The news media are a major source of diet culture BS. Every day there’s an apparently “inspirational” story in which diverse bodies are shrunk down to diet culture’s version of acceptability. We’re literally brainwashed into viewing increasingly disordered, bizarre and downright dangerous behaviours as “#inspirational”. Join me and my guest, anti-diet warrior and coach Summer Innanen as we present some truly epic examples of “SHITSPIRATION” from Australia and Canada. You will not believe how ludicrous they are! Grown up humans are supposed to be #inspired by a ‘doubledown diet’ which reduces calorie intake to almost nothing, a BARBIE DOLL (I am not joking), and….a Malamute? You have to hear this to believe it, it’s next level #ridiculous. Trigger warning for this episode – very explicit language and we’re discussing diet, calorie counts, etc, in (critical) detail. This one’s not for the faint hearted! But if you’re ready to get your rage-o-meter cranked up to ALL FIRED UP, this episode’s for you!

Show Transcript

Louise Adams: Oh, Summer, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Summer Innanen: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here with you.

Louise Adams: Tell me, what’s firing you up?

Summer Innanen: Well, I saw an article recently in Women’s Health, and it’s about… it’s supposed to be like a, you know, quote unquote ‘weight loss inspiration story’. And it’s about a woman who had a very significant weight loss experience by doing a very disordered diet. And I think what fired me up so much about it was not just the content within it, which I’m sure we’ll you know, dissect and talk about it. But the fact that in 2015, in December 2015, Women’s Health came out and it was a huge… we got a lot of headlines, a lot of publicity around the fact that they were taking the words, ‘bikini body’ and ‘drop two sizes’ off of their covers.

So they sort of made this like quasi- body- positive stance. Like, ‘hey,  we’ve heard you, our readers. And we’ve heard that, you know, you don’t like us sort of using this very patriarchal, sexist language’. Yeah. Yeah. And so, like I remember at the time this was shared, like even people within the sort of anti-diet community were sharing it, saying ‘this is great, like nice to see a major publications sort of making these changes’ and then, you know, to, to look and see here we are five years later and it’s the same shit.

Louise Adams: It’s back.

Summer Innanen: Worse. Like I would argue what this what’s contained in this article is so terrible from the perspective of promoting disordered eating and like really what this person is talking about is like, the way that they eat to me sounds like a, like an eating disorder, which obviously like I’m not here to diagnose or go…

Louise Adams: it’s disordered eating practices. Right? It’s promoting starvation.

Summer Innanen: Yeah. So it’s a combination of keto and intermittent fasting. So it’s like keto isn’t bad enough on its own. So it’s like, we’re going to make intermittent fasting onto it.

Louise Adams: It’s an unholy marriage.

Summer Innanen: It is honestly, and that’s like, for me, I think why I was so fired up about it too, is because when I sort of reached the end of the line with my own disordered relationship with food, I was doing, I was trying to…attempting, it would only last like three days…to do something kind of similar.

And it’s what absolutely destroyed my body. Like just… like put me into amenorrhea, even with like a higher body weight percentage, and like completely disrupted my hormones. And when I work with clients, I see the same kind of behaviors really being kind of the end of the line for a lot of people.

Like the one that really, really kind of messes up their head and their physical, like their actual, you know, physiology a lot worse than other diets that they have done previously.

Louise Adams: Oh, this is an awesome thing to get completely fired up about because like we have Women’s Health magazine here, which is… it’s not health, it’s women’s starving magazine. They did no such thing as  like…to tell us that they’re not going to do the ‘bikini body’, but how gaslighting to say, ‘Oh, we’re not going to do that anymore. Hello, here’s something  worse’. And like to use that kind of little bit of that… they just wanted the publicity of that. ‘We want to perform the idea of body positivity, but like, hell no, we’re not actually going to stick to that’.

Summer Innanen: Yes, yes.

Louise Adams: It’s going to go back to this apparently inspirational behaviour of this lady. Who is doing the very thing that tipped you into like a severe eating disorder? That’s so disturbing.

Summer Innanen: Yes. Yes. And, you know, they give a outline of what she eats in a day and as I think, as I emailed you before, I was like, that’s kind of what I eat for breakfast. Like, it’s the same amount of calories that I consume for breakfast. Like, that’s it. And I remember being in that frame of mind where you would read a magazine and they would sort of show like, ‘oh, here’s what somebody eats in a day’. Or ‘here’s what a celebrity eats in a day’. And I remember always feeling like, so ashamed because I ate so much more than that. And I was always like, ‘what’s wrong with me? Like, why can’t I eat as little as this?’ And you know, I just can’t believe that stuff is still being put out there, like that the author of that piece didn’t think like, ‘Hey, this might really promote an eating disorder.’

When it’s that blatant! Literally…

Louise Adams: my dog eats more than that. When it’s that blatant and there’s, you know, throughout every article that we’re going to talk about today is…oh, except the last one. There’s literally no critical thought. Or even appreciation of the damage that’s being spread by these, like it’s full on evil messaging as far as I’m concerned, dressed up as inspiration.

That the fact that a journalist…journalists, as far as I know, are trained to be critical thinkers and, and yet it’s like that goes out the window when it comes to these apparently inspirational stories.

