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January 1, 2017 by Leanne Vogel November 16, 2018
Interview with Linda Bacon, PhD, a researcher on the inside track of weight regulation science, and author of Health at Every Size and Body Respect. Chatting with us about the process of beginning to accept your body, the reason dieting doesn’t work, how to deal with feelings of shame, and more.
For podcast transcript, scroll down.
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Leanne Vogel: You’re listening to episode number 14 of The Keto Diet Podcast.
Hey, I’m Leanne from HealthfulPursuit.com and this is The Keto Diet Podcast where we’re busting through the restrictive mentality of a traditional ketogenic diet to uncover the life you crave. What’s keto? Keto is a low-carb high-fat diet where we’re switching from a sugar-burning state to becoming fat-burning machines. If you’re in need of keto recipe food prep inspiration, I’ve prepped a free seven-day keto meal plan, exclusive for podcast listeners. The plan is complete with a shopping list and everything you need to chow down on keto for seven whole days. Download your free copy at HealthfulPursuit.com/ketomeal. Let’s get this party started.
Hey guys, happy New Year. I hope you enjoyed last night’s festivities and you’re feeling fabulous this morning. The awesome thing this week is Fourth and Heart ghee butter. It’s dairy-free, lactose-free, casein-free. The filter their ghee three separates times to remove all milk solids. Guys, this is the only ghee that I haven’t reacted to. The last ghee that I tried was Tin Star Foods. While I didn’t react to the dairy, I did react to the histamine in it because of various reasons that I’m not too familiar with, so I’m not even going to get into it. While I love the taste of their brown butter, so good, I was reacting to the histamines.
Fourth and Heart ghee butter sent me all of their flavors. They had vanilla, Himalayan rock salt. I’ll probably forget one. White truffle salt, original. There was probably one more. Garlic, so good. I’m not reacting to them. I went through an entire jar in two days. Amazing. If you are sensitive to casein, lactose, dairy, all of the things, like this girl, you may want to check them out, because you may not react to them either. What we’re covering in this episode, giving up food control, a connection between weight and your health, and overcoming weight stigma. The show notes for today’s episode can be found at HealthfulPursuit.com/podcast/e14. Let’s hear from one of our awesome partners.
InstantPot, my personal favorite pressure cooker, is a partner of the podcast. With InstantPot, you can make meals in minutes. Truly, I was someone who was intimidated by pressure cookers, but I’m so happy I gave Instant Pot a try. It makes rich bone broth, hearty stews, and epic dishes just like your slow cooker does, but a lot quicker. I have the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 which pressure cooks, slow cooks, cooks rice, sautes, makes yogurts, steams, and warms up food all in one. As an exclusive for Keto Diet Podcast listeners only, InstantPot is offering everyone $10 off any InstantPot of their choice. Simply go to Instantpot.com. Find the unit that best suits you, and use the coupon code HEALTHFUL, that’s all in caps, no spaces, for your $10 discount.
I have one announcement today. It is officially 2017 so we’re kicking off the official launch of my paperback that’s coming out April 11th of this year, and I can say that now. It’s so exciting. You can get more information by going to ketodietbook.com. I partnered up with Victory Belt on this one. They are my first official publisher. I’ve self-published all of my books and programs up until this point, but Victory Bell was so cool and approached me with the option of really writing whatever book I wanted. I chose to write on about keto, because surprise, surprise, I’m really into this stuff. It focuses on being kind to your body and listening to your body and creating an eating style that fits your life and your needs, and takes away the restriction that often comes with a standard ketogenic protocol.
It has oodles of information you won’t find in any of my other programs, and it talks really about how to make the keto diet work for you in the kitchen. It talks a lot about food preparation and meal prep, and ingredient choices, and how all this works together, how to soak your nuts and seeds, how to spiralize, and roast, and toast, and all the different things of all the different things you can spiralize, how to make keto smoothies, how to make the perfect fat bomb, so that you have templates to make this work, and you’re not always having to look at recipes. If you love recipes, I also got a lot of those in the book as well, over 125 of them, including a bunch of different shopping lists with meal plans so you can totally crush all of the recipes in the book. They’re simple.
