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Christy Harrison

58 Podcast Episodes

Latest 5 Dec 2022 | Updated Daily

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03: Nourishing Change with Christy Harrison

Can I Have Another Snack?

When Christy Harrison posted on her Instagram that “giving birth broke me open in every way imaginable” I knew I needed to ask her about it. The anti-diet dietitian and author of Anti-Diet and the forthcoming Wellness Trap tells me about the heartache and joy, tenderness and vulnerability of becoming a new parent. This is the conversation I wish I’d had as a new parent. We also hear about Christy’s exciting new book, and how the wellness industry can be especially dangerous for new parents. And, hear Christy's thoughts on the idea that we are ‘born intuitive eaters’ as she navigates milk feeding and introducing solids with her daughter. This is such an enriching conversation, but ngl, it gets heavy in places. Have some tissues handy, and if hearing about traumatic experiences related to birth isn’t for you today, then give this one a miss.Find out more about Christy here.Follow her work on Instagram here.Follow Laura on Instagram here.Here’s the transcript in full.Christy Harrison  You know, again, sort of feeling like giving birth like broke me open, it's like, it's, it kind of released some of that anger and made me like more soft and vulnerable and, you know, just less, less angry and less kind of, you know, I don't have such tightly balled up fists anymore, even when I'm critiquing structures and systems that are harmful.Laura Thomas  Hey, Welcome to Can I Have Another Snack podcast, where I'm asking my guests who are what they're nourishing right now and who or what is nourishing them. I'm Laura Thomas, an anti diet Registered nutritionist and author of the Can I Have Another Snack newsletter. Today I'm talking to anti diet dietician Christy Harrison. Many of you will know Christy already. She is host of the Food Psych podcast, author of Anti Diet and the forthcoming book, The Wellness Trap. This conversation is one that I've really been looking forward to sharing. Christy tells us all about what life has been like as a new mother who is nourishing two babies, her human baby and her second book The Wellness Trap. Christy gives us a little peek inside the new book sharing some of the research that she's uncovered about the wild wild west of the wellness world. And how a lot of the really harmful wellness dis- and misinformation really capitalises from parents who are just trying to do the best for their kids. We also talk about her experiences with milk feeding, and then going on to introduce solids with her baby and how that has made her reconsider some of the things she says about intuitive eating being a birthright. I think you'll be really interested in hearing what she has to say about that. And finally, I asked Christy about a post that she shared on her Instagram, which said, giving birth broke me open in every way imaginable. And also, this was a really tough and pretty emotional conversation. It felt like the conversation that I wish I had heard about birth, rather than the conversations about whether you should, I don't know, shave or wax, which are real articles that I've seen in parenting publications in 2022. But anyway, just a heads up that we do talk about traumatic themes in this episode around birth and the early weeks of recovery and medical trauma. So if you aren't up to hearing them right now, then I trust you to do whatever you need to do to look after yourself. We'll get to Christy in just a moment. But first of all, I wanted to let you know that you are listening to the long edit of this episode. From October I'll be publishing a shorter edit here in your podcast player and a special long edit for paid subscribers have the Can I Have Another Snack podcast as a little bonus for supporting my work alongside weekly discussion threads, my dear Laura column, and loads of other fun perks on Can I Have Another Snack newsletter, you can head to laurathomas.substack.com to subscribe. It's five pounds a month or 50 pounds for the year. And if that's inaccessible for you, please email hello@laurathomasphd.co.uk for a comp subscription. I'm keeping all the content on Can I Have Another Snack free for the month of September, and turning on the paid community features and paid subscriber only columns from October. If you value this work, you can help keep it sustainable by becoming a paid subscriber. And last thing if you enjoy this episode, I would really really appreciate it if you could support me by rating and reviewing it in your podcast player and maybe even sharing it with a friend. It makes a huge difference to a new podcast. You can find a full transcript of this episode over on substack. Again, that's laurathomas.substack.com. And I would really love it if you wanted to leave a comment over there to let us know what you thought of the episode. And to keep the conversation going. Alright team, here's Christy.Laura Thomas  Christy, I'd love it if you could tell us who or what you are nourishing right now.Christy Harrison  That's such an interesting question for me at this moment because I feel like I'm nourishing two very important and very different things. The number one being my baby. I'm breastfeeding and also giving her solid foods and so like really literally nourishing a human being, you know, and it's like incredible and overwhelming sometimes and feels like a huge responsibility and, you know is so fraught in some ways with diet and wellness culture, as I'm sure we'll get into and so, but it's also like beautiful and just such a beautiful bonding experience. And I feel really lucky to be able to breastfeed because, I mean, many, many people aren't. And I didn't think I was going to be able to at first because I had a traumatic birth experience and wasn't able to breastfeed right away. And so the fact that it, like, ended up happening at all is kind of a miracle. And so it's been like this beautiful bonding journey of feeding her and just getting to spend that time cuddling and you know, having time together, but just in the past couple of weeks, she started biting. So got a tooth. And it's like, it's brought up so much, because, you know, it hurts, it scared me, I sort of reacted, and then she reacted and cried, and, you know, and then I got scared and started to feel really anxious every time I was feeding. And so this beautiful bond that we've had that I don't think I even fully appreciated while I was in the easy part. And, you know, sometimes I'd be like, looking at my phone and like, doing other things while feeding her like, suddenly I'm like, no, like, Why did I spend all that time, you know, not paying full attention, not being fully in this moment, when now it's going to be taken away from me, you know, potentially soon, in a way that feels like it's too early. And yet, you know, we have fortunately been able to consult with a lactation consultant, and she's helped a lot in terms of, you know, figuring out a better position and better strategies to kind of alleviate the teething pains so that she's not biting on my boob. And so, you know, it continues, our breastfeeding journey continues, but it's, it's starting to feel like this precious thing that, you know, the sand is slipping through my hands of the time that we have together.Laura Thomas  No, I just, I really, that resonates so much, because we also went through the biting stage. But we were able to overcome it. Two years, we're still going. But I, I hear what you're saying as well, just in that, you know, that those, I don't want to over romanticise breastfeeding, because I feel like that's a danger that we can run as well. But I do kind of, do try and soak in as much of it as I can, when I'm, you know, when I'm able to, there are definitely times that I just want to check out and scroll on my phone. And at the same time, you know, he's getting older, I'm trying to sort of let him lead the way in terms of weaning. And then there, there are days where he just doesn't seem that interested. And I'm like, oh, have we had our last feed? And then we had a spate of illness recently, and he was just like, glued to me, just so attached. And then it's almost like the opposite end of the spectrum, where I'm like, Okay, are you ready to ween? So yeah, I, there's, there's just so much emotion tied up in breastfeeding, which is kind of what I'm hearing from you is that it's just this, there's a constant tension with it.Christy Harrison  Totally, so much emotion and so much, you know, I didn't, I kind of naively thought, I guess that like, once we were over the really hard part of the beginning, where I didn't have enough milk, and we weren't even sure if it was gonna happen. And I wanted to try, but I was also sort of like one foot in like formula. And just like, you know, if we have to do formula, it's fine. I'm fine with that. But wanting to, like, give it a shot with breastfeeding, you know, once we got through that, and it was going strong, and we had our latching down and our positions, and she was getting more efficient at feeding and stuff, I was kind of like, okay, like, you know, this is how it's going to be for the next, you know, however many months and I'd love to get to a year and like, we'll see how it goes, whatever. And so I didn't sort of reckon with the emotions, I think for a while, you know, it was probably a good four or five months there where it was just kind of easy, smooth sailing, which again, like so lucky, because I know, a lot of people have ongoing struggles with it even at that point. But then now to be sort of coming back to like, okay, like, what is it going to look like to potentially wean her to formula or to stop feeding as much now pumping some time, you know, parts of the day, and just like thinking about all those logistics and dealing with the emotions that come up and knowing that like, hormonally too there're shifts that happen when you, you know, shift over to even pumping more and I'm starting to kind of feel that and I'm like, Okay, how much of this is just sort of hormonally, my, my body is kind of telling me to be more sensitive or making me more sensitive and how much of this is like, you know, just kind of the, the natural emotions of like, something beautiful coming to an end and something that like, you know, was always a little challenging too in some ways. It's just yeah, there's just a lot. A lot of mixed emotions.Laura Thomas  Yeah, yeah. No, I, we also had a challenging start, and my supply was low, my baby was in the NICU for two weeks, and the support or lack thereof, I suppose around feeding in the hospital just really left its mark. And, you know, we went through the rigmarole as well of lactation consultants and getting help. And even I would say, it took us a good three, maybe four months to really get the hang of breastfeeding. And, and then, you know, it's almost as soon as you've got the hang of it, you're like onto something else. Oh, while we're weaning now, or like we're introducing solids now, and or, you know, I'm having to pump more, it's just such a, or there's a tooth, there's just a constant roller coaster of, of emotions. And I feel like that's just a perfect metaphor for parenting in general. It's just up and down constantly. Christy you said at the beginning that you have two things that you're nurturing at the moment. So what was the the other thing? Christy Harrison  Yeah, so the other thing is, it's also big and just but very different, you know, much more intellectual, which is my second book, I'm working on revisions for that now. And I wrote it while I was pregnant, like pretty much except for the first month of writing the manuscript or something I was pregnant the whole time. And then, you know, turned it in, went on maternity leave, came back and got revisions, and now working on those and they're due in a week. So it's actually like, down to the wire. And I'm feeling pretty good about the structure of it. And it's kind of more fine tuning at this point. But that's been a whole journey as well, because the book is about wellness culture, and it's called The Wellness Trap. And I look into, you know, how, in the my first book Anti Diet, I posited that diet, or that wellness culture is the new guise of diet culture that, you know, diet culture has cloaked itself as wellness, in order to kind of evade people's growing suspicion about diets and sort of doneness with diets. And, you know, diets now say they're about wellness and lifestyle change and all this stuff. But in researching the second book, I found, you know, I sort of always suspected there's so much more to it, that it's beyond just diet culture. And then in fact, there's like this symbiotic relationship, I think, between wellness culture and diet culture, where diet culture uses wellness as its cloak and shield against criticism, and to sort of make itself seem more important, because now it's not just about, you know, mere vanity, but it's about this noble goal of health and wellness. But also, wellness culture has really incorporated the tenets of diet culture, kind of wholesale into its own belief system. And I traced the history of that. It was really interesting to see like where that came from, because the first use of the term wellness in the late 1950s by this man Halbert Dunn, who was a public health professional, was actually very similar in some ways to like what I would consider well being and sort of talked so much more about mental health and social relationships and the importance of of those things. And, you know, there's almost nothing about food, other than to say that we need enough of it in his in his major writings, his book, and there was, you know, a tiny, fat phobic statement, but it was sort of, you know, pretty minor in the grand scheme of things kind of just talking more about the effects of fat. And, you know, so the original idea of wellness really wasn't built on diet culture, I think in the way that it is now. And I think the reasons for that shift had to do with a lot that happened in the 1970s around kind of the hippie food movement and sort of the emergence of like naturopathy and other alternative medicine, other alternative forms of medicine, kind of coming a little bit more into the mainstream. And, you know, people who were influenced by that, doctors who were influenced by that, sort of taking up the mantle of wellness, discovering this guy, Halbert Dunn's work from a decade and a half before and being like, yes, wellness, we love Halbert Dunn we're going to proselytise his ideas to the public. And yet, like really twisting them and infusing them with so much diet culture. And so that sort of became the version of wellness that that grew and went mainstream, and that now is, you know, really kind of has really taken over. And so that, you know, there's that piece of it, where diet culture is really built into wellness culture now, but there's also so much more beyond diet culture that is sort of related like clean beauty or clean housekeeping right this this worry about what's in your products and what you're putting into or next to your body and sort of irrational or maybe not irrational, but over over blown, overhyped kind of fears about chemicals and products. And, you know, this sort of fomenting of fear among the public in order to sell products. And then there's also the piece of the