What Should We Do About #DearFatPeople?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past week, by now you’ve have heard of, read about, or watched the offensive and shaming #DearFatPeople video Nicole Arbour created in the name of “comedy”. You may have even seen one of the responses, which at least this awful video gets people talking and saying “this sh*t ain’t right.”

There is a lot of chatter going on about the idea of fat shaming, summed up to “it’s bullying” and “it’s never OK.” I agree. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been supporting Association for Size Diversity and Health (I’m a member) Health at Every Size and their collaboration with Women’s Health Magazine in their #StopTheShame campaign on Twitter.

The Gasoline for Weight Stigma

In thinking about what I could possibly contribute that would add to the “this is not OK” conversation, I was immediately drawn to exploring what fuels weight stigma in the first place. The first thing that comes to mind, is the idea of dieting. In our desperation to conform to societal thin ideals, we diet. Instead of exercising and eating well because we love our bodies, it’s because we hate them. We compare. We despair.

It’s Not Just Adults Who Diet. It starts Early.

I have been working on a blog and infographic on teens and dieting. The fact that I’m even having to do this is sad. It sucks. As a mom of two, I dread my girls feeling the pull of dieting like I did by 12 years old.
What I want to know is, what should we do about it? Let me know in the comments below.

A 10-year study looked at dieting, unhealthy and extreme weight control behaviors, and binge eating to determine if engaging in these behaviors during adolescence increased the risk for continuing them into young adulthood.  The study involved 2,287 adolescents and young adults that were about half female and half non-white and divided participants into a younger group (average age ~13) and an older group (average age ~16).

At the beginning of the study approximately 50% females and 25% of males reported dieting in the past year. For females and younger males, this number stayed consistent through young adulthood.  The number of dieters in the older male group actually increased as the study progressed.

Over 50% of females and 33% of males engaged in unhealthy weight control behaviors at the start of the study.  Particularly alarming was that extreme weight control behaviors including diet pill use in all groups, and laxative use in young females increased significantly over the 10 year period.

Overall, those who reported dieting at the beginning of the study were more likely to continue this behavior.  The same result was seen in regards to unhealthy and extreme weight control behaviors and binge eating.

Other studies have linked dieting to weight gain, binge eating, disordered eating, and eating disorders.  One study of 17,000 kids found that those who dieted were 8-12 times more likely to engage in binge eating than those who never dieted.  Researchers from this study actually suggested that dieting may be at the root of the current obesity epidemic!  These results were echoed in a twin study which showed that the weight gain associated with dieting is independent of genetic predisposition to weight gain.

This video provides more details on these studies.



These findings, suggest that we need to prevent these behaviors before they start.


Young people with weight concerns need to be guided towards healthy behaviors, including intuitive eating and physical activity and away from destructive dieting.

Healthy behaviors can start at home.  Practice intuitive and mindful eating as a family.  Focus on eating for physical hunger as opposed to emotional hunger. Also make fitness a family activity.  Everyone can benefit from healthful eating and exercise, get the whole family involved in the healthy lifestyle and DITCH the DIET!

For more information from Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and her work with Intuitive Eating click here

Source: Neumark-Sztainer, D; Wall, M; Larson, NI; Eisenberg, ME; Loth, K. Dieting and disordered eating behaviors from adolescence to young adulthood: findings from a 10-year longitudinal study. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Jul;111(7):1004-11.

So… what should we do about #DearFatPeople?

I think one thing we need to do is loudly say that no amount of fat shaming is OK (and we need to listen to people who have been shamed!) They will tell you that family, friends, and medical professionals make them feel shame when they push and push and push for weight loss over healthy lifestyle as the goal. (At least that is what I hear time and again.) It’s as if their love is conditional. That’s just sad. What if someone makes the changes they want and don’t weigh what you think they should. Are you OK with that? I think we need to realize it’s not up for judgement. If we care about weight shaming, we need to also care about healthism, the idea that you can’t push health on people. Read what I have to say about it.

