You’re Thanksgiving Full, Is It Time to Diet?

I sincerely hope you enjoyed every bite of delicious food and did not worry about calories, food rules, or anything but your comfort, joy and happiness.

Usually, my clients come back from Thanksgiving feeling guilty.

Even if you got “stuffed like the turkey” it happens to us all and as you probably noticed it goes away with time to “rest and digest.” You may have even noticed you felt better after a nice brisk walk with family or play time with kiddos.

If you have guilt for overeating, or some emotional eating check in with yourself. Is it your “diet brain” talking? Is it the fear of weight gain?

After you get curious about your guilt, forgive yourself immediately! I’m not talking about apologizing for indulging. I’m talking about forgiving yourself for feeling guilty.

Last time I checked lots of people indulged on Thanksgiving.  There is no special reason you should feel bad. Even if you got too full, even if you felt uncomfortable, I’m 100% confident you weren’t the only one.

There’s a reason we use “Thanksgiving full” as the 9 out of 10 on the fullness scale I use with clients. It’s that once-a-year full (OK maybe more often than once, but it’s not what you usually do at most meals and snacks. You wouldn’t because it’s not comfortable.)

Practice Loving Kindness

If you would like to practice self-forgiveness, try the Loving Kindness Meditation (or Metta) which has been shown to increase positive emotions and happiness.


Over the next several weeks I will be sharing a series of posts that focus on the practice of Intuitive Eating and how our relationship with food influences our happiness. Before you consider your next diet, hear me out on why you should reconsider…

Why Diets Don’t Work

As anyone who has ever been on a diet knows, it is difficult to permanently and safely lose weight. Why is this? It seems straightforward – calories in, calories out, right? Actually, one of the biggest problems associated with weight concerns is that most people have problems discerning the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger.

Take a minute to think about what your weight was the first time you went on a diet…now where is your weight? With each diet we often end up regaining all the weight we lost, plus more. Why is this? When we diet we are manipulating our metabolism — slowly depriving it of the fuel it needs. Over time it becomes very “efficient” by slowing down so it is able to function on minimal energy. This makes it very difficult to maintain any weight loss and over time our set-point weight creeps higher and higher.

What Matters Most

I would like to invite everyone to think about what matters most in your life? Often we think we will be happier if we lose weight, but take a second to think about what in your life will change when you lose the weight?

  • Will your friends and family still love you?
  • Will you still have the same job?
  • Will all the things that make you happy still make you happy?

Our lives really don’t change unless we change our habits. And if you’ve been on even one diet and stopped it, you know that it didn’t do squat for your habits. Instead of focusing on your weight, focus on your habits and how they make you feel.

It’s not just weight loss that won’t make you happy. Jobs, relationships, money and others also don’t do much for you for very long. Read 7 happiness myths you should stop believing from researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside.

Join in #WhatMattersMost

What matters more in your life than counting calories or dieting? I’d love to hear from you! Share your tweet or snap a picture using the hashtag #whatmattersmost. Stay tuned, next week we will be discussing emotional hunger and how you can respond in useful ways.




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.

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.

How Many People Are Making This “Health” Mistake?

“Diet.” Just reading that word probably gives you flashbacks to all the magazine and diet book promises that failed … and brings up a running list in your head of popular diet trends, and celebrity-sponsored programs we can’t seem to escape when we turn on the TV or log onto Facebook. Many people (maybe you?) think the only way to manage your weight is to go on one of these diets. Wrong.

I’ve been on tons of diets in my heydey. They all made me feel like crap. The only thing that worked was me changing my habits in a realistic way that I could live with forever. But don’t just take my word for it, check out the science.


What You Lose When You Diet

According to research, the weight-loss industry brings in at least $55.4 billion in revenue per year [Marketdata Enterprises 2007] yet it is reported that a staggering 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years (Grodstein, Levine, Spencer, Colditz, &Stampfer, 1996; Neumark-Sztainer, Haines, Wall, & Eisenberg, 2007).

With such a high percentage of people regaining all of that lost weight, it makes you wonder what the point of dieting was in the first place. Cutting out foods you love, or refusing to give your body the nutrients it needs is not only be damaging to your body, but also can lower your self-esteem, have a negative impact on your sleep, and end up causing other issues like binge-eating or even more unwanted weight gain.

Even Rock Stars Can’t Avoid Body Bashing

Our societal standards for thinness are so bad that even mega (super strong) rock star Pink can’t avoid the body bullies. Girl does acrobatics on her tours and clearly has the physical capabilities to entertain. I love her response score one for happiness and two for “leave me alone.”


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Ditch Dieting Wednesday May 6, 2015 (and Every Day)

Join me in celebrating International No Diet Day. It’s a day to celebrate the way you love to eat, move, and live your life. Give yourself a break from all the restrictions you might have set on yourself and commit to finding new, realistic, and sustainable habits you love.

