The Appetite Episode #19: Can I Trust My Body With Food?

An Opal: Food+Body Wisdom Podcast

Regular listener Tam O’Donnell joins us to respond to a previous episode, “How to Eat in a Food-Obsessed World.” Tam brings questions and wonderings around how to provide both structure and freedom for kids around food, and asks the crucial and vulnerable question of, “Can I really trust my body?” The Opal team, including Julie Church, RDN, CEDS, Kara Bazzi, LMFT, CEDS, and Carter Umhau, LMHCA, respond with nutrition science, words of wisdom, and questions that beget more questions.

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Carter:                  Hello, and welcome to The Appetite, a podcast brought to you by Opal Food + Body Wisdom, an eating disorder treatment center in Seattle. The Appetite is all about bringing themes from our clinical work with eating disorders to the wider community, discussing themes of food, body relationships, and mental health. I’m your host, Carter Umhau, a therapist, artist, and writer. So often, when we’ve discussed relationship to food and exercise on the podcast, we’ve left our recording times wishing we could have had some back and forth with some of you all. Today, Tam O’Donnell, a regular listener, joins Julie, Kara, and me, to respond to our episode around how to eat in a food obsessed world. She shares her thoughts and questions around what it means to have trust in your body, what to eat and why, and how to parent well when it comes to food and feeding.

Kara:                      I am especially excited to have my friend sitting next to me. This is Tam O’Donnell, and she has been listening to our podcast from the get go, and she’s brought to me just questions she’s had over the course of our episodes, and it started an idea of what if we had her on our show? Hi, Tam.

Tam:                      Hi, happy to be here. As Kara mentioned, we’re good friends, and I’m also a mother, and so I think I pay careful attention to some of the things that are brought up on these podcasts, because I have my own responses to what I’m hearing, and questions about that, but then of course, I’m always following those up with how do I apply that to being the best mother that I can be, and raise my daughter and my son? How do I bring them up in this world to have a really healthy sense of themselves and their body and relationship with food, so I’m always curious about exploring more of these topics as they get brought up.

Carter:                  I know that in particular, you were drawn to the “How to eat in a food obsessed world” episode. Where do you want to start, in terms of what struck you about that?

Tam:                      I think starting at the beginning, the beginning of the podcast but also the episode that you’re talking about, but also, the beginning of our relationship with food. I remember, Julie, you started us off talking about the natural way things originated, so we ate what was available. There wasn’t as much emphasis on what it was, how it might impact our bodies, and although there’s something that sounds really intuitive about this, it does make me wonder now that the times have changed so much and we live a more sedentary life, we’re not foraging for food. Most of us aren’t growing our own food. How might that change how we think about food?

Julie:                      I think recognizing that we are in more of a developed time with a lot of the industrial revolution and the development and agribusiness and just all that goes along with the food world, and our eating as a business that can be something that people are making money off of, that wasn’t the original way, if you think of hunters and gathering and finding what you may, and seasonal changes to how you might eat based on what’s growing and what’s not. I think just speaking to, “Yeah, that is very different,” just recognizing that as a timeline of so much has changed with all the development of how food is then accessible to us, and of course, there are less people farming now, and less people that are growing food in the backyard or anything like that, I know the slow food movement and things like that are growing, especially in the pacific northwest like we are, but most people are still purchasing food that is from a grocery store, and that they have not been involved with the production of. I think you bring up a good question as to does that then impact something at the biological level, in terms of how it might impact our bodies and what we’re eating, and can we actually be intuitive? Can we actually listen to our bodies, can we actually trust our bodies? I think it’s a great question. I think there is obviously a lot of change that we can identify the human body has gone through over that span of time that I’m giving that short history lesson on, and there’s so much about the human body that’s still, when we look at it, still remains to be true, and I think to get back to the basics of just the fact that we’re animals, and that we have appetite and need, and we go and we get what we need, is still very true, and so-

Tam:                      That might adjust based on the level of energy output that you’re putting into your daily activities, right? That makes sense to me, because if you’re thinking about living a less active lifestyle, then your body would adjust to that naturally, you’re saying.