internet, which I think is like the most fascinating part of my book and research and has just hit the closest to home for me too, is how the Internet and specifically social media and other algorithmic technologies that, you know, see how people interact with the content, and then feed them more of that content in order to maximise engagement, how those technologies have actually allowed mis- and disinformation to proliferate. And in fact, they feed on that, because mis- and disinformation spreads farther faster and deeper than than the truth. And you know, when things spread and go viral, that tells the algorithm like, Hey, we've got something here that is gonna keep people engaged. And so let's feed them more of that, that tells the creators of that content that there is a market there, right, the creators of mis- and disinformation are able to monetize their content and capitalise on that, you know, social media driven spread. And then also the, you know, way that social media and other algorithmic technologies affect our mental health by keeping us engaged in those ways. You know, it really drives anger and hate and outrage, those are things that are again, engines of engagement. And so the algorithms feed us more and more of that. And it's really having a detriment to people's mental health. It's driving diet culture, because again, the more extreme, the more sensational diets and things that promote eating disorders are the things that the algorithms pick up and feed people more of. And so you can go into and you know, I think probably some, some listeners will have heard of Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower, who kind of blew the lid off of some of this that Facebook knew its algorithms were driving, teenage girls, you know, specifically on Instagram, driving teenage girls who showed an interest in quote, unquote, healthy eating deeper and deeper into extreme diet content and pro eating disorder content. And they did nothing about it. Right. And they are not forced to do anything about it under current US law, and I think laws in other countries as well. But you know, especially in the US, for Facebook, and other social media companies, major social media companies are based. There's this law called Section 230. This is like so in the weeds, but it's so important.Laura Thomas  I'm loving it. I said to you off mic that I was looking forward to your book, because I know it's going to be so deeply and thoroughly researched. And I think all of these little rabbit holes are so fascinating. So yeah, go ahead. What were you, What were you gonna say?Christy Harrison  Yeah, so So section 230 is informally known as the 26 words that created the internet. It's basically the law that gave rise to user generated content that allowed social media companies to even really come into existence. I think without section 230 we wouldn't have the Internet as we know it today. Laura Thomas  And what's it say? Christy Harrison  And so it says that internet service companies or you know, at the time it was, it, this was in 1995 that it was passed so like this was way before anyone conceived of social media as it is now but you know, internet service providers are not liable for they're not considered publishers of information that their users post. Right and so that opened the floodgates for user generated content of all kinds and for platforms built entirely on user generated content that monetize it like Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and all that right which you know, kind of use our content as lures to get other people to look and and you know, then serve us ads and that's their way of making money. And in the reason that section 230 was passed is so interesting because in 1994, there was a defamation suit brought against prodigy services, which some people who are you know, like elder Millennials like me and above might remember I that was like my first way of getting on the internet was my friend had prodigy and we went and like, went to weird chat rooms or something. I don't even remember what it was. Laura Thomas  I remember the weird chat rooms.  Christy Harrison  Yes, chat rooms were the thing. And so yeah, Prodigy someone took to prodigy and defamed this. I think it was an investment firm Stratton Oakmont which interestingly is portrayed in The Wolf of Wall Street Leonardo DiCaprio portrays their founder who's like this awful awful finance guy. So someone had taken to prodigy to defame Stratton Oakmont and then Stratton Oakmont sued them for defamation or sued prodigy for defamation rather. It went up to the New York State Supreme Court and New York sided with Stratton Oakmont saying yes, you were, you know, Prodigy is liable for having defamed you because they do some moderation of content on their forums, they have terms of service that you have to agree to. And if you're not, if you're in violation of those terms, you can get kicked off or your content can get removed. And so therefore, they're acting more as a publisher, because they're not just, you know, hosting the content, they're actually edit, exerting some editorial oversight in some way. So like, if that had been able to stand or if that had gone to the US Supreme Court, and they had held it up, we would have a very, very different internet today. But instead, what happened was two members of Congress were really troubled by this because they wanted moderation of content, justifiably, understandably, you know, they wanted some wanted companies to be able to moderate content on their message boards so that the internet wouldn't just become a sea of pornography, which, you know, it is anyway, but, but at least to be able to keep pornography off of certain channels that, you know, kids were going to be on and stuff like that. So they proposed this amendment to the Communications Decency Act of 1995. I believe that is section 230. And it you know, it said that internet service providers can't be treated as publishers, as long as they're not, you know, they're not, they're not to be held liable for content that users post. And they get this protection of like, like free speech protections. And so, you know, from there, we get the internet that we have today, where, you know, Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, which, for many intents and purposes are acting as publishers, right, because they are, their algorithms are promoting different things. They're sort of curating things in a way, right, the way that a newspaper or magazine would, and, or even, you know, an editorial website, right, they're, they're giving things different weight, they're sending things out to different groups of people, you know, they're allowing advertisers to specifically target certain kinds of people so that, you know, someone with a particular identity might see a feed that's completely different than someone with another identity. And that can open people up to like being targeted with antivax content or other really harmful, you know, quote, unquote, wellness content, as well as political content, all kinds of other things. And so, you know, so kind of digging into all this, right, it just, it just showed me how deeply embedded wellness mis- and disinformation are into the social media system and into these algorithmic technologies in general, because, you know, you have YouTube, which is not officially social media, but it acts in very similar ways, where it's recommending things to you, and it's seeing what you like, or what you're, you're spending your time on, and it's driving you further and further down the sort of rabbit hole of extremes, you know, showing you one kind of content and then you can be like, 50, steps down into something really, really extreme, like, going from, you know, some centre right politicians speech into, like q-anon, you know, conspiracy theory territory in like, however many steps. It's terrifying.Laura Thomas  And I think that this is kind of where, in some ways your two babies come together, right, this kind of intersection between parenting and wellness culture. And I've heard you talk specifically about the sort of predatory messaging that's directed at new parents, I think that you've even experienced yourself. I'm wondering if you could speak to what's going on in that space? Because I'm not sure if that's something you necessarily cover in the book. But it's, it's obviously very, like I said, that's where your two sort of babies meet. Christy Harrison  Yeah, absolutely. I mean, so one thing that I've that I do cover in the book that sort of speaks to that predatory nexus is the anti-vax movement, which has been fomented and enabled by social media and algorithms to, you know, get to these levels that we never would have seen, I think without those technologies, and unfortunately, specifically, a lot of new parents are targeted, even people who are considering becoming parents, even people who are starting to do searches around fertility and things like that will start to see increased levels of antivax content being suggested to them. I interviewed one woman who is a technology researcher who's actually written and spoken out, you know about this for years, Renee DiResta at Stanford University, but she herself is a mom and got interested in all of this when she had given birth to her first child and was looking into cloth diapering. And I think maybe like making her own baby food or something. She's not like a super crunchy person. She actually doesn't identify as crunchy at all but she says that she was looking into these pursuits that are kind of crunchy ish and yeah, crunchy adjacent or could be part of a very crunchy lifestyle but you know, she was she was just sort of interested in them for,Laura Thomas  And let's be real, we're all a little crunchy.Christy Harrison  We're all a little crunchy these days especially yeah, like I think it's I mean, oh my god like that's a whole other thing too is like how far down the crunchy rabbit hole do you want to allow yourself to go and but so you know she was she started to be served group recommendations by Facebook for anti vax groups because of this interest in cloth diapering, she, it was like from cloth diapering to like backyard chickens. She was like, Oh, that's cute, like, let me you know, like this page related to backyard chickens. And then suddenly, these anti vax groups started popping up, you know. And so she started looking into this proliferation of anti vax communities, and how, in the role that social media has played in that and has now become one of the leading voices kind of speaking out against this. But, you know, I think it's really, really interesting to see how quickly that can happen, and how these things that we might think of as, you know, parenting choices to even just look into not necessarily be all in on but like, let me you know, like a group about this and see what, or join a group about this, or like a page about this and see what you know, they have to say what the benefits are, or whatever can can lead you down this path where the algorithm thinks you're susceptible. And yeah, unfortunately, one of the ways that people are kind of the most susceptible, I think is when they've lost a child, like infant loss is one of the ways it's, I mean, just heartbreaking to think about as the parent of an infant, you know, like, I can't imagine what these parents are going through and then to be, you know, systematically targeted, right, and these parents who, you know, have lost infants to sudden infant death syndrome, or suffocation, from, you know, sleeping, co sleeping and stuff like that. And then suddenly, you know, you have anti vax entrepreneurs in their feeds or their messages being like, you know, this was not your fault, which, I mean, who doesn't want to hear that when something so tragic happens. And these parents are blaming themselves and feeling horrible guilt, you know, to say, like, it wasn't your fault, it was the vaccines, right? So they're serving up this, just a horrible misinformation in a moment where people are incredibly vulnerable. And of course, that's going to have an effect, right. And it has an impact even on people who see that, who haven't lost a child, but are terrified of it. Like I'm, you know, constantly terrified of that. And so people who are, you know, parents trying to do the best for their kids, like, looking into all the ways to keep them safe are suddenly made to feel like, if a vaccine, you know, touches their child, it's gonna, it's going to instantly kill them. Like, that's the level of rhetoric and I talked to some former anti vaxxers who are now speaking out and in favour of vaccines, which I think my favourite kind of person to interview, I think, is like a person who is a former, something, you know, like, sort of, I don't know, it's just so interesting, because I'm that way too, like I've gone through some stuff and you know, come to see things really differently. And I just find it really interesting to see like, what are people's journeys through this and I also didn't want to interview any current anti vaxxers because I didn't want to you know, promote harmful messages my book so I thought it would be interesting to kind of get into the psychology of of what drives people into this and one of the women I talked to Heather Simpson who's now really speaking out against the anti vax movement you know, said that it started for her when she was even considering having a child she was having fertility issues she kind of got into wellness culture that way. And so you know, from there started being served all these anti vax, all these pieces of anti vax content and she got so far down the rabbit hole that she literally thought vaccines were poison and would, you know, kill her child? And I mean, we should probably put a trigger warning on this episode because Laura Thomas  I 100% will, because yeah, we're touching on some really difficult difficult subjects but yeah, sorry, carry on. Christy Harrison  Yeah. So I mean, just in researching all that I started to see like how deep and dark it can get, you know, and I think you know, there are less kind of dark aspects of this that are the start but that can easily pull people down these really extreme paths, right. So like, for example, like I recently you know, with the biting stuff I was talking to my lactation consultant who's wonderful and has helped us so much but is a little crunchy you know, and has has the ways in which she's crunchy tend towards the sort of herbal remedies and stuff like that. Laura Thomas  Yeah the brewer's yeast and all that, Christy Harrison  Right, and the homoeopathic you know, drops and tinctures and stuff and so I was looking into it because I you know, for the book again, I researched homoeopathy. A lot of this didn't make it into the book but has just been background and forming my perspective on things. And you know realising, homoeopathy just really doesn't have good evidence behind it. And it has been recommended against by, you know, many scientific and health authorities which, you know, have their own problems sometimes, but I think, in many ways are really solid in terms of being able to look at and critique evidence for these alternative pathways, alternative health practices. Anyway, so you know, looking into the homoeopathy, homoeopathic medicines and seeing that, you know, they're part of this unregulated or very loosely, minimally regulated supplement