What Do You Think?

What do you think we should do about weight shame, stigma, dieting etc.? What were some of the best response articles and videos you found? Do you have a fat shame story? Share in the comments below.

4 Reasons to Stop Calorie Counting For Good

I quit calorie counting!

Count calories, lose weight, and be happy, right??? Not necessarily so. Here are my 4 reasons why calorie counting is not the best use of your time – and what I think is more worth it instead.

Reason 1: 3,500 calories per pound is a myth.

You may have heard that if you eat 500 fewer calories a day, you will lose a pound a week. By this logic if a 170 pound woman eating 2500 calories a day, altered her diet to consume 2,000 calories she would lose 26 pounds in 6 months. After 3 years she would weigh only 14 pounds! If that sounds crazy, it’s because it is.

Here’s the truth: This old model of weight loss completely leaves out the fact that as we eat less, our body adapts burning fewer calories which means fewer pounds lost. Actual weight loss is a much more complicated and dynamic process. Better models of weight loss do exist and you can see one of them here.  But, even with this newer model, it does not mean we’ve “finally cracked the code.”  Because…

Here’s another truth: A certain amount of weight loss may not be good, healthy, or even accessible to you. We are all different shapes and sizes. Genetics has a major impact on how much weight you can lose along with changes to habits that are realistic and sustainable.

If you feel like you have good, realistic habits and you just can’t get the scale to budge, consider that you may be at a good-weight-for-your-body place. This is something only you can determine with the proper health practitioner whom you trust.

Regardless, the 3,500 calories per pound is a dangerous oversimplification that sets all of us up for failure.

read more: break out of scale jail (blog post)

watch: size diversity (video)

Reason 2: It’s a Distraction. Calorie counting interferes with listening to your body.

When you choose foods based on calories instead of hunger, you lose touch of whether or not you actually need to eat. Instead, stay in touch with your internal hunger and fullness cues.

Try eating more intuitively. Listen to what your body needs. Give it the fuel it needs and let it tell you when you have had enough. The more we ignore these signals the harder they are to hear, try replacing calorie counting with listening to your body.

Get more information on intuitive eating.

Reason 3: Mistakes, Mistakes, Mistakes

There are several apps and websites encouraging us to input what we eat so it can tell us how many calories we consumed for weight loss.

There are 2 problems here. First, these programs are based on the 3,500 calorie myth. Second, this assumes that the program knows exactly what we are eating and how many calories it contains.

How do you log the lunch from your favorite restaurant or your mother-in-law’s lasagna? The calorie calculations from these programs are not without error and you may make mistakes in estimating portions or ingredients. (You are human.)

How does relying heavily on calorie tracking help you, especially if the estimates are inaccurate? It’s like a GPS that can’t take you to your destination.

If calories help you learn about nutrition or make choices, don’t let me get in your way, but how can you use it as a guide more than a rule book and still practice your intuitive eating skills, flexibility, and self-trust?

Reason 4: It’s A Joyless Job

What about the pleasure of eating? Focusing on calories is exhausting and makes it hard to enjoy the foods we are eating. Whether it is a salad, fries, or a dessert, eat what you love (it’s your choice).

Instead of calorie counting, take the time to enjoy your food with all your senses. Don’t let the calories give you permission to eat. Go ahead and have fun with food. This is how we can feel satisfied instead of deprived, which can lead to overeating for many people anyway.

If this sounds like scary territory, set a boundary for yourself that you think is reasonable.

I Quit…

Years ago I used to put my hope into calorie counting. I’m over it. Instead, I do things that feel good, energizing, and fun. I don’t ignore my eating habits. I pay solid attention to them. I pay attention to my need for food, what I would enjoy, and how to make it more balanced. I quit calorie counting and instead put trust in myself to keep myself in check.

Do you have a special “I quit” story? Please share it in the comments below.  Or post a question to me if there is anything else I can help with.

