Series 17: For the Love of Health & Wellness | Episode 01
Pursuing Health at Every Size with Nutritionist Haley Goodrich
We’re thrilled to begin a new series we hope will spur conversations about our body image, health, nutrition and well-being. During For the Love of Health & Wellness, we’re stepping out of the body-shaming space and giving the mic to experts and clinicians who have wise ways to help us take stock of how we’re doing, and adjust those dials to feel a bit better. In this episode, we’re talking food and body with our first guest, nutritionist Haley Goodrich, who we adore for many reasons—especially the way she helps others find joy and peace with their bodies. If you’re tired of feeding into toxic diet culture, you’ll be refreshed by Haley’s “Health at Every Size” philosophy that says you are worthy of caring for your body in ways that make you feel stronger and healthier, no matter the number you see on the scale. Jen and Haley have an eye-opening discussion about the way thin privilege shows up in our everyday lives and how we can become more inclusive of others’ different shapes. Haley encourages us to develop a healthy relationship with food that doesn’t involve strict calorie counting or calling foods “good” or “bad,” but instead helps us remember food is neutral—it’s just something we nourish ourselves with, body and soul.
Narrator: Hi everybody, my name is Remy. Welcome to the For the Love Podcast, with your host Jen Hatmaker, my mom. She writes books and speaks to crowds. But she mostly loves talking to amazing people every week on this podcast. Thanks for listening! We hope you enjoy the show.
Jen: Hey guys, Jen Hatmaker here, your host to the For the Love Podcast. Welcome to the show this week.
I’m really, really glad you’re here because we are kicking off a brand new series. Gosh, I always love to start up a new series.
It’s just time. It’s spring. The weather is starting to turn. We’re sort of shaking off the cobwebs of winter and the doldrums and it’s more sunshine, time to be outside, check in with the ways that we either are or are not caring for ourselves. I’m really obsessed with this idea of caring for ourselves in a nurturing way. This is fresh information to me that I am deeply ingesting myself, and so I am very committed to putting some of the best practitioners in front of you and thinkers in this space that can sort of go against the grain to the toxic diet culture and body shame culture that we’re just immersed in.
We today are going to start with someone who has done really important and refreshing work in nutritional health. Don’t panic, do not hear nutritional health and think, Nope. I don’t want to be on a diet.
We’re talking opposite of diet today. I feel the same exact way. You’re going to love this conversation. She’s going to educate us about ways to literally nourish our brains and our bodies, not just punish, right?
I’m happy to have Haley Goodrich on today. She’s in Pittsburgh. She’s a dietician and nutrition therapist. She’s the owner of INSPIRD Nutrition, we’ll have all this linked.
Haley is really passionate about helping other people cultivate a joyful and a peaceful relationship with their bodies, and I’m into this right now. I promise you that’s what we talk about. She specializes in intuitive eating and body image healing, eating disorder recovery. We’re going to talk about all that today.
What you’re really going to like is her perspective is called “Health at Every Size.” I’m telling you that it is the opposite of what we are normally fed. She is very much a different sort of leader. She absolutely does not subscribe to diet culture in any of the toxic ways that we have just been so mean to ourselves and punished our bodies. And this is like a healthy and a pure approach.
And I loved our conversation. I mean, I was taking some notes as we were going, because there were several things I really, really wanted to think about.
But if you’ve ever felt betrayed and let down by the diet culture bandwagon, this is your episode.
If you’re interested in finally making peace with the body that you live in, I think you’re going to love everything you hear Haley say today. It’s refreshing and it’s liberating, and I just found myself thinking, Yes, why don’t more people teach us like this? Why isn’t this the prevailing approach to health?
Of course, as she and I also talked about, there is a multi billion dollar industry out there capitalizing on our body shame, so it has a lot of enemies. But I think this is a wonderful conversation, and I hope it encourages you. And I hope it sets your feet on a really healthy path and helps you lay down some shame and some guilt. I know it did me.
And so I am really, really glad that we are starting with Haley as we kick off this brand new series on health.
By the way, the series is all kinds of health. We’re going to talk about mental health. We’re going to talk about spiritual health. Today, we happen to be talking about nutritional health, but it’s all in there. I’m thinking holistically about our bodies and minds and souls when I say the word “health,” and so this series is going to be super smoking hot and you’re going to love it. And I’m happy to kick it off today with Haley Goodrich.
Jen: I am really, really glad to have you on the show today, Haley. Thank you for saying yes to this invitation.
Haley: I am so delighted to be here, Jen. Thank you so much for asking me.
Jen: You’re welcome. This conversation is really, really important. And for me, in this podcast space with my team, we’re very, very committed when it comes to anything, like, body, body image, health, nutrition-related to only put experts and clinicians in front of our listeners who we believe have just the healthiest approach to their field. We’re very committed to stepping out of the body shaming space, and of course, we’re going to get into all this. But we have just found your work to be nourishing and nurturing and against the grain of what a lot of your colleagues, probably, their sort of approach to your field. And so I’m really excited to get into all this with you.