Julie:                      Right, exactly, so those that are still very active in their day to day and might equal the energy expenditure back to somebody that was a hunter or gatherer or just maybe just even working their own land or a farmer or something like that, tending cattle, whatever it might be. There could be people now that are still expanding similar caloric expenditure in a day, and needing, therefore, that much input in terms of calories and food, and then there’s, of course, people that aren’t. I think that’s where you’re like, wait, what about those people?

Julie:                      The human body adjusts to that, and I think that’s where I go first is just metabolic science and the reality that a human body is working to then meet the needs, and even when we are in a place where we don’t have as much access to food, and that can be both physically or mentally, that deprivation environment, the body then does decrease its actual functioning to then need less food.

Julie:                      We see that all the time, in terms of us watching people that are dieting or obviously folks that are struggling with eating disorders and are restricting their intake, there is metabolically tested shows that their metabolism does decrease, and then they live off of less food. I don’t have the facts in terms of, “Wait, back then, and how much did they live off of and now how much do we live off of?” To me, it feels irrelevant because the body is able to make those adjustments on its own.

Tam:                      When I think about the kind of food that people had available to them and that they were eating, growing naturally, I guess I’m thinking more about the level of knowledge that we had about the food that we were eating back then compared to what we have now. Now, there’s all these studies and modern day science that can tell you a little bit more about healthy proteins versus less healthy proteins, more omegas, less omegas, healthy fats, unhealthy fats. What do we do with that information? It feels negligent, sometimes, to just ignore that when we have that information in front of us, and yet what I hear the common message in your podcasts are to trust yourself above all else.

Julie:                      Above all else.

Kara:                      Which I would say is also a critique we’ve heard from clients, too, of where does nutrition science come in and the knowledge of nutrition? How do we take that in, as one of the components of decision making around what we’re eating?

Julie:                      I tend to want to take a big step back with it to say okay, well why do we care now so much, and what is it about having all that information and that input about nutrition that then makes us have more or less of a input of food that then is giving us more nutrient dense food or less nutrient dense food. I guess the reality is that more information and education, you’re in education, you probably know that maybe, but sometimes it doesn’t actually lead to it. More information and education doesn’t always lead to the behavior or the action that might be, quote unquote, healthiest or safest for people. What are the other factors?

Julie:                      That’s what I would say, is that many, many clients that come in that are struggling in our clinic with eating disorders know a lot about nutrition, and they still aren’t necessarily caring for themselves well in terms of how they’re feeding themselves, if it’s not enough food, or it’s a mix of food, or the chaos of how they’re eating, the pattern of how they’re feeding themselves, just not respecting that they are eaters, so they’re not taking the time for that. When I think about all of these other factors that impact, I can’t help but think, “Wait, is it really information?” Now because we have all this information, who is actually suited to use that wisely?

Tam:                      Right, and are they using it in the broader context? I think about Ellyn Satter’s work that you brought up, as well, in that episode. All the different variables beyond the nutritional science of food, but the how and the relationship.

Kara:                      I would say the nutritional science just gets really elevated, right? Julie, you have all the factors. That’s where-

Julie:                      We see it happen, just in terms of how medicine is delivered in our present day, as well. We haven’t mentioned the word weight yet, but in a lot of times in a lot of the current day, weight and health are equated. People are saying, “I am taking care of myself, I want to be well,” but there’s so many people that then are also seeing that as, “Well, I’m also managing my weight,” quote unquote, managing my weight.

Julie:                      The two things that most people are going to quickly go to, and this is both in the medical field and how health messages are delivered, is diet and exercise, diet and exercise, for health and then for a lot of the way it’s delivered, it’s oftentimes said, “This is going to impact your weight, to have it be smaller. Be what you naturally were supposed to be or be within your set point, or have you lose weight.” There is this health emphasis that then gets this diet and exercise-

Kara:                      Prognosis.