industry, which, you know, dietary and herbal supplements in the US at least, and I'm not sure how it is in the UK. But in the US, there's almost no oversight of these of these medications that can go to market without ever being tested for safety or efficacy, you know, just on the the word of the manufacturer, and the FDA doesn't review them, the Food and Drug Administration doesn't review them for safety or efficacy until someone complains or enough people complain after the fact after they're on the market and potentially harming you know, 1000s or millions of people. And then the FDA doesn't have a huge budget for oversight. And there's, you know, many reasons why they don't, they don't review many things. And so things can be out there just you know, causing tremendous harm. One of which, unfortunately, is like homoeopathic teething products, it was found, I think, about 10 years ago that there were levels have detectable levels of deadly nightshade, which is a poison in some of these homoeopathic teething remedies, and FDA recommended against using any of them because, you know, you don't want to be poisoning your child, obviously. And I think it's just so ironic and so deeply frustrating to me that the reason people would gravitate towards those products in the first place is because of the worry about toxicity of things like Tylenol or, you know, other sort of more standard over the counter remedies, you know, people wanting to do the best for their child and give them something that's that's going to be less harmful. And to see that, like, because of this lack of regulation, literal poison can be slipped into these products without any sort of oversight. It's just, it's just heartbreaking. You know, and really, yeah, yeah. So that's, that's some of the nexus of these two, these two babies I've been working on.Laura Thomas  Yeah, yeah. And I'm curious to hear you said, at the beginning that the I don't know, if you're talking specifically about your breastfeeding, sort of journey for one word, or, you know, you're now at the part where your little one is eating solids, and you said that it was fraught, at some point, and I was curious to hear a little bit more about just your experiences with the feeding, particularly from your background as an intuitive eating counsellor, you know, that's what you're really known for, is, is intuitive eating and kind of being on the other side of it now as a parent, and, and having, I suppose, witnessed your little one learning to eat and and kind of what your thoughts are on, you know, some of the things that I know, I've said, and I think you've maybe said similar things about how, you know, intuitively we're all born as intuitive eaters, I kind of get the sense from some of your podcasts, I've listened to recently that you've shifted, you know, how you speak about that a little bit? And I wonder if you could tell us a bit more about that.Christy Harrison  Yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, you know, I think it's so interesting to see it from the perspective of a parent and to see a little baby like, actually going through it, because I do think that, you know, we're all born as intuitive eaters in the sense that we don't have diet culture messages installed in us, you know, as when we come out, right, we don't have any of this total sense of like, needing to eat less or exercise more like do things to change the size and shape of our body or, you know, that some foods are good, and some foods are bad, and that we need to be quote unquote, healthy and eat a certain way. You know, none of those messages come to us until later until we're socialised into them. Right. So I think in that sense, we're very much all born, you know, as intuitive eaters in the sense that we're free of the diet mentality. And we're also born with innate hunger and fullness cues and, you know, the ability to like root around and find the nipple on a bottle or a breast and, you know, get our food needs met, and to cry when we're hungry and let people know you know, let the caregivers know and stop when we're full to some extent but it also is like very interesting to see the nuances of that where, you know, a baby will, like, you know, babies it's a learning process, I think for both caregiver and baby To learn how to eat, like to learn how to latch on to the breast, for example, or to learn how to take a bottle or to learn, you know how to eat enough to satisfy them without spitting up, right? Like, sometimes babies are so hungry and taking in so much, but the size of their stomach is just, you know, not there yet. And so they split up. And that's a normal part of the process. Like that's a, you know, I don't like the word normal so much. But I think in this context, I'm just saying, like, that's, that's a part of the process for growing and developing babies is to, like, learn the capacity of their stomach in that way.Laura Thomas  And I think older kids as well, you know, I think from the perspective that the kids need to, in order to learn how to self regulate, they need to be allowed to make mistakes. And I think that's where we so often go wrong by when we restrict kids from, let's say, eating sweets and chocolate and things like that, is that they, they don't actually learn what feels like too much and what feels uncomfortable, and they need to, they need to be able to overshoot the mark, they need to be able to undershoot the mark, because that gives them information, if that makes sense.Christy Harrison  Totally, I completely agree. And I feel like I've been so much more aware these days of like, friends, kids who have limited access to sweets at home, you know, seeing how they interact with them at our house or things like that. And you know, that that, you know, my, my daughter is very much learning in that way to have like, you know, sometimes undershooting and being hungry again, you know, shortly after, or sometimes overshooting and, you know, having a bit of a tummy ache, having some sped up and stuff like that. And that is kind of a beautiful part of the process. That's something that needs to be fostered and allowed, and that, you know, it's not like, intuitive, easy eating is not as easy as it may be as made out to be and as maybe I've made it out to be in the past for babies, you know, where it's like, oh, yeah, they just know what to do. It's like, well, they, in some ways, there, there's definitely instinct there. But there's also some learning and some aural development skills that have to come into play, right. And, you know, with solid feeding, too, there's the textures, and the different flavours and stuff like that, that babies have to get used to, and sort of learning how to eat in that way versus, you know, just taking in liquid. nourishment is a whole different process. And, you know, seeing seeing my baby be like so excited about food in some, some moments and you know, excited about so many different things, but then also having something she just really doesn't like and making funny faces and not really eating like, even just last night, we were at a friend's house and you know, hadn't brought solids for her. But my friend had, like, some yoghurt and raspberries. And she's like, Oh, should I just make that for her? I was like, Yeah, that sounds great. Let's do that. Not even thinking about how tart and tangy that would be, like, my baby had not had something that tangy. And she was just making horrible faces and refusing it, but then also super hungry and getting fussy. And you know, we had to kind of work it out. And then my friend was like, Oh, wait, we have these pouches, because my older daughter still eats them as a snack. So let's try that. And then it was like, brilliant, okay, well, we're satisfied. But, you know, having to kind of go through this trial and error of like, what foods are going to be satisfying, and how much and how to express hunger, you know, it's a little more nuanced and complicated than I think I had realised. Laura Thomas  Absolutely. And I feel very similar kind of being on the other side of it now and reflecting on some of the things that I might have said, before becoming a parent, and sort of just giving the impression that that intuitive eating was this, you know, natural for want of a better word thing that everyone is capable of, from, you know, the moment that they're born and maybe not being so considerate of, you know, things like disability, or neurodivergence, or, or some of these other things that can impact feeding on top of just that initial learning curve that everybody has to go through which, you know, I've done a lot of training and reading and things around how, you know, infants and children learn how to eat and, you know, things have completely blown my mind, like the fact that they don't have the oral motor skills of an adult until they're three and a half, which means they literally cannot chew food, in the same way that an adult can until they've been eating for three years. That's kind of it's kind of mind blowing. And, and then, I think another sort of layer of this kind of bringing it back to wellness culture is sort of the messages that parents receive about what and how much and when their child should eat and there's this real insidious sort of narrative and discourse around you know, kind of this idea of the perfect eater, your, your child should be able to eat perfectly, and they're going to eat kale and broccoli. And, you know, they're only going to eat the so called, you know, right amount of food and it just doesn't leave any space for that learning process. And so I think that the the kind of disruption to that, you know, innate, instinctive embodied, you know, just ability to, or not ability, but that exploration of food that happens in those early years, it kind of gets intercepted by adults, and we cause disconnection I think so much earlier on even then, I think I appreciated and realised, from the perspective of even like when we think about infant feeding, and parents receiving the message that they need to kind of feed to a schedule or feed for a certain number of minutes, if they're breast or bottle feeding, all the way through to, you know, pressurising and controlling toddlers to eat or not eat certain foods. I don't know if you have any thoughts on that or even know what I'm talking about? Christy Harrison  Oh God, totally, I feel like it has happened, I mean, it happened almost from the instance, she was born for us. Because, you know, like I said, I had a traumatic birth experience, I ended up having an unplanned C section, and then complications from that, that kept me in the hospital for some extra days, and really was in so much pain that I couldn't nurse and my milk was, you know, so early in the process anyway, didn't really have a lot of milk. And so we ended up doing formula kind of from day, you know, maybe day two, and did formula for, you know, several weeks. And so I think when we made that decision, it's interesting that you said, you know, you didn't feel a lot of support around breastfeeding in the hospital where you were, I feel like it was almost the opposite with us, because I don't know if you have this in the UK, but in the US, there's the Baby Friendly Hospital designation.Laura Thomas  Yeah, it's a World Health Organisation designation. So because it is UK wide. But the difference Christy is that my baby was intubated in an incubator. So there was no way that I could feed him in those first days, where I didn't feel supported was twofold. I think, first of all, I was discharged after 12 hours. They didn't give a shit about me Christy, I was sitting with a beaten up perineum on a concrete floor, because it was COVID. And there were no chairs in the waiting room. Just sitting outside the ward it honestly, we could devote a whole episode just to my birth trauma, but we're not going to go there. So what happened with us is that someone handed me a syringe and a plastic cup. No, not a syringe, just a plastic cup, like 100 ml beaker, and was like, okay, express colostrum into that. And then the other. I mean, there were a few different things. So then, nobody told me about the hospital grade pump, in, you know, just two doors down from where my baby was lying for quite a few days. And I think that would have helped with my milk coming in. And then the third thing was just the way that I was treated on the ward. While you know, trying to get feeding established after you know, I didn't get to put him to my breast until a week, maybe. So yeah, that's that anyways, that's kind of the context, we do have the baby friendly initiative. I think that's what it's called. But it was kind of just flipped on its head. And in fact, one of the first questions that I was asked when I, you know, finally was able to stand up and walk myself through to the NICU was, I was given a choice between two different brands of formula. And so that even in and of itself, like I was able to register with my like, nutritionist brain, while it doesn't fucking matter, just feed my child, right? It doesn't stop trying to get me to buy into some sort of brand loyalty here when my baby is lying you know, like, intubated. And so like, I was able to access that somehow, through everything else that had happened, and get my baby fed. But yeah, it was almost kind of like an inverse of what you experienced, I suppose.Christy Harrison  Totally, that is so sad. And just,Laura Thomas  I will put all the content warnings.Christy Harrison  Yeah, totally. I mean, there's just so many ways in which we are failed by the healthcare system, and not just conventional medicine, but alternative medicine as well, which I get into in the book, but I mean, so yeah, I'm so sorry, that happened to you. And for me, I think it was, it was a little different. But also, there are some similarities in some ways where but I think the biggest the biggest thing that I'm thinking of kind of going back to what you're asking about, you know, pressure to feed in a certain way or pressure to like, make sure your baby doesn't quote unquote, over eat or whatever it was that, you know, because I ended up doing formula pretty early on. And I've heard so many horror stories of people in Baby Friendly hospitals who had to fight for formula and like, we're like, yeah, my kid isn't getting any nutrition. Like, they seem like they're starving. And yet, you're not like giving me formula, like, fucking give me formula, you know?Laura Thomas  Yeah, they don't even keep it in the hospital. I've heard some parents have had to, like send their partner out to, you know, a shop to go and get it. Christy Harrison  Yeah, I know, I've heard I've heard that experience, too. And I, we actually packed some formula, just in case for that reason. But thankfully, our hospital was was really good about it. And, you know, pretty quickly, when it was evident that I wasn't going to be able to breastfeed, they were like, you know, and I said, I think we should probably do formula, you know, I talked it over with my husband, he was like, yes, let's do this. And, you know, the nurse came by, and we said, we think we want to do this, and she's like, great, you know, I'll go get you some, we've got these, you know, easy to feed, kind of, like quick bottles that you don't even have to mix. It's just prepared, and we'll give you nipples and everything. And it was it was amazing. So that, you know, we had some nurses that were incredible and super supportive