Haley: Thank you so much. I’m, again, just really excited to be here.
I’d like to take just a few moments to acknowledge a few things before we begin. These conversations can be tricky and uncomfortable. They can be different from maybe the view that a lot of other people hold.
It’s my responsibility to share with everyone that I am aware that I hold privileges and have aspects of my life which are unearned and can easily be taken for granted, especially in the culture we live in, such as being white, thin bodied, having the ability to walk and see, have a college degree, a safe home, financial stability, yeah.
So to the best of my ability, I’m going to keep these things in the forefront of my thoughts when speaking. No human’s body experience is less important than anybody else’s. However, simply acknowledging that I don’t know more about anybody else’s story than they do is very important. My perspective and everything I’ll be talking about today has been informed by my lived experience, by other allies, and from the work of and labor of those who are more marginalized than myself.
Jen: Thank you for saying that. That is, I don’t know if “disclaimer” is the right word, but sort of an acknowledgement that I very rarely hear in any field. I mean, be it whether we’re talking about physical health, like we will be today, but also mental health, spiritual health.
It’s shockingly challenging to take ownership of privilege. It’s just kind of a blind spot, frankly, for people who can get to operate sort of in the mainstream with those sort of unearned advantages, so thank you. I really appreciate you saying that. And I want all my listeners to hear that, too, that you very deeply are coming from a place of understanding, which is, “This is my experience, and it’s not exactly like yours,” and I really appreciate that.
I’ve told our listeners a little bit about who you are and your credentials. I would love to just take a moment first, like I mentioned a minute ago, I really want to commend you on the work that you’re doing and the way that you’re doing it. You are positively sort of going against the tide in your own field to affirm that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and we can pursue health at any size, and we’re not excluded from living a healthy life based on these social norms that we’ve been really receiving since we were little, little girls. It’s just really beautiful.
I wonder if for just a minute, you could talk a little bit more about your Health at Every Size approach to nutrition. What does that mean, exactly? I’m curious if there are more dieticians doing this kind of work besides you?
Haley: Yes, and I’m in no way the only person talking about this or practicing from this paradigm. I’m not the first, I won’t be the last. I am not even an expert. I’m one who’s still learning very much. However, I’m here to learn and fumble and share and keep learning and keep fumbling.
Yeah, let’s dive in to Health at Every Size, which may or may not be a term that some of you have heard of, but it is a social justice movement, first of all. It’s also a way of practicing that creates inclusive and respectful care, and it allows us to support people of all sizes and finding compassionate ways to take care of themselves.
I think one of the biggest maybe misnomers out there, kind of a mix-up of the word is, it’s not to be confused with “healthy at any size.” That Y on the end of health makes a pretty big difference because we’re not saying that every person in every body is healthy. We’re saying that they have the right to health or to engage in healthcare, have respectful healthcare.
Health at Every Size means we support all humans in all bodies [when] engaging in behaviors that are health promoting, that can influence their well-being without the focus on their body size, their shape, or their weight. Just off the top of my head, things like that could be like not smoking, moving your body in a joyful way, eating a variety of foods, getting sleep, reducing stress rate—all of these are things that anybody can engage in and have nothing to do with that actual number on the scale.
I think approaching it this way allows us to sort of, especially as practitioners, put these blinders on as if we were going into seeing our clients, our patients, whoever we’re working with and we were pretending that everybody had this magical “BMI of 22,” so that we’re treating and giving all of our clients the same treatments we would give somebody within that normal, “normal weight range,” yeah.
Jen: Yeah, I really respond to that. Obviously, you know this, it’s your field. We’ve just ingested such a narrow target for what it looks like to be a woman in a body, and in my estimation, it’s broken all of our hearts.
I love that this is the way that you talk to women and men—I’m sure you have men clients too—on how to be healthy. I’m curious: how did you find your way into this? What was your front door into your field and your work? Then even more specifically, how did you find your way into Health at Every Size approach?
Haley: I found my way into dietetics, like many dieticians do. And I don’t know if this would be shocking or not shocking to a lot of your listeners, but I think many dieticians get into this to learn as much as possible about food and better controlling their own health and body, and that’s a hard truth. I mean, we have statistics now showing how many dieticians and dietetic students actually have a lot of their own tricky relationship or troubled relationship with food and body.
I was also, yeah, actually it’s pretty shocking to look at. Some of my colleagues are doing awesome research on this, but I was at a stuck point my life where I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was graduating from Texas A&M University, huge transition time in my life, and I felt lost. I was afraid of messing up, taking the wrong path. I had no idea who I was at that point. I don’t know who does.