Julie:                      Yes, do these things and then you’ll have improved health. You trickle down, “Okay, well then within nutrition, what can I do to improve my health?” Our philosophy around terms of is that actually going to impact one’s weight? We would say that that is unknown. For some people it could, and for others it won’t. In terms of health, if somebody is taking care of themselves and feeding themselves, it’s not just about having this perfect mix of a macro and micronutrients that leads to health. We actually see that it is how they’re eating, not just what they’re eating, that actually leads to health because of all of the other factors involved.

Julie:                      The what is still, what about what? I guess I want to say that yes, sure, we can still find some research, and it’s a lot of correlative research that does show, “Okay, yes. If you eat more omega 3’s, you can have improved cardiovascular health,” something like that. When you look at the research, a lot of nutrition research is just not that strong because there’s not all of these other factors that could be controlled for. We just can’t control them all. U can find a lot of correlative type studies, but you can’t actually prove that that means that everyone is going to have that improved health effect. Then you have to look at your own self, and this is what I always say to people, is it practical?

Julie:                      Is it actually practical in your life, in your own economic state, and your own emotional state, and your own time, everything, to be able to take that one thing off the shelf that’s being advertised to be health improving and add that into your regular intake? For some it could be, and is it going to harm you? Probably not, right? Is it going to help you? Who knows? For some people, when looking at it all, it would cost them way too much physically and emotionally, to actually add that in. It could be financial costs.

Tam:                      You add that potential for layers of stress. I wonder, you talk about how health gets boiled down to nutrition and exercise. What do you feel like is the lacking component in that model? If you had to say, “Okay, here’s the biggest piece that’s missing from that concept, or that model.”

Julie:                      I do come back to trust. I shared the four elements of the eating competence from Ellyn Satter, and that, if anything, those are the things that I wish could be taught. It’s having eating attitudes, like can I feel okay eating something that I enjoy? Can I actually take in something that’s pleasurable and feel at peace with that? Can I have excitement about food, and approach it that way? The food acceptance skills of, can I try new things? At all ages. Try new things and reject them and decide their mine.

Julie:                      Internal regulation skills, like the hunger and fullness, and trusting my own body to know that my body can direct me to eat more or to stop when I’m done, and then the contextual skills are the ones that more relate to can I plan my life in such a way that I can actually pause to feed myself, and take the time to set up my environment where I might eat to be inviting to eat, and take time to shop?

Julie:                      When I think about diet and exercise is what my kids learn in school about health, or in health classes, that’s what we’re going to learn a lot about. Those four things, a lot of those things aren’t being talked about. My quick answer to people when they say, “Well, what would you wish were happening in your kid’s PE classes about health?” I would say that hunger and fullness is the thing, and the trust, internal regulation skills, is really the thing that I really wish could be there.

Carter:                  I’d love to jump in, too, with that internal regulation being something that I think translates, as well, to psychological health, and I think that’s a big component of probably what we’d all say is a big aspect of what is healthy. How can you be healthy, both in relationship to food and exercise and how you move your body and what you choose to put in your body, but also, how do you choose to move in your world?

Carter:                  How do you choose to relate to the people around you? Are you lonely, are you spiritually healthy? Are you beating yourself up all the time, no matter how good your decisions look on the outside? All those things would really impact.

Kara:                      Bio-psycho-social model. If we’re just looking at the biology, and the physical side of health, we’re missing the other components of the psychological and the spiritual and the emotional.

Tam:                      It sounds like that trust component is the biggest piece that you feel is missing, and I’m glad you brought that up because I feel like that is what triggers, for me, the most emotional response to what I’ve heard in some of Opal’s podcasts, but especially this one about how to eat in a food obsessed world, because it is so contrary to everything I’ve heard, including My Plate and what they’re teaching in the kid’s schools, but also my own experience growing up, and being in a context where I think there was a lot of controlling aspects around food and health really being thought of as weight and exactly what you’re putting in your body. It’s just really difficult to imagine having complete trust in your body, and when I’ve spoken with good friends and even my own mother, that’s the biggest thing that comes up. I just can’t believe that I wouldn’t fall into this abyss of gorging on Pringles and french fries. I wouldn’t come out of that, it would become a habit.