5 Ways to Celebrate No Diet Day:

  1. Take a break from the scale. If you’re still fitting into, and rocking your favorite outfits, why bother stepping on the scale? Seeing a certain unwanted number can easily lower our self-esteem and ruin our day.Break out of scale jail with me today and celebrate your body! No Diet Day is a day to celebrate all parts of you, so why give something as insignificant as “a number” so much power? (And if you’re saying, it’s not the number, I just want the cellulite to go away. I’m calling that the same thing. Your value is based on weight or shape.)
  1. Nothing is off limits! For today, eat exactly what you want. Throughout the day, notice how good it feels to give yourself permission to eat that ice cream from your freezer or that fresh banana bread you’ve been meaning to try at the local coffee shop. (resource: my mindful eating blog post). If you normally live under “food rules” don’t be surprised if you say “yes” to cravings more often than you would like. You’ll simmer down once you realize you can enjoy all foods. (Note: my clients who struggle with compulsive eating report they actually decrease the “guilt foods” because they stop saying “screw it, let’s go big…” and they just eat like they expect everyone else enjoys chips – a few handfuls, not a bag.

Emma Stone

  1. Keep a journal. No diet day is a great day for you to take a break from that calorie counter app and reflect on all of the ways you take care of yourself. Write down some examples all day long, and after reading them over, reflect on how they make you feel.
  • Did you enjoy your exercise?
  • Did you get a good nights sleep?
  • Are you taking a break to focus on your meal instead of shoving something in your mouth while running to your 5th meeting – and it’s only 10 a.m.???? (I can’t be the only one who gets stuck rushing.)
  1. Do a detox (just kidding). Today is definitely not about detoxing from that banana bread we talked about. However, today is the perfect excuse to take a step back and detox from the entire dieting world. We all have those blogs and magazines we follow which leave us feeling like what we’re doing and who we are isn’t enough. Today, take the time today to question whether or not repeatedly checking these resources is a healthy habit. If you find that these blogs are doing nothing but worsening your problems and the way you feel about yourself, spend some time during the day to seek out more positive resources that will help you feel good about your choices.
  1. Make peace with you. While taking care of your health is definitely a great priority to have, it is also important to realize that health is not about dieting or looking like the photoshopped models in magazines. As women, we are constantly being bombarded by different opinions on how we should look, and what size jeans we should be fitting into at a certain age. These external opinions can make it very hard to remember that you are not just a dress size or number on a scale. You are a real human being with feelings. Today, try to focus on thinking of yourself in a compassionate, and accepting light. What else is more important than loving yourself for exactly who you are?

For more on National No Diet Day, join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag: #NoDietDay.

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Sorting Out Fact From Fiction: The Gluten-Free Diet Craze

Gluten free diets have become the latest weight loss “fad”. I think one of the reasons this trendy way of eating has evolved is that rather than working on incorporating balance and moderation into meals and snacks, it can be easier to cut something out altogether – whether that’s wheat, dairy or something else. What people may not know who are following a gluten-free diet for weight control, is that many times when gluten is removed from processed foods, sugar, fat and butter are often added to improve the taste.

wheat For most of us, there really is no medical reason to eliminate gluten. In fact, many gluten-containing foods can be very nourishing (ex: whole grain bread and barley). As this article summarizes, there really are only three true reasons to avoid gluten (and I’m sure it’s no surprise to hear that none of them are weight loss related):

  1. An autoimmune condition like celiac disease in which the presence of gluten actually alters the intestine and causes malabsorption and other GI issues like pain and diarrhea. This diagnosis can be made by a biopsy and blood test.
  2. An allergy, which would have symptoms that might appear similar to any other allergy – hives, sneezing, etc. This can’t be tested easily, but is evaluated similar to other allergies based on visible symptoms.
  3. An intolerance/sensitivity which may have symptoms like abdominal bloating, but can’t be accurately tested for.

I recently did a series of videos with the #OWNshow and @OWNTV which covered a number of gluten-related topics, including an overview of what gluten is, if going gluten-free makes sense for weight loss, identifying hidden sources of gluten in some foods, and uncovering some sneaky truths about some gluten-free products that are on the market today. Watch each video below: Can You Lose Weight By Going Gluten-Free?  Weight Loss Gluten Free

The Sneaky Truth of Some Gluten-Free Products  Sneaky Truth Gluten Free Products Could You Be Eating Gluten and Not Know It?  Hidden Gluten The Gluten Guide: What is Gluten Really? Gluten Guide  What do you think about the gluten-free diet trend? To join the conversation about going gluten-free, leave a comment below, use the hashtag #OWNSHOW on twitter, or check out the OWN TV Facebook page.