of the whole process, because not only did this one nurse do that for us, but she also brought in the hospital grade pump. And she said, if you want to try it, because I had expressed that I really would love to breastfeed, it just was not going to be possible at this point. She was like, you know, let's get you set up on this pump. And we'll see what happens. Yeah, and brought in the lactation consultant, everything, it was great. So that, you know, I think it's, it's so different with different nurses, though, because then there's a shift change, and we get a different nurse. And we see that this one nurse has really specific ideas and sort of anti formula ideas. And she's suddenly like, well, since you're feeding your baby formula, you can overfeed her let's not, you know, like, she's crying, she I think she's hungry. Like, we changed her we walked her, we burped her, we did all the things like, you know, ocum's razor seems like she's hungry and, and, you know, can we get some more formula? And this nurse was like, well, you know, you really shouldn't be feeding her more than x amount and her stomachs too little, you know, she shouldn't be spitting up like blah, blah, blah. It was like, so much shame coming from this nurse. And she made some comment about, like, you know, her chubbiness, which is just like, it's like, she's not, I mean,Laura Thomas  Fresh out the womb and the anti-fat rhetoric starts already.Christy Harrison  Right? She's like a few days old. Laura Thomas  Like, the other thing that it sounds like is that your instincts were being gaslit as an as a new parent, when what you need, you know, immediately postpartum is people to kind of like back you and trust you and, and, you know, reassure you that actually, you know, what you're doing here.Christy Harrison  Totally, I mean, and it was so amazing that we had some nurses that really did that, you know, they're really supported, like, those instincts. And then some others just, you know, I think, because of their own fat phobic ideas, and you know, their own relationships with food, or whatever it is, you know, buy into diet culture, it was like, you know, just from the get go, like, you're only allowed to feed this much, because especially, you know, what, it's formula, it's like, oh, you know, you're you're already doing a bad thing, you're already giving her bad food. So, you know, we have to be really careful with this bad food, right? It's just when formula is a fucking miracle. Like, you know, we wouldn't have, like, I, I shudder to think what would have happened if we hadn't had formula, you know, so. It's, it's so fraught, and I want to say to just for anyone listening, because I know, the parenting space is so tricky, and everybody has their own experience and their own journey with things. And so like, this is no shame to anyone for anything they're dealing with, or choices they've made, like, I support parents and making any kind of feeding choice that works for them, you know, and I just, for me, it was, you know, I think formula was, so the right, the right choice from the beginning. And then we're so lucky that we were able to breastfeed too. And we've been able to, you know, have both experiences. But I think, yeah, feeding is just so complicated. Going back to, you know, again, the sort of ideas about intuitive eating that I didn't really fully understand until being a parent like, it's, it's not just about your child's instincts, it's about like, what's available and what you know, and it gave me sort of a new appreciation for situations of food scarcity, or lack of food availability, and the parents going through the formula shortage that just happened recently too like,Laura Thomas  Yeah, that's a whole terrifying terrifying thing. Just kind of watching from here watching it unfold from the UK, and I was like, What the fuck? Like ship some formula like, we've got loads, take it please. You know? And, yeah, yeah, it really, really scary and from what I understand, they are putting measures in place to make sure that something like that doesn't happen again. But it just seemed like the response to that was so painfully slow, yeah,Christy Harrison  And then, you know, the shaming responses of  like, well just breastfeed, why don't you just breastfeed? It's like if you've been formula feeding, you can't just breastfeed like you don't have a milk supply. Laura Thomas  People don't understand basic physiology. Christy Harrison  Ridiculous. And then be like, you know, a lot of people formula feed because they can't breastfeed or choose not to, or, you know, whatever, breastfeeding isn't going to work for them. So why are you shaming people for a choice that they need to make and this life saving nutrition for their child is not available. Like, yeah, let's have some empathy for that.Laura Thomas  Yeah, I mean, just just shout out to formula where it has literally saved, probably, I don't even I couldn't even guesstimate how many babies lives have been saved by having access. I know, you know, my child would have starved without it.Christy Harrison  Yeah. I feel like a lot of us wouldn't be here without formula, you know?Laura Thomas  Yeah. 100%. I feel like you've maybe answered this in some ways. And I'm, I'm also a bit afraid to ask you Christy, because I reckon I'm gonna cry. But after the birth of your daughter, on your Instagram, you posted that giving birth broke you open in every way imaginable. And I'm just really interested to hear, I think you've talked about some of your ways, you know, a traumatic birth, but I'm just wondering what else? In what other ways you feel that that just kind of cracked you right open? Christy Harrison  Yeah, I think I'm gonna cry this too. It's, I feel like my emotions are just so much more on the surface. And that's one way that it's happened, you know, is that, like, I just, I feel like, I went through so much in those early days of feeling like a failure in some ways, and that I wasn't, you know, like, nobody is. But, you know, having these ideas about how I wanted my birth to go and then having it not go that way, and then having ideas about breastfeeding that didn't go that way. And having sort of a delayed bonding experience with my child, like, you know, having had this this idea of like, bringing her to the breast and just this beautiful oxytocin release, like instant bonding, andLaura Thomas  And that, what's that, the golden hour that you're promised? Christy Harrison  Yeah, that you're promised. And we did actually have one one breastfeeding, you know, skin to skin moment when I was first out of surgery, but I was so drowsy and, and there were signs all over the hospital room that were like, don't fall asleep with your baby, you're gonna suffocate your baby. It was like, terrifying. I was terrified. And my husband had been up for we had a prodromal labour too. So it was up for like, 72 hours before even getting admitted to the hospital. And then like another 36 to 48 hours of like, labour and delivery. So like, you know, we were exhausted, he hadn't slept. So he like crashed out on the cot. My baby, like, was just sort of in a blissed out dream space nursing. And the nurse got us set up and was like, okay, it seems great. Seems like breastfeeding is gonna go, Well, I'm gonna give you to some time, and left the room. And so then I'm just like, Oh, my God, like, what, I have to stay awake, like, what's going to happen, you know, so like, from the get go, there's just so much anxiety there. And so, you know, and and being in the hospital and having like, my husband having to kind of do everything for her because I couldn't get out of bed. I was hooked up to like, catheters and IVs and, you know, couldn't move and had the, like, things on my legs to keep from getting blood clots and stuff. And so he was like, changing her and rocking her and feeding her and singing to her and just like him singing to her in the hospital. Like, he had a couple of songs that he's sang that I still can't even like, think about because, like, you know, I wanted to be part of that. And, and I couldn't, and I think that was, that's one thing that really, like, really hit me and has been really hard to overcome, even though like we have such a great bond now and it's been so lovely. But, you know, I think also, I had to go back to work after three months. And so I had this incredibly emotional, you know, first probably eight to 10 weeks. I didn't officially have postpartum depression I had, you know, my therapist said it was like kind of an extended baby blues but it just sort of went on beyond when the supposed baby bluesChristy Harrison  I think we call that trauma ChristyChristy Harrison  Right? I think so too. Yeah, yeah, and it's, uh, you know, on top of existing PTSD, it's been, there's been a lot to recover from. And then I had such a difficult time going back to work because, you know, even though I'm right, I'm working from home, I'm in the same house, I can pop over and breastfeed her, you know, whenever she's hungry, just like the getting back and forth between, you know, the mom space and the mom, part of my brain and the workspace, and this person that I was before I gave birth that I don't even recognise, in some ways, you know, like, I mean, not even just physically, but that's, you know, that's a tiny bit in there too. But like, this person that, you know, was so driven and able to work so hard and efficiently and effectively, and like, get all my stuff done. And, you know, now feeling just kind of, like, not very good at what I'm doing, and are not very efficient and productive. And all of the sort of capitalistic pressures that come with that, right. And the, and the feeling of like, you know, I'm the primary earner right now. And my husband is the primary childcare and like, there's so much on my shoulders that, you know, if I can't do it, my brain goes to these, like, anxious places of like, we're gonna lose our house and our food and you know, like, it just goes to like, it really not true beliefs, when I really sit down and think about it and look at it, I'm like, Okay, this, we have savings, we're okay, we're not gonna, you know, it's not gonna happen. But just having a child I think sort of unlocked a new level of anxiety in a way of like, this existential like, and like protecting, you know, needing to protect her in so many ways that sometimes I feel incapable of, and also just like, you know, I think it has given me more empathy for everyone. And I try to hold on to that all the time. You know, it's sometimes I think it was so on the surface, like, right when I was coming back from maternity leave, because I'm just like, you know, everybody is someone's baby, right? Like, everybody was this helpless once, and everybody hopefully had someone who, you know, felt some sort of way about them, like, a maternal or paternal or parental kind of instinct. And I don't know that just that has, when I really like, tap into that, again, I think it's given me so much more empathy for everyone in every situation, you know, even people who are causing harm, right, even people who, you know, are perpetuating diet culture, right, even people who are because I have always tried and I have always, you know, really attempted to live by this notion that like, I'm not out to attack individuals, I'm out toLaura Thomas  Shoot the message, not the messenger, right?Christy Harrison  Right. I'm critiquing a system. And, you know, there are people who are participants in that system willingly and unwillingly. And I was one of them. You know, I was a dietician who practised in the traditional weight centric model. And I was trained in that. And so I, you know, we all live in glass houses, right? I think I couldn't fault people for their participation in diet culture to a certain point, you know, then again, I would, I would think, like, but these people who are really profiting off of it, and who really should know better, you know, like, I couldn't help but feeling anger towards them. And I think in a way, giving birth has just helped me soften all of that, you know, like, I, I think, and I wrote about this in my first book, like the importance of anger, you know, the importance of going through that angry phase and getting angry at the system and angry at diet culture, and maybe even angry at the people who perpetuated in your life, as much as you might try, you know, to forgive them ultimately, it's like, you might have to have a phase of, of anger towards them. And I think, you know, for me personally, in my own healing from disordered eating, maybe that was, you know, a part of my stridency in my writing and my podcasting and my work was like me having that angry phase and having to go through that angry energy of getting out that that you know and externalising right the anger towards the system and the culture and the structures rather than turning them in on myself as I had for so long as so many of us are conditioned to do, but I don't know if maybe now I'm in a different phase and if like, you know, again, sort of feeling like giving birth like broke me open it's like, it's a kind of released some of that anger and made me like more soft and vulnerable and, you know, just less angry and less kind of, you know, I don't have such tightly balled up fists anymore, even when I'm critiquing structures and systems that are harmful.Laura Thomas  First of all, thank you for sharing all of that with us. And I think we don't talk about what giving birth is really like, because what it's really like is everything that you just spoke to, like we, we talked about some of the physical changes, and you know, snapback culture and all of that stuff. But I think this, I really resonate with this idea of like, our emotions just being so close to the surface, and just having like this, just feeling this enormous amount of empathy for even the shittiest of humans. I remember, I was like, I was looking at the news the other day, and there was this article about these cojoined twins that were separated, and there was like a picture of them just lying next to each other holding hands, and I was just like, gushing for like, hours afterwards. My husband was like, are you okay, like, they're fine, the twins are fine. It's just, like things like that get to me in a way that, like, before I became a parent, like, that just wouldn't have registered in the same way I would have been like, Oh, that's sweet. But so yeah, I really, really feel that. And I think it's just so valuable to have these conversations, because I know that a lot of the folks listening to this podcast are parents too. And I think it's really hard. Because we don't have these conversations, because we don't talk about becoming a parent in this way, that it's really difficult to access the language and the vocabulary to express that experience. And it just when I saw that post, I knew exactly what you meant. I mean you've said it really eloquently. But I knew I could feel exactly what you meant without even having had a conversation or knowing any of the details of what you went through. I knew what you meant. And I don't experience that very often with, you know, mum's parent stuff. So, yeah.Christy Harrison  Thank you, that means a lot because I have struggled so much with the language around it too. And with like, expressing anything that doesn't feel cliched, and I think it's cliched for a reason, right, like this idea of like, you know, having