You all know that I don’t necessarily totally enjoy cooking for long periods of time, which made writing a book with 125 recipes really interesting. I like to make recipes quickly and move on with my life, so I included a bunch of new recipes. I think we only included a handful that are classic from the blog. Everything else is brand new. Again, you can find more information at ketodietbook.com. When you pre-order, that means that you will get the book the minute it goes live on April 11th. It will be sent to you, and you will get it in a couple of days. You can pre-order in Amazon, IndieBound, Barnes and Noble, Indigo, a bunch of different places. When you do pre-order, you get put on a list so you get a bunch of free things immediately, including a savings guide that can save you upwards of $100 on keto products.
All my partners who joined in, they’re giving you guys access to some cool savings that you won’t find anywhere else. Today’s guest is Linda Bacon, Ph.D. She’s a researcher on the inside track of weight regulation science, a scientist whose three graduate degrees, research, and clinical expertise, uniquely prepare her to understand and translate the physiological, psychological, and sociocultural underpinnings of weight control. She is currently a health professor at City College of San Francisco, and an Associate Nutritionist at the University of California, Davis.
An internationally recognized authority on weight and health, Dr. Bacon has published her book in top scientific journals, as well as the highly-acclaimed bestseller, Health at Every Size: The surprising truth about your weight. Her recently released book, Body Respect: What conventional health books get wrong, leave out, or just fail to understand about weight, is a crash-course in what you need to know about bodies and health. Let’s cut over to the interview.
Hi Linda. How are you doing today?
Linda Bacon: Good, Leanne. Good to hear from you.
Leanne Vogel: Yes. I am very thrilled to have you on the podcast. For listeners that may not be familiar with your work, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Linda Bacon: Well, my goal is to try to help people to get off the diet bandwagon. I know that so many people are just scared of food and always trying to restrict it. I’m out there preaching message that you can learn how to enjoy food and take good care of our body at the same time. I’m a scientist. I’ve studied this from lots of different angles. I’ve got a Ph.D. in physiology with a specialty in nutrition. I’m also an exercise physiologist and a psychotherapist. I’ve got one Ph.D. and two master’s degrees. Everything just keeps coming up. Every field of inquiry has taken me to the same place that just says that we can trust our bodies. When we give up controlling them, our bodies do a much better job of being kind to us and doing what they need to do. That’s my goal in the world, is to help spread that message.
Leanne Vogel: You do such a wonderful job of spreading that message and have inspired so many people, including me to just give up the control, and just trust my body. It’s quite an amazing practice, but overwhelming for a lot of people.
Linda Bacon: It is scary. I certainly understand that. So many people believe that if they ever gave up the control, they would be out of control. It’s scary to let go of restricting and trying to watch yourself all the time. I’ll be happy over the course of this podcast to talk a little bit about some of the reasons why that might be helpful and some of the skills that are valuable to help people make that leap of faith.
Leanne Vogel: Speaking about the skills, I’m sure there is a process of giving up that control. It’s not just one day you’re dieting, restricting everything, and the next day you love every part of yourself, and you’re trusting yourself.
Linda Bacon: Exactly.
Leanne Vogel: What does that process look like? How does somebody even begin to trust their body?
Linda Bacon: Wow. You’re just jumping in with the hardest questions right up front, aren’t you?
Leanne Vogel: Get that out of the way, and then we’ll talk about set point, weight, and stuff.
Linda Bacon: Might as well. How do you get to that place of just trusting yourself? Well, as you’re mentioning, it’s not a thing that you just do overnight, and you’re cured. I think that there’s a long process of trying to recognize what it is that you’re looking for in food, and then making sure that you give that to yourself. I always like to throw in stories because I think that that helps to bring this across.
Leanne Vogel: Yes, please.
