on the individual than to think about how to dismantle societal structures.
    • Once we locate the issue with the culture, we lose the shame! And we get empowered enough to reject diet culture.
    • I reject this diet culture. I see this for what it is and I’m going to walk away from trying to being a model prisoner.
    • What can we do? Let’s promote a genderless food culture. Women are socialised to think of themselves as not worthy of food.
    • We carry gendered assumptions of food and eating. We need to challenge this critically. Challenge it with people around you, and on an institutionalised level! Challenge the diet industry!
    • Also – look at how feminists mobilised in the 1970’s. The Boston women’s healthbook collective – women who were fed up with Dr’s not including them. So they wrote a book de mystifying their own bodies. 2 of these chapters were on food and exercise and none of it was based on appearance!
    • If you are a health professional and listening – we are responsible for spreading messages that focus on reinforcing strength in women rather than reinforcing body policing and this obsession with aesthetics!
    • If you are in an authority position you are responsible to spread the message. There are lots of ways – gather in groups! Start fb groups -why diet culture sucks – join UNTRAPPED. Consciousness raising!
    • Just women coming together talking and then saying what can we do about it?
    • Talk about why MB sucks! You’ll feel truly empowered and less likely to internalise these crappy messages.
    • The solidarity I feel from the other UNTRAPPED health professionals is what I needed to do to build UNTRAPPED and keep it going!

    Resources:

    Natalie’s new book Digesting Femininities

    Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison – talks about the Panopticon

    Samantha Murray’s book The Fat Female Body

    The book written by the Boston Women’s Health Collective

    Natalie’s email: njovanovski@swin.edu.au

  • The Cult of Paleo Pete

    This week I spoke with Courtney Pharoah, dietitian from No Green Smoothies, who absolutely HAD to get Pete Evans off her chest. Courtney was in dire need of debriefing after reading a news article where Pete was saying that eating 3 meals a day is a conspiracy created by Big Food to keep us all fat and unhealthy. Oh give me strength!! Courtney cuts through the cultish bulls**t and introduces some much needed rational thought! The fact is, cults like this are doing much more harm than good. Modern wellness is just the diet industry rebranded, and the obsession with health is making us much sicker.

