We all want to be healthy, but is dieting the answer? Diets have a high failure rate, and many side effects, not the least of which is an increase in stress response and a decrease in quality of life. That’s why episode 25 of The Positively Living Podcast is about ditching diet culture and eating intuitively!
Have you ever dieted? I’m going to take a wild guess and assume you said yes especially if you live in the U.S. I have dieted, many times. And while it hasn’t been all bad — I have learned a lot about myself and learned to love vegetables more — I am still relieved to be beyond those extremes. The thing is, I wasn’t obsessed with dieting. I didn’t grow up thinking I had to but rather chose it later in life when I was unhappy with my body and my life and I wanted to make a change. And when I did, I didn’t join groups that do weigh-ins and didn’t purchase meals to eat. And still it overtook my life as I spent money on very specific foods and a ton of time researching how to do things just right..or what I thought was just right. And, worse yet I was reminded at every turn of what I wasn’t doing right.
We all want to be healthy, but is dieting the answer? My guest today says no, and I’m with her. Diets have a high failure rate. And many side effects, not the least of which is an increase in stress response and a decrease in quality of life, which I know sounds counterintuitive despite what they claim and what we are led to believe. So how do we ditch the diet yet still find a way to be healthy? That’s what we’re talking about today.
Megan Hadley is a registered dietitian nutritionist and an expert in Intuitive Eating practices. Through her private practice, Simple Nutrition, in Greensboro, NC and membership Fork the Food Rules, she helps people who are frustrated by their food and body struggles stop the exhausting work of trying to find and follow the “right” eating plan and start experiencing the freedom, confidence and health that comes with being more intuitive with food and body. By helping people realize that eating does not have to be as complicated as the diet industry makes it out to be, that it can be simple, she helps people create space in their lives for what matters most to them.
You can see why I wanted her to join us, right? Megan’s approach is focused on simplicity, self-compassion, and data-supported choices for us to truly live well. And she does so with something called intuitive eating.
Today our conversation highlighted dieting: what it is, why it doesn’t work, and what you can do about it. But we also cover body positivity, curiosity, and self-awareness…because all of it applies to the weight loss world we live in today.
We are immersed in diet culture that we often cannot see. The signs that you are experiencing it are when you hear or use evaluative words like “right” and “wrong” and “cheating” when it comes to food and movement and when the only goal is to change our bodies without considering all the other factors of wellness. Megan shares how everything about diet culture is asking us to be disconnected from what we need and how we can care for ourselves best. She describes the judgement we have brought to eating and how we have made nutrition so complicated. Why is it that we value complex over simple? I’ve noticed this in productivity as well and you’ll hear in our conversation so many overlaps like this. It’s time to embrace simple and trust ourselves again.
Megan debunks the myths that weight correlates to health and shares how her clients’ behaviors are the real indicators. She shares studies and data that may surprise you about BMI indicators and one of the most frustrating things for all dieters: that weight loss is a predictor of weight gain. We also cover the ironic and frustrating experience of how those who are overweight can be marginalized which, in and of itself, will elicit the stress response and all its health problems as I described it in episode 7.
Megan also talks about eating and movement as part of our self-care choice. This idea ties back well to episodes 10 Building Resilience through Self Care and 16 Self-care as a Business Strategy. How we nourish ourselves and how we show up for life…it’s deeply connected.
She mentions a book called “Body Respect” by Lindo Bacon — yes, I love that last name too — and Lucy Aphramor. Lindo Bacon also wrote Health at Every Size. When I first learned about Intuitive Eating, I read a book by that title. I’ll link to those in the show notes. But as with most changes, I find that a support system to go with trusted resources will help you most. If you are ready to ditch the diet, whether you’re dipping your toe in the pool or diving into the deep end head first, I highly recommend following Megan on social media and through her site simplenutritioncounseling.com. Be sure to sign up for her Fork the Food Rules email – a monthly email that contains a carefully curated list of things that she’s found to help you on your Intuitive Eating and body positivity journey.
Thank you for listening! Be sure to tune in to all the episodes to receive tons of practical tips to create space for what really matters in your life
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CONNECT WITH MEGAN HADLEY:
CONNECT WITH LISA ZAWROTNY:
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
Self Care as a Business Strategy with Stacie Walker – Episode 16
Music by Ian and Jeff Zawrotny