Linda Bacon: Let me see if I can come up with a story. Okay. All right. This one I’m sure that the moms in the audience will be able to relate to. I had a mother that was complaining to me that her kid was pretty out of control over eating. Sometimes they would be restricting, and other times they’d be eating out of control. She wanted just to try to figure out how she can normalize eating. It was the kid’s birthday party. The kids were all maybe ten years old. We’re sitting by the ice cream. There is an ice cream cake that was there. The kid comes rounding up with an empty plate. He had obviously just eaten his ice cream cake, and he’s asking his mom. “Mom, mom, can I get another piece?” The mom looks at me just helplessly like, “How do you get this kid in control right now?”
I got to admit, even though I’ve got a kid of my own, I’m not so good with kids. I was [inaudible 00: 10: 55] How do you respond to this kind? I asked the kid, “How come you want another piece?” The kid looks at me like I’m crazy and he says, “Because it tastes so good.” I said, “Oh you wanna feel good.” and the kid says, “Yeah.” I said, “Well, is there anything else in this party that helps you to feel good?” Then he starts talking about the little bouncy house that they had outside; then all the kids were jumping around him. He was so excited talking about it that he forgot about the ice cream. He drops his plate, and he runs out, and back to the bouncy house.
It was such a great statement that … He wasn’t hungry. He just was looking for some enjoyment or something. All I had to do was just help him to figure out what made him happy, and then food didn’t have to serve that purpose anymore. It wasn’t like I was telling him, “No, you can’t eat it,” or consciously restrict. I was telling him, “Go for what makes you happy and, you know, discover that.” Think that’s just a great lesson for all of us adults too.
There’s a reason we look for food. Sometimes it might be physical nourishment. We need the energy. For people who feel out of control around food, it’s probably less about that sometimes, and more about some emotional need that we need to be met. We deserve to take care of ourselves and give ourselves what we need and want. It was amazing to see the transformation for that kid, and how easy it was. Once he just identified what he wanted, and then found a solution for it.
Leanne Vogel: That’s such a perfect story and something that I can relate too 100% when I’m … We call it snacky in the house. It’s not hungry. You just want to eat, but you’re not hungry. Then it’s like, “Wait, what did I not do? Oh I forgot to meditate, or I didn’t go for a walk, or I didn’t do those things that make me feel happy, and free, and adventurous, and therefore I’m eating and snacking on things that I don’t need and don’t want.” You’re just seeking for that feeling, totally 100%.
Linda Bacon: Yeah. I think one thing that’s helpful regarding framing is to recognize that there’s a lot of beauty in that drive to eat because it’s your signal that you want something and that you need something, and that you need to … This is a time to be compassionate and caring, and loving, and give yourself what you need. Instead of looking at that drive to eat as something bad, and wrong, and what’s taking you down, you can look at it as the opportunity and a chance to get to know yourself better, and that the drive is all about your self-love. It’s like you want to care for yourself, and that’s what the drive is about.
Leanne Vogel: Maybe a simple question could be like, what do I need right now when you get hungry? Could that be he helpful?
Linda Bacon: Yeah.
Leanne Vogel: Amazing.
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Leanne Vogel: You wrote two fabulous books. My favorite is Health at Every Size. I haven’t read your second book but definitely will be doing that. Can you tell us a little bit about the Health at Every Size concept for people that maybe don’t know or understand what that means?
Linda Bacon: Sure. Well, the reason we used the words “Health at Every Size” is just recognizing that people can make good health choices regardless of what their size is. Everybody has opportunities to be good to themselves in the body that they have. It’s expanding the notion of health. It’s not saying that health is something that’s limited to thin people, and it’s just acknowledging that it’s possible for everybody to take good care of themselves. Health at Every Size is something that starts from a social justice model. What we mean by that is that it just recognizes that you as an individual matter, and that there’s things about your life that you’re bringing to your experience of food and your body, and that the world is also treating you in a certain way, based on their judgments and beliefs about your body, and that you have to start from your individual experience and to trust that who you are is okay, and that your body is okay too, and that your body comes packaged with all kinds of messages about how best to take care of yourself.
You can drop all those other ideas of trying to control it, of how many calories you think you’re supposed to get, or how much exercise, and what endurance, at what heart rate you’re supposed to do. Look instead for those internal messages that are guiding you. Things like hunger and fullness and your energy levels throughout the day are all giving you great indications of what your body needs and how satisfied it is. You can do a great job of just getting to know yourself and making good choices that honor who you are.
