Health Culture Myths: Emotional Eating & Weight

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If there’s anything Green Mountain has been good at over the years, it’s cutting through the noise when it comes to food, weight and health.

Since the 2020 health crisis hit, there’s been a lot of noise. I mean, who hasn’t heard of the quarantine 15 by now?

Really, America? Even during a global pandemic, we can’t get a break from diet culture?

We get it – old habits die hard.

Here’s the good news: we’re teaming up with anti-diet dietitian and certified intuitive eating counselor Amanda Bullat of Alpine Nutrition to help set the record straight. When it comes to ditching old beliefs and reshaping our relationship to food and body, Amanda know’s a thing or two.

She is part of a larger community of professionals whose work is centered around advocating for a broader definition of health.

In her blog post, Diet Culture Myth: Emotional Eating Will Lead to Unhealthy Weight Gain, originally published here, Amanda touches on the downfalls of defining health by one’s weight.

Have we sparked your curiosity yet? Check out her full post below.


Diet Culture Myth: Emotional eating will lead to unhealthy weight gain

By Amanda Bullat RDN

Truth: Oh, there’s so much to unpack here!

This myth is deeply rooted in the weight stigma, fat-phobic beliefs of our culture. The idea that weight gain is unhealthy pathologizes people in larger size bodies and assumes that they must eat emotionally or they wouldn’t be the size that they are.

We know from the research that healthy bodies come in all sizes and in many cases being in a larger body is associated with lower mortality rates.

About that word health. This myth makes the assumption that everyone defines health the same way and part of that assumption includes watching your weight (aka controlling weight through restrictive dieting).

It promotes weight management as a requirement to be healthy – a belief that also wreaks of weight stigma and fat-phobia.

Additionally, this myth does not allow for the possibility that using food to cope with emotions may be the safest, most accessible tool you have to survive difficult feelings and hard times.

As I share with my clients, food serves a purpose in your emotional coping toolbox. And it doesn’t need to be the only tool.

Many of us have subtle ways of coping with the difficulties of life that we don’t even realize. No matter how seemingly inconsequential they are (washing dishes, chopping produce, house cleaning, taking the dog outside for fresh air, caring for house plants, to name a few from my clients), it’s important to acknowledge their effectiveness in helping you cope with life’s difficulties. Having a variety of tools to cope with difficult feelings is essential because the feelings and situations can be unique, requiring flexibility in how you can deal with them.

And finally, let’s not forget that all humans eat emotionally from time to time!

Think of eating a piece of cake to celebrate a wedding or birthday. Sharing an elaborate meal with family and friends during the holidays. And enjoying a bowl of ice-cream on the first hot day of summer.

Our culture tends to give these happy emotional times a free pass on the emotional eating finger-wagging. But in reality, no one instance of emotional eating is better or worse for your health. In fact, I’d argue, if you’re not participating in emotional eating, what further damage are you doing to your mental health by isolating yourself from these fun times or suppressing your less-than-fun emotions during difficult times?


There’s more good news!

As Amanda said, “…there’s so much to unpack here!”

Amanda is joining Lesley Wayler on Saturday May 16th at 1:00pm EDT over Zoom to talk all things food and weight related.

In this LIVE discussion, Amanda and Lesley will be diving deeper into the roots of weight stigma in our society, discuss health from a holistic perspective and help to redefine emotional eating as a part of normal eating. Plus, we’ll be sharing our strategies for living well in a society so focused on one definition of health.

For more information and to register for this live event, email Lesley Wayler at gmfr.retreats@gmail.com. We can’t wait to ‘see’ you there!

It must be said…

Amanda and Lesley are both professionals who live in smaller bodies and as a result experience thin privilege. This doesn’t mean that they haven’t experienced their own struggles surrounding body image and food, but it means they don’t face the same kind of discrimination individual’s in larger bodies experience everyday.

Like, not having to worry if they’ll fit comfortably into the seats at a movie theater or on a plane.

Amanda and Lesley use their voices and privilege to work as allies for those facing the stigma that is accompanied by living in a larger body in today’s society.


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About the Author

Lesley Wayler, MSW

As a Master of Social Work, Lesley Wayler is passionate about helping individuals struggling with disordered eating and body image. She is the granddaughter of our founder Thelma Wayler and has been fortunate enough to grow up with the philosophies taught at Green Mountain at Fox Run. Before pursuing her Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California, Lesley received a Bachelors of Arts in media communications from Austin College in 2011. She works to combat weight stigma and wants to learn about and contribute to furthering the treatment of binge eating to help individuals suffering from the disorder. She has extensive training in mindfulness, including workshops in mindful eating, self-compassion and stress management.

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