Kara:                      The hard part is when you have certain ideas about that, and have more quote unquote restrictions around that. If you were to let go and move into more trust, sometimes part of the process, Julie jump in, but it would be maybe potentially that you’re then pendulum swinging, and having … I remember my process of recovery. That was the most difficult part, is when I moved from restricting to binging/overeating/feeling out of control with certain foods because I had had such a long period of restriction of a lot of foods in my life. That’s not what we’re going for, that’s not a trusting, competent relationship with food, but often people go through that period, which then … I think that’s terrifying to go through that, so we wouldn’t want to go through that, so let’s keep the control going. I don’t want to go near that, so I’d rather stay restrained.

Julie:                      That was one of the questions I would have back, is if one is, yourself, or a friend, or a family, is willing to take that, what’s the expectation? Is perfectionism with one’s eating the expectation, or the hope of what would happen? And then, what is perfectionism of eating? There’s probably … What’s the ideal, or what the thought is that then, “Oh, then it would be okay.”

Tam:                      Right, at what point would you feel fully proud and satisfied with your eating?

Kara:                      If you had a trusting relationship with food.

Julie:                      If you let go of the control is what you’re saying, you’d be out of control, but to what end maybe, you wouldn’t? It would look different than what you have identified as what is the right way or the best way to eat, and so then is that just one of the reasons that people have a hard time taking the risk to try it? They still are going to hold to these ideals, I think is kind of what Kara’s saying, but it’s like hold to some ideal of this is the right way to eat, so if I do this and I eat differently than that, then this didn’t work.

Kara:                      Right.

Julie:                      You have to let go both the actions and the-

Tam:                      The idea that you’re holding yourself to some kind of perfectionist standard, it naturally sets any experiment up for failure.

Julie:                      Wouldn’t you say that, I don’t know if perfectionism is too strong of a word, but a right way or the-

Tam:                      No, for me, for sure, that’s spot on. It brings up a much broader question, which I don’t know if we’re equipped to answer here, but why do so many people have that reaction?

Kara:                      I also wonder about identity, like the identity that you hold, and the way that you move and behave in the world, and one of those being how you’re eating, and if you strongly attach to this is my identity, and this says that I’m a good … If you’re attaching it to morality and identity, then we’re talking about really deep things that are very scary to mess around with. In my disorder, there was definitely a self righteousness of I’m better than other people. That was embarrassing to admit that, but that was the mentality, and so to-

Tam:                      You felt proud of that, according to your own perfectionistic standard-

Kara:                      Until I started binging, I felt really proud. It was more of a elevated stance, like I have this good self control, or this good will.

Julie:                      I would love to look, and historically though, because that’s just the thing, it just wasn’t as public. You went home, you ate whatever, your mashed potatoes and beef and green beans or friend chicken and your whatever, and … People didn’t talk about it. Even just early 1900s, people just weren’t talking about that.

Tam:                      Right, it just wasn’t a focus of conversation.

Julie:                      That piece is just, it is fascinating, but that’s why I say there’s so much consumerism around it, in that there’s been a dollar seen in it, and even when I have looked at some of that, it’s so obvious, like, “Oh, there’s a dollar to be seen in tomato juice,” so then there’s advertising put into it, and then they’re using the female forum to advertise that this could lead to weight loss for tomato juice, when it started as, “Oh, this is a really high vitamin C food, and it’s helping kids that need vitamin C in the hospital. What a great thing, hey.” They say it’s a low calorie food, then it’s a low fat food.

Julie:                      I just think there is a lot of that snowballing, and who is getting the benefit of that? I don’t know. That’s where the agribusiness and all of that, it’s impacting a lot of things, and it is hard to sift through, for sure. The other piece that I want to come back to, though, because I do think why is it, like your question of why, then, do you feel that way, do others feel that way, about the perfectionism, or that need?

Julie:                      That fear of being out of control with eating and food. One of the things that Ellyn Satter’s research has really shown strongly is that if one is controlled with their food, and … A lot of her work has been done in families, so in a young context, crosses socioeconomic status, crosses race, crosses at least the US, in terms of location, that if there’s control around the food, kids will eat more, and if there’s pressure to eat, “You need to finish that,” kids will eat less.