Leanne Vogel: Brilliant. For somebody … I struggled with an eating disorder for over a decade. I always thought that I needed to be a certain weight like you mentioned, the heart rate that you’re supposed to have, the weight that you’re supposed to be. In your book, you highlight so perfectly the concept of set point weight. When I read that for the first time, I was like, “Oh my gosh. Finally, I can eat.” It’s okay because of that constant restriction, while it was pretty “successful” for me and I was able to maintain … It was very challenging to maintain the weight that I was at. As soon as I listened to my body, trust my body, I did gain weight, but now it’s effortless for me to maintain the weight that I’m at. It maybe changes a little tiny bit, up and down, maybe five to 10 pounds, but it’s not this drastic up and down swinging. Can we talk a little bit about set point weight?
Linda Bacon: Sure. As I talk about that, I want to start by just highlighting that point that you brought out about how people fight so hard to control their weight, and it’s a pretty radical realization to recognize that when you give up the fight that your body is much more efficient in doing that process for you, and it’s effortless. It’s pretty amazing to know that our bodies know how to take care of us and that we don’t have to put all that work into it.
All right. Let me back up a little bit to get us back to that point. You use the language set point weight. That’s something that’s well recognized by scientists today. Everybody has got a weight range that’s right and appropriate for them, and that their body likes to defend and to maintain. It’s very similar to something like your body temperature. There’s a temperature that’s healthiest and best for you. You don’t stay exactly at that temperature all the time. On hot days, your body might get a little bit hotter. If it gets too hot, there’s going to be all kinds of body processes that are going to kick in to try to cool you down. For example, you might star to sweat to lose some of that heat off of your body and bring your body back into a comfortable range.
Well, it turns to that our body fat levels are maintained within a healthy range, just like your boy maintains your temperature in a certain healthy range. We all come biologically predetermined to be in a certain range, and then the things that we do in our life also have a minor impact of changing where we should be on that spectrum. In general, what we find is everybody has got their particular range that’s right and best for them. If you let go of trying to control your weight, what your body is going to do is it is always going to try to keep you in that range. When you’ve lost too much weight, then you’re going to get pretty intense signals that are going to try to get you to eat more, so that you could regain the weight and get back into range.
Similarly, if you get too heavy, your body is going to have mechanism that is going to try to kick you back into losing that weight. It might turn off your appetite to make you eat less, for example. I know it can be pretty scary because lots of people feel like, “No. If I stop controlling myself, I will just keep gaining, gaining, gaining weight that I don’t have those regulatory mechanisms in me.” But yet it’s well-established by scientist that we all do, except for a very, very tiny minority of the population that’s got some genetic defects. We all have those mechanisms both at the bottom and the top of our range. Those mechanisms at the bottom of our range are real, really intense strong, which makes sense because if you lose too much weight, you will die.
Biology set us up, so those regulatory mechanisms make sure that we don’t lose too much weight. On the other hand, those regulator mechanisms at the top of our range, we can override them a bit. That also makes sense if we look at it from a historical perspective. While we use to have famines that would cause us to lose too much weight, and so we’ve evolutionary … We’ve developed so that we have more protection in place. Historically, we’ve never really had too much opportunity to gain a whole lot of weight before. It’s only really within the last few hundred years that food has been more readily available for some people, and that we haven’t had to work as hard to be able to get it, for some people that are.
We’ve never even had opportunity to get fat until more recently, but yet we still have that mechanism, but we can override them. In other words, your body might be telling you, “That’s enough calories, I’m satisfied.” but you can override that and decide to eat more. For example, in that we were talking about earlier, the example of the kid eating not for physical nourishment but for emotional needs. You can override those healthy mechanisms that are trying to keep you at a healthy weight, and some people tend to be over weight that’s healthy for them. But if you trust your body, your body is going to try to keep you within that range.