a child is like walking around with your heart outside your body, you know, I mean, that's actually sort of a beautiful sentiment, but it's, I think it's become very cliched in sort of parenting circles. And that sort of gets at it a little bit, but it doesn't quite capture, you know,Laura Thomas  On a sort of similar thread of I read someone they had written that, like giving birth is like giving birth to your own heart. And, yeah, but you, you have, yeah, in that sentiment, and everything that you've just said, here, you've you've absolutely nailed it. So thank you for kind of opening up that conversation because I don't think some people are as kind of brave to have that, to, you know, just put that out there in the way that you did. So, yeah, it really struck a chord with me.Christy Harrison  Thank you so much. Thank you for like facilitating this too. Because, interestingly, although I I mentioned a little bit about my experience on my own podcast, and in my own newsletter, I kind of, you know, back when it's just me talking into a mic on my own, I don't really, you know, I think it's there's something about having someone empathetic, listening, asking questions, and you're such a good interviewer, you know, to be able to, like, draw out this experience, I think is really helpful.Laura Thomas  Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing it and I really do appreciate that. And, with all of that in mind, I have a really important question, I think for you, given everything that you've been through this feels really pertinent. Who or what is nourishing you right now? Christy Harrison  That's such a good question. Thank you. I think my husband first and foremost and my baby, you know, like the love I have for them. And I mean, the love that, you know, anyone who has been a parent just like you know, seeing the look that your baby gives you the smiles the, the way they light up when you come into a room like that is such nourishment, and my husband like literally and emotionally every day like you know, bringing me lunch while I'm working Giving me you know, the emotional support and the sounding board and the really insightful feedback that, you know, keeps me going. You know, I think like family has just become such a, such a bigger part of my life in so many ways I knew like growing my family would you know, of course, make family more important, but I haven't, I didn't really understand in what ways until now. And it is just giving me such such an anchor and such joy, you know, I think to like, being offline, as much as I can, I mean, I use I've had to use the internet a lot for book research, but I've done it in a way where I'm like, treating it as a library, like I'm looking up things that are interesting to me, I'm going down, you know, deep dives of research that I find important and helpful. I mean , I am officially on social media, like technically on social media, but I don't really post much at all anymore. Other than, you know, when I came back from maternity leave, and occasional things to kind of promote my work and stuff, but I'm not spending time on there, I'm not scrolling, and I'm trying to just, you know, spend time in the real world to like the physical world, like walking around my neighbourhood, spending time with neighbours and friends locally. And, you know, I know that's, like, that's such a different experience. Now post or not even post COVID, in COVID and in the pandemic, right, and for people who are still having to be super careful, because of disabilities and things like that, I think it's, you know, not everybody has the luxury, the privilege to be able to spend time with people in person still, and I feel that very acutely, and I'm feel grateful that, you know, even with multiple chronic illnesses, I'm still able to, like, be out there and be social. And, you know, the vaccine has given me enough antibodies that I'm not immunocompromised and stuff. So but yeah, I think I think just, you know, trying to really be present with my physical life has been a huge nourishment for me. And just kind of stripping away, you know, and also, like, I want to acknowledge the huge privilege, speaking of privilege of like, having been able to build a career that is largely online, and social media has been part of that. So I have a very complex relationship with it, for sure. And like, it has not been good for my mental health, I can say that categorically. Now, it has not been good for my mental health. And that's been the case for years, you know, I think it's been at least five years, if not, you know, nine or 10, that I've been struggling with my relationship with social media and the way that it affects my mental health. And yeah, to kind of have come, you know, all this way now to see like, the depth of the problems with it. And to say, like, it's not just me, whose mental health that is, it's affecting, and to step away has been really, really nourishing.Laura Thomas  Yeah, yeah, I'm, it's so complicated, because I rely on social media for, you know, promoting my podcast and other things. And at the same time, in August, I've given myself a complete break from it, and I'm just feeling all the benefits of not being on there. So yeah, I can hard relate to everything that you're talking about. Yeah.Christy Harrison  So challenging to have to have to rely on it for business, and yet to be in this just minefield of, you know, the algorithm wants us to be activated and anxious and angry, because it keeps us you know, keeps us riveted.Laura Thomas  And this is why I'm so excited about having the substack newsletter because it's like having, you know, when you get really exciting post. I feel like that's what substack is for me. Like it's getting, it's like getting a letter from a friend. Even though that's not it's not exactly what it is, but it feels just much more enriching in a way that social media doesn't and I don't have to kind of like deal with all this like aspiration, you know, like highly manufactured content that makes me feel really bad. So yeah, yeah, I really hear what you're saying on that. The last question I have for you, Christy and this is kind of a little segment where we share a recommendation. What are you snacking on right now? And it doesn't have to be an actual snack. It can just be something fun that you want to recommend to the listeners.Christy Harrison  I mean, this is maybe you know, who knows problematic and also not available probably anywhere, everywhere in the world, but well, two things. One is Better Call Saul, the TV show. Laura Thomas  Yeah, is it good?Christy Harrison  It's so good. I am obsessed and I didn't watch Breaking Bad for a long time because I thought it was gonna be violent and I don't like violent shows and you know the whole thing but ended up watching it and loving it. But I think Better Call Saul is better than Breaking Bad. I may ruffle some feathers there by saying that that's just my opinion. Laura Thomas  Okay. Good to know.Christy Harrison  Don't at me bro. Laura Thomas  You won't be on social media anyway. Christy Harrison  I guess, I guess people are gonna, yeah. Yeah, for me personally, it's just a better show to, like, it's not as violent. And I don't have to sort of contend with all the like nervous system activation that I had with Breaking Bad. Like, there's still some of that, but it's also like, just a really fun, delicious romp in some ways. Weird, weird of that weird for me to say that. But. So there's that there is. This is like totally weird and tangential. But I am doing vision therapy, I learned that I have a visual disorder that like, like a binocular vision dysfunction, because I've had a long standing for probably five years phobia of driving on the highway. And I get so anxious out of nowhere for no, like there's no cars around me big open road. And suddenly I'm just like, yeah, and I slow down and I can't do it and I get sweaty and my heart racing. I'm like, you know, anxious even thinking about it. And I learned that it's because I have this binocular vision dysfunction where my eyes don't like focus properly in and it's especially relevant in like high speed situations, my brain can sort of, what's the word like, correct for it, in kind of everyday life, but if I'm like speeding down the highway, it's like too much. And so I'm doing vision therapy and wearing special glasses and like, it's really changed my life. I feel like I'm really, I don't want to oversell it or anything for anyone who might be listening or wanting to go through it. But like, the visual therapy exercises are kind of fun and interesting. And like, it's, it's helping me see better, it's helping me like I have gone on the highway a few times without as much panic. And yeah, I don't know, that's not like, particularly a snack, I guess. It's like kind of work. But also it's just, it's giving me like freedom. So it feels like a relief in some way.Laura Thomas  That's so interesting. I'd bet that like really resonates with a lot of people like I, I don't drive in the UK, but living in the States, I can really attest to the panic of getting on a highway like, yeah, even just hearing you talk about it, like I can feel my heart rate getting up right.Christy Harrison  They're terrifying.Laura Thomas  It's so scary. It's so scary. So with, like factoring in the vision side of things I can't even imagine how terrifying that was. So I'm really glad that you're getting that help.Christy Harrison  Well and I'm trying to talk about it, trying to talk about it with people too, because I feel like I know a lot of people who have these phobias of highway driving, who just don't do it. And like it happens to a lot of people as they get older. And my doctor said that, like ageing is a is a real factor. And a lot of people have this, you know, underlying, maybe genetic tendency towards like binocular dysfunction anyway, but it gets sort of triggered as you get older. And you know, many people don't know they have it. So I'm like, who knows who's listening who might benefit from this. And I just discovered it on some random deep dive into Google for like, you know, help with panic attacks on highways. So maybe that'll help someone else.Laura Thomas  That's so interesting that that's like the thing, yeah, that it was .Wow. Christy Harrison  Right? It's, it's wild. Laura Thomas  Yeah, um, there's a lot of people going to be going to their optician soon. All right, I'll tell you my thing real quick. So mine is a kid's book. And I think it's written by a UK based author, but I will provide a link so that you can get it internationally if anyone wants to. And it's actually part of a book roundup for kids zero to five of like body affirming books that I'm doing on the newsletter next week. But I thought I would just give it a little shout out now, because it's so cute. And my two year old loves it. So it's called What Happened To You? And it's about a little boy called Joe who has one leg. And basically the story is, the kids at the playground keep asking Joe, like what happened to you? And they come up with all these ridiculous reasons as to why he only has one leg. Like did a lion bite it off, did it drop down the toilet, and like all of these things, and throughout the book, you can you can kind of see Joe getting like more and more upset and about the fact that like, he just wants to play his little pirate game and he wants the kids to play with him, but they just keep asking him ridiculous questions about where his leg is. And eventually they kind of just kind of connect over their differences and play and do kid things. And it's just this really sweet story, I think, to open up conversations about disability and ableism with kids. And what I really appreciate is that it was written by a guy who's a dad who has one leg. And he goes into a lot of depth at the back of the book, giving parents pointers for how to navigate conversations with your children about disability and really just normalising body diversity. And you know, sometimes people have accidents that mean that they become disabled, some people are born disabled, and just how do you navigate these conversations with your kids? So it's just a really cute book. And it's really beautifully illustrated as well. So it's called What Happened To You? And it's by James Catchpole, and I'll link to it in the show notes.Christy Harrison  Oh, that sounds wonderful. I'm definitely gonna check that out.Laura Thomas  It's very cute. Having had a kid has really like enabled my obsession with buying books to a whole new level. So I'm like, surrounded by them. And I'm not complaining. Christy, before you go, can you tell everyone where they can find more of your work? And more importantly, how they can find out about the new book when it's ready for preorder?Christy Harrison Yeah, thank you. I don't know depending on when this comes out. It might be by then. But if not, you can just or at any time, you can find out more about the new book at my website, christyharrison.com/thewellnesstrap, it's called. And right now I just have a signup form to get on my newsletter to find out more when the book is available for preorder. But soon there will be links there for preorder as well. And then just to learn more about me and my work in general, you can go to my website, christyharrison.com. My podcast is called Food Psych. And you can find that wherever you're listening to this. And yeah, maybe don't find me on social media, because I'm not gonna be spending much time there. But if you want, you can look through the stuff I posted previously.Laura Thomas  Yeah. Thank you so much for being here, Christy, especially, you know, when you're doing book edits, and, you know, being caught in that, you know, that space between being pulled between baby and work, I really, I know that feeling. So thank you for being here. And thank you for speaking so openly about your experiences, it has felt like a really nurturing conversation. So thank you.Christy Harrison  It has for me too. Thank you so much for creating the space for it. And it was a nice break from all my work. So thank you.Laura Thomas  Thanks, Christy. Laura Thomas  Thank you so much for listening to this week's episode of Can I Have Another Snack? If you enjoyed this episode, please take a moment to rate and review in your podcast player and head over to laurathomas.substack.com for the full transcript of this conversation, plus links we discussed in the episode and how you can find out more about this week's guest. While you're over there, consider signing up for either a free or paid subscription Can I Have Another Snack? newsletter, where I'm exploring topics around bodies, identity and appetite, especially as it relates to parenting. Also, it's totally cool if you're not a parent, you're welcome too. We're building a really awesome community of cool, creative and smart people who are committed to ending the tyranny of body shame and intergenerational transmission of disordered eating. Can I Have Another Snack? is hosted by me, Laura Thomas, edited by Joeli Kelly, our funky artwork is by Caitlin Preyser. And the music is by Jason Barkhouse. And lastly Fiona Bray keeps me on track and makes sure this episode gets out every week. This episode wouldn't be possible without your support. So thank you for being here and valuing my work and I'll catch you next week. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit laurathomas.substack.com/subscribe