    View show notes
    • This week I spoke with Courtney Pharoah, dietitian from No Green Smoothies, who wanted to get Pete Evans off her chest. She was in dire need of debriefing after reading a news article where Pete was saying that eating 3 meals a day is a conspiracy created by Big Food to keep us all fat and unhealthy.
    • Once Courtney stopped swearing & throwing things around the room, she called me!
    • Pete Evans is a celebrity chef, who got famous for making pizza, then he became a tv judge on a cooking show, then he went a little bit loopy about promoting the Paleo diet. He’s now the Australian figurehead for Paleo. He’s totally out there and vocal against ‘big food’, and is convinced that we all need to eat like cavemen. Except, apparently, during the My Kitchen Rules season, where he appears to eat all manner of modern day toxic nightmares without a glimmer of irony.
    • Pete is wildly popular with over 1 million followers.
    • He has a 10 week online program called the Paleo way, which you pay for, which recently became not just Paleo, but low-carb-high-fat/keto, and now he is including intermittent fasting on top of all of these food rules.
    • Pete says he intermittent fasts every day, which Louise has a bit of trouble understanding, because if you do something every day, it’s not intermittent! “If you’re fasting every day is that intermittent? Or is that just…fasting?”
    • Pete recommends fasting as a ‘cheaper’ alternative to Paleo, which is true. I’m sure he’ll find a way of making people pay him to not eat though!
    • So now we have Paleo Pete recommending that people are on a strict Paleo diet all the time, plus ramping it up with not eating at all. It’s getting more and more strict! Soon he’ll be a breatharian!
    • He’s upped the ante! “I take this diet, I raise it by 2 diets, and I don’t call it a diet”
    • Pete is now positioning himself as the figurehead for now three diet tribes! He’s a diet dictator!
    • There seems to be a trend of people starting in one diet tribe, and then sliding into more and more restrictive tribes, all the while denying that this is dieting.
    • A massive bunch of restrictive rules is not wellness – it’s the opposite of wellness
    • The difference on knowledge and expertise between someone who has completed an online ‘health coaching’ degree such as the one off at the Centre for Integrative Health (where Pete did his ‘certification’) and someone who has studied nutrition at university cannot be emphasised enough.
    • Pete really hates the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), and constantly accuses all dietitians of being bought by “Big Food”. By constantly saying this he undermines the scientific method and creates a conspiracy theory which make his increasingly bizarre claims look more plausible.
    • As Courtney says, this is ridiculous! Dietitians are evidence based and not obliged to ‘do what big food says’
    • Pete is part of Big Food – he has Paleo ready meals at the supermarket & many more food products for sale.
    • Paleo products are very expensive, much more so than most grocery items, making it elitist. Him saying then that not eating at all is just so gaslighting!
    • His arguments are so flawed and make no sense! But he appeals to a big audience. Because he sells a promise of a cure for all that ails us!
    • I can cure alzheimers…make everything bad in your life go away if you just do my intense weird diet”. That’s the concern with the wellness industry.
    • The wellness industry is just the diet industry 2.0
    • At least with diet industry, the main focus is on weight loss. With the wellness industry they’re promising a cure for all illnesses.
    • The risk is that people who do have genuine health problems will be prescribed diets instead of proper medical interventions
    • This is especially worrying when people also have a history of eating disorders, because they will relapse!
    • It places unfair blame on the client. And magical thinking. If a practitioner can’t see a worsening of symptoms as possibly the interventions fault, that’s a worry.
    • Diet tribes that are essentially cults. Practitioners who belong to cults you are more likely to prescribe it and to defend against the possibility of harm being done.
    • In The Gluten Lie, Alan Levinivitz talks about wellness as the new religion
    • These wellness tribes will not tolerate criticism or dissent.
    • So many people have been blocked by Pete Evans on his facebook group, that another page was started called “Blocked by Pete Evans” and it’s almost as big as Pete’s page! Louise was blocked within 10 minutes for asking for evidence for a claim he was making.
    • In science, robust discussion is necessary. Refusal to tolerate dissent just removes people and creates echo chambers of positivity where it seems everyone else is getting this glamorous recovery.
    • Whereas in traditional diets would say, you’re failing because you’re not losing weight, we’ve upped the ante and saying you’re not getting well and we need to get more restrictive
    • No wonder people are suffering from orthorexia in such huge numbers. We are seeing it more and more. Taking care of my health – it’s hard for people to take a step back and to see the disorder.
    • In orthorexia, the desire isn’t necessarily to lose weight but to eat very healthily. The obsession is with health not thinness. But the same obsession is observed.
    • It’s literally almost impossible in health and wellness world to challenge someone by saying look I think you’ve had a few too many green smoothies
    • When you’re in the thick of it you don’t realise what you’re doing.
    • A high proportion of dietetic students have disordered eating. The material in dietetic courses can encourage perfectionistic, competitive, weight biased thinking, which can put students at risk for developing obsessive eating and exercise behaviours.
    • To notice you’re not well, to pull out, and then to get help – hopefully from the right people and not someone who might put you on a diet to cure your eating disorder!
    • Health obsession isn’t health.
    • Pursuit of health is just as unhealthy as the pursuit of thinness.
    • If there’s someone who’s taken it too far it’s Pete Evans.
    • Number of references made in Pete’s article: zero. Although he puts it our very strongly, Pete Evans’ stuff is just an opinion.
    • DAA dietitians can’t make outrageous health claims, they’d get in trouble! But Pete isn’t regulated by anyone so he can say anything.
    • The DAA and other organisations are not perfect, but this doesn’t mean we have to dismiss all evidence based medicine.
    • Are we in the age of the death of scientific thinking? What will happen if we don’t stand up against this?
    • People are losing trust in science and facts. We need to call out Pete for spreading bullshit. It’s a cult of bullshit.
    • Courtney gives here #carbsfacts. Spoiler alert: they are not bad/evil. They’re just carbs. It’s just bread.
    • People who follow low carb diets tend to feel quite foggy, tired, because your body isn’t fuelled to do extra movements.
    • In the initial stages of a diet you can feel quite euphoric and good but it’s just starvation!
    • Along comes the wellness shark and says – you need to take it up a notch!
    • Courtney gives her #toxinsfacts. Spoiler alert: detoxes and detoxifying is bullshit.
    • This is evidence based stuff! But wellness will airily and breezily dismiss all of this.
    • Sometimes they start with a smidgeon of truth – and then veer off into bullshit. For example, the alkaline diet. Which is absolute bullshit!
    • We need so much pushback against people like this. We need to call it out as health professionals and consumers.
    • If you are a consumer, go see a dietitan – a non diet dietitian! If you’re lost in woo land, you’re not going to find answers from the woo people!
    • We’re now up to ⅓ of dietitians in Australia who have been trained in the non-diet approach which is fantastic!