Another big point that I want to make is that most people think, “Oh, I must, therefore, be above my healthy set point weight because I’m too heavy.” That’s not true. A lot of people are in a weight that’s healthy for them, but that weight might not be what’s socially given a lot of power. What we know is that there are a lot of people in those categories called overweight and obese, where that’s the right and healthy weight that their body wants them to maintain and it’s good for them. We have to throw out all of these notions of being at a normal BMI. I use the word normal in air quotes, which I guess you can’t see on this audio.
Leanne Vogel: We could tell.
Linda Bacon: Because there is no … Normal isn’t really what’s normal for most people. Most people don’t fit in that, and it’s not what’s going to be healthy, [inaudible 00: 24: 03] right for most people. We have to throw out all of those ideas of what perfect body looks like, and instead trust that if we just let our body take care of itself, it’ll get to the place that’s best for you.
Leanne Vogel: I love that you mentioned the question about, “Well, I must be above my set point because I’m too heavy.” because I know a lot of people listening are thinking that very thing, but it’s very true. Something that you mentioned previously and something that you mentioned in your book as well is what happens when people are under their set point is that they get an increased appetite. What happens when they’re above their set point is that they get finicky with food, and they become very picky with what they’re eating and such. Are there other signs that can maybe tell somebody if they’re at a set point that’s right for them, or they’re above or below?
Linda Bacon: Okay. Well, first off, I’m not so sure. I haven’t seen research that says that when people are above their set point, they get finicky. I’m not so sure that I want to support that idea. What we certainly know is that when people are below their set point weight, there’s a lot of different reactions they could have. One is that feeling of desperation around food, of always being hungry, of food always being on your mind, constantly being distracted by it. Those are all possible signals of being below your set point. There are other things that could be setting that up. Just having a restrictive attitude towards food could also set up all of that stuff.
I think the key to helping people figure out if they’re in their set point range is just … The set point is the weight that your body just keeps returning to when you’re on your diet and when you just let go of that control. Some people, it’s so rare that that ever happens, that they might not even know what that is. It might just take some patience of watching what happens to your body over time before you get there. When your body brings you into a set point range, it’s not often something that happens immediately. It’s interesting. There are different time periods for when … When people are below their set point, often mechanisms are going to be pretty intense trying to get them to regain the weight.
When people are above their set point, it’s a very slow controlled process that your body goes through to get you to gradually regain the weight. That might explain why some people it takes a couple of years after their last diet when they lost all that weight before they’ve regained it, that your body is utterly changing all of these mechanisms. Maybe it’s slowing down your metabolism just a little bit. Not enough for it to be noticeable to you throughout the day, but enough that it adds up over time so that you’ve regained the weight over the course of a couple of years or so.
Leanne Vogel: Yes, that was my experience. Well, in my experience, as soon as I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted when I wanted, I had a period of eating everything that I previously restricted, but that only lasted a couple of weeks until I said, “Wow, that doesn’t make me feel too good.” Then slowly over time gaining weight, and then slowly balancing out. I can attest to that.
Previously, you were talking about control. What happens when we don’t allow our body to maintain the set point weight? That control that we’re constantly going through, what happens if we continue down that path?
Linda Bacon: Okay. Well, let’s look at it first from the perspective of as you’re losing the weight, when you’re going on a diet, and you’ve dropped below your set point weight. Generally what’s going to happen is the first thing is your body is going to try to get you to eat more, so it’s going to bump up your appetite. It gets you to think about food all the time. There are so many different things that go on in your body to try to get you to eat, like change in your brain so that you’re thinking about food. You get changes in the taste buds in your tongue so that a wider range of foods are appealing to you. That’s why foods that you never would’ve considered before are suddenly just calling out to you because your bod is so desperate that it’s making those vending machines talk to you, whereas before you might not have noticed them.
That kind of desperation that people feel where they want to eat everything in sight and they’re thinking about food all the time is part of that response to being below your set point. Now here’s another really interesting thing, though, is that some people can have tremendous will power on diets. I know that I was one of those really good dieters, that I would get all those signals where I’d be thinking about food all the time, and I’d want to eat. There were times I was still able to stick with my diet because I just so desperately wanted to be thing. Here’s the next step that happens.