Summer Innanen: Yeah. Yeah. Like there’s absolutely no consciousness at all. That’s what I felt like. Cause you know, it’s just, it was one of those things. That’s, it’s almost like when I first read it, I was like, it’s almost too ridiculous to believe this is…that they actually publish this as something that’s supposed to be inspirational. But it’s to me like, you know, I think the readership probably skews a little bit, you know, on the younger side, you know, maybe more like 20 to 30 age group or younger, probably teen, a lot of teenage girls and you know, to be reading that at such an impressionable age and to think ‘oh, this is how…this is what I should be doing’. Which is essentially like starvation as well as like malnutrition and just something that would put such a high amount of both physical and mental stress on your body, that would really create like long lasting damage. Yeah, both biologically and psychologically.

Louise Adams: And that’s, that’s who I see, you know, my clients are the diet casualties, people who have had these experiences and then…you know? Dieting like this, crash dieting…because this is, this lady is on a severe calorie restriction. And then she’s added intermittent fasting, which basically means you’re only allowed to eat for six hours a day and squish in your tiny little bits of food into six hours. Like when you really think about that, that is so many levels of fucked up and she’s saying, ‘oh, it’s so good’. And I feel for her being in that diet head, And who knows maybe an eating disorder head, but there’s  …the payoff is so great for her because the weight loss like that, the whole article is about her trying to shift the last bit.

And she’s still got a way to go. And her poor body, if her poor body could talk would be going, ‘I’m starving. I’m slowing down this cause it’s getting dangerous’. And she’s like, ‘right, I’m going to double down using the halo of intermittent fasting’, which is starving.

Summer Innanen: Yes. Yeah. And the other thing too, that stood out to me, well, two things. One is the amount of caffeine that she talks about drinking in terms of hydration. Cause it says, like, what really works for her. It’s like, ‘I’m really hydrating’. And it’s like so much coffee and green tea. And I’m like, if I had that much caffiene I’d be, I don’t even know what I would be doing.

Louise Adams: That’s a question I ask when I’m seeing people with eating disorders, like, what are you drinking? Because quite often when you get an eating disorder, you will drink caffeinated stuff to kill your appetite. So, she’s calling that hydration.

Summer Innanen: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And then the other thing too, is that she uses the language of ‘food freedom’ to talk about how she feels, because  she says you know, ‘food is really just food. It’s not good or bad. I don’t obsess about it anymore’. And it’s like, really that could be pulled from any sort of anti-diet playbook, which is what we want, but it’s so counter to what she’s actually doing. And I think that it kind of shows like when you’re really into, like, when you’ re really kind of overtaken your mind, you’re sort of riding this, this buzz or this wave where it does feel like that.

But, you haven’t woken up to how you really are looking at things that way. And you really are, you know, like if you’re tracking every calorie, which is what she says she was doing…

Louise Adams: How is that freedom?

Summer Innanen: Yeah. That’s not freedom. And that’s, that’s like, maybe she’s sort of, you know, like kidding herself. She’s at the sort of like, kidding, ‘I’m kidding myself’ phase. Like, it’s like, you know, most of us when we were sort of dieters were like, ‘well, no, no, no, I’m doing it for my health. Like I’m doing no, this is for my health’, but really underneath it’s, you know, there’s, there’s some other stuff going on, but I hate it when they kind of steal, like they sort of co-opt the language of intuitive eating and co-op the language of the anti-diet message and really use it to promote something that’s so restrictive. It just makes…

Louise Adams: You know who came to my mind when you were saying that is Rebel Wilson.

Summer Innanen: Yes

Louise Adams: she’s an Aussie actor and has always been in a larger body. Apparently like her kind of whole catch phase for 2020 was that it was her ‘year of health’.

Summer Innanen: Yes!

Louise Adams: But the behaviors are restriction and starvation and over-exercise, but she’s masking that in the language of ‘I’m so healthy now’. Like, ‘I don’t think about food anymore. My habits are so great’, but it’s the same thing.

Summer Innanen: Exactly. Exactly.

Louise Adams: Worlds apart from what the anti-dieting and intuitive eating stuff is actually about.

Summer Innanen: Yeah. And, and like, it’s not their fault. Like, I don’t like talking about this. I’m not, I don’t want to like, shame this, this woman at all.

Louise Adams: As an individual, no.

Summer Innanen: Or Rebel Wilson. It’s like, but it’s really about. You know, the it’s really about the culture diet culture, and just the fact that we feel as women and more, you know, more specifically that we have to go to these extremes to really like, you know, show our, our worthiness as humans, like in our value. And like, Rebel Wilson is so talented.

Louise Adams: I know, so funny.

Summer Innanen: She’s an awesome actress. And now it’s like, everyone’s just talking about her body and her weight loss. And it’s like, it takes away from all these other amazing things that she’s done.

Louise Adams: And when it’s really uncritical, as well. It’s like, why is she so much better now than she’s small? That just reinforces the diet culture message and keeps stories like the woman you talking about going. It’s like, I can get all this attention, uncritical, positive attention, but it’s like, we’re not seeing what’s right in front of it. Like we are teaching and promoting women in this case did a really, really sick eating disordered and stuff under the flag of health.

Summer Innanen: And that is like, supremely unhealthy.

Yeah. Yeah. It’s so frustrating too, because you see all these positive changes happening in the way of, you know, women becoming more liberated or just having, you know, bigger voices taking up more space. And yet it’s just like the same old shit is still there as it relates to our bodies and our value and, and…

Louise Adams: There’s such an uptick too, in January, isn’t there.

Summer Innanen: Oh yeah. It’s a predictable tsunami of the weight loss. The walls of relentless inspiration, whether we want it or not. It’s just, it’s here. ESpecially with the pandemic, you know, because everyone, a lot of people have…maybe their bodies have changed a little bit, which makes a ton of sense because we’re under a lot of stress or just life changes that have happened.