Jen: Right, good point.
Haley: I just thought to myself, Well, I’ll go into something that I’m “already really good at,” controlling weight. And I thought I was good at it and health outcomes.
That’s I think what led me to go back to school to become a dietician, and I didn’t find Health at Every Size until my internship. For those listening who may not know, dieticians have to undergo an internship before they’re able to sit for their RD exam.
My internship was very weight-centric, so traditional model. But this copy of Health at Every Size, the book by Linda Bacon fell into my lap, and it resonated so deeply and I started to just read and get my hands on everything that I possibly could.
After my internship, I graduated and a very traditional path is to become a clinical dietician first. And I tried my hand at that for about, well, I was there a full year, but I would say two months in, I knew very quickly that this is not the path for Haley.
Lots of good work there, but for me, I think I had something else. I think the universe had something else for me and I went automatically to the path of entrepreneurship.
Jen: Yeah, okay. Was it as straightforward as you hung out your own shingle and just dug in or did you sort of how did that look for you?
Haley: Starting a private practice, it was messy.
Jen: Oh I bet.
Haley: Terrifying, terrifying to quit your stable job and to start your own gig. That’s terrifying, so shout out to anybody who’s doing that or thinking of doing that–it’s more than possible. But yeah, don’t let anybody fool you. It’s scary.
I think also you know, I had been reading Health at Every Size and was sort of still feeling I was brand new to the field so I remember opening my practice and the clients I saw within that first year, I was kind of on the fence. I did this fence sitting thing, which is also really common for those who are starting to learn a little bit about a weight inclusive approach where I would still weigh my patients but we will not also focus on weight, we wouldn’t be counting calories. It was sort of kind of both worlds.
I remember feeling like I could see in my clients, I could see the shame that they were coming in with when they didn’t lose weight or couldn’t keep it off or couldn’t do it consistently. I started to feel shame myself, because I actually didn’t hold that magic secret to successful weight loss that is put out there that people think dieticians and nutrition experts are supposed to hold that. They’re supposed to be able to tell people exactly what to do to get this ideal body, and I couldn’t do that.
I was thinking to myself, Well, what is everybody else doing? What am I missing here? That’s when I started to really learn from my clients, specifically clients who had bodies different than mine and what they have been through, and that’s how I really started to learn.
Jen: Okay, so let’s dig into some of the mechanics because my suspicion is that just about everybody listening, with a handful of exceptions, myself included, have jumped on the diet culture bandwagon. This is just, it feels ubiquitous to the community of women. It’s hard not to, frankly, because this is the narrative that we have bought into for so long. And as you mentioned earlier, kind of at the top of the show, it’s hard to ignore the gravity that our culture assigns to being thin. I mean, that’s not invented. That’s real. That is a very real message that we receive loud and early.
I am at that point in my life, I’m 44. I hate diets. They make me feel so bad. Just the restriction, the constant counting and the weigh ins, and as you just mentioned about some of your clients, just the feeling of inadequacy.
I mean, it’s great for a minute, if it works. But the fallout is inevitable just because almost all diets don’t work in the long run, almost all. My head knows this, and yet it’s hard to convince my own self why? Why do we keep perpetuating the diet culture myth? We know from experience that at best, it’s usually a temporary fix, and really in reality, it ends up just being typically a real disappointment and that sort of yo-yo back and forth and it contributes to all this body shame and just mental energy.
I don’t really know what my question is in here, except I’d just like for you to talk about your experience here. Why is it that you think this low-hanging fruit of fast and easy diets, or however they say, is so enticing? Why do we keep picking it?
Haley: There’s multiple things here.
I think we live in a culture, sort of you were just alluding to this, we live in a culture that reinforces that our value as people and as humans–our worth lies in our appearance, that thinness is the answer to all problems. I’m going to get that raise, that dream job, we can prevent cancer having perfect health. This is seen as the holy grail, is to be able to have this thinness.
Like you said, this is something, a message that is put in front of us from the time we are very, very little. It feels like something tangible that we can control. We’re led to believe that this traditional weight-centric model that we can, if we just try hard enough and have enough willpower, that we can somehow all magically fit in the middle of that bell curve of body sizes, that “normal BMI” is what they call it, when really micromanaging our body is a false sense of control.
It makes you think that you will be safe from this is the deep, deep-rooted stuff. It makes you think that you will be safe from discomfort, pain, rejection, criticism, and any other uncomfortable feeling you can list. And the fact is, I see clients in all-sized bodies and when they’re in pain, when they are struggling with food and their body, weight loss has never actually fixed any of that. At their smallest, whether it’s a clinical eating disorder or someone who’s weight cycling and on that diet wheel, they’re never happy. It’s never enough. There’s never enough thinness.
I also think there’s this huge, oh yeah, billion dollar diet industry, right?