When your body sees that turning up our appetite isn’t resulting in you getting more calories, and it really wants to help you regain the weight, your body actually can turn down your appetite again, because it figures, “Well, there’s wasted energy in turning up their appetite if they’re not going to respond to it, and I just need to get more calories on them.” Your body might turn down your appetite. Some people sometimes hit that point where it feels like a diet is easier after a while, but that’s why the next step that comes in that’s quite difficult, and that’s that your body then will just slow down how much it uses energy so that you’re now conserving energy. You might feel draggy during the day like you just don’t have as much get up and go to do things, and you’re tired all the time. Now, even though you’re eating less, your body is spending less energy, and it maybe that you were gaining weight from being on that diet.
That’s interesting. In the beginning, part, eating fewer calories helps you to lose weight, but over time, eating fewer calories could result in weight gain, because your body just slows down how much energy it spends. It doesn’t matter whether you go off your diet or you stay on your diet. Your body is pretty good at getting you to regain the weight.
Leanne Vogel: Are there certain foods that increase the satiety more than others? A lot of people listening right now are fairly “whole food eaters.” We try to take care of our bodies, and we’re eating food that makes us feel good. Are there certain foods that increase hunger more than others or decrease hunger and give you more of a true sense of your hunger? For example, for me that’s fat. I eat a lot of fat. When I don’t eat a lot of fat, I’m always hungry, and it’s like a fake hunger. In your experience, do you see that some people resonate better with different types of foods than others?
Linda Bacon: I think that we give way too much power to the types of foods. People can stay within our healthy set point range, a range of different eating styles. What you eat tends to not matter as much as people give it … It doesn’t have the same kind of power that people like to believe. I think too that those … Well, feeling full at a particular time is like a helpful signal that we have to remember that it’s not one meal that your body cares about. It cares about the whole big picture over time.
If you’re doing a lot to feel full. For example, you could drink a lot of liquids and eat a lot of soup. Sure that is going to contribute to a feeling of fullness. That might stop you from eating at that particular time, but your body is just … If it doesn’t get the calories it needs, it’s just going to kind of push you to eating more at your next meal. I don’t think all of those little tricks to try to get you to feel more full at an individual meal have any long-term effect on helping you to maintain a lower weight.
Leanne Vogel: What do you propose instead? Instead of looking at what you’re eating in one meal, how should one, or should one even look at what they’re eating, or should they just go from day to day, eating what they want, not caring? Where is the line between all of that?
Linda Bacon: Eating to feel good is a good strategy, right? Let’s say that you ate nothing but candy. You would probably find that you’re constipated all the time because your body is not getting the fiber that it needs. You are getting a signal that that’s not doing a good job of taking care of your body. In generally, people will find that the more fiber they get in the body, the more it contributes to more comfortable bowel movements, more consistent energy throughout the day, and just a better feeling. Rather than telling people “Eat high-fiber foods because it it’s good for you.” I’d rather people come to and experience of when I eat these kinds of foods, I feel better in my body and figuring out what those foods are for them. That will naturally bring people to eating more things like vegetables because they’re high in fiber, which is very different from eating vegetables because they’re a good food for you.
Leanne Vogel: Yeah. I know somebody who had orthorexia as well. I had a lot of stress about when to eat, how to eat, where to eat it. I would force myself to eat even though I wasn’t hungry because it was time for dinner. Oh my gosh, I haven’t eaten enough vegetables, and there was so much stress around that. As opposed to now, it’s just like, “Oh I feel like vegetables, I’m going to have them, or I don’t.” It’s a lot less restricted and restrained.
Linda Bacon: Right. You’ll find that on those times that you go without vegetables like, “What happens to me when I’m traveling, and so I’m eating out all the time?” It’s very different from what I normally eat at home. I often find that I get constipated when I travel because I don’t have as much fiber. That’s not as usual in restaurant meals as it is the kind of stuff that I cook for myself. I don’t feel good in my body when I’m not eating vegetables. I get all the signals.
