In today’s podcast we talk with Jessika Brown about diet culture, intuitive eating, why intuitive eating is important and beneficial and how to say NO to diet culture.
Jessika Brown is a registered dietitian certified in eating disorder (CEDRD) and supervisor (CEDRD-S), as well as certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD) and has 10 years’ experience in the health and wellness industry. Jess is Director of nutrition at Eating Disorders Treatment Center as well as an associate professor at the University of New Mexico. Check out Jess’s TEDx talk: “A Healthy Cause to Find a Healthy You.”
Jess: #1 takeaway: Your body is so much more trustworthy than you given it credit for!
Jess favorite books:
1. The Intuitive Eating Workbook
2. Beat Body Bullying – eBook by Jessika Brown
Coupon code for 20% OFF is wholehealthempowerment20
Website: Jess Brown, RD | Fuel Your Awesome
Podcast: Fuel her awesome!
TS: Hi guys, welcome back to the show. So I am so excited for today’s episode. We are going to have a fellow dietician on to talk about intuitive eating her name is Jess Brown. She’s amazing. You know, in the past, we’ve talked a lot about different forms of eating, but intuitive eating is, is something completely different that I knew that I really couldn’t do justice and talking about it. And so Jess is here to talk about it and she’s just a font of, Oh my God of knowledge. And she’s just giving you guys so much, it’s just so much of her during this episode, which is pretty great. So I wanted to tell you a little bit about just before we get started, like I said, she is a fellow dietician, just like I am. And so her specialty is, you know, she’s a certified eating disorders, dietician, she’s also a supervisor.
TS: So what that means is, is if a dietician wants to learn about eating disorders, just as someone that they can work under and she can teach them and supervise them in their process. But she’s also a certified specialist in sports dietetics. So she’s basically, she’s a sports dietician too. So she’s got a whole bunch of stuff. That’s pretty awesome. And so you’re going to see that in whole, her knowledge achieved that she shares with us today. She is currently director of nutrition at eating disorders treatment center. She is an associate professor at the university of New Mexico, and she runs a virtual apprentice, which is awesome right in New Mexico. And she has this great podcast that if you’re somebody who has in the past, struggled with disordered eating or eating disorders, or even if you have a daughter that you’re worried about your language and how you’re speaking and how that can impact her, you should listen to it.
TS: It’s pretty great. It’s her podcast is called fuel her awesome check out justice, Ted talk X, which is kind of healthy cause to find a healthy you, when Jess isn’t working, she is somewhere in the mountains with a cup of coffee in hand. So where else can we find jazz online? You can find email@example.com. You can find her on Instagram at Jess Brown RD as in registered dietician. And again, I talked about her awesome podcast, which is called a fuel, her awesome. One other thing I wanted to know is that Jess also has an ebook that you can find on her website, which is called peak body bullying, which I think everybody could benefit being a woman and having, you know, that diet culture in our ear all the time. So in the show notes, there’s a coupon code. So you guys can go there and get a discount off of her ebook.
TS: So let’s welcome Jess to the show. Hi guys. Welcome back to the show. So today I’m so excited to have Michelle. We have Jess Brown, she is registered dietician and she specializes in eating disorders or welcome to the show, Jess, I’m so happy that you’re here. I am so to be here. Thanks for having me. You know, I have so many questions. I feel like on podcast, we talk a lot about, you know, accepting your body and we talk about like diet culture. So it’s so great to get some, you know, get a real professional who really knows what she’s talking about when it comes to this topic. So thank you so much for being here and sharing your time with us.
JB: Oh, of course. I always joke, like anywhere people will give me a microphone to talk about this stuff. I mean, so thank you for having me and just being open to this discussion because I think it is a, it’s a fun one. Obviously I’m biased though, because that’s what I do.
TS: That’s great. So let’s start, let’s like just, let’s just dig in and let’s just talk about diet culture and let’s talk about intuitive eating. Cause I think that I think it’s something that we hear a lot, but nobody really seems to know what it encompasses. So can you kind of just give us like kind of an idea of what it all is
JB: Totally. And I think they’re buzzwords, right? Like intuitive eating and diet culture have become something very popular in social media, even news articles. I mean, intuitive eating was one of the top diet buzzwords last year, which is interesting. Yeah. So I think because of that, there’s some room for misinterpretation. So I love that you started with this question, diet culture in essence is the system of beliefs that values appearance over actual health. So in other words, it’s like we are wanting someone to be thin or look fit without with while sacrificing their overall health. So, you know, I see that a lot on like fitspo and Instagram influencers that are really promoting like a specific fitness is really what is new now? It’s not so much like the thin ideal, but so if they’re promoting like a fit body, it’s a, it might be totally something they’re doing in a healthy way, but we don’t know that it could be some, you know, they could be sacrificing social events, it could be sacrificing sanity sleep to push their body to a level that’s just not quite healthy. So it’s really focusing on appearance over actual health. So that’s diet culture.