    Resources for This Episode:

    • This week I spoke with Courtney Pharoah, dietitian from No Green Smoothies, who wanted to get Pete Evans off her chest. She was in dire need of debriefing after reading a news article where Pete was saying that eating 3 meals a day is a conspiracy created by Big Food to keep us all fat and unhealthy.
    • Once Courtney stopped swearing & throwing things around the room, she called me!
    • Pete Evans is a celebrity chef, who got famous for making pizza, then he became a tv judge on a cooking show, then he went a little bit loopy about promoting the Paleo diet. He’s now the Australian figurehead for Paleo. He’s totally out there and vocal against ‘big food’, and is convinced that we all need to eat like cavemen. Except, apparently, during the My Kitchen Rules season, where he appears to eat all manner of modern day toxic nightmares without a glimmer of irony.
    • Pete is wildly popular with over 1 million followers.
    • He has a 10 week online program called the Paleo way, which you pay for, which recently became not just Paleo, but low-carb-high-fat/keto, and now he is including intermittent fasting on top of all of these food rules.
    • Pete says he intermittent fasts every day, which Louise has a bit of trouble understanding, because if you do something every day, it’s not intermittent! “If you’re fasting every day is that intermittent? Or is that just…fasting?”
    • Pete recommends fasting as a ‘cheaper’ alternative to Paleo, which is true. I’m sure he’ll find a way of making people pay him to not eat though!
    • So now we have Paleo Pete recommending that people are on a strict Paleo diet all the time, plus ramping it up with not eating at all. It’s getting more and more strict! Soon he’ll be a breatharian!
    • He’s upped the ante! “I take this diet, I raise it by 2 diets, and I don’t call it a diet”
    • Pete is now positioning himself as the figurehead for now three diet tribes! He’s a diet dictator!
    • There seems to be a trend of people starting in one diet tribe, and then sliding into more and more restrictive tribes, all the while denying that this is dieting.
    • A massive bunch of restrictive rules is not wellness – it’s the opposite of wellness
    • The difference on knowledge and expertise between someone who has completed an online ‘health coaching’ degree such as the one off at the Centre for Integrative Health (where Pete did his ‘certification’) and someone who has studied nutrition at university cannot be emphasised enough.
    • Pete really hates the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), and constantly accuses all dietitians of being bought by “Big Food”. By constantly saying this he undermines the scientific method and creates a conspiracy theory which make his increasingly bizarre claims look more plausible.
    • As Courtney says, this is ridiculous! Dietitians are evidence based and not obliged to ‘do what big food says’
    • Pete is part of Big Food – he has Paleo ready meals at the supermarket & many more food products for sale.
    • Paleo products are very expensive, much more so than most grocery items, making it elitist. Him saying then that not eating at all is just so gaslighting!
    • His arguments are so flawed and make no sense! But he appeals to a big audience. Because he sells a promise of a cure for all that ails us!
    • I can cure alzheimers…make everything bad in your life go away if you just do my intense weird diet”. That’s the concern with the wellness industry.
    • The wellness industry is just the diet industry 2.0
    • At least with diet industry, the main focus is on weight loss. With the wellness industry they’re promising a cure for all illnesses.
    • The risk is that people who do have genuine health problems will be prescribed diets instead of proper medical interventions
    • This is especially worrying when people also have a history of eating disorders, because they will relapse!
    • It places unfair blame on the client. And magical thinking. If a practitioner can’t see a worsening of symptoms as possibly the interventions fault, that’s a worry.
    • Diet tribes that are essentially cults. Practitioners who belong to cults you are more likely to prescribe it and to defend against the possibility of harm being done.
    • In The Gluten Lie, Alan Levinivitz talks about wellness as the new religion
    • These wellness tribes will not tolerate criticism or dissent.
    • So many people have been blocked by Pete Evans on his facebook group, that another page was started called “Blocked by Pete Evans” and it’s almost as big as Pete’s page! Louise was blocked within 10 minutes for asking for evidence for a claim he was making.
    • In science, robust discussion is necessary. Refusal to tolerate dissent just removes people and creates echo chambers of positivity where it seems everyone else is getting this glamorous recovery.
    • Whereas in traditional diets would say, you’re failing because you’re not losing weight, we’ve upped the ante and saying you’re not getting well and we need to get more restrictive
    • No wonder people are suffering from orthorexia in such huge numbers. We are seeing it more and more. Taking care of my health – it’s hard for people to take a step back and to see the disorder.
    • In orthorexia, the desire isn’t necessarily to lose weight but to eat very healthily. The obsession is with health not thinness. But the same obsession is observed.
    • It’s literally almost impossible in health and wellness world to challenge someone by saying look I think you’ve had a few too many green smoothies
    • When you’re in the thick of it you don’t realise what you’re doing.
    • A high proportion of dietetic students have disordered eating. The material in dietetic courses can encourage perfectionistic, competitive, weight biased thinking, which can put students at risk for developing obsessive eating and exercise behaviours.
    • To notice you’re not well, to pull out, and then to get help – hopefully from the right people and not someone who might put you on a diet to cure your eating disorder!
    • Health obsession isn’t health.
    • Pursuit of health is just as unhealthy as the pursuit of thinness.
    • If there’s someone who’s taken it too far it’s Pete Evans.
    • Number of references made in Pete’s article: zero. Although he puts it our very strongly, Pete Evans’ stuff is just an opinion.
    • DAA dietitians can’t make outrageous health claims, they’d get in trouble! But Pete isn’t regulated by anyone so he can say anything.
    • The DAA and other organisations are not perfect, but this doesn’t mean we have to dismiss all evidence based medicine.
    • Are we in the age of the death of scientific thinking? What will happen if we don’t stand up against this?
    • People are losing trust in science and facts. We need to call out Pete for spreading bullshit. It’s a cult of bullshit.
    • Courtney gives here #carbsfacts. Spoiler alert: they are not bad/evil. They’re just carbs. It’s just bread.
    • People who follow low carb diets tend to feel quite foggy, tired, because your body isn’t fuelled to do extra movements.
    • In the initial stages of a diet you can feel quite euphoric and good but it’s just starvation!
    • Along comes the wellness shark and says – you need to take it up a notch!
    • Courtney gives her #toxinsfacts. Spoiler alert: detoxes and detoxifying is bullshit.
    • This is evidence based stuff! But wellness will airily and breezily dismiss all of this.
    • Sometimes they start with a smidgeon of truth – and then veer off into bullshit. For example, the alkaline diet. Which is absolute bullshit!
    • We need so much pushback against people like this. We need to call it out as health professionals and consumers.
    • If you are a consumer, go see a dietitan – a non diet dietitian! If you’re lost in woo land, you’re not going to find answers from the woo people!
    • We’re now up to ⅓ of dietitians in Australia who have been trained in the non-diet approach which is fantastic!

