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Episode 11: Rachel Tuchman, LMHC and I tackle Intuitive Eating and the harms of diet culture.

Rachel Tuchman and Gila Glassberg discuss intuitive eating

Rachel explains that she used to go on diets in order to lose weight. She was losing weight and felt good, but she was always hungry and stressed out. Rachel discovered that her obsession with being a certain weight was fruitless. The fact that she forced herself to lose a few pounds in order to maintain the weight she was in high school, after now having 3 children, was ridiculous. She felt herself judging people and their decisions regarding food and exercise. After discovering intuitive eating, she realized that health is not a body weight or a size but so much more than that. Being thin doesn’t mean you are a healthy person. The power of society and diet culture is so powerful that you can think you are an intellectual person, yet still buy into this diet mentality.

Growing up, Rachel was around people that dieted but she wasn’t interested because she was thin. Some of her family members struggled with weight. Her mother was always in a bigger body but she used to say “I’m healthy”, which Rachel always rolled her eyes at because she didn’t believe it was possible to be healthy in a larger body. Now, later on in life, her mother has almost no health concerns while her father, who was always skinnier, does. However, in high school, Rachel started to develop body image issues. She started to exercise too much and eat very little, without realizing that this was completely unhealthy and could have led to an eating disorder. It got to the point that when her doctor asked her if she was struggling from an eating disorder she was proud because she thought it meant that she was thin. After she got married, Rachel began to eat everything that was restricted in her parent’s home and therefore she gained a lot of weight. She went on Weight Watchers to lose weight and was starving but managed to keep that weight off. When Rachel started having kids, she would drive herself crazy not to gain a certain amount of weight and then to lose the baby weight afterwards. After working with a nutritionist, she learned what to eat and how to feed herself. After many years of struggling with food, she finally got sick of feeling at a loss with food. She realized that she needed to be who she wanted her kids to be. She wanted her kids to understand that the most important things for your health are your relationships with others and that you are safe and taken care of. Rachel discovered intuitive eating which totally transformed her relationship with food. After starting intuitive eating, Rachel gained weight which was hard for her to deal with, but slowly the anxiety about food went away. She learned to make peace with food and feel good about her body.

The book “Intuitive Eating” helps you understand how you may be looking at food in a disordered way. Weight stigmatization is very bad for your health and the emotional components can cause many issues as well. There is no clinically proven way to lose weight safely and keep it off. If someone loses weight and then gains it back, he will probably feel horrible and embarrassed to be seen. We are harming the next generation by sending them the messages of diet culture. As a result of being so steeped in diet culture, it may take a long time to remove our mind from this mindset. Listen to podcasts about intuitive eating and try to steep yourself in intuitive eating culture. There are great ones by Christy Harrison, Rena Reiser, and Rachel Goodman. Some good book recommendations are “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, “Anti Diet” by Christy Harrision, and “Health at Every Size” by Linda Bacon.

Interestingly, a study was done where people were given foods that they enjoyed and foods that they didn’t enjoy. The foods that they enjoyed were considered “unhealthy foods” and the foods they didn’t enjoy were considered “healthy foods”. It was proven that while eating the foods that they loved, they absorbed more nutrients than with the “healthier” foods that they didn’t love. Their bodies got more benefit from the unhealthy food. Enjoying your food is a large part of nutrition. So much of our eating is tied to our emotional experience. Make sure you eat foods that you enjoy!!

Diet culture thrives on us hating and blaming ourselves which is so silly when you can live a life with food freedom! Food can be used as a beautiful thing used for joy and celebration. Notice what you like and incorporate nutrition into this to make your diet more exciting. The more you give yourself permission to enjoy food, the less restricted you will feel because in reality, every food has a time and a place. Instead of making decisions based on fear, if you’re in the mood for pizza, eat the pizza without feeling guilty afterwards. There is actually an eating disorder called orthorexia where you are obsessed with only eating healthy and you think about food 80% of the day. Having an obsessive relationship with food just isn’t healthy for you. After hearing this, many people think intuitive eating is just an excuse to binge on food. However, once you give yourself permission to have all food, you will learn how to balance it out. This food will always be available and you don’t need to freak out that you can’t have it again. People who think intuitive eating means eating whatever you want, are forgetting that there are 10 principles involved in intuitive eating and each one must be incorporated in the process!

With regard to food, there is a lot of misinformation floating around that many people buy into. A lot of people’s health information comes from influencers who have no real knowledge about health. When you see influencers promoting certain diets, you take what they say as the absolute truth. Many of these diets are not nutritionally beneficial or they are plain harmful. Buying all of someone’s products for a diet, is not a healthy diet. That’s why it is so important to read books and follow dietitians and learn from them instead. In addition, people read research articles but they don’t know how to read research. People fall susceptible to believing everything they read without noticing the sample size or the research conditions. Sometimes whoever is funding the research pushes the study to lead to a specific result. It’s important to discover if there are any biases behind the researchers or funders.

Rachel Tuchman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) with over ten years of experience. She has worked with many diverse populations including incarcerated women at Riker’s Island Correctional Facility, kids and adults with developmental delays, kids with behavior issues, overwhelmed parents looking for skills and support, teens struggling with the pressures of adolescence and life in general, adults going through difficult life circumstances (divorce, infidelity, phase of life challenges) and women experiencing infertility.

Currently, she offers services in her Cedarhurst, NY office for kids and teens ages 5-18, adults, and women experiencing infertility, pregnancy loss and post hysterectomy.

Rachel also does speaking engagements for schools, synagogues and various community organizations.

You can reach her at Rachel@LILMHC.com

If you are interested in making peace with food through the principles of Intuitive Eating and the practices of self care, go ahead and schedule a free call via my website. Catch me on instagram @ dietitian.gilaglassberg. You can work with me one on one or sign up to be in one of my intuitive eating online support groups via zoom.

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Gila Glassberg is a Master's level registered dietitian and a certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. Asa teenager, she was faced with constant ha talk, body shaming and obsessive guilt around food, she smuggled with disordered eating.This is what propelled her into the field of nutrition. She uses a on-diet, weight-neutral approach called Intuitive Eating. She helps growth oriented women break out of chronic dieting, and regain clarity into what is really important to them.

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