3 Dieting Myths I No Longer Believe After Reading ‘Beyond a Shadow of a Diet’

By: Sarah Bousquet, American University student and Intern

beyond a shadow of a diet

I recently read ‘Beyond a Shadow of a Diet’, by Judith Matz and Ellen Frankel.  This book discusses the negative impact of dieting on our society and why dieting does the opposite of the intended goal of losing weight.  The authors also focus on how weight and BMI are not accurate representations of health and wellness, and what we as individuals and as a society can do to better understand our health and our bodies.  There were many myths about dieting and weight that were debunked throughout the book, but these three stuck out to me the most.


Myth 1: Diets help you lose weight

  • As the book proves, dieting has the opposite affect on your body.  Through dieting, certain foods that are deemed ‘bad’ by our society become forbidden, and therefore the dieter will have an increased desire to eat these foods. Although dieting can initially help you lose weight, the authors show that after about 2 years approximately 95% of dieters gain the weight back, or enter into a ‘yo-yo’ system of dieting which leads to gaining and losing weight over and over again.  This is detrimental to the health because when dieting the body will begin to burn muscle and fat, so when the dieter gains the weight back they will gain it in fat and lose overall muscle mass, and therefore their health will be in a worse state than at the beginning.

Myth 2: BMI is an accurate depicter of health

  • BMI was originally used to show the weight and general health of the population, not the health of the individuals.  BMI standards for overweight and obese has changed in 1998, creating a new basis for what is considered ‘normal BMI’.  BMI is not an indicator of health, only an indicator of a person’s overall body mass index.  Since BMI is not an indicator of health, the number of your BMI is not nearly as important as treating your body right and, as the book states, being fit is much more important than losing weight or being thin.  There is no correct body shape or weight, and, according to the authors, “a range of female body shapes celebrate life, renewal, and growth”.

Myth 3: Weight is an indicator of health, and obesity causes health problems and diseases.

  • Weight actually has little to do with fitness and health, and therefore is not an accurate indicator of health. Everyones bodies are different, and people who are considered ‘overweight’ can be much healthier than people who are considered ‘normal’. The idea that obesity can cause health problems and diseases are not founded on facts, and studies that were done on obesity tended to be biased, because the doctors who have run those studies in the past were found to work for pharmaceutical companies that were releasing weight loss drugs.

The book ‘Beyond a Shadow of a Diet’ is working to end the stigma that is associated to weight and end the weight bias.  They recognize that body shape, size and weight are not evidence of any particular way of eating or level of health.  They are trying to show that mindfulness, or bringing awareness to your own health and eating without judgement or expectation will lead to self acceptance.

Join the #Spring2Wellness Challenge Today (3 more weeks left)

Spring (1)Since the start of spring, over 1,000 people have been enjoying their time learning new tips for motivation, recipes and workouts absolutely FREE with my latest challenge, “Spring 2 Wellness.”

It’s not to late to join in. We have three more weeks left of weekly challenge emails. Sign up here.

After you complete it, I’ll be sharing my 7-day “feel good guide” (also free). Then you’ll get messages from me ongoing 1-2 times a month, with some of my favorite tools, tips and resources right to your inbox.

Read on if you would like to catch up and get some wellness in your life instantly! Next challenge goes out Friday April 25th,

Spring 2 Wellness Week 1

Week 1 was all about goal setting.

Your intention is your commitment to take action. Start by (1) get a clear on what you want and why you want it and (2) WRITE IT DOWN or it isn’t happening.

I will ______ on (or by) ________.

Check out this link for more goal setting tips 9 Habits For a Happier Healthier Life

Sign up for the challenge

Spring2Wellness Week 2

Week 2: plan, plan, plan.

You know the saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Even if you can eek by without planning, imagine how much more could you get done with healthy living if you plan. You save time, you’re more clear on your goals, and you’re more likely to stick to them when you feel like bailing.