TS: So it just means that like, when you were saying diet culture too, it’s like, so something in your life is probably like a little bit more imbalanced. Is that what you mean? Like you’re having like this whole health like that you’re having exercises just like a part of your day. It kind of like becomes a priority over other things and that you’re sacrificing not doing other things to work out and to maintain that level of appearance. Is that what you mean?
JB: Yes, absolutely. So, and like take a diet, for example. So keto, some people might take keto and do really well with it and run with it while other people might take on keto and sacrifice their sanity and planning. You know, they might sacrifice family meals, which is really important. They might sacrifice just so much can come with that. And then it, you know, it puts foods into good and bad categories. And so it’s really focusing on appearance and like forgetting like the social and emotional components of food and really the physical too, because sometimes in keto, if you don’t do it in this very specific way, you can Rob yourself of right. And then again, we’re focused on weight, not overall health. Yeah. Gotcha. Yeah, totally. So yeah. That’s diet culture in a nutshell.
TS: When we talk about intuitive eating, what does that mean?
JB: So intuitive eating is, again, I think there’s room for misinterpretation and the buzzword. Sometimes people think it’s eat whatever you want whenever you want. And there’s really a lot more to it. It’s, it’s this balance of like external nutrition, knowledge and internal awareness of what your body is biologically telling you in response to food. So it’s really balancing those two components and learning to navigate your food choices based on those two things, which is very, very different than eat, whatever you want when you want to feel it. And so if you really dive into it, there’s about there’s 10 steps that are associated with intuitive eating and it looks at breaking down diet culture, really walking away from using the scale as the main validation, honoring your hunger, listening to your body when it feels satiated and enjoying food, it finds value in how food tastes. I mean, all of these things that diet culture really cuts out of nutritional considerations.
TS: Yeah. I think that, that makes a lot of sense because I think that a lot of times it’s you’re right. Like it’s like you’re, I think that’s what the big part of it is. Like learning to identify when you’re hungry, when you’re satiated and kind of, what’s kind of going on with the bigger picture is as opposed to just like I’m going to eat steak. Cause I feel like, and I think that you’re right, like there’s a, there’s a big part of intuitive eating. So can you kind of take us through some of the steps? I mean, I know we talked a little bit about culture in general and then kind of like having, like we’ve talked before about like the hunger scale, but you can probably do a little bit more of that. Just like trying to figure out when you’re hungry and then kind of the other stuff is going on that isn’t true. Hungry.
JB: Yeah. I think that’s great. Cause that’s really where we start is usually what I do is I start step one, let’s detox some of the diet culture mentality that you have. So we have to kind of pull back the, you know, my goal is to lose 10 pounds and, and we try to pull back on some of that because really it’s like, what does 10 pounds provide? Maybe 10 pounds will be what happens, but focusing on that doesn’t really get people anywhere. So we try to peel back some of that, that diet culture stuff really focus on instead. Like that’s a great question. Yeah.
TS: I don’t like, I mean, I know I do that sometimes run like this is going to be this ideal number and it’s perfect and everything’s going to be great my life and it is not in fact a all trail.
JB: That’s a great question. So I focus on things like energy level sleep. I do this a 90 day vision statement. So it’s like in 90 days, what do you want your health and lifestyle to look like? And how does health support your lifestyle and your values? So it’s really trying to connect their food and health patterns or their food and exercise patterns with like what their values are. And, um, yeah, energy is a big one. If people are really focused on body, cause it’s hard to get people to detach from weight or silhouette or muscle mass, um, I will say, well, let’s go based on how your clothes fit. You know, how do, how are your pants fitting? And we pull on your pants, how do you feel? Do you feel like you like it or are you still bummed out about it? And that can be just as much information without getting so tied up on a number which fluctuates so much. I mean, you know, that it fluctuates like crazy.