Jen: Sure. Let’s talk about that.
Haley: People making a lot of money, yeah.
Jen: Oh yeah.
Haley: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jen: That’s real and it’s so tricky too, because just the older I get and the more I put myself under thinkers and teachers and leaders like you who are leading us into a healthier space, I feel like I’m becoming more media literate on those messages that we’re receiving. And to me, where it gets muddy from the diet industry, from this whole “literally take up less space” industry is that it’s so often marketed as “body positive.” It’s so marketed as, “We here at our company, at our space, at our corporation, we love you. Like, we love women, we love your bodies. And therefore we are here to help you love it.” It is like the poisoned apple, honestly, because the truth is, as you mentioned, they’re making billions of dollars off of our body shame and know that we’ll be back. It’s not going to hold.
I’m trying to train my daughters. I have an 18-year-old, I have a 13-year-old, and this is where the rot sets in. It starts early, obviously, and I’m trying to train them to see through that, to see through those messages, to hear some of that underlying, the underlining idea that “Your life is unhappy and you are unhappy, and we’re here to fix it.” But it takes some real savvy, because it’s a clever industry. I mean, they know what buttons to press. They’re very obvious.
I want to ask you a question. You mentioned it earlier and I wonder if you can expand just a little bit.
As you said, thin privilege exists. It’s real. So, again, not invented. As much as we’re expanding our visage as a culture to include more images of different-sized people—and that is true, I see progress there—it’s still the prevailing idea like thin is king, thin is queen.
Can you talk more about what you think thin privilege is, like, how does this manifest and how we can work to dispel it?
Haley: Really good question. This is something, this is a conversation I’ve seen a lot of specifically recently in the online, in the social media world so I’m excited to take a stab at it.
But you know, everyone’s individual experience is different and they’re all valid. However, people who inhabit this genetically smaller body, they don’t face the same reality as people in larger bodies. That’s a hard fact. Ignoring this fact is like looking outside at the thunderstorm of the rain and continuing to turn your head and say, “It’s not raining, it’s not raining.” It gets us nowhere except soaked, really wet. We keep going outside and getting wet and then wondering why.
This concept of thin privilege is really hard to understand. I will say that. And I want to say this, talk about this with a lot of compassion to those who might be hearing this term for the first time. I’d like to invite them to sit with the discomfort that might come up with that term “thin privilege” because I am raising my hand the first time I heard it, the first time I got called out for having thin privilege, I had all kind of uncomfortable feelings coming out. So I’m saying this to anyone listening who might have these uncomfortable feelings arise. Note it, write it down, talk about it with other people.
Jen: That’s good.
Haley: You don’t have to feel thin in order to actually have this ease of existing in society. That’s another way of seeing thin privilege, having an ease of just existing in the world that we live in.
What might that look like? Not being shamed for your food choices or having assumptions made about your lifestyle, your health or your shape.
You can fit comfortably in airplane seats and not have to buy two.
You can find comfy chairs in restaurants or providers’ offices.
You aren’t told that your body contributes to the “obesity epidemic.”
You aren’t attacked online for what you look like.
Going to the doctor and actually having them listen to your symptoms without jumping to prescribing weight loss. So if you go in with an earache, a sinus infection, they don’t automatically jump to, “Well, what are you doing to lose weight?”
Jen: Yeah, yeah.
Haley: Being able to walk into a clothing store and find something in your size.
Those are probably some of the examples that just come to my head, yeah, come to the top of my head.
And I think something else that’s important to talk about here, because it’s something I’ve seen in the online space, specifically, is that “thin privilege” isn’t an attacking term. When we say this, we’re not attacking anybody, we’re not labeling, shaming anybody who’s in a smaller body. It’s really not even about that individual thin person. This is systemic. This is much bigger and wider than that. And it’s about understanding how we may be contributing to diet culture and these problems while we’re working to make the system more inclusive and less oppressive.
If I am a Health at Every Size practitioner, and a client in a larger body walks into my office and all of the chairs in the waiting room have arms on them, then I’m kind of undoing the work that I’m doing because they have nowhere to sit. They don’t feel comfortable. They don’t feel welcome.
Jen: Yeah, it’s so true. These are sort of unchecked places in culture that it’s easy to just overlook or to ignore.
How would you suggest—just as ordinary consumers of media and culture, normal women walk around in their bodies who are not practitioners like you are—what do we do to reverse some of this? How can we help? What are the things that just a community of women begins to say or do that may be an agent of change in this terrible diet culture?
Haley: I think learning as much as you possibly can from people in different sized bodies than yourself, different sizes that may be looked at differently, have different life experiences. If you are, for instance, just scrolling on your Instagram or your Facebook or any social media platform and everybody that you’re following looks the same or is talking about their weight loss or showing Before and After pictures—any of those kind of like fat-phobic messages, this would be an invitation or an opportunity to start to follow some more diverse folks.
Read their memoirs, read their books, listen to them on podcasts. Let’s see, folks like Tess Holliday, Jes Baker, Lindy West, Sonya Renee Taylor, Virgie Tovar. And we can link to a lot of these advocates probably in the show notes, but I think this is a real opportunity to learn from the ones who are actually facing the struggle every single day.
Jen: That is such a great switch to toggle. That seems easy, but it really would have a cumulative effect on what we are consuming and how our brains are thinking. I appreciate that really practical, easy step.
Jen: I want to talk about food for a minute. For me, food is awesome. I think food’s awesome, period. I’m a foodie and I love cooking and I love flavors, and there’s nothing better for me than to eat with people that I love or cook for people that I love. I equate memories and love with food. That’s how that all goes for me.
We actually recently had Gretchen Rubin on our show, and she said something that just really made me think. She said, “Sometimes, sometimes it is okay to soothe ourselves or comfort ourselves on occasion with food.” Like if we’ve gone through something horrible or we’ve had just some, sometimes food is very nurturing. It’s almost like a little gift, and so maybe that isn’t the terrible catastrophic idea that we’ve been told.
But whenever food is a comfort at all, we curse ourselves for our lack of willpower, and this sort of guilty cycle begins again and it feels like if we were more in tune with what our bodies are telling us, and not what a diet plan is constantly telling us, that we may be able to break this kind of unhealthy cycle.
In your practice, I read that you use a tool called “intuitive eating,” and I want to hear more about this. I think my listeners probably do too. Can you speak to what it means to learn how to tune into your body in a different way that isn’t so deprivation oriented? Then I wonder if you could just kind of expand what is intuitive eating and how can we learn to use it?
Haley: I love this question, and I agree with you. I think food is emotional. Food will always be emotional. There’s always going to be memories and celebrations tied to food, and so we certainly don’t want to become robots and turn off all of that. You’re right. I think there needs to be this kind of removal of the shame around having a bad day and crying into your ice cream, because sometimes you just need that, right?
Haley: Sometimes you need that, and that’s what makes us human. However, I mean, I think it obviously can’t be the only coping skill.
Intuitive eating, yeah, I love this question. I love to talk about intuitive eating. It’s definitely a tool that I use in my practice. It goes nicely with the weight-inclusive paradigm. But basically instead of trying to control the size of your body through calorie restriction, intuitive eating uses your body’s natural hunger and fullness signals as an indicator of when, how much, and what to eat, or make food choices without experiencing any of the guilt or shame that might come along with a diet, and really honors our health through gentle nutrition.
It’s a beautiful tool because we’re actually all born as intuitive eaters. This is our default, yep, this is our default mode, and anybody who has children will know this very well because babies know how to cry when they’re hungry. They know when to stop eating when they’re full.
It’s helpful for us to use as a tool to unlearn diet culture, basically reset back to our default mode or to heal from disordered eating, if someone’s on that spectrum of disordered eating or a full-blown clinical eating disorder.
One of my favorite, just very simple explanations of intuitive eating is a combination of your mind knowledge and your body knowledge. I love that so much, yeah.
Jen: This is so, as you know, different from what we’re usually taught. It flies in the face of it, and so I can imagine that you probably have an uphill climb sometimes with your clients to sort of de-program from the ways we’ve been taught to think about food and approach it to this sort of the mind body connection, which I believe that too. I do. I deeply believe that and we’ve just made enemies out of our bodies, and we don’t trust it. This very much resonates with me.
Here’s my next question because I have a big family and I’ve got a lot of kids. We’ve got five kids. I wonder what you would say, what would you say to women who are wanting to help their families adapt this approach to eating? How do we help our children develop a healthy relationship with food?
Haley: Really good question. I think this is also how we can make this change in the world for our next generations. This is kind of answering your question from earlier. This is the next step we can make, and that’s modeling a way of eating that really is about honoring our body and taking care of our body from a self-care point of view.
I think this means talking about what our bodies do for us, about body trust and affirming that all bodies deserve to take up space, instead of how we need to be constantly changing that outward appearance. It’s a shift. It’s a different focus, a different way of approaching it.
One way you can do that with food is to have a value in your home of food neutrality, meaning that there are no good foods or bad foods. We don’t need to earn food, so we don’t, our eating doesn’t need to look different on the weekends versus the weekday. We don’t need to “burn calories” to be able to eat food. Our body is a machine. It can do it on its own. It will always burn calories whether you’re sitting on the couch.
Jen: That’s true.
Haley: Yeah or moving your body. So presenting food to your family in a way where the cookie and the apple hold equal kind of moral value, so that innate ability to just eat isn’t clouded or changed through, Oh my gosh, I think you know, I will be better if I’m eating more fruits and vegetables, where they’re able to just choose, Am I wanting something crisp and fresh and kind of tangy right now, or am I wanting something really sweet and dense and soft? Where they’re able to keep that for as long as possible going out into the world because kids are really good at that if it’s not interrupted.
Having a diversity of food in the house, having regular eating patterns. So modeling to your kids that skipping breakfast is not something that is really honoring our body, that taking time in the morning for yourself to make some oatmeal, whether that be in the microwave or on the stove top, an Eggo waffle or scrambled eggs, whatever it is to really model that like, “Hey, eating food is how we give our body nourishment to start the day,” right?
Jen: That’s great. I’ve worked really hard to curb my language in front of the kids and just in terms of what I am saying about food, personally, what I’m choosing to eat. And they just pick up on that so much. They know when we personally have a really unhealthy relationship with food, and that we feel really badly toward our bodies. That is not a mystery to our kids, when that’s the way that we talk and that’s what they see. I am super aware of that now and wanting my kids to see something a little bit more well rounded and a little bit healthier.
Jen: I would like to talk to you about a difficult subject that you have some real expertise in. I’d like to talk for just a minute about eating disorders, because there’s so much shame around that term. But I mean, as you know, so many people struggle with an eating disorder privately, secretly, in silence. They don’t know what to do or what to say.
And so you very much cultivated an expertise in this area. Can you tell us what the RD community has to say about eating disorders right now, and some of the myths surrounding eating disorders? And then ultimately how to receive help or ask for help if either you or somebody that you love is suffering here?
Haley: Yeah, really great question. I think all of my colleagues work incredibly hard to really erase that stigma around eating disorders and making it up, equal up there with no one is ashamed to talk about a physical disorder that they have or illness. Yet on mental health issues, and eating disorders are a mental health disorder, there’s still a lot of that shame, like, “We shouldn’t be talking about this.” It’s up there, right up there with infertility, right? These things are still for some reason, in 2019, something that we carry with us or carry a lot of shame with us if we’re suffering from them. I think all of my colleagues, all of the advocates and allies out there are doing that work to try and break that stigma.
There’s a good reason, I mean, not only for those struggling, so that they can heal, but also there’s a lot of people who don’t know that they’re struggling or have been told that they’re not based on the body that they live in.
Haley: You asked me to talk about some of the myths out there, and this is a perfect segue into eating disorders affect people in all-sized bodies. Somebody can be struggling with an eating disorder and not be emaciated or even thin. We have a lot, I think if you just asked a random person on the street what they envisioned someone with eating disorder to look like, it would probably come out as that very thin, emaciated, usually white, young female, right?
Jen: Yeah, right.
Haley: That is actually a real small percent of the people who are struggling with a clinical eating disorder.
It is true that someone can have anorexia nervosa and not lose a ton of weight. It’s true that they can be in a higher-weight body and have all the same struggles and symptoms that someone in a smaller body has, and we also call that anorexia.
And in the same way, that binge eating disorder or bulimia, binge eating disorder does not only occur in folks in higher-weight bodies, which again is another kind of way our brain wants to think. However, I have clients of all different sizes who struggle with binge eating disorder.
Jen: I appreciate you saying that. I’m just positive there’s somebody listening who feels understood, and maybe seen because you said that. And yet the statistics on eating disorders, particularly with young girls is they’re through the roof, I mean just absolutely through the roof and affects so many.
Let’s just say somebody’s listening and they, at whatever body they are in feel like they are struggling with an eating disorder or maybe it’s somebody precious to them, somebody important to them, can you just suggest first steps or next steps or resources? What would you say to that person?
Haley: Shout out to that person if you are listening because I know exactly what your eating disorder’s telling you, no matter what size body you’re in and/or what you look like, or what your background is, that voice always says that you aren’t thin enough, always, always, always, always. It will always say that you’re not sick enough.
I think a big message that I want to hopefully convey is that you always deserve help. There’s no shame in reaching out and asking somebody, telling somebody that, “Hey, I think I’m struggling. My life is miserable.” There’s no shame in that and there are tons of practitioners out there that are wanting to be on your side and help you so you don’t have to do this alone.
Yeah, one of the best or easiest ways to reach out is to even use the hotline on the NEDA website or the phone line there. That’s a great way to get started. You can always reach out to myself, and I will help you find a practitioner as well. I will also give you a link for the show notes of another website where they can locate a practitioner. But reach out, always reach out.
Jen: Thank you for that. Kind of staying in the zip code of just vulnerability with food, let me just ask you this because I just think this is kind of a conversation very rarely heard.
Sometimes for some of us, eating in front of other people feels very, very vulnerable because we nourish ourselves differently. And obviously, people have a ton of opinions about how other people should feed themselves and their families. This is where people just butt right in.
If that is one of your clients, how would you say, how do we eat in front of other people comfortably? What do we do with people who want to comment on what we’re eating or what we’re cooking? If there’s a gathering, maybe what do we serve when other people come over so that everyone feels included? How do we make our tables welcoming and non-judgmental? How do our tables become safer?
Haley: Such a good question.
I think first of all, just a ton of compassion to those out there who may be in this position, and maybe you’re the one in the position who has commented on someone else’s food. I mean, I think we all have. So I want to be very careful to say, “Hey, I’ve been there as well.” Again, we are all steeped in this diet culture so it sometimes pops out of our mouth before we even know it just happened. But I think that’s part of the unlearning and to do that with compassion and kindness to yourself and grace.
But you know, when I work with someone in my office who is maybe facing these conversations, whether they’re going to a family gathering or they’re going to their school lunch table or whatever it might be, we really start with a strong foundation, with strengthening their foundation, understanding what their values are around food, so that bedrock. They need a bedrock. And so we might talk a lot about that. We might journal about that and do several exercises to nail down what is important to them about food, and I think having that, first of all, when maybe most of your life you’ve had a different idea, someone else telling you what food should look like for you or in your body. I think that’s the first and really important step.
I think learning boundaries is paramount. And we do a little bit of that in the dietician office and we do a lot of that in the therapy office. So being prepared to or knowing your options when that diet chit chat starts, knowing your options, be prepared to either say nothing at all and preserve your energy and to reground yourself. Be prepared to maybe have the option to shut down the diet talk. You have the option to change the subject. Knowing what your boundaries are, when you’re going to use them.
And maybe some role playing with your dietician or your therapist on different ways you might navigate questions or comments that come your way.
Yeah, gatherings are tough. They really are.
Jen: Yeah, but I like how you address that because we are not powerless here. We’re not necessarily always just going to be a victim to the conversation or to somebody else’s opinion. It is possible to course correct. It is possible to draw boundaries. It is possible to change the conversation. We do have some power in that, that we may just not be exercising and sometimes, we just need someone like you who’s a practitioner to give us permission to say, “No, it’s actually okay for you to shut that down. And you don’t really have to feed into that toxic discussion that kind of is shame creating.” And so I think sometimes just you saying that matters, that people hear you say that.
Okay, let me ask you this, Haley. If someone is looking right now either for a partner or for resources to help us find a nourishing, nurturing way to treat our bodies, that we are interested in health at whatever size we’re at, like you said, where would you suggest that we turn?
Haley: Some books that come straight to mind would be the Intuitive Eating book, and there are actually workbooks now available with that. There’s one for adults and there’s one for teenagers, and it’s super cool, as well as the book Health at Every Size or Body Respect.
I have a ton of book recommendations linked on my website as well, so maybe we can link to those.
Haley: Honestly, listening to podcasts, messages like our conversation today, podcasts such as Christy Harrison’s podcast Food Psych is a great one to get started with as well, so hearing these counter messages to what maybe you had been taught or what you might be struggling with over and over.
Podcasts are free! That’s a beautiful resource.
Jen: Yeah, you just stick your earbuds in when you’re at the grocery store. Really downloading a different approach of data into your ears, it matters. That practice of changing my input has transformed a lot of areas of my life, not just health, when I decided to put myself under different leadership. It’s not a small switch. It may start small. But when you consistently learn from teachers or leaders or thinkers who are reversing some of the toxic mentality that you either grew up in or you’ve adopted in whatever area— faith, health, relationships—I mean, for me, it runs the gamut, those turn the tides for me and so it’s really useful information for you to say, “Here’s some books to read, here’s some podcasts to listen to.”
It’s crazy how all of a sudden you start believing what you’re hearing just like, in the same way that we start believing the negative messaging. It is possible to change our input, change our minds.
Okay, let’s wrap this up. We’re asking everybody in the health series these three questions so you can just whatever, like top of your head.
Here’s the first one. What’s one small or simple thing that you do every day to take care of yourself?
Haley: Oh gosh, just one.
Jen: Right, just pick one, whichever one you like.
Haley: I have a couple coming to mind but I will, if I have to pick one, I will say I take the time every morning to make a homemade latte with my espresso machine manually. And I love starting the day that way with the warm—
Jen: That’s a great answer. I absolutely love that. What goes in your latte?
Haley: I mean, 2% whole milk and espresso. That’s it.
Jen: Nice and foamy and frothy.
Jen: The reason I am loving this is because coffee will literally get me out of bed in the morning, the thought of it. Like just the thought like, If you get up, you could be having coffee in eight minutes, and that makes me happy. I appreciate you saying that. I love that answer.
How about this one? You’ve obviously mentioned a lot of great names and so who is one teacher that you would recommend to a friend, somebody who has deeply impacted your physical and mental or spiritual health?
Haley: I would say, you know what, I’ll say it: Brené Brown’s work. I’m a huge fan. I know she’s been on the show here as well, but her books are ones that time and time again, I mean, I have them tabbed up and down, highlighted, and those quotes are things that ground me time and time again. And it’s amazing how her books and her work can go to different areas of my life, different struggles, and then when I reread them, I learn something new again when I reread them.
Time and time again, I think just Brené’s work in vulnerability and shame, yeah.
Jen: That’s a great answer, and interesting how if you’re willing to read it through that lens, her work very much applies to your field. Shame is, I mean, that’s one of your biggest boulders to move out of the path of your clients, and so yeah, I can see how that would be not just a personal teacher, but even like a clinical teacher for you.
Here’s the last one and we ask this question of every guest every series, and just so you know, your answer can be whatever you want it to be, it can be incredibly precious and dear, it can be very, very silly and small, so your pick, but it’s a Barbara Brown Taylor question and she says, what is saving your life right now?
Haley: Right now in this season, in this literal season, it would probably be the fact that I can open my windows in the house again.
Jen: Yes, because you’re up in the northeast. You’re in Pittsburgh, right?
Haley: Yes. I grew up in Texas, so it’s very different. We don’t want to really open windows for very long in Texas. I know you know that. But here, you have these months out of the year in the spring, in the summer, in the fall where it’s, I mean, the outside can come inside and it’s magical.
Jen: Magical. Are you at window-open season up there already? Wow, I thought it was still cold.
Haley: Yes, getting there. Well, we had some snowflakes this morning, but it’s in the 60s.
Jen: Look, I’m Texan. I don’t have a capacity for it, but isn’t it something what an open window will do for you? That’s real. In my little office, I have like a little office in our backyard. It’s just a separate structure, and except for when I’m recording podcasts, if I can, I just leave the door wide open, just the sunshine and the breeze. And okay, well, for like a few days out of the year is what I should say. You’re right, unless we want to die of mosquitoes and heat stroke. We don’t get to do that all year long, but that’s fabulous.
I’m so thankful that you’re on the show today. Really quickly, can you just tell my listeners how they can, where they can find you, anything on the horizon with what’s coming up for you?
Haley: Yes, listeners can find me, my website’s inspirdnutrition.com. We can link to that, and I’m mostly on Instagram @hgoodrichrd but I do have handles on most major platforms. I love Instagram. I love connecting there, so please find me so that we can be friends.
Jen: Totally, good for you.
Thank you for everything today, Haley. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your healthy approach to bodies and nutrition. And thank you for being a real friend to women as we want to be healthy, and that is a beautiful goal.
I am so grateful to always be able to put leaders and teachers like you in front of my audience, and so I want them to know, listeners, every single thing Haley said we will have linked over to jenhatmaker.com under the Podcast tab, every book, every resource, every podcast, her handles, all of it. Anything you want, we will have that for you. We’ll link over to your book list on your website too, Haley.
Thank you for being on today. I’m so, so glad that I’ve met you, and I cannot wait to continue to learn from you.
Haley: It was my pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting me. These conversations absolutely make my heart soar, so I am just so excited to be here. Thank you.
Jen: Look, you can trust anybody whose daily idea of self-care is a homemade latte, right? That’s a trustworthy, that’s a trustworthy leader right there. I love that.
I loved that conversation with Haley, and her work very much dovetails into what I’m learning right now about health and body. I mean literally, I’m just sick of being at war with my own body. I’m just sick of it. This is an area that’s really meaningful to me right now that I’m doing a lot of personal work, and I am only exclusively listening to leaders like this that are leading us toward health and wholeness, not just thinness and restriction. I just, I can’t do it anymore. I don’t want to do it anymore, and I’m not going to do anymore.
If you enjoyed this, like I mentioned, we’ll have all these resources at your fingertips. Amanda builds out the most amazing resource page at jenhatmaker.com. Just go into the Podcast tab and pick up on this episode and all of Haley’s, everything she mentioned will be over there.
The transcript, sometimes I have a lot of listeners say they just like to read the interview sometimes, or they like to read it after they’ve listened to it or vice versa. That is over there for you at any moment.
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Thank you. You’re such a good listening community. This podcast is just such a joy, so on behalf of Amanda and then our producer Laura and her team, we’re just grateful that you’re here and we love doing this work for you.
This whole series is going to be lit. You’re not going to want to miss it, not, not, not. We have amassed an amazing group of experts that are leading us toward really nourishing and nurturing ways to care for our minds and our souls and our spirits and our bodies because it all goes together and it all matters.
Thanks for listening today, you guys, and I’ll see you next week.
Narrator: That’s it for today’s show. Hope you enjoyed this chat. Be sure to subscribe to my mom’s podcast and give it a “thumbs up” rating if you like it. From the whole Hatmaker family, hope you have a great week and see you next time!