1hr 18mins

16 Sep 2022

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WNW Series: Challenging Diet Culture with Christy Harrison

Teacher Fan Club

Christy Harrison is a journalist, a registered dietitian who practices from an anti-diet perspective, and a certified intuitive eating counselor. She is the author of Anti-Diet: Reclaim your Time, Money, Wellbeing and Happiness through Intuitive Eating and her new book, The Wellness Trap will be coming out in 2023. Her writing has been featured in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Shape, Refinery 29 and The Food Network. Christy is the creator and host for the podcast Food Psych, which she started in 2013 and is now entering its final season. On Food Psych, Christy talks to numerous guests and experts with diverse perspectives about food and body image. In this episode, Christy talks with Elizabeth and Dana about the need to oppose diet culture in all its various forms, including the "wellness" industry. She shares how schools are a common source for weight bias and her thoughts on how teachers can help students have a more positive relationship with their bodies and food. Full show notes are at www.teacherfanclub.com


24 May 2022

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Approach Food as Self Care, Not Self Control with Christy Harrison

One Real Good Thing with Ellie Krieger

In this episode Ellie speaks with Christy Harrison, registered dietitian nutritionist, certified intuitive eating counselor, author of the book Anti-Diet, and host of the podcast Food Psych. Christy’s “one real good thing” –to approach food as self-care, not self-control---is an important shift in mentality that can help us move away from damaging diet culture toward true well-being. Christy and Ellie discuss how to practice “gentle nutrition” and find freedom, balance and pleasure with food.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.


16 Jan 2022

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Seasons of Overwhelm with Christy Harrison (Part 2)


This week I spoke with my friend and mentor Christy Harrison. Christy is a registered dietitian, certified eating disorders specialist, journalist, and host of the weekly podcast Food Psych. Her first book, Anti-Diet, came out last year and she's currently finishing her next book, Rethinking Wellness, which will be out in 2023. In this second half of our conversation, we focus on emotional eating and shame in eating habits (like eating alone or standing up). We talk about how the pandemic impacts body image as well as body image in pregnancy and postpartum. We also get into the experience of anorexia nostalgia and much more.Last week, in part one, we covered the principles and pitfalls of intuitive eating, pregnancy and IVF, writing, productivity, the overwhelming life season Christy is in and how she's taking care of herself throughout it all. We discussed how she's using meditation as a tool to get used to sitting in discomfort and more. Show notes:- Find Christy on the Web | Instagram | Podcast- Christy's book Anti-Diet | The Making Peace With Food Card Deck- Christy's episode on Dan Harris' Ten Percent Happier Podcast and anti-diet challenge- All of the Let It Out Kits, including Katie's holiday workshops, are 22% off with the code "cosmic"- Subscribe to our newsletter to get show notes sent straight to your inbox- Follow @letitouttt on Instagram If You Liked This Episode, Try Out:Episode 298: Non-Linear Recovery, Body Image, and Diet Culture During a Pandemic with Anti-Diet Author and Food Psych Host Christy Harrison Sponsors:Prisoner Wine: get 20% off your first order with shipping included by going to theprisonerwine.com/LETITOUT!Acorn TV: Get 30 days free of award-winning shows, commercial free, by going to acorn.tv and entering the promo code letitout (all lowercase) at checkout!


16 Dec 2021

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Seasons of Overwhelm with Christy Harrison (Part 1)


This week I spoke with my friend and mentor Christy Harrison. Christy is a registered dietitian, certified eating disorders specialist, journalist, and host of the weekly podcast Food Psych. Her first book, Anti-Diet, came out last year and she's currently finishing her next book, Rethinking Wellness, which will be out in 2023. In this conversation, we focus on intuitive eating, covering the principles of it and the pitfalls. We also discuss the overwhelming life season Christy is in. She candidly talks about her pregnancy, IVF, writing, productivity, and how she's taking care of herself throughout it all. We get into how she's using meditation as tool to get used to sitting in discomfort and more. We could talk forever, so we're breaking this into two parts. Next week we'll cover: emotional eating, shame in eating habits (like eating alone or standing up), how the pandemic impacts body image, body image in pregnancy and postpartum, anorexia nostalgia, and more. Show notes:- Find Christy on the Web | Instagram- Christy's book The Anti Diet- Christy's episode on Dan Harris' Ten Percent Happier Podcast and anti-diet challenge- All of the Let It Out Kits, including Katie's holiday workshops, are 22% off with the code "cosmic"- Subscribe to our newsletter to get show notes sent straight to your inbox- Follow @letitouttt on Instagram If You Liked This Episode, Try Out:Episode 298: Non-Linear Recovery, Body Image, and Diet Culture During a Pandemic with Anti-Diet Author and Food Psych Host Christy Harrison Sponsors:Olive & June: get 20% off your first mani system when you go to oliveandjune.com/letitout and use promo code letitout at checkout. Beautiful nails await!Manscaped: Whatever your man's personal hygiene routine, Manscaped has something for him. Get 20% off your order and free shipping when you go to manscaped.com and enter code LETITOUT at checkout!Ritual: get 10% off your first 3 months of Ritual's multivitamins & protein powders at ritual.com/LETITOUT

1hr 32mins

10 Dec 2021

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401: How to Embrace the Anti-Diet | Christy Harrison

Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

This episode is the second in our two-part Anti-Diet Series, and features guest Christy Harrison. Christy is an anti-diet registered dietitian and nutritionist, a certified intuitive eating counselor, and a certified eating disorders specialist who has struggled with disordered eating herself. She has come out the other side and written a book called Anti-Diet, and in this episode, she discusses how to transform your relationship with food and your body.This conversation explores Christy’s personal experience with disordered eating, the problems with and deep historical roots of diet culture, the scientific evidence against dieting, and the principles of intuitive eating.Content warning: This conversation touches on sensitive topics such as eating disorders and body image, some of which might carry an emotional charge for some listeners.   Christy is also the instructor in our brand-new Anti-Diet Challenge over in the Ten Percent Happier app. This seven-day challenge helps you build a better relationship with food and your body and is backed by science and supercharged with meditation.The Anti-Diet Challenge kicks off on Monday, December 6 in the Ten Percent Happier app. If you’re not already a Ten Percent Happier subscriber, you can join us by starting a free trial that’ll give you access to the challenge, along with our entire app. Click here to get started.Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/christy-harrison-401See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 5mins

1 Dec 2021

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Maybe You Just Think Rice Makes You Sluggish? With Christy Harrison