TS: Yeah. But I think that people are like, Oh, but if I do it everyday, I think the number then just gets to be like a whole crazy like obsession. Oh, well then I ate something. So then it didn’t show him the scale. So then I’m going to get like, it just gets crazy. It’s like a whole crazy cycle. So that’s why I was wondering how you start and peeling away that diet culture. Cause it feels like it’s so ingrained. I mean, if you’re working with someone who’s like 50 or 60 years old, that’s like 50 years worth of diet culture that you’re trying to undo. I just can’t imagine that that’s really easy.
JB: It’s not easy. And it’s something that I mean it’s kind of some job security in a way, which is really sad. It’s really, really sad. I always told my goal is for you to not need these pep talks, but I will be here to provide those pep talks as much as you need because yeah, they can have, it could have started in childhood. I mean, I was working with a gal yesterday. Who’s had a family member that as early as seven started telling her, you know, you just shouldn’t get so many chips. You don’t want to start gaining weight. Like those thoughts start so early. And if we need that constant like reminder, okay. But you know, you can do a lot regardless of your body size. What are you doing in your career? Look at the family. You’ve built like look at all these other things that have nothing to do with your body size. Nothing.
TS: No, but I think there’s so much value as women. Like we put so much value on how our parents and, and then just our weight. And then now with social media, I just think it enhances site cultures. And then everything is like, I should be doing 25,000 different things and look a certain way and have this much lean body mass. And it’s just, it’s a lot. That’s why I was wondering like how you start. So, okay. So you start to focus on like other factors besides the weight and then what happens as you go through the process.
JB: So we’ll start with their hunger and we’ll start with, I want you to eat when you’re hungry, whatever you want. And that’s kind of the honeymoon phase, you know, wait, whatever I want. And yes, I want Oreos for dinner, ice cream for breakfast. And you know, I just kind of say, okay, go for it. And we do this for a week because what can you do to your body in a week? I mean, you might gain a little bit, but really it’s not going to be catastrophic. But what happens is when people give themselves that space too, and that permission slip to just eat what they want when they’re hungry for this, this period of time, they’re able to like start to see how they feel when they do that. And in reality, if you have ice cream for breakfast and Oreos for dinner, like you’re not going to feel good, but when we remove like the, you should or shouldn’t do this and they just have the permission.
JB: So they’re able to feel that biological validation themselves, which is super important because now it’s like, I don’t want to have ice cream for breakfast because I don’t feel good, which is very different than I shouldn’t have ice cream for breakfast. And that’s an extreme example. I don’t think most people are eating ice cream for breakfast. So then they come back after a week and I’ll have the discussion with them. Like how did you feel? You know, having these foods and usually folks are, Oh, it was great. It was so nice to be able to eat these things. And then I’ll ask some of the biological feedback questions. What was your energy level? Like, how were you sleeping? How was your workout? I was like talking about bowel movements, you know, I’m like, what’s the poop and get all of that information. And then we put a little education in there to reinforce how the buyers responding to those foods and then help them decide what to do with that. And then in week two, we start to look at like the satisfaction factor. So I will use that hunger scale that you referenced, where it’s like, they say that they’re at level hunger, level four to start, and now I want them to track. What, where did they fall on that scale? Right. When they finish eating and then about 15 minutes after they finish eating. So that, that way they become aware of like the changes between right when I finished. And you know, when the, the hormones reached the brain 15 to 20 minutes later.
TS: Oh, because then that would be when they would really be satiated. interesting. Okay. Well that’s really interesting. Okay. Wait, how many weeks is this when you’re doing it? So you get to the first week, second week you’ve talked about, and then how long is the length of time?
JB: Well, usually I’ll, I’ll do like it totally depends. I mean, some people will sit in that hunger period for like a month because they need that. It, you know, it’s like if they’ve got 50 years of telling themselves they can’t eat stuff, they might need a little bit more time to explore that. And I always let them know when we’re in that period of time, look, the point of this isn’t weight loss. But when you’ve told yourself, you can’t eat these foods in the past, it hasn’t worked for you. So we’re going to just give you the permission and then we’ll follow up based on, you know, whatever we decide. And if you look at kids, I think kids are such great. They give us such great insight into intuitive eating. I mean, they do the same kind of stuff on Halloween. I don’t know how you are with your kids, but like, if I, yeah, me too, I’m like you have added, well, then they eventually go, Oh, I don’t feel so good. And then mine, actually this last Halloween, they woke up the next morning and were like, we’re just going to have one candy today.