    Resources:

    Paleo Pete’s conspiracy theory article

    Alan Levinovitz The Gluten Lie

    Courtney’s No Green Smoothies website

    The Conversation article on feeling euphoric when straving

    Nina Mills’ article on how to think critically about Mindful Eating

    Rates of eating disorder symptoms in dietetic students articles:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022318285801734

    https://search.proquest.com/openview/0b63eadbca95ad813ce72db508763cf6/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=49142

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1747-0080.12298/full

     

    • Nina Mills – Whats for Eats – her resource on how to be critical around wellness/health.
    • http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/food/paleo-pete-evans-says-three-meals-a-day-is-an-unhealthy-idea-created-by-food-manufacturers/news-story/fa5bd695981258d05de3d31559f83714
    • Proportion of Aussie dietetic students with disordered eating:
    • The Conversation article on euphoria just being starvation
    • Nina Mills – Whats for Eats – her resource on how to be critical around wellness/health.
    • Unfollow that shit!
    • Do you really need to be surrounding yourself with that much health information?
    • Peppa Pig!
    • – end after I say ‘talk soon” before Lola comes in
    • http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/food/paleo-pete-evans-says-three-meals-a-day-is-an-unhealthy-idea-created-by-food-manufacturers/news-story/fa5bd695981258d05de3d31559f83714
    • Proportion of Aussie dietetic students with disordered eating:
    • The Conversation article on euphoria just being starvation
  • Obesity Inc. Has No Place At An Eating Disorders Conference