Again, I think that it’s much more valuable for people to learn about their bodies and how to read their bodies, rather than to eat these foods because they know they’re supposed to be healthy. Because once you get a sense that this helps you to feel better, then you want to eat those foods, that you’re more drawn to them, which is again very different from eating your vegetables because you’re supposed to.
Leanne Vogel: You have to, yeah. Lately, we talked a little bit about health and weight. What do you say about health and weight and how they are combined? I know We chat a little bit about set point weight, but is there anything else you want to add to women listening that are like, “But it can’t be healthy. My doctor is saying that these extra 20 pounds are unhealthy, and I would be better if I lost it.”?
Linda Bacon: Right. Well, first off, recognize that doctors aren’t trained in obesity. When they are trained, they’re given a lot of misinformation in conventional education today. Doctors are also, many of them are not trained in nutrition. According to all of the federal expectations of a medical education, there is I think only about 20 hours of nutrition education that’s required, which is not a whole lot. That nutrition education could be about biomechanical or, I’m sorry, the biochemical pathways, and not have anything to do with what’s actually in food, or very little to do.
Doctors are not the places that we should be going for any information about nutrition and weight. Now, of course, some individual doctors have chosen to have studied this and may be well educated, but it’s not something that is appropriately built into their education. It’s sad that they’re the ones that are giving advice around to this. What we certainly know is that the advice that their told to give around weight doesn’t measure up to what we know from the best science. You consider something like the body mass index which is doctor’s turn-to and is told to use as a health indicator. Well, the body mass index was something that was written by the pharmaceutical industry. That whole expose appears in my first book, Health at Every Size.
When the US government adopted it, it wasn’t because they did an analysis of health and decided that these categories really will help people to stay in good health. In fact, you’re not going to find any peer-reviewed health data that backs up their decision. Instead, you trace back how they decided to set the guidelines where they did, and you can find that it was a privately funded organization that was in large part funded by pharmaceutical companies that had weight loss drugs out in the market that help to define the BMI standards that we use today. When doctors use BMI as a health indicator, they’ll end up misdiagnosing people over half of the time.
It’s time for us to throw out all those notions of body mass index and if your doctor is using them, it’s a sure signal that they’re not staying up on state of the art medicine, that they’re just buying into this old belief systems. I can understand why they would. That’s what their professions still pushes, but their profession isn’t relying on science to come up with it. It’s more of just about prejudice and manipulation. I think if your doctor tells you to lose weight for health reasons, it’s time to fire your doctor and find somebody who’s studied these issues from a scientific perspective.
Leanne Vogel: Brilliant advice. Totally, I would agree with you. That’s really what you have to do. In my case, I feel so much better than I would 10, 20 pounds lighter. I’m not going back there. I don’t want to do that. You can. I’m good.
Linda Bacon: If you want to find out about someone … If you want to support someone in good health, what you can do is you can support people in good health behaviors. Weight is not a behavior. Weight is just a physical characteristic. Again, we can always support people in being regularly active, developing their social network, taking downtime, and eating well. All those things are going to be a good indicator of the things that they can do to help themselves. I would also like to suggest one other really big thing that people can do to help themselves, and that’s to learn how to manage stigma, that it’s not easy being in a larger body in this culture, that there’s so many. Socially, we’re just not kind to larger people.
There’s so much misinformation about weight, but the answer is not for individuals to lose weight and try to fit in. The answer is to change the culture, to recognize that size diversity is a sign of health, and that we just need to honor people and all of the different varieties that their bodies have, and support them in living well. For the heavier people, part of that shirt is going to be to manage the stigma of living in a world that is not very fair. In some ways, it’s similar to dealing with the fact that racism exist. You don’t tell a person of color to bleach their skin. Although if they had lighter skin, they’d probably get treated better in the world. Instead, you help them to see that there’s something wrong with racism, that they’re okay, and to help them to manage their ability to live in a world that is so messed up around racism.