Burnt Toast by Virginia Sole-Smith

Hello and welcome to another audio version of Burnt Toast! This is a newsletter where we explore questions and sometimes answers around fatphobia, diet culture, parenting and health. I’m Virginia Sole-Smith. I’m a journalist who covers weight stigma and diet culture. I’m the author of The Eating Instinct and the forthcoming Fat Kid Phobia.Today I am chatting with Christy Harrison, a dietitian, host of the beloved Food Psych podcast and author of Anti-Diet, one of my favorite books, and the forthcoming Rethinking Wellness. Welcome, Christy!ChristyThanks, Virginia. So good to be here. VirginiaI’m so glad to have you on. Christy and I have been guests on each other’s podcasts over the years, so it is fun to be doing it again. Christy, I am sure most of my listeners are going to know your work because you are kind of a legend in this space. But why don’t you give us a little background on you and your work?ChristyLike you said, I’m a journalist and dietitian. I started my career as a journalist, and also had my own undiagnosed eating disorder at the time. It kind of made me obsessed with food, nutrition and health, and that’s what I sort of fell into reporting on. And that can really exacerbate disordered eating. Even people who don’t have pre-existing disordered eating, sometimes falling into those beats can create some disorder in one’s relationship with food. So I really struggled with that, but was slowly recovering and had a therapist and had some good people around me, supporting me to at least expand my horizons a little bit with food. I ended up working at a food magazine, Gourmet—RIP—and worked there for a couple years until it folded. And during that time, I realized that the magazine was maybe a little bit on the rocks, and the magazine industry in general was not a great—VirginiaNot a sustainable business model—Christy Yeah, not the most sustainable, and that has really kind of proven to be true. So I went back to school to get my dietitian’s license and get my master's in public health nutrition. And at the time, my goal was to be the next Michael Pollan, or like, Michael Pollan meets Marion Nestle. I wanted to write about sustainability and food systems and ending the “obesity epidemic.” I had really bought into that rhetoric. I think it came out of my own disordered relationship with food and how much I had bought into to diet culture, and specifically the version of diet culture that I now call the wellness diet, which was sort of birthed by the Michael Pollan paradigm. You know, “eat food, not too much, mostly plants,” which is enough to just drive a person up a wall, thinking about the minutiae of that. And of course, my thinking about calories and carbs, and all the sort of overt diet-culture stuff never really went away, either. So it was just a hot mess in my head.Fortunately, when I was in grad school, I started researching a book that I never ended up writing, but that kind of, in a roundabout way, became the basis of Anti-Diet 10 years later. And that original book that I was researching was about emotional eating. I considered myself an emotional eater at the time. I now can see that it’s because I wasn’t eating enough. When people are deprived of food, it makes them eat more in response to emotions, and it also can make them eat more and attribute it to emotions, when really it’s attributable to the deprivation itself, to hunger.I wasn’t really aware of all that. But I started to find research on restrained eating and the effects of that. And I discovered the book Intuitive Eating. And those things started to shift my relationship with food, especially the book Intuitive Eating, and I started to try to practice that and brought it into my therapy. Fortunately, I had been an intuitive eater up until the age of 20, when my eating disorder started. Luckily, no one had interfered in my relationship with food growing up, so I was able to have that intuitive relationship with food, I think largely because of thin privilege—which is the privilege of being thin enough to have nobody say, “you’re too big, you need to lose weight,” and also the privilege of having food security. Those things allowed me to keep on eating intuitively through my adolescence, and I think it was a little bit easier to click back into it because I had that base. It did still take a long time, it took years to really heal my relationship with food, get back to a place of intuitive eating. But I think having that sort of memory was helpful.Once I had gone through that I, you know, was now a nutritionist and soon to be full-fledged dietitian, and I worked for three years as a nutritionist at the New York City Department of Health. And that’s while I was recovering, and sort of re-learning intuitive eating. So the cognitive dissonance of what I was teaching and preaching to people, and what I was doing in my own life, started to be pretty clear to me. I started thinking a lot more about people’s relationships with food, and what makes someone a disordered eater versus having a peaceful relationship with food. And I realized that was the direction I wanted to go in my career. That’s what led me to the eating disorder field and to starting the podcast in 2013, and where I ended up now, I guess. Along the way, of course, I picked up more about Health at Every Size, and an anti-diet approach that I think is really necessary for working with disordered eating, but also for working with any client on any nutritional issue. People of all shapes and sizes, and people of all backgrounds really deserve to have an intuitive relationship with food and a peaceful relationship with food and not to be told what to eat or policed about their food choices.So that’s the perspective I come from now: How can I partner with people and support people through my journalistic work to reconnect with their own innate wisdom about food and nutrition in their bodies?VirginiaThat’s the piece of the conversation that I see missing over and over, when we look at the work of the Michael Pollans of the world or the wellness industry where it is today. There’s no recognition of the emotional piece of this, the oppression that many people face around their bodies and the way the world treats them for their bodies.ChristyIt’s really seen as education is the answer to everything. And I don’t know anyone I’ve seen as a client who hasn’t sort of “known what they were supposed to be doing,” right? They come in saying, you’re gonna tell me I’m bad. I eat this. I’m so ashamed of myself, I eat a lot of processed food, or whatever. People know what the “rules” are. The fact that they’re not following them speaks to the arbitrariness and messed-up-ness of the rules themselves.VirginiaAnd the unsustainability of them, ironically, given that it’s often framed as this effort to find sustainability.I got to know Christy when I interviewed her for The Eating Instinct. Her story is in chapter two, which was excerpted in Medium. When we first met, we both had these early experiences in the magazine world. I was at a magazine called Organic Style, so it was sort of in the same realm, but not a food magazine full on, but very much an incubator of a lot of this wellness industry stuff in the early years of that, and we both had these complicated journeys out of that space. So it’s kind of cool that we both ended up where we are.I’ve got some listener questions that I wanted to put your way. The first is getting at this intuitive eating versus processed food concept, which you sort of touched on a little bit there, and is something folks struggle with a lot. I get a version of this question all the time, but this person wrote: “I love the idea of intuitive eating, but wonder how it works with modern processed food, which is designed to keep us eating more and more. I have heard the processed food hijacks our body’s natural impulses, that sugar and white flour are addictive. I’m especially interested in this question as I get ready to introduce solid food to my baby.” A lot to unpack there.[Editor’s Note: You can read Virginia’s full response to this question here.]ChristyI get versions of this question a lot, too, and I think it’s fascinating because when I first was coming into the intuitive eating space, I still had a lot of that Michael Pollan baggage with me. And I thought, well, maybe there’s a way to bridge these two worlds and think about food politics and how “bad” processed foods are, but do it through an intuitive eating lens where we’re not demonizing anything. And through a lot of reflection on that, I sort of realized, it’s not really possible to bridge those two worlds because the Michael Pollan world is so rooted in—and I keep calling him out as the exemplar of this, but it’s so many people now, the whole wellness industry basically, now—but that world is so rooted in this concept that fat is bad, that eating certain foods makes us fat, and makes us inherently unhealthy, so we need to cut out those foods and it really demonizes certain foods and elevates others. I’ve come to see that that’s really a hallmark of diet culture, and very much a hallmark of this modern guise of diet culture that I call the wellness diet, which is really diet culture disguising itself as health and wellness. It’s still about restriction and deprivation and fatphobia, shaming certain types of bodies and elevating others, and shaming certain types of foods, both because of their perceived connection to higher weights, and also because of other baggage about those foods being “unhealthy” in and of themselves. So now I think that is just fundamentally incompatible with intuitive eating, because one of the principles of intuitive eating is make peace with food, and this full unconditional permission to eat all foods.What I’ve found and what the research bears out, is that when people are truly not deprived of anything, when they don’t see anything as bad or off limits, they paradoxically are able to modulate their eating in a way that is much more aligned with their body’s desires and needs. They’re not in this restrict-binge cycle, with particular foods or with food in general. There’s some research that I cite in my book about the effect of dietary restraint on people’s eating and even their brain activity in response to certain types of foods specifically like sugar, processed foods, you know, “processed” foods and highly palatable foods that are so demonized in our culture. What researchers found is that people who are restricted and deprived, people who are restrained eaters aka chronic dieters, do eat more in the presence of highly palatable foods, do eat more, get more brain reward from sweet foods [Editor’s Note: use of weight-stigmatizing language], and also eat more in the presence of food advertising, and also diet advertising. There are ads encouraging people to eat more foods that are delicious, and also ads encouraging people to eat less, or eat more diet foods, and all of those things dieters are actually more susceptible to doing. Dieters will eat more of the foods that they are told are “good” as well as foods that diet culture deems “bad” in the presence of that kind of marketing. And their brain activity in response to sweet foods is far greater. People who are not restrained eaters, people who are not chronic dieters, don’t show that same response. They actually eat the same amount in the presence of food industry and diet industry marketing, they have way less brain activity in response to sweet foods, they might still have some activity in the pleasure centers because, of course, sweetness is pleasurable. And we all deserve that, we all deserve to have pleasure in food, but there’s not this immense reward because there wasn’t the immense deprivation. When you’re more deprived of something, you tend to gravitate towards it more, and you tend to have a greater reward from that food. And then of course, the corresponding guilt afterwards.VirginiaThat’s so interesting, and what I’m just thinking about, as you’re talking, is how we so often hear this conversation demonizing highly palatable foods, processed foods, and demonizing food marketing for making us want more and more, but we don’t talk very often about how much that marketing is playing into the restrict-binge cycle. So much of the advertising around foods that are “highly palatable” or whatever you want to call it is sort of playing into that rhetoric that you should indulge, that message is not subtle at all in the advertising. And then the diet industry messaging is really the flip side of the same coin in terms of the marketing. We don’t think enough about how it’s not really the food itself. It really is this conversation around food that’s making us feel addicted to it or out of control around it.ChristyAnd I think people like Michael Pollan, and Eric Schlosser, and Marion Nestle—VirginiaAnd that new guy, Michael—ChristyYeah, yes. Michael Moss, Salt, Sugar, Fat.They all sort of make this connection, which actually, in research methods, we call the ecological fallacy, which is like “X thing happened in this community around a certain time, and Y thing also happened, so X was the cause of Y.” In this case, processed food advertising increased, portion sizes increased, and then “obesity” increased, and therefore, these increases in portion sizes, and the type of marketing, made people fat.My response to that is, if we actually step back and look at the cultural context, what was happening leading up to, most people will cite the 1970s as sort of when people’s body sizes supposedly started increasing. Diet culture existed for, you know, about 100 years before that, and really, in a concerted way for 50 years or so before that, and the market share of the diet industry was steadily increasing, and the number of people who were dieting and restricting really increased every decade from, you know, the 1910s, onward, 1920s onward, and reached kind of a fever pitch in the 1970s. So that was the context in which portion sizes also increased and food advertising increased. You have to think, well, what does that sort of mass food deprivation do to people? It makes them crave more food.So if the industry was, in fact, increasing portion sizes and so on, some of that may have had to do with increased demand from an increased number of starving or deprived people. People want bigger portions when they’re deprived of food. You have to sort of take it as a whole, right? We can’t just blame the food industry—and also, blaming anything for people’s body size is inherently fatphobic and stigmatizing. I think looking for a reason for why people are larger is missing the point. We really don’t need to be talking about weight in that kind of pathological way. But we need to talk about this cultural context that makes people think their bodies are too large, makes people fear fatness and demonize fatness and want to do anything to outrun it, including these really extreme, but sometimes also, “less extreme” or “light” or “healthy” diets. Any sort of restriction and taking yourself away from that intuitive relationship with food interferes with that innate connection with food that we’re all born with, and sets people up for that restrict-binge cycle and other forms of disordered eating and exercise.VirginiaYes to all of that. On a related note, the other thing I wanted to chat about is diet foods as a sort of cultural concept. I wrote a piece a few weeks ago about how I continue to love Diet Coke, and also protein powder. I’m somehow more embarrassed about the protein powder. But anyway.Even though it’s been, you know, a good six years plus, since I went on an official diet, and I’ve been out of diet culture in terms of my own head for that long, these are foods that, once I stripped away the diet stuff, I just enjoyed them, and I just eat them without the diet mindset. When I wrote about this, there were a couple of really interesting responses. Quite a few folks said something like, oh, I don’t eat diet foods, I just eat small portions of the real thing I want. And that, to me, is diet mentality. Right? Christy I think it’s so interesting that people are saying, “I just eat small portions of the real thing.” There’s something about this need to limit, that is very much the diet mentality. Because why not just say, I eat however much I want of the real thing?In your case, I mean, I read that piece. And I thought it was really fascinating, the way that you sort of analyze your relationship with those products. Especially in the case of Diet Coke, where it’s something that you grew up with where you weren’t dieting when you were first exposed to it. It was like the taste, the just literal flavor of the diet version, instead of the regular version is what appeals to you.VirginiaBecause my family was dieting, but I was not. Like, they bought it out of a diet mindset for sure.[Editor’s Note: Virginia’s dad says it was about dental health! Do with that what you will…] But that was not my introduction to it or my experience of it.ChristyRight, which is so interesting and different, because it’s like this second hand inheritance of diet culture, but you weren’t being pushed to diet yourself.VirginiaBecause I had thin privilege, I should underscore, because I was a thin kid. And so people weren’t expecting that of me. I was allowed to just experience the magic of Diet Coke. But also as diet culture has morphed into wellness culture, there is now this disdain for something like Diet Coke. Other people were saying to me, “Oh, I don’t let myself drink Diet Coke because of the chemicals or because of the aspartame.” Someone said, “Actually, that was something I didn’t let myself drink when I was dieting, because I was clean eating. And now I’ve reclaimed it.” So there’s layers upon layers, this sort of Venn diagram happening between our feelings about processed foods and our feelings about these diet foods. And in both cases, it seems to me that we’re really just food shaming, right? We’re still playing into this idea that there’s this hierarchy around food we need to ascribe to.ChristyEspecially with that idea of “chemicals” or that Diet Coke, or regular Coke, for that matter, can’t fit into someone’s plan because it’s not healthy, or it’s demonized by this strain of wellness culture. So I think there’s so many different ways that people can relate to it. Your experience is one way where you kind of came by that flavor craving, honestly, you know, you were introduced to it in a way that was, for you at least, devoid of diet culture, not necessarily for the people introducing it to you. But for other people, maybe that was a staple in their dieting days, or in their disordered eating days. And that’s complicated too, right. Because if it’s a disordered eating thing, someone is drinking a lot of caffeine to try to avoid eating, then maybe they need to wean off of those kinds of products for a while and eat more food, and not have that disordered behavior of using caffeine to mask hunger. But maybe for other folks, like you said, the person who wouldn’t allow themselves to have it in their orthorexia clean eating days, maybe the sort of way of breaking out of that and of challenging diet culture is to actually have it and to reclaim it. It’s really different for everyone.Then there’s a political consciousness that comes in that says, you know, I don’t want to buy something that has died on the label, because I don’t want to contribute to that. That’s another way of potentially relating to that, too. But then I think if you’re shaming yourself for what you really want, then maybe the real trick is to drop that political consciousness for the moment so that you can engage with the food you really want, so that you’re not creating this sense of deprivation or lack of permission with something that you really love. If it’s something you don’t really love, and you’re sort of like, take it or leave it, then maybe that’s a situation where you can say, I don’t go in for that stuff. You know?VirginiaWe were then talking about the diet foods that we’ve reclaimed and Skinny Pop Popcorn came up a lot. And I thought, oh, God, I’ve never bought that, and it’s completely a reaction to the word skinny. I’m just really turned off by this sort of overt fat shaming of that product. But while that’s sort of a logical response to that marketing campaign, it also means that I’m banning a food. As it happens, I don’t really like popcorn, so I don’t think in this case, I’m depriving myself of something I would love. But you can really overthink this one.ChristyYou really can but sometimes you just got to go with what you love. When I was in my orthorexia days, I never got into juicing or green juice, because it was kind of early for that, in the early 2000s. For me, the juicing trend didn’t really come until the late 2000s, early 2010s. But these days, occasionally if I see green juice on the menu or something, or just out somewhere, I’m like, oh, that seems really good. Like, I want that flavor. And I’ll sometimes be like, oh, do I want to participate? Do I want to buy from this company that’s like so gross and wellness-y, and that’s sort of against a lot of what I stand for. Sometimes I’ll be like, I don’t want it that much. And other times, I’ll be like, that seems really good. I’m gonna have it. So it can be case by case, too, how you’re feeling on a given day.VirginiaIt’s useful too to remember that the rhetoric around voting with your dollars, that really comes out of the alternative food movement and the wellness industry. And, you know, there certainly is some power to it, consumers have a lot of power. But certainly in my case, if I was like, I’m not gonna buy Diet Coke, because it has diet on the label, but I’m gonna buy a different soda, I’d probably buy regular Coke. So the same company would be profiting off my decision. And I just would enjoy my beverage less. So it’s useful to remember that your individual purchase is not rocking the boat. There’s so much guilt that goes into being an ethical grocery shopper, and a lot of that is more diet culture messaging. ChristyIt really is out of this sustainability, Michael Pollanized wellness-diet version of how we’re “supposed to eat.” We don’t have as much power as individual consumers or even as a block of consumers, as we’re made out to have. VirginiaUnfortunately, but it’s also somewhat freeing to realize that you can truly operate from that intuitive eating place and have what you love and not worry so much about it.The last question that came in that I would love help unpacking is a little more complicated. This reader wrote: “Okay, but what about diet foods you may not love, but which make you feel better. I am very sluggish and tired after eating rice. So I avoid it and make cauli rice. Not saying I love cauli rice, but I do prefer how I feel after eating it compared to actual rice. I don’t eat cauli rice with the intent to be dieting, but I’m aware of the impact certain foods have on me, and then make choices with that knowledge. I’m still trying to figure out if I’m attempting anti-diet culture properly.”ChristySuch a good question. There’s so many layers to that too, right?I don’t know where this person is in their intuitive eating process, but I think it takes years for people to truly be able to look at how they feel after eating a certain food without having it be colored by their diet culture beliefs about that food. In the case of something like rice versus cauliflower rice, it definitely raises a red flag for me. Where does this belief about how rice makes you feel come from? Is it actually because we’ve been fed so much about carbohydrates, and, as I’ve personally evolved in my own relationship with food — and I’ve seen this in clients too; this demonization of carbs, and this sense of like, carbs make me sluggish or make me crash or I don’t feel as good after eating them. But then over time, as the prohibition on carbs starts to fade, and you make peace with them, there’s the sense, like now, I actually am not satisfied by a meal or don’t feel energized after a meal if I don’t have carbs. And I think that’s really coming from a place of having gotten rid of all that diet cultural baggage about carbs and truly listening to my body and how it feels.Playing with that, asking yourself, do I even need to be thinking about this right now? With clients and people in my online course, I often say: Put aside questions about how particular foods make you feel at first and focus on the other principles of intuitive eating. Gentle nutrition, which is the 10th and last principle, is the last principle for a reason because it is so tricky. And gentle nutrition doesn’t even have that much to do with how particular foods make you feel. It’s also about building meals that are going to be satisfying and sustaining and snacks that are going to be satisfying and sustaining and learning how to energize and nourish yourself. There’s this misconception about intuitive eating, that probably comes from the wellness diet, that comes from the strain of diet culture that’s like, X food makes you bloated and Y food makes you sluggish. And you know, those words, sluggish, bloated, like—VirginiaThey have a lot of implicit fatphobia. And they’re vague symptoms. I don’t want to discount her lived experience of her body, but they are symptoms that are difficult to name and pin down and tie to a concrete thing. There are a lot of reasons you might feel sluggish and tired on any particular day, totally unrelated to what you’re eating.ChristyDiet culture has conditioned us to look to food as the source instead of thinking about how much sleep did I get, how stressed am I. So many different things can affect how we feel in our bodies, our level of fatigue, or energy, our sense of bloating and digestion and stuff like that. So I think kind of broadening the lens to what beyond the food is going on. We’ve talked previously about the nocebo effect or the converse of the placebo effect. The placebo effect is, you think something’s gonna make you feel better, and so it does, because there’s the power of that mind-body connection to actually help improve symptoms, like pain and fatigue and stuff like that. And then conversely, the nocebo effect is, you think something’s gonna make you feel worse, so it does.That’s not to say it’s all in your head, because I know how dismissive that can feel, because I have had so many health conditions and concerns myself that doctors implied were in my head when that was not the case. What I mean is that our thoughts about particular foods and other things, medications and such, do really have an effect on how we feel when taking that food or medication. Thinking about that in relation to this question, too. Can this person sort of think through how much of this maybe is the nocebo effect? And how can you change your beliefs about regular rice so that you’re not putting all this pre-existing baggage on it, that might end up making you feel worse after eating it? Versus if you can divest a little bit from those beliefs?Your relationship with rice and how you feel after eating rice might change.VirginiaI think I also just came away with a little sadness, where she’s saying, “I’m not saying I love this food that I’m eating.” I just want people to eat the foods that they love. If you’re not loving it, then I think it’s worth looking at why you’re making yourself eat it. That’s where I land at the end of the day. And I think that goes for, you know, any diet foods.ChristyAs you were talking, it sort of struck me how it’s this conversation about rice versus cauliflower rice, but also why not rice versus pasta, or bread? Is there something about that? Are you actually avoiding all carbs and thinking that carbs are bad. Or gluten? [Editor’s Note: Of course, all rice is gluten-free, but fear of gluten often leads to a broader fear of carbs.] Is there a belief about gluten that is sort of coming from that nocebo place or that wellness diet place too that’s making you avoid those foods? If the only option feels like it’s cauliflower rice, then I think there’s definitely some work to be done unlearning those negative beliefs about the other food. Of course, there’s a tiny percentage of people, like 1%, or less than 1% of the population, who has Celiac Disease and would need to avoid gluten. I’m not talking about that. But even people who do have Celiac, I think it’s worth working through the harmful negative beliefs you might have about gluten-containing foods so that you’re not demonizing anything in your mind, even if you’re not eating them for self care. Just allowing yourself to drop the negativity about particular foods can help you feel a little more grounded in your food choices. I definitely know some people with Celiac Disease who sort of rebel against that deprivation and restriction by eating gluten. And that’s not super helpful for their well-being, you know, that can be definitely physically uncomfortable and potentially harmful in the long term too. And so, you know, I think getting yourself to a place where you’re not in this restrict binge cycle is always helpful.VirginiaThat totally makes sense.Christie, thank you so much. This was a really super helpful conversation. I always love chatting with you. Why don’t you tell listeners where they can find more of your work?ChristyPeople can find more of my work on my website, ChristyHarrison.com, I actually do a weekly newsletter as well, at ChristyHarrison.com/newsletter. And I also have my book and podcast and all the other stuff I do there as well. This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit virginiasolesmith.substack.com/subscribe