JB: So that’s usually once I got like the hunger and satiety pieces down and they really spent time exploring that this is where I’ll come in with more of a structured meal planning. I have a few different ones that I use, but it’s like, well, map it out based on what their, their values and goals are. So if you’ve got, you know, 50 year old grandma that really wants to be able to play soccer with her kids, then we might be looking at something that has a little bit more protein in. It has more fruits and veggies just like, keep her body recovered, you know, things like that. And we’ll set it up and I’ll always say like, this is the roadmap, but this isn’t the rule. These are not the rules. So these are things to help guide you towards intentional eating. But we still want to pull in that hunger satiety scale because that’s going to let us know how to tweak this as we go. And that’s where I think it’s different than a lot of like diets that are out there. Cause they’re just like, here’s what you need to eat, period. Rather than like, let’s go ahead and use some of those skills that we laid at the foundation and let’s use that to mold what we’re going to do going,
TS: How do you get away from the good versus bad food? Cause I can see that on here so many times, but I don’t know how people like truly believe it unless you’re probably going through a process like, and working with someone like you.
JB: Yeah. Cause it totally because there’s no, because your body’s telling you what feels good and what doesn’t feel good. And it’s not that like foods are cause like the good or bad list. The thing I don’t like about it is like it’s very concrete or black and white. So, you know, I always have, I used donuts as an example. I can not lie to anyone and say, donuts are like healthy for you. Right? I mean, there’s nothing super like nutrient dense and a donut, but I go get donuts with my kids every Thursday. And there’s a lot of value in that and that’s an alignment with my value system. And so it’s like pulling that into the picture so that donuts aren’t good or bad, they’re just there. I have them in this setting and I, it’s an experience that I want to be a part of. And it’s more of like an eating an eating experience as opposed to just a good or bad food. Right.
TS: That’s actually, that’s really interesting. So you’re looking at as like the bigger picture of like what,
JB: Oh, I was just gonna say, cause so with intuitive eating, they pull on those two components, like the internal awareness and the biological feedback. And then they also pull on the external nutrition knowledge like fruits and veggies, proteins, you know, all that stuff that, that’s where we come in with. The model that I use at our practice is, um, those two with your values layered on top. And that’s exactly what we’re talking about here is like integrating the big picture. How does your health support, the things that you value the most in life? And for me, like my number one value is family. So donut Thursday with my family is totally in line with my value. Right?
TS: What happens like what usually ends up being the benefit in having or eating intuitively?
JB: I love that question because there’s actually a ton of research looking at like, long-term, Oh, I know this is where the we out. So there’s a lot that showing intuitive eating, especially when compared to calorie restriction or there’s something called flexible control, which is like kind of the 80 20 role, you know? So when they compare, which I think there’s a place for all eating patterns, but intuitive eating has looked at comparing those and found that they can still provide like the lower triglycerides, lower A1C, but they also provide things like improved. Self-efficacy better body image, less stress around food. So it’s really like pulling in, again, the mental component around food so we can get the physiological result just like we can with some of those other things. But now we have this whole extra benefit of like just having a good relationship with food, which we have to eat every day. You know, we have to figure out how to have that relationship be something that doesn’t cause us stress and is not taking up too much space in our life.
TS: And then what happens like in the long-term like, so I know, you know, I feel like with diet, if you’re on and off on and off, they’re right back, you know, maybe in five years, 10 years there’s guilt and their shame. So when it comes to intuitive eating, my guess is that there’s probably more longevity because it’s more lifestyle focused. Is that true?
JB: Yes, it absolutely is. And so people will get to this point where they could have just start trusting their body and you know, are feeling good with their food choice choices. And this is the food freedom place. And when people get here, I’m like run with this, you know, you call me when you, you know where to find me if you need me, but you just run with this. And eventually what happens is something will come up, something will change and then they’ll come back in because it’s like we had to tweak a little bit, you know, maybe there’s an education piece that needs to be filled. Like someone might get pregnant, obviously there’s a change there or hormonal changes, menopause, changing career. I mean, all of those things can impact our eating styles and eating patterns. So yeah, it’s kind of one of those, like, you can find me when you need me and or if you need me, but once they hit that food freedom, it’s like run with it, enjoy life because now food’s not occupying this massive space in our brain and in our lives. And it’s like, you can just kind of always energy for that, but it’s super cool.
TS: That sounds great. And then like, that’s the thing is I think like people do the whole thing. I’ll like we have to eat perfect. And we have to do this all the time. And I think like, to your point, like your body’s always changing. It’s always changing. There’s always a million things going on. And so it sounds like with the intuitive eating, it kind of takes that into an account into account as opposed to like everything always being the same or you have to be perfect. It’s like, I can just do how I feel, and this is where I’m at right now. And so I’ll do this, but then I also can see how they would need your help as, as they progress kind of navigating that.