So I think that, you know, depending on where you live, if there’s still a lot of restrictions, which I was saying to you before, like there still is here. Dieting gives you like a bit of hope, almost like weight loss gives you a bit of hope. In this time when maybe some of us are feeling a little hopeless or just like really kind of sick of, sick of the isolation and everything else.

And so I wouldn’t be surprised that maybe your body’s changed a bit during quarantine. I wouldn’t be surprised if this year really you see like just a lot more people really engaging in dieting as a way to cope with the emotion, emotional discomfort of living through a pandemic.

Louise Adams: That is a really good point, isn’t it. Dieting can be a bit of a lifeline. It can feel like it, like something familiar to do in a scary time.

Summer Innanen: Yeah. Some sense of control, some sense of like, you know, hope, something else to focus on other than like the fact that there’s a lot of horrible things happening in the world. Yeah, absolutely, a hundred percent.

And I just, I, you know, I’ve heard it from people that I work with just feeling more urges to diet lately. And I think that, yeah, it’s just something to be mindful of. If anyone listening is experiencing that too, like I think it’s pretty normal to be experiencing more of those urges, but hopefully you can…

Louise Adams: LIsten to today’s episode and get your bullshit detector back.

Summer Innanen: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid it’s not actually going to help.

Louise Adams: It’s not control!

Summer Innanen: Yeah, exactly.

Louise Adams: It’s so interesting because like, Canada is very similar to Australia, culturally in lots and lots of ways. And it’s funny…not funny. It’s not funny. Cause like, you’re talking about really disturbing uncritical weightless articles. And we’ve got them here in Australia too. And I really want to talk to you about the lady who lost weight, because she wanted to look like Barbie.

Yes. And

Summer Innanen: I, so you said that to me, I honestly, it was like, okay, this needs to be a tabloid. Like this can’t be like a real, and, and then you told me that it’s actually a very legit publication.

Louise Adams: Yeah. Oh, I’m so ashamed of ourselves. So, this is on Nine News. Channel Nine is Murdoch press and it’s, you know, one of it’s a huge…it’s the number one news platform in Australia for news. I want to say news, right? News. Okay, exciting. And in this news, I’m just using air quotes.  It’s this story from late gen a Barbie fan has dropped a whopping blah-blah-blah kilos in a bid to look like a favorite doll. And it’s a story about a lady called…a 35 year old lady called Kayla. Who’s apparently battled with her weight since she was seven, and has done all of the diets in the book and…

Like, I just, I can’t even, because yes, Nine News is promoting this as, as awesome. This lady that the article is…littered with her dressed as Barbie. She’s a full grown female adult woman dressed as Barbie. And the whole story is about how she’s had a gastric sleeve and, and is also starving herself, post gastric sleeve, and now she’s very happy and…like I just, I mean, I can’t get this article out of my head because it’s on a major news platform also. I’ve just realized it was on the TV on a morning show. She now lives in Las Vegas pursuing her Barbie lifestyle. And I’m not criticizing Kayla herself whatsoever, but what I’m criticizing is the news. Which, by the way, I’ve also found out isn’t even news, because this is from Jan 2021. When I’m Googling, to send you the article. THis article actually came out in June last year, it’s old, it’s not, it’s old. It’s not news. But it’s been rehashed – guess why, it’s January – it’s Diet season and then some, you know, money hungry gastric sleeve doctors, and some people who want to sell their diets saying ‘let’s get her on TV, and uncritically throw this… it’s an appallingly ridiculous idea that we need to look like a doll in order to reach the pinnacle of our existence.

Summer Innanen: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I think like, you know, there were, I don’t even…there were so many things wrong with this piece.

Louise Adams: It’s hard to know where to start.

Summer Innanen: Yeah. Okay. Well, let’s start with when she was a kid, because she talks about how, you know, ‘it didn’t matter how hard I tried or what side I was on. I could rarely shift the weight or I would lose some and then regain double’. And it’s like, well, yeah, that’s what diets do. And so, this poor girl probably had her parents putting her on diets, which we know she did actually.

Louise Adams: It says ‘my obsession with Barbie began as a child and has continued into my adult life. I used to have over 200 dolls as my parents use them as an incentive to go on a diet and lose weight’.

Summer Innanen: Yeah. Yeah. Which is so messed up.

Louise Adams: That just made me want to cry. Yeah. Because as a parent to, bribe your a child with a Barbie doll, like the poor thing, she’s seven. I know. And I don’t know, that’s at least 200 diets, isn’t it?

Summer Innanen: Well, exactly, like how horrifying is that? So, her metabolism is probably been so altered and she has no sense of her own  instincts on what actually, you know, feels good for her. And her parents basically instilled like this belief that like you’re better or you’re good or you’re more worthy when you lose weight, And like, to think about the damage that that would do to someone’s self-worth and their body image and the way that they feel it. Yeah. Yeah, right.

Louise Adams: Cause it’s…I see this as a real heartbreaking story and I cannot understand how this is inspiration.

Summer Innanen: Yeah. Yeah. It’s so awful. It reminds me of the there’s this book. I don’t know if you’ve ever read it. It’s called ‘The Heavy’ and it’s about a mother who puts her daughter on a diet and it’s…it’s a memoir written from the mother’s perspective and she keeps putting her, she can’t figure out why her daughter can’t lose weight.