    This week my guest is Nicole McDermid, social worker, eating disorder survivor, awesome person, and unapologetically living in a larger body. We met at the Australian & New Zealand Association for Eating Disorders (ANZAED) conference in Sydney a few weeks ago, and immediately bonded. In this episode we chat about weight bias in the eating disorders treatment community. You’d think that of all places, an eating disorders conference would be a safe place for people of all shapes and sizes, with an absence of weight focus. But the reality is the opposite! The worst part of the conference was the inclusion of Obesity Inc – literally, people who want to erase fat people entirely – and the apparent trend of firstly, treating people in larger bodies for eating disorders, and then promptly putting them straight back on a diet. What the hell?

    View show notes
    • This week on AFU I spoke with Nicole McDermid, social worker, in recovery from an eating disorder, and unapologetically living in a larger body.
    • I met Nicole at the Australian & New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders (ANZAED) conference, which was in Sydney a few weeks ago.
    • Nicole and I both noticed that the eating disorders conference was very much a place in which representation of people in larger bodies was missing.
    • Although the vast majority of eating disorders are binge eating type (BED makes up almost half of all ED diagnoses), and another huge proportion of ED’s (38%) are “OSFED”, or ED’s in which people present with a wide variety of symptoms not fitting neatly into a traditional category, presentations and discussions on these types were virtually absent.
    • Much more prevalent at the ED conference were research and presentations on Anorexia Nervosa, which although is a very serious and important disorder, this category represents only 3% of all ED diagnoses.
    • I was excited to be at the conference for the first time in several years. I had stopped attending because of the exclusive focus on restrictive types of ED’s, which although very important, did not reflect the majority of people I was seeing clinically. So it was great to come back this year alongside the incredible Fiona Willer and Fiona Sutherland to present a workshop for ANZAED on how the way we speak about bodies in eating disorder communities is important.
    • It’s bewildering why, when BED and other types of disordered eating make up such a huge proportion of the ED population, that there were literally no presentations on BED at the conference! Where are these conversations?
    • Why are we not talking about this!
    • Nicole’s perspective on this is important. She has lived experience of an ED in a larger body, and of receiving treatment for an ED in a larger body. Now here at the ED conference for the first time as a professional, she asked ‘where are people like me?” “where are bodies like mine? We exist – where are they”?
    • The experience of ED treatment in a larger body. Nuances in treatment for people with larger bodies are really important. We have to think about ensuring accessibility and inclusivity
    • Eating disorder treatments need to ensure that practices and exercises are inclusive of all body types. ED units are set up for a certain type of body – a small one. But you know what – eating disorders come in a huge range of body sizes!
    • To reinforce one body ideal in ED treatment is heartbreaking, it’s horrible. It’s colluding with the messages from diet culture!
    • The entire ED community is weight biased!
    • Our presentation was the only one in the entire conference which showed a range of body sizes in a non stigmatizing way
    • Images of larger bodies at the ED conference were repeatedly used in a stigmatizing way – your classic headless fat person eating a hamburger!
    • At the eating disorder conference they had invited obesity treatment people – obesity inc. people selling weight loss were at the ED conference?
    • The message was that ED community and Obesity community need to blend their treatments – what??
    • We are overlooking the reasons why ED rates are increasing. Two elements of diet culture – the thin ideal and obesity hysteria – are responsible for this. People are extremely frightened of becoming fat in our culture, and this drives dieting behaviour which is a huge risk factor for the development of eating disorders.
    • So why are we inviting the culprits of the disorder into our treatment community? Into our safe spaces?
    • It’s kind of like inviting the fashion industry in to talk to us about eating disorders!
    • Seeing the message that weight loss is a good idea at an eating disorders conference was horrendous
    • A plenary discussion at the end of the ED conference included 3 people talking about how it is safe and ok to add ‘behavioural weight loss’ at the end of an eating disorder treatment intervention, if the person’s body is deemed to be too fat.
    • The plenary speaker’s logic seemed extremely confused. One after the other would admit that dieting isn’t effective in the long term, but then almost immediately justify why we should still give it a go. Either by refusing to call what they were proposing a diet (instead referring to ‘behavioural weight loss’ or ‘supported dieting’), by arguing about exactly how ineffective dieting was (literally saying that if 8 out of ten fail as opposed to 9 out of ten, then we should still try), by bringing up the good old fear of death/imminent tsunami of diseased fat people flooding our health system argument, by denying that any harm came from such approaches, and finally, quite a few of them stole ideas from the anti-diet frameworks (such as self-compassion and mindfulness). These presentations were designed to bamboozle, and boy did they! Our eyes watered, our heads spun.