22 Jul 2021

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S2 Ep5: #14 - Christy Harrison

Fad Camp

Special guest Christy Harrison is a world renowned author & anti-diet dietitian, as well as being the inspiration for the Fad Camp podcast! We talk all things diet culture & why no one at your funeral will mention that you kept it tight.--- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app


26 May 2021

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Unpacking The Fear of Weight Gain Ft. Christy Harrison

Diet Starts Tomorrow

This week Sami and Aleen are joined by registered dietitian nurtionist, certified intuitive eating counselor, and author of the book Anti-Diet, Christy Harrison. They discuss the ten principles of intuitive eating, why it’s important to start embracing the foods diets tell you to be afraid of, and why you should honor your hunger and feel you fullness. Then, Christy explains how to reconnect with the intuitive eating skills you’re born with, why you should be careful of where you’re getting your intuitive eating information from, and how to best utilize psychotherapy to help heal your relationship with food. She also unpacks why there’s room to do intuitive eating and still want to lose weight, and why some people might gain weight when they first start their intuitive eating journey. Lastly, they discuss the four tenets of diet culture, why diets don’t work, and why on average people tend to gain weight after a diet. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

1hr 2mins

23 May 2021

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#112: Christy Harrison: Path to Writing and Being Anti-Diet

The Appetite

We're excited to bring you our conversation with Christy Harrison MPH, RD, CEDRD author of Anti-Diet and host of the Food Psych podcast. Many of you might know of Christy's work, but might not know what led her to shift her career from working as a journalist reporting on food sustainability to becoming an anti-diet dietitian, author, and host. She breaks down her personal journey with food and eating disorder recovery and how it ultimately led her to write Anti-Diet, a culmination of her research on the history of diet culture, its roots in systems of oppression, Health at Every Size, intuitive eating, and so much more. Connect with Christy: Website URL: https://christyharrison.com/ Instagram Handle: https://www.instagram.com/chr1styharrison/ Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/christyharrisonnutrition Twitter Handle: https://twitter.com/chr1styharrison iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/food-psych/id700512884 Book: Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating Podcast: Food Psych Connect with Opal:  www.opalfoodandbody.com Thank you to our team... Editing by David Bazzi Music by Aaron Davidson: https://soundcloud.com/diet75/ Administrative support by Camille Dodson


6 May 2021