She keeps putting her on diet after diet, after diet. And like, it just reminds me of that because the parent is…has so much  internalized fat phobia and their own disordered relationship with food that then they pass down to their kids. And like, that’s what I see. I’m sure you see all the time with the people that we work with is that what our parents did, which they kind of were doing out of this like, protection. They wanted to protect us by helping us lose weight or commenting on our body or restricting food…actually completely backfired and made us feel like we, you know, we weren’t worthy of their approval, of love, like of our own existence, unless we looked a certain way unless we lost weight, unless we ate a certain way…

Louise Adams: All contingent on weight, which is it’s insane because a weight is not under our control. And when we do the diet thing, all we guarantee is a slowed metabolism and weight regain. And she even says in this that she would lose it, then lose weight and then regain like that. Plus some, which is, we know that’s perfectly normal as a response to starvation her. And cause her parents obviously have that internalized weight stigma, and she has it, you know? This is a story about her internalized weight stigma and how, you know, rather than kind of pushing back or being able to push back against it. She’s really drunk the Kool-Aid.

Summer Innanen: Yeah, yeah. And again, they highlight what she eats in a day, which is like, why, why these places do this is like, beyond me, because…

Louise Adams: Well, they go into so many stereotypes too. Cause like it’s the, it’s the traditional thing like, ‘Oh, before I had my gastric sleeve, I was a bad person and I ate terribly’.

And ignoring the fact that perhaps her, part of her weight issues was to do with the diets themselves.

Summer Innanen: Right?

Louise Adams: Yeah. So that’s ignored and so about…’it was definitely 100% my personal fault’ quote unquote, ‘that my body was large and I ate terribly but now I eat great’. But, what we see actually, like when you look at that, what she used to eat, she used to starve herself all day and then eat at night.

Summer Innanen: Right? It’s like, well of course you’re going to binge at night. If you starve all day, that’s no surprise there. You’re going to be so hungry. You’ll eat anything that’s not locked down. And then what she eats now is like, it’s so dangerous. It’s like such a low amount of food and…

Louise Adams: And says, ‘I ate,’…I’m going to read some numbers here so trigger warning. Cause it’s just, I just want to get across the point of how restrictive it is. She’s had 80% of her stomach removed, and then she’s saying ‘I eat 90 grams of protein a day, 10 grams of carbs and five grams of sugar’. Everyday.

Summer Innanen: Do you know what…10 grams. That’s not even a banana. Right? 10 grams of carbs. Like that’s like, that’s like what? Like a few baby carrots or something like that?

Louise Adams: There’s no actual veggies. Breakfast is a protein shake. Lunches, chicken or beef with cheese, dinner is chicken or steak or a protein shake. And the snacks, cashews or walnuts. Like there’s there’s no fruit or veggies. Poor thing. In a stomach which is 80% removed, amputated.

Summer Innanen: And can’t be reversed. They also say that, which is another thing.

Louise Adams: And it says this article has the hide to say ‘she now has a good relationship with food’.

Summer Innanen: Yes. I highlighted that too, because again, it’s like, co-opting this language of food, freedom and, and using it in like a place where it’s like clearly a very disordered.

Louise Adams: How is that a good relationship with food?

Summer Innanen: Yeah, it’s sad.

Louise Adams: And works out seven days a week.

Summer Innanen: That, right. That was the other thing that really stood out because also extremely unhealthy to be, to be doing something like that. And you just sort of wonder, like what’s going to happen to this individual. You know, and they may be riding the sort of like validation of having a significant weight change and getting the publicity and feeling really good about that.

Louise Adams: But, you know, as we all know totally done it, you know, as a psychologist, she’s finally saying to her mum, ‘look, I am the Barbie doll’. I just…it’s heartbreaking. I totally get why she’s doing it.

Summer Innanen: Right.

Louise Adams: But I find it an incredibly sad story.

Summer Innanen: I know, and I feel bad for her as a child.

Louise Adams: I feel like I’m kind of alone in seeing her as a really sad story.

Summer Innanen: No, it’s really sad. It is really sad. And it’s, and it’s this idea like, again, it’s like this idea that it’s our fault, like, and it’s a kid’s fault if they are in a larger body instead of thinking, ‘okay, well, this is just, you know, genetics’.

Louise Adams: Here’s my child, here’s my kid. Give her a barbie doll, for fuck’s sake, if she wants one.

Summer Innanen: Yeah. Not to earn it by restricting food or whatnot. To put all the onus on her and to, you know, that she had to earn it by losing weight, earn Barbie dolls by losing weight. Like, it’s so sad. And yet it’s being like, you know, applauded and praised and…

Louise Adams: It’s sickening. How like diet culture, it’s weight loss at all costs. And this is an extreme example of the costs, but I mean…2015,  right? Women’s Health magazine is talking about, ‘Oh, we see the harm done by diet culture. We see that talking about women as if they’re a bikini body and stuff is not cool anymore. Well, we’re going to stop doing that’. But now, like we just talked about like two really extreme articles promoting starvation. Like there’s no problem here. And we’ve gaslit ourselves to the point where these things are being called lifestyle changes or health behaviors.

Summer Innanen: Yeah, exactly.

Louise Adams: We’re talking about stuff that’s much, much worse than the good old diet industry days.

Summer Innanen: Right, right. Yeah. It seems to have gotten a lot more extreme, hasn’t it? Like it’s, it’s something that has, it’s always sort of been extreme, but it seems to be even more….I guess now the extremism is normalized.

Louise Adams: Yeah. And it’s mainstream. It’s like pro-ana used to be pro-ana, cause we could see it as being different to what the world was.

Summer Innanen: Exactly. Exactly.

Louise Adams: Yeah. Someone said to you, I only ate in a six hour window and I don’t eat any vegetables or fruit or carbs. We’re like, ‘Oh, you’re so healthy. How do you do it?’