JB: Yeah. And cause the reality is people have, you know, I would say like in the game of life, life always wins. And so life’s going to throw us curve balls. I mean, there’s crazy schedules. If you got kids in the mix, it, you it’s crazy. I mean, there was a time period. I was no joke. This is insane spending 14 hours a week putting the kids to bed. Cause it took me two hours every single night. So how can we be in the midst of those kinds of, and you know, that’s when I was working and I was trying to exercise and do all these things, it’s like, how do I, then all of a sudden layer this, these crazy diet changes on top of that, it’s really asking to do the impossible
TS: And it’s setting them up to fail. And then somehow they feel like that there’s something wrong with them that they can’t do it when, when really like there’s not enough time in the day to do all the things that need to be done.
JB: But then, you know, there starts the shame spiral and I’m a huge fan of Brene Brown. Do you follow any of her stuff? So good. So good. Right?
TS: It talked about shame on here. So you can talk a little bit about that because I’m sure you get a lot of shame.
JB: Yeah, totally. And this is kind of where some of the like body positivity stuff I think is really, really beneficial because then we’re not so focused on like the something is wrong with your body. You’re doing something wrong, which just immediately puts people into the shame spiral and then they’re incapable of changing. So yeah. I just think it prevents that he puts more of this like empowered spirit and people instead of here’s the list of what you should and shouldn’t do, regardless of what’s going on in your life, you know, you just need to get this figured, which is just, I don’t know, this is not my style.
TS: Well, and so, so you talked about empowered eating, that’s kind of what your approach is, right?
JB: Yeah. So then power dating is that model. I said, where we do like the internal awareness, the nutrition knowledge with the values laid on top of that.
TS: So one of the questions that I want to start asking people is kind of like what, in news, you’re like the newest book or book that you liked to read and why do you like that? Did you have any intuitive eating resources that you can leave us with or that you can kind of talk about today that could help our audience?
JB: Yes. So I have so intuitive eating has a workbook, so it’s called the intuitive eating board book. It’s very easy to find, but it it’ll actually take you through a lot of the process.
TS: That’s the one by Ellen Tripoli. Yes,
JB: Yes. Yeah. It’s so good. Yeah. So she’s written a book, she’s actually done two revisions, but the workbooks really cool. Cause you can just work through it and then people can actually work through it with you, which is cool. Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah. And then I’ve, I’ve put together an ebook and this is really, I know I loved, it felt really good to like finally finish it. It took me awhile. It really, I tried to come combine like my model of empowered eating with body empowerment. So really balancing, you know, how do I want to feel in my body? How do I want to live in my body and how can I integrate intuitive eating into this and really like get everything lined up with my values. So I’m living my best life and my health is supporting that. And what is the name of your ebook? It’s called beat body bullying.
TS: Where can people find that on your website? So they can find on my website, Jess Brown RD. And if they referenced this, they can put in, I’ll send you a code that you can put in your show notes. They’ll give them 10% off. Oh, that’s great. Oh, that’s awesome. Well, Jess, I can’t thank you enough. You have just been, as you just been, you’ve just provided so much clarity and I just can’t. Thank you enough. I knew that the audience will just get so much value from all that you, that you’ve talked about. And I think it’s a really important conversation. So thank you so much for coming on today. I, I really do appreciate it. I know that you’ll I know that a lot of people probably find a lot of value in what you’ve provided. So I say, thank you my pleasure to be here.
TS: It’s so nice. Thanks for having me. Sure. Wow. That was so great. Oh my gosh. I told you guys, Jess is just, she’s just so smart and she just has so much knowledge and it’s just great to hear a different perspective, especially when it comes to intuitive eating. So I know that she just provided so much knowledge to you guys, so you can find firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find her podcast at your, her awesome anywhere where he subscribed to podcasts. You can find her on Instagram at Jess Brown RD. She has a really great pumpkin chili recipe that I stole off that, Instagram account, you know, earlier in the year, which is pretty great. And then remember has, has an ebook that I really recommend you guys getting it’s called beat body bullying, and you can find that on her email@example.com. Okay. So thanks for listening to the show and I’ll see you guys next week. If you found value in this podcast, please rate, review and subscribe on iTunes. Being a busy woman or mom doesn’t mean that we have to give up on our health wellness or self care together. We can take tiny, imperfect steps towards creating the whole health we desire and deserve. You can find firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram at whole health empower. Thanks for listening. I’ll see you next week.