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Leanne Vogel: Yeah. Body shaming is a very accepted way of segregating an entire community of people, and it’s completely socially accepted. Like it’s okay. That to me seems was a huge feat. I love what you said about behavior versus how you look. When I first heard of the Health at Every Size movement, I was like “That’s crazy. That doesn’t even make any sense.” It wasn’t until I read a book from Jaz Baker, and she said, “It’s about behaviors, people.” A light bulb flipped off in my head of just, “Of course it’s about health behaviors.” That’s something that you touch on so wonderfully in your books as well, is like you said, down time, meeting up with friends, and doing things outside of hunkering down working, eating at your desk, and being frantic, and never taking time for yourself. That can go a long way as supposed to just looking at the way, or judging someone on their health, based on the way that they look.
I know when I was a lot smaller, my health was a hot mess. We had a couple of questions come in from individuals that had read your books, or know of you, or had a question about Health at Every Size, or the concept that you share. A lot of the women ask, “How can I truly love every part of myself when there are parts that are unattractive, like the fat underneath my …” I guess tricep fat they said. That was an example of just like, “How do I love that? How do I love every part of myself? This is crazy.”
Linda Bacon: I’m not a big advocate of saying that you have to love every part of yourself. More what I think is important is that we have accepted ourselves. This is the body that I live in. We can learn to appreciate that body. I think that that’s very different from thinking that everybody is going to look at themselves in the mirror naked and say, “Wow, you’re gorgeous.” I think that given this culture that we live in, that’s a hard thing. It’s certainly not a step that you jump to instantly. I would instead help people to understand the whole idea, that first off; you could look at your body in a very different way.
For example, instead of looking at your arms, and thinking they’re too fat, you can say “Look at that amazing arm. It allows me to reach out and hug somebody. Isn’t that phenomenal that I’ve got arms that allow me to do that in the world?” It’s a very different way of looking at your body. You can learn to appreciate it for all the magnificence and functionality, and stop getting so hung up in only viewing it regarding physical looks. Then the other thing to recognize is that whole idea of if you don’t like the fat under your arms, that’s because you’ve been taught not to like the fat under your arms. It’s not like there’s anything objective about what we define as beauty. In fact, if you go back historically and if you go to museums, from most periods of time, previous to the last couple of hundred years, it was larger bodies that had a lot of fat hanging off of them that were seen as gorgeous, and that “thin” bodies were looked at as sickly.
What we see is what we’ve been to taught to see, and we don’t have to accept all of those messages. I think another point to be made is to keep working too with that idea of acceptance that we don’t have to love every part of ourselves, but we can still accept that this is who we are, and live in that body.
Leanne Vogel: Then how do we go against those messages? For example, when I’m at home, and I’m surrounded by all the things that make me accept myself and love a lot of things that I do, and feeling appreciative, but when I go out into the world, and I’m hit with all the stuff everywhere, how does one overcome that? How do they build support so that they don’t get into old behaviors?
Linda Bacon: It’s a great question because there are so many ways in which the world sends back messages that who we are is inadequate. We have to learn how to be critical consumers of media and recognize that someone else is … We don’t have to share somebody else’s vision. I talked before about how we all have to develop our skills to be able to manage better the stigma and the fact that the world doesn’t treat us well. I think too that women need to bond together and recognize that there’s something that many women share that body hatred. It’s about sexism, and that we need to reclaim our collective power to define what’s attractive and not to accept those messages that are out there. Every time we feel bad, it’s because we’ve accepted a cultural idea.
Leanne Vogel: Well, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. I appreciate it.
Linda Bacon: It was great chatting with you, Leanne.
Leanne Vogel: Totally. The show notes for today’s episode can be found at HealthfulPursuit.com/podcast/e14. Thanks again for being on the show.
Linda Bacon: Great. Take care.
Leanne Vogel: That does it for another episode of The Keto Diet Podcast. Thanks for listening in. You can follow me on Instagram by searching Healthful Pursuit where you’ll find daily keto eats and other fun things. Check out all of my keto-supported programs, bundles, guides, and other cool things over at HealthfulPursuit.com/shop. I’ll see you next Sunday. Bye.
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HI! I’M LEANNE
Nutrition educator + keto enthusiast. I want to live in a world where every woman loves her body, nourishing fats are enjoyed at every meal, and the word “restriction” isn’t in the dictionary.