Julie:                      The control, if I can just focus on that, controlling it, in an environment that’s super controlled, kids are going to end up eating more. I just think we see it in the young, in the behavior over and over, and it’s been shown in the research that that persuasion and all this, that is what’s going to happen. As an adult, if one says, “Okay, if I let go of this, there’s going to be some chaos with my eating. If I don’t have the pressure, maybe I’m going to eat too much. If I don’t have the control, I’m going to eat too much.”

Julie:                      It’s just such a mix of all of that. I think that it is conditioned in us very, very young that that isn’t something that we can just trust, because our history has shown us that we can’t. The research really does show, also, that even though in those environments of control, in environments of pressure, the child doesn’t regulate their eating correctly. When those things are corrected, which there’s videos. You can go to our website and you can see videos of it not being done well, and then it being done well, but it can be corrected, and then these kids actually start to feed themselves.

Julie:                      There still is innate desire to go back to actually, “No, I really just want the three tortillas. I didn’t really want to eat 12 of them, but I didn’t know when I was going to get my next tortilla. I’m going to hide it.” There’s all sorts of videos of these kids doing everything that you would imagine yourself doing in all these settings. The research has shown putting kids into a room full of every kind of food, that they’re going to find a balance of food, they’re not going to just eat the Oreos. It’s just over and over and over, that’s what is shown and so yes, all of us have a different variance of our history of being controlled or having pressure around food.

Julie:                      If it’s from our own selves, or from family, or from context, that we have to work through in order to get to a place where then okay, I can just listen to my body and my urges, and feed myself appropriately. It’s never been shown to be that we can’t do that work, but it does require, and that’s where the psychological parallel, and I think having therapists in the room, Tam, it’s always helpful having therapists around. It’s true, we have to be able to dig deeper into the fullness and the full story around our relationship with food. It can’t physically be, “Well, I was fed these things, therefore.” It’s not just about the what.

Tam:                      I think that’s what emerged for me, for sure, listening to this episode. It was just how many layers there are to our relationship with food, and how much we all desire to make things as simply as possible, and if you could just boil it down to nutrition, that would be really convenient. I remember Carter saying in the last episode, “Doing some self exploration and personal growth or just picking up a diet book and picking a few recipes.”

Tam:                      There is this desire for it to be simplified. You mentioned that if you have been controlled early on, that that would influence your relationship with food. I’m wondering a couple of things. I’m wondering, what does that look like, somebody who has had an interrupted relationship with food? What does that look like, because we as parents want to know, what are those behaviors? Following up with that, what are ways that it could be corrected?

Julie:                      The list that, I wish I had it in front of me, but maybe we’ll put a link. It’s this list of all these things, no rewarding, no nudging, no coercing, no controlling, no hints.

Carter:                  Hints? What do you mean by hints?

Julie:                      I’m trying to think an example, but just like a hint that you’re giving your child the sense that they should be eating that instead of that.

Kara:                      Doesn’t that look good over there? Something like that. That green veggie looks good.

Julie:                      Do you see the broccoli?

Kara:                      Looks pretty tasty, wink wink.

Julie:                      That’s a nudge. Coercion, for sure, but a lot of those things that it’s clear that the parents-

Kara:                      Want something.

Julie:                      A lot of that. She talks about, also, just the restrained feeding, so literally feeding a certain amount and then not giving a child more if they’ve asked for that. That would mimic food insecurity, even if there isn’t food insecurity. That’s where, then, we can parallel to more adult dieting and maybe I have access to food physically, I have the finances to give myself food, but I can’t, actually. I won’t do that.

Tam:                      This sounds very nuanced.

Julie:                      The list is, yes. Poor feeding, that’s one of our categories. Poor feeding. I put that in quotes, in air quotes right now, because it’s like what does that mean? That’s where it’s just this coercion, the context might be chaotic, it’s all these things. The other piece that she does talk about that is one of the things that leads to less of a competent eater as a child, is that a parent interfering with natural growth curve and natural body growth, and having reaction to where a child might be. That is back to what I said, so much concern and fear is around weight.

Tam:                      Is that typically verbal, like commentary, body language?

Julie:                      It’s going to be-

Kara:                      Encouraging weight loss, too, right?

Julie:                      I was going to say, how they’re going to interact with maybe the information they got from a doctor’s office about a particular growth chart showing that they took a jump, or they’re on the 85th percentile.

Tam:                      The conversation that follows in the car on the way home.

Julie:                      Sure, and what could we do or what does that mean?

Kara:                      Let’s go start exercising more.

Julie:                      It’s also, commonly, then a way that then the child’s food could be restrained from the parent. If it’s a determined about, like, “This is how much that you should be having,” so then they’re serving it and taking away, or not having … The child not having access to food in the way that they may need to. Not trusting, that word trust keeps coming up, but just not trusting that the child could follow a trajectory that’s healthy for them. I think one of the things that’s always, is really important to say, and Ellyn Satter does a lot of work around the growth curves.

Julie:                      We have one, zero, I guess one to 100% on these growth curves for a reason, because people have to plot on all of them. There are going to be people that naturally plot at the 90th, the 100th percentile, and that is just in our current day, is something that people react to. What’s healthy for that person that lands at the 100, yes, the most consistent thing is that they would stay at the 100, because that’s probably what they’re supposed to be at. There is a lot of desire if somebody sees anybody above the 50th percentile is that, “Oh, they’re supposed to be at the 50th percentile, and so we need to correct that and fix that.” These kinds of things around the table and around the way that they’re feeding them is-

Kara:                      To add a psychology or term in here is, I think, you were saying trust and the opposite is the fear. If there’s elements of fear around what’s going to happen, and of course, we care so much about our kids so there can be lots of ways of having fear in parenting, but fear versus ease, I like those two terms, too, of do we have ease around these things or are we more bound by fear? That, to me, is a flag for my own parenting around different … Not necessarily with food.

Julie:                      You may have a different rebuttal, but I know that commonly, I’ll get the rebuttal of, “Okay, some of it sounds so hands off, like laissez faire, what are you telling me to do?” I think the thing about Ellyn Satter’s approach is that it is not. She also has very strong lists of, “This is what the parent is to do.” It’s not easy. It’s not like it’s … It’s not absent parenting, I promise you.

Tam:                      It’s not passive.

Julie:                      It definitely is, and I like control versus responsibility would be the thing I would say is that there is still a very … She talks about division of responsibility in feeding, and it’s not about control, but there still is responsibility. The parent still has a role, and a very important role.

Tam:                      Thinking about correcting maybe-

Julie:                      Positive, move forward to change, right?

Tam:                      What does that look like, in terms of repairing, maybe, some of those relationships with food that you might have impacted your kids around?

Julie:                      I think that one of the things could be, if there is a, “This is a better food than that food.” I’ll just say that as a common thing. Maybe it’s, “You need to eat your vegetables before you get dessert,” let’s say. One of the things just could be, say, “We’re having a different approach.” Just entering in to say, “We’re going to take this one differently. You can eat whatever you want to eat in terms of what we’re serving, in terms of the main entrée, and then I’m serving dessert.”

Julie:                      Her approach is that you serve dessert with, and everybody gets a serving of the dessert, and you serve it at the same time as the meal, and that, in and of itself, the way that you’re serving it, communicates that’s neutral. That it’s part of what we’re doing, and there isn’t special, there’s no reward. It doesn’t have to be affiliated with graduation or something special.

Julie:                      I just think that you can make changes, I think kids can adapt, that’s what they’ve shown, kids can adapt and those changes can happen. One of the things about desserts that end up getting the bad rap is that she also will say, occasionally, if it’s once a week or something, you put out a plate of desserts and you allow them to have free access. You allow them to have a time where they’re not having the restraint of, “You only get one serving of this.” No, we get a plate of cookies on Friday afternoons or something like that, and just let them enjoy, and just allow them to do both.

Tam:                      In the first scenario, you’re controlling the quantity?

Julie:                      There is, yes. You’re saