I keep it no secret that I have struggled–at times more intensely than others–with food, eating, fitness, and body image throughout my life. From a young age, I was inundated with information on dieting and losing weight. Counting carbs and calories. Labeling good and bad foods. Trying to get by eating as little as possible.
My mom joined Weight Watchers when I was younger, which was unhealthy for both of us. I took dance classes, where the body was always on display, and slighter was considered better. Throughout my childhood, I was always told that I was tiny and began to integrate this as part of my identity. I never wanted to be anything but.
I would share fitness tips with friends in the hall at school and try to get through lunch without allowing others to see me eat “too much” for fear that I would look like some unrestrained animal. Anyone telling me how small I was just added fuel to the fire and encouraged me to work harder towards remaining that way.
The saddest part of all is how commonplace and accepted these behaviors were among my friends. And they are still common in certain circles–especially those dominated by female-focused and targeted media. On a daily basis–on television, in magazines and books, and perhaps via family and acquaintances–we are sent the message that thinness is good. It equates to beauty, which, of course, is any female’s life goal.
The capitalistic motives behind the beauty and diet industries are a whole other story. I can now see through ad campaigns aimed to make me hate or want to change myself. I can logically come to terms with why I feel pressure to look a certain way. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still influenced, or that I feel I have peers who stand in solidarity with my diet rebellion.
…Except for the amazing women who make up most of my podcast feed. Some have professional training as eating disorder coaches or dieticians. Some looked towards nutrition to fix them, yet all it did was make them sicker. Most experienced intense obsession with or deprivation from food in one way or another. And all of them are game-changers in the fight against diet culture.
Here are a few of my favorite body-positive podcasts that have guided me through my journey with food and body peace. I can only hope they help others as much as they have helped me.
This podcast, hosted by writer/performer Caroline Dooner, is a brazen “F You” to the diet culture so many of us have fallen victim to throughout our lives. Caroline has had her own bouts of unhealthy eating patterns and now wants to teach listeners how to eat “normally” without diet chatter getting in the way. She does so in a casual, conversational way that makes you feel like a fool for falling prey to fad weight-loss schemes, but also comforted if not only for the fact that Caroline has also been through the wringer. Now she’s over it–reminding fans that we’re on earth for much more than to just be skinny.
Christy Harrison is a dietician, nutritionist, certified intuitive eating counselor, and creator of Food Psych. This podcast is all about embracing body positivity and “Health at Every Size,” which Christy turned to after years working as a food writer while experiencing disordered eating. Although she is educated in intuitive eating, she acknowledges that this can often be taken as just another diet and warns listeners against such. Instead, she urges her clients and followers to treat themselves gently and with caution. Disordered eating takes a long time to form and even longer to reverse–when we lose our natural bodily instincts, in can be hard to tune into them once again. What Christy tries to get to the bottom of is where our disordered thoughts come from and how we can nip them in the bud.
In this podcast, Summer Innanen teaches listeners how to break the rules when it comes to eating, exercising, and perceiving one’s body. She often touches on topics such as rejecting appearance-based measures of self-worth, rethinking how you approach stigmatized topics such as “fat” (whether in your food or on your body) and reclaiming your body and your comfort within it. Summer wants you to let go of shame regarding your body–especially if imposed by others. She reminds listeners that our ideas of idealistic bodies are socially constructed, but that we can deconstruct them if we learn to question where these ideas come from and embrace our individuality instead.
Maddy Moon knows a thing or two about restrictive dieting as an ex-fitness model and “clean eating” junkie. In her podcast, she talks about how to heal your body from years of abuse, find your inner intuition, and live a life free from reverence to the scale or the mirror. She is all about connecting the brain to the body to the point where they can live in line with one another. That is to say that you are not lead through life solely by emotionless intellect nor thoughtless, impulsive feeling, but a healthy combination of the two. Listen to any of Maddy’s dialogues and interviews and you will immediately be able to tell that she makes a point to live fearlessly and embrace external opportunity, but also appropriately deal with the internal hurdles that life throws her way.
You might not think you’re a victim of diet culture now (and maybe you’re not), but many of us are–even if we’re unaware of it. There are tons of weight-loss resources out there but there aren’t many mainstream sources of support for those struggling with body image, which is why I highly value these four. I suggest you take a listen, no matter what your dietary history looks like.
Have you listened to any of these body-positive podcasts?
Also by Quincy: On Stretch Marks: Learning to Love Body “Imperfection”
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Photo: Pexels, respective podcasts