    • Obesity, if we are to use this hated word, is at best a distant risk factor with associations with various health conditions. Eating disorders, on the other hand, are here and now and they are killing people. Why are we favouring the former over the latter?
    • The blatant disregard that the plenary speaker showed to the strong suggestion that instead of using the term ‘obesity’, we should be referring to people in larger bodies, was breathtaking. She actually acknowledged that she had heard the request for the use of inclusive and non-judgemental language, and then she literally said that she couldn’t be bothered to use inclusive language because ‘it takes too long to say people in larger bodies…so I’ll just use obesity instead!”
    • That’s just not ok.
    • Contrasting this conference with the BEDA conference in San Francisco where so much attention was paid to inclusivity and sensitivity to language.
    • Why are we so behind the times? The climate here is very far away from where BEDA is
    • For Nicole, sitting there and experiencing this dismissal means your voice doesn’t matter and your experiences don’t matter here
    • I’m not leaving! I am going to be a squeaky wheel. We need diversity and different voices at the centre of the conferences.
    • We need to get rid of obesity inc. there is no room for a conversation with obesity inc in an ED community. What are they doing here? We don’t have the depression & obesity clinic, or the OCD and obesity clinic. Someone’s body size is not a mental illness, nor is it a disease. Obesity inc should not be here with ED’s.
    • Particularly when we have zero obesity treatments that are effective or safe
    • The obesity inc speakers totally denied the inefficacy of their interventions. They actually claimed it was harmless!
    • The research they used to back up this claim was the worst science I have ever heard. A sample size of 8 people? They measured how many binges reported by people after 12 weeks post weight loss diet. Because they weren’t reporting binges it must be safe!
    • …..we know that a) people can not binge for a while especially if they are dieting! And b) they just don’t tell!
    • If your treatment provider is weight biased and really obviously wants you to lose weight of course you’ll try! Just because someone isn’t reporting bingeing doesn’t mean their ED is cured.
    • Unbelievably, this is literally a thing – people are being treated for an ED and then being put on diets. I want to ask people how does this feel? To be told to lose the focus on weight – and then being stuck on a diet because your body is bigger than the other people’s in the ED unit. Is no-one asking them about this huge leap of logic??
    • As Nicole says, this type of idea just reinforces that message that your body is wrong, which is what ED treatment tries to break you away from!
    • It just doesn’t add up! We just cured your eating disorder, now we’re going to give it straight back to you!
    • Prescribing eating disorder symptoms for people in larger bodies. Cognitive restraint for people in larger bodies is a good thing? A bit of an eating disorder is good if you’re in a bigger body. Let’s encourage you to keep your eating disorder. Let’s give you conditional recovery.
    • We don’t keep bits of an eating disorder in a misguided effort to make people thin! Seeing this idea being presented by a health professional is shocking.
    • As you are confusing the hell out of people it’s very important to practice self compassion! What!
    • Obesity inc have been steadily stealing stuff from body positivity. Self-compassion is one of the main tools we use to help people unhook from diet culture. To see obesity inc promoting it as a tool to help people diet – that can just bugger off right now!
    • It’s a logic spaghetti on this plenary.
    • Fiona Willer’s presentation on the plenary was the only one that made logical sense.
    • If we go down this path of trying to blend an impossible harmful treatment with eating disorders treatment we are going to a spiral hellhole of worse outcomes and we’ll lose the trust of people who are coming to us for help.
    • Everybody must be respected and included in all forms of treatment. Why are we having so much trouble getting this?
    • There is so much internalised weight stigma and prejudice. We need a real cultural shift. The Health at Every Size approach is safe and inclusive and a much better option than trying to squeeze in diet culture.
    • I encourage health professionals to be loud. Be here. We’re not going anywhere.
    • We need to be the agents of change and stand up to injustice. The more we form community, the more likely this is to happen. There is power in groups. Join HAES Australia! Stand up at conferences and ask for more respectful language
    • What can we do? Be respectfully curious of people in larger bodies. Ask questions and keep having conversations
    • You will learn a lot if you just sit and listen to us!

    Resources:

    The program for the ANZAED 2017 conference

    Contrast this with the program for the BEDA Conference

    The HAES Australia website

     

  • The Perfect V with Shelley Lask

    Just when you thought the beauty industry couldn’t sink any lower in its exploitation of female bodies, they bloody well do. Introducing The Perfect V, an utterly ludicrous range of beauty products ‘for the V area’. This week I chat with the hilarious Shelley Lask from Body Positive Health & Fitness and we go deep on the subject of the Vanicure. Apparently making our vulvas smell like Scandinavia is a daily beauty regime we should all be lining up for. Or is it?

    View show notes
    • This week I chat with fabulous personal trainer Shelley Lask from Body Positive Health & Fitness.
    • Diet culture has sunk to a new low with the introduction of a new women’s “beauty product”, The Perfect V.
    • Although the actual word “vulva” is never mentioned in their advertising, we are 90% sure that this is the area they’re alluding too. So apparently now it’s not enough that women’s faces, feet, hands, limbs, etc ‘need’ an arsenal of products before we’re presentable enough to face the world, now our vulvas need ‘luminating’.
    • There is a totally bizarre story of how the creator of The Perfect V was apparently motivated to create these products after moving to Scandinavia and becoming “inspired” by the Nordic women’s ‘comfortable, carefree and confident’ lifestyles, which apparently means getting undressed in public. Somewhere inside the creator’s head this natural body confidence meant that these women’s vulvas needed a beauty regime.
    • Shelley points out that although the website mentions women stripping off in public whatever their age or shape, the Perfect V imagery features only one age and shape – young and thin. How annoying when the beauty industry sticks in a few tokenistic words  about diversity and then utterly fails to show it!
    • Even the NAME of this product – The Perfect V – implies that there is such a thing, and that it’s about appearance. Every aspect of our bodies has been problematised. #effyourbeautystandards!
    • We are living in an unprecedented age of pressure to perfect our bodies, as seen in the rise of operations such as labiaplasty. Labia are often photoshopped out of existence, leading to this illusion that they don’t exist. Like body diversity not being represented in media, labia diversity is also absent!
    • The entrepeneur who made this product noticed a gap in the market, and went for it: the last bastion of women’s bodies.
    • There are no less than 8 products in the range. Who has time for this?
    • The website presumes that women are already severely waxing their V areas, which normalises the pressure women are under to constantly change their bodies.
    • The Perfect V is aimed directly at beautifying our ladyparts, and apparently this is going to empower us. As Shelley points out, highlighting our V areas will not close the wage gap!
    • The Perfect V is co-opting the language of empowerment to sell disempowerment.
    • The Perfect V’s “Beauty Mist?” Go read The Beauty Myth!
    • The language used in the marketing of this product is weird, childish, condescending and vague. “More prettiness to your V?!” We are adults! If you’re going to make a range of vulva products why not say the word vulva?
    • How can you pay lip service to respecting women of all shapes and ages, and then spruike an anti-wrinkle cream! That’s just sold out every older woman right there!
    • Shelley talks labia facts: rates of labiaplasty in Australia have tripled from 2000-2013, and this is a conservative figure. Operations don’t improve self esteem or confidence.
    • Parallels between vaginas and dieting! Vaginas are different, so are bodies.
    • There is no right way to look.
    • Protruding labia in advertising will earn an “R” rating in Australia, which is one of the reasons we never see lumps and bumps in magazines. How are labia obscene!
    • We need to look critically at this kind of imagery and know it doesn’t represent diversity. We need to see diversity!
    • I don’t want to polish my v!
    • These products are totally unnecessary and expensive. With all of this attention you might end up with OCV!
    • Created by a beauty product marketing expert
    • If you want to empower women and their bits, donate to hamlin fistula ethiopia organisations!
    • We need to look at all beauty products with a very critical eye. Is this actually a problem?
    • How luminous is my vulva? Is this a problem?
    • Does this media showing women who look like me? Is there diversity? If not it’s usually because it’s selling an ideal which will make you feel like crap
    • Use your critical eye!
    • Remember that getting naked in public is illegal in a lot of places! But if you choose to do it, you don’t need to use these products to do so.

    Episode Resources:

    The wonderful Shelley Lask

    The ridiculous Perfect V

    Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia

    You can see a great example of female genital diversity here at the  Great Wall of Vagina