Learn how to meal plan like a boss.  Meal planning makes grocery shopping much more efficient (saving you time and money), and keeps your mind set on eating healthy.

Sign up for the challenge

Spring2Wellness Week 3

Week 3: Move to the rhythm of the work out

Turn something dreadful into something less dreadful.  Let’s face it, you may not feel like working out at all.  It’s tiring, takes up time or uncomfortable.  It’s OK.  Do it anyway.

Use music as a distraction and it can make your workouts more fun.  Think of some of your favorite songs, create a play list, and I dare you not to move to them!

Sign up for the challenge

Spring2Wellness Week 4

Week 4’s challenge was all about meditation.

While I love yoga, I could never seem to get into meditation. My brain is constantly thinking, moving from one idea to the next. Trying to control or stop my thoughts seems like the opposite of what I am supposed to do.

However, after trying to give my self 1 to 5 minutes every morning to just do nothing, I could see how it helped me feel more positive and energized for a great day. I got a real boost to my health and happiness.

I wrote an article published on US News: Health, check it out, it talks more about Mediation and how and why you should try it.

Sign up for the challenge

Spring2Wellness Week 5

Are you dying to know? Sign up for the challenge and you’ll see what’s up my sleeve next.

California Walnuts Harvest Tour


By: Michelle Burton, RD at Capitol Nutrition Group and Rebecca Scritchfield Media, LLC

Last week I had the pleasure of venturing out to Sacramento and the California Central Valley for the California Walnuts Harvest Tour. I experienced the autumn walnut harvest first hand, sampled a number of AMAZING dishes featuring this star ingredient, and learned about new research that’s coming out related to walnuts. I hope you’ll enjoy this brief photo journal of my trip, and that it will inspire you to incorporate walnuts into your everyday!

Walnuts Shaking

Donald Norene, his wife, and his son all took us on a tour of their family’s walnut orchard — Norene Ranches. They have a spectacular 750 acres of his farm dedicated to walnuts. He explained that you know when the walnut trees are ready for shaking when you can throw one on the ground and it’s outer shell comes right off. They showed us the tree shaking live which was very cool. It was wonderful getting to taste fresh walnuts right off the tree.

walnut sweeping

After the walnuts are shaken off the trees, they’re swept into piles, “vacuumed” up, and shuttled to a central location for the next step in their harvest journey — hulling.

walnut hulling

The walnuts arrive at the huller where the green outer shell is removed along with other sticks and debris. Then they’re cleaned, dried, and loaded into trucks to be sent to the local processing plant (which we were also able to tour). It was amazing to see the technology involved with sorting, shelling and packaging the walnuts for commercial distribution.

walnut orchard lunch

Wine & Roses put together a beautiful lunch for us in the orchard featuring a number of dishes that showcased the unique flavor and versatility of walnuts. It started with a caramelized onion, fig and walnut flatbread, followed by a squash, apple and walnut slaw salad, then a walnut quinoa salad with grilled chicken, and the finale was THE best caramel walnut cheesecake that I’ve EVER had. I’ll be sure to share that recipe once I get my hands on it!

walnut cooking demo

We came together again that evening for a food demo by Chef and Owner of Mulvaney’s B&L Restaurant, Patrick Mulvaney. He prepared a roasted chili in walnut sauce, and we dined on a salad of heirloom tomatoes with chunky walnut pesto and fettuccine with walnuts and squash among other fabulous walnut creations. During a nutrition presentation by Registered Dietitian, Heidi Diller, I was intrigued to find out that new research is coming out showing a potential link between walnuts and increased fertility in men. They’re planning to continue research in this area, but definitely some promising information!

Looking to satisfy your walnut craving?

You can find a number of easy and delicious recipes on the California Walnuts website at www.walnuts.org.


Disclosure: My attendance at the California Walnuts Harvest Tour was sponsored by California Walnuts, but I was not compensated to write this blog.