Summer Innanen: Yes. Yes. ‘Let me put you in my magazine. You’re a success story’. But I wonder if like, if either of them took, you know, assessments on whether or not you have an eating disorder or disordered relationship with food, you would most likely see that they would probably check most of the boxes in terms of the things that they would say that they’re thinking and doing as it relates to…you know, the behaviors, but I was going to say as well, it also just shows how weight stigma plays a role here. Because if this was an already thin person eating this stuff, you know, we as….there might be more people sort of calling this out as like very disordered or an eating disorder, but because they were in larger bodies and they went to these extreme measures to get in a smaller body it’s applauded and like, that’s the influence of weight stigma. It’s like, we prescribed these eating disorder behaviors to people in larger bodies that we would diagnosis an eating disorder and somebody in a smaller body.

Louise Adams: Yeah. that’s Deb Burgard’s point, isn’t it. That’s so like…

Summer Innanen: Yes, exactly. Thank you. Cause I was like, I’m saying this and I’m like, I can’t remember….thank you.

Louise Adams: I know, it’s such a slam dunk awesome quote because it’s exactly what’s happening here.

Summer Innanen: Yes, exactly. Exactly. Yeah.

Louise Adams: You know, I wonder, I literally wonder, like what you’re saying about, if it was someone smaller, would, would the media alarm bells ring. Because I’m thinking, well, if that was Gwyneth Paltrow’s day in a plate, we’d probably still be going, ‘Ooh, isn’t she cool?’

Summer Innanen: You know what, you’re right. And I saw that recently because Aaron Flores who hosts the Dieticians Unplugged podcast, he posted…I think it was via Glamour magazine. It was like what Kelly Ripa eats in a day. And it was the same thing. It was like, she was basically talking about how she eats dust. But…it was honestly very similar to what the first, the girl in the Women’s Health magazine was talking about eating in a day. And so, you’re 100 percent right. So, so maybe my point is…

Louise Adams: I do think it’s viewed differently. But I actually think that we’re getting to the point where like it’s competitive, not eating is at such extreme levels that we’re not, it’s only the people in the eating disorder industry who are going, ‘hello, what the hell’, like it has become so unfashionable to eat like a grownup.

Summer Innanen: Yeah, yeah. Eat like a grown ass adult is what I say exactly. Exactly. Yes. I remember. I remember in the one that the Kelly Ripa, when she says, like, she called it…’my first chewable food of the day is around like 11:00 AM’ or something, like that was the way that she described it. And I just, I remember commenting on it when Aaron and I was like, I can’t believe she just used the expression, my first chewable food of the day. Like if, if that’s not a red flag that you’re describing the way you eat stuff, using those terms. And I don’t mean to laugh. It sounds like a laughing at someone with a disordered relationship with food, but it really is horrifying. Just how normalized and then praised and applauded that is.

Louise Adams: Like, ‘oh, oh no, it’s any 10 o’clock. Should I be chewing? Oh my God’.

Summer Innanen: Yes, exactly. And I just, and again, like, I just remember always looking at those things and feeling so ashamed and always just being like, why can’t I do that? Like, why can’t. And thank goodness, my body couldn’t do that because it was the reason why I didn’t actually have like a full blown eating disorder and instead was just a chronic dieter.

Louise Adams: We really need to stop this. We really need to stop listing what people like in a day. It’s ridiculous. It’s kind of like comparing what we eat to each other, it’s encouraging  externalization of eating behavior? We cannot continue to do that. Like really, the articles about ‘what I eat in a day’ should just be followed by the phrase ‘is going to vary every single day’, and it’s none of your damn business’. Right.

Summer Innanen: Yes. Yes. That’s the headline right there.

Louise Adams: Right. Eyes on your own plate. Does it matter? It’s not a fricking competition. It’s not like we’re going like, ‘ooh, what my poo looks like every day. Maybe. I don’t know. Maybe that’s where we are  we going? Comparing physical functions. We just need to stop.

It’s so true. You kind of quid pro quo’s me with, like, I came up with the Barbie ridiculous story and you came up with a whopper from Canada.

Summer Innanen: The dog?

Louise Adams: Yeah.

Summer Innanen: So, this was on the CBC. So CBC is the Canadian Broadcasting Company, it’s like our major national news network. And like, that’s the one place I go when I want to get unbiased, like just straight up, really factual news. And they have this article that they posted called ‘meet Woody a massive Malamute, serving up weight loss inspiration for the new year’.

I just couldn’t believe this was on the CBC and it’s literally like this story, this weight loss story of a dog that like dropped half its weight and also had like shared it on social media as a way to inspire others to, you know…

Louise Adams: Other dogs?

Summer Innanen: No, no, no. Oh no. Humans.

Louise Adams: This is a new low, eat like a dog.

Summer Innanen: This is…

Louise Adams: Oh my God. It says, ‘If you’re looking for inspiration to meet your new year’s resolution to trim the fat, look no further’.

Summer Innanen: Exactly. Yeah, no, it’s to inspire humans.

Louise Adams: Oh, please stop inspiring me. Oh my God.

Summer Innanen: It’s such a cute dog though. I just, as a side note, he’s a really, really cute dog, but you know, this has come up. I don’t know if you’ve been…you’ve probably been asked this question too before, but people will say like, well, you know, why is it okay to put pets on diets, but not humans? Do you have a good answer for that? By the way? Before I was going to say what I say.

Louise Adams: I don’t think I have actually had that question put to me.

Summer Innanen: Oh, you haven’t? Just me. I’ve gotten that.

Louise Adams: Why is it okay? I don’t, I don’t know if it is okay. Like, I haven’t looked at the weight loss research for dogs, but I’m assuming it’s going to be physiologically similar to humans. Right? I don’t know. I don’t know.

Summer Innanen: I don’t know. My answer is like, we’re not dogs. Like we aren’t dogs, dogs aren’t influenced by like diet culture. Like dogs don’t have fat phobia., cause they’re not like looking at thinner dogs everywhere and thinking like, ‘I’m not good enough because I don’t look like that’. Like they’re…

Louise Adams: Oh my God, you’re reminding me of poodle science, you know, ASDAH’s awesome little  video. Which is like, it’s illustrating what body diversity is like, you know. But in weight science it’s like, all the poodles are in charge and they’re telling everyone, all the breeds of dogs to like, they like ‘be like me, be like the poodle’, but like a starving mastiff will never be the same as a poodle.

Summer Innanen: Right, exactly. Yeah. One of the first like, quotes that I said many years ago was ‘we’re not Golden Retrievers’. We’re not all meant to look the same. It’s one of the things that I still say to this day, because it’s true. And you know, in this article, like it’s a pretty basic…they’re just restricting the dog’s food and making the dog exercise. But this idea that like we’re similar at all. It’s just so, it’s so backwards to me because it completely ignores the culture that we live in. And like the fact that we are emotional being…dogs are emotional beings too. Yes. I will give you that. I love dogs. But they don’t have the same. Not living in like a patriarchal society. They’re not exposed to sexism. Like they’re not, they’re not exposed to fatphobia like, I don’t think they’re internalizing those charts at the vet that have like pictures of the different dogs with the big classifications like we would be. They don’t feel ashamed when they step on the scale.

Louise Adams: There’s no diet culture in dogs, but there’s diet culture in the humans that own them. And you can hear that in this article, can’t you? Because it’s like…actually it’s everywhere. Like this sentence, ‘he once weighed double what he should have’. How do you know what he should? He’s a fucking Malamute.

Summer Innanen: Yeah, yeah.

Louise Adams: ‘Should have’. So, we’ve decided what he should weigh and we starved him down there. And then, Pam Hedgie, who’s the foster mom, apparently she’s known for doing this. Starving the dogs so that they’re adoptable. Now, that is awful. And…but the woman she’s like, totally like lost it. She puts it on social media and…here we go. She says, ‘humans have something to learn from dogs. They’re so willing. I think that’s the most amazing part about them. They don’t get down, they get up everyday, they’re happy to go to the park. And it has to be hard work. It can’t be a breeze, but they’re so happy and willing to do it. We could all learn a little bit about that’. I’m sure what he likes going for walks. Yeah, but I’m also sure that if Woody could talk, he’d say ‘why are you starving me?’

Summer Innanen: Yeah. I think it’s, again it’s like, you know, it just shows, ‘okay, you have to do something extreme to be healthy’. Whereas really it’s like, of course the dog wants to go out and play. And if we just let them do that by letting them tell us and get them outside, and they listened to their bodies, kind of like humans do..then you wouldn’t have to, you know…It’s not like this, like… ‘oh, you should work out every day and you have to like push yourself through’. It’s like dogs are naturally hardwired to kind of want to be that way anyways. And so long as we give them an environment where they can do those things, then they’re going to be healthy regardless of their size. And that’s, that’s sort of similar to humans in a way.

Louise Adams: His health is not even mentioned.  Like it’e literally just his size. And this assumption that he has to be half his size. Like we don’t even know it was here actually just a larger dog in good health? We don’t even know how old he is?

Summer Innanen: No, you’re right. You’re right. Because yeah, because malamutes are huge to begin with anyways.

Louise Adams: Yeah. Well, I’ve got a Great Dane and like big dogs, the big dogs. And like, my vet, there is no correct weight. And like, I love my vet because my vet is like full of body diversity. It’s like, there’s a great big range in Great Danes. You can have smaller Great Danes and big Great Danes.  And they’re all Great Danes.

Summer Innanen: That’s so refreshing. Wow.

Louise Adams: Thank you. I’m in the right place.

Summer Innanen: People used to criticize my dog all the…my dog might, we lost my dog a few months ago. People used to like stop me on the street and like…not me actually, they would always do my husband for some reason. Cause they probably saw the look on my face and was like, ‘I’m not going to say anything’. They would say like, ‘what are you feeding your dog? Like your dog is too big’ because we had a pug and he was really big and he was just naturally. Really big. He’d always been really big and like, vets were always totally fine with him. We never had a vet say, ‘hey, you know, you gotta watch this weight’ or anything like that. But, you know, people in the street would stop and comment. And I remember just saying to my husband, I was like, ‘I swear if someone did that to me, I would just rip them to…’, I don’t know why they always stopped him.

Louise Adams: Yeah. Actually now you say it. I get that about my Great Dane, Dolly. Her name is Dolly Pawton. It’s so cute. They stop us and they’re like, Oh, what is, what does he ate? Oh, first of all, they say ‘he’, cause obviously a big dog is always a ‘he’. ‘What do you feed him? He must eat you out of house and home.’ This dog eats, you know, not as much as my boxer that I used to have. So there’s assumption about size and what they eat. Let’s look to our dogs,  right? No as inspirational weightless stories, but as diversity right in front of us.

Summer Innanen: Yes.

Louise Adams: And connection.

Summer Innanen: And how we just love them regardless of their size.

Louise Adams: I know. Like, poor old Woody, he’s not more oveable now he’s starved into submission.

Summer Innanen: It’s so silly to me that they would use that as a story of inspiration. Must’ve been a slow news day in Canada. Like you don’t have a pandemic going on, I don’t know why.

Louise Adams: The sad point is that it appears that Woody has more variety in his diet than the Barbie lady.

Summer Innanen: Oh yeah, at least he’s eating lots of fruits and vegetables. I know. Oh my gosh. Right.

Louise Adams: God. So, we’ve arrived at our last. Article, which is an interesting one in Good Housekeeping. That’s just come out. Jan 29th, 2021. ‘The unbearable weight of diet culture’, which…it’s such an exciting article cause it’s really long, really in-depth, and it’s talking about this whole idea of diet culture. In the intro, it says this: ‘throughout 2021, Good Housekeeping will be exploring how we think about weight, the way we eat and how we try to control or change our bodies in our quest to be happier and healthier. While Good Housekeeping also publishes weight loss content, and endeavours to do so in a responsible science backed way, we think it’s important to present a broad perspective that allows for a fuller understanding of the complex thinking about health and body weight’. So, kind of cool.

Summer Innanen: Kind of reminded me of the Women’s Health 2015 publicity. What I do like about this article, I will say, is Judith Matz and Christy Harrison are quoted quite a bit through it.

Louise Adams: And Sabrina Strings.

Summer Innanen: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Which I thought was great because they tied in that component too, like the race component. And I thought it was one of those articles that you could probably send to a family member or a friend that didn’t understand why you were doing Intuitive Eating or that had questions about it, but you didn’t really know how to give them the information in a way that was a little more palatable. And I thought that this article was one of those things that you could totally pass along to them. It’s easy to read, makes a lot of sense, kind of hits all the main points.  It’s one that I’ll probably bookmark for people.

Louise Adams: It’s nice too as evidence that the wider culture is taking the whole concept of not dieting and looking at the Health At Every Size sort of stuff seriously.

Summer Innanen: Yes. And actual people who are in the space instead of like the people who are in between who talk about this stuff yet still promote weight loss, you know, like the sort of like, you know, Geneen Roths of the world and whatnot. So, I thought it was really great that they actually had a lot of, like a lot of like really well-respected experts weighing in and some good links and things like that, but there was still a little problem with it. Did you want to talk about that or do you want me to talk about it?

Louise Adams: So it’s at one point it says, look like it’s all this awesome, awesome and stuff.  And then it  says, loo… they’re talking about how the media in particular can promote dieting, and it says ‘even Good housekeeping’s own article on 1200 calorie diets is a tricky juxtaposition. The article aims to serve the approximately 40,500 people who search for 1200 calorie meal plans on Google every month. Despite the 2015 study that shows this number of calories falls within the realm of clinical starvation’. And that’s, that’s been changed…

Summer Innanen: It has actually, because I…

Louise Adams: I think it said something about the Holocaust before?

Summer Innanen: Okay. So I have it, cause I cut and paste it into a document. It says, this is what used to say. It says, ‘It’s the most popular article here on Good Housekeeping’s own website, about 1200 calorie diets that netted over 2 million search users in 2019 alone. Our second most read story of the year, despite the fact the number of calories falls within the realm of clinical starvation. In brackets – Holocaust concentration camp prisoners were fed 1,250 to 1400 calories per day’. So, that’s really interesting that they changed it.

Louise Adams: They’ve watered it down, haven’t they? They’ve removed a bit of culpability. Like, cause that example of like in a concentration camp, you would get more food.

Summer Innanen: It reminds me of the Minnesota starvation study, which, which was around like 1500…

Louise Adams: 1500.

Summer Innanen: 1500 calories a day.

Louise Adams: And they all went around the twist from that over six months.

Summer Innanen: Yeah, exactly.  Exactly.

Louise Adams: I’m so glad you cut and pasted that.

Summer Innanen: Yes. So that, and then the other big thing is they still link to the goddamn diet. Like they still link to it. They link to the 1200 calorie day diet. Like it’s like they’re saying, ‘okay, we’re exploring this’. And then they’re linking to the thing that is probably the most like harmful triggering thing that you could put in that article.

Louise Adams:  ‘We’re not actually going to stop doing it because it’s the second most popular thing we do’.

Summer Innanen: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Louise Adams: That is so fucked up.

Summer Innanen: It’s like these publications want to explore these topics and they admit that they’re complicit and they get publicity because of that, they get a bit of applause and then they continue to uphold and perpetuate the same dangerous stuff.

Louise Adams: Get off the fence, Good Housekeeping. Get the splinter out of your ass. Take the article down.

Summer Innanen: Yeah, take it down, take it down. If you want to, you know, put your money where your mouth is… but they don’t, they want to keep taking other people’s money. And then you were telling me this was the article that people were opening and then they were seeing weight loss advertisements, right? Was it this one?

Louise Adams: Yeah. So I was saying chats and people like reading the article, but in between the text of the article, were getting sold weight loss stuff.

Summer Innanen: Yeah. Yeah.

Louise Adams: I mean, geez. I mean, can we, at some point stop the fence sitting and stop performing the recognition of diet culture as harmful and, and start actually stopping the harm. So we protect little kids, like little miss Barbie.

Summer Innanen: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.

Louise Adams: And we stop the metabolic and physiological harm. If nothing else, you know. People are so worried. In the article, Good housekeeping. It’s talking about how more people are dieting than ever before. Did you see …’In November, 2020, the CDC, Centre for Disease Control, reported that more people are actually dieting now compared to 10 years ago’, you know? Dieting, even though no one’s dieting, more people are dieting than in 2010. And we are in massive trouble from the perspective of psychological damage and also from the perspective of long-term metabolic damage. And if I hear one more person bang on about diabetes, insulin resistance, you know, metabolic problems from being fat and they haven’t kind of put the pieces together about actually, maybe it’s the people who are dieting because it’s the dieting that’s doing that kind of physiological damage. You know, we need to wake up. So Good Housekeeping aren’t just able to politically fence it because it sells sharticles and sells hits on their harmful website. We’ve got to. If we care  about health, let’s start caring about it.

Right, right.

Summer Innanen: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that historically Good Housekeeping’s always had like, you know, advertisements for Slim Fast and like diet, weight loss drugs in their magazine. And so I, you know, I would wager  I guess, that that’s still going to be there. And, you know, I think the reason why diets have probably gone up like over the last 10 years is because it’s all shrouded in health now.

Louise Adams: Yeah, it’s ‘not dieting’

Summer Innanen: Like everyone thinks that, yeah. It’s like, this is our quote unquote ‘healthy lifestyle’.

Louise Adams: ‘I’ve got a good relationship with food’.

Summer Innanen: Right. And it seems, it’s almost seen, like positioned as more empowering versus restrictive. And so like, more people are buying into it, but like you said, it’s all the same bullshit when you look at it.

Louise Adams: Just wrapped in glitter.

Summer Innanen: Right, exactly. It’s like that meme that the HAES student doctor says, it’s like the poo emoji called ‘diet’ and then like in glitter, it’s like ‘lifestyle change’. It all, you know, it all upholds fatphobia. And dangerous dieting. And quick weight loss. And this idea that…

Louise Adams: And a massive industry. Let’s not forget that this is all a bloody huge  industry. It’s…what is it? 600 billion in the States every year.

Summer Innanen: Yes.

Louise Adams: Yeah. This is a business and the media is in the business of keeping these businesses going. And even when they admit it, they don’t stop it.

Summer Innanen: Well because they would lose their sponsors. And, and then it would, I mean, it would all probably collapse. So it’s a tough  situation. It’s a tricky situation. I don’t think it’s an easy fix. I think you have to really stand out. You have to be willing to say like, ‘okay, we’re going to really be, you know, these are our company values and we’re going to, you know, stand, actually stand by them regardless of what the fallout is from that’. But I mean, my hope is that more people are going like, you know, would support those messages. Cause I think there are, there’s also a growing population of people who are sick of it and who are, are tired of that crap and who know that diets don’t work.

Louise Adams: Yeah. I think the pushback is happening. It is maddening when we see stuff nearly, nearly get it. And then kind of, whiplash straight back into it, but we keep pushing. We keep these voices going and the voices are getting louder and louder and more diverse and more strident. And I think, you know, 2021 January has been the usual bullshit tsunami, but I hope that this conversation for the listeners helps get the bullshit detector flashing. Push back against this whole idea that insane levels of starvation are somehow healthy. And you know, what we can do is like articles, comment on articles like that. I haven’t read too many of the comments on that article, ‘The unbearable weight of diet culture’, but I did see the usual shit fight starting underneath.

Summer Innanen: I did too.

Louise Adams: ‘Oh my God, you’re  killing people’.

Summer Innanen:  I know, that’s going to happen. That’s going to happen. But you know what, like good on them for at least publishing that and getting it out there. And let’s hope that five years from now, they’re not, they’re still standing by those things and not totally changing. Although I think I might be…I’m going to be cautiously optimistic on that one.

Louise Adams: Uh, I mean, it’s so crappy when you go to that little bit about the 1200 calorie diet. It says ‘follow this and you will feel satisfied and drop all the weight’, which is exact opposite of what we’ve just spent like half an hour telling you. Yeah.

Summer Innanen: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s like enough for maybe a seagull or something, but not a human being. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s…I’m still like, I’m just still in amazement that they took out the reference to the Holocaust concentration camp prisoners, because I think that, that was like, that was such a huge thing to say that…but maybe it was because then they didn’t want to take down the 1200 calorie-a-day article. And so therefore they…

Louise Adams: Interesting too that they hid the idea that this is our second most read article.

Summer Innanen: Yeah.

Louise Adams: That’s pretty huge.

Summer Innanen: It really lowered the number of people who had requested it or looked for it, or what did you say?  It was like 45,000?

Louise Adams: It was annually rather than by the month. Like it’s just kind of interesting that they tapped in…they altered that part of the article. Which is kind of the bit, which says this is the bit where complicit with.

Summer Innanen: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. So, have media literacy.

Louise Adams: Yeah. Oh my God. But thank you so much for coming on and unpacking the crappy diet culture stuff that’s circulating in our countries.

Summer Innanen: Thank you so much for having me. I loved chatting with you. I loved, yeah, just kind of dissecting all this stuff. Yeah.

Louise Adams: All the rage. So thank you for getting it off your chest and thanks for coming on.

Summer Innanen: Thank you so much, Louise.


Resources Mentioned in the Show: (Major trigger warning – all of these sharticles discuss weight loss in excruciating detail !!)

The lady who lost weight to look like Barbie

Woody the Weight loss guru Malamute

The horrendous Keto plus fasting diet that claimed to be inspiring us (the same method that spiralled Summer’s eating disorder)

The Good Housekeeping article “The unbearable weight of diet culture”

Find more about the wonderful Summer Innanen here

Summer’s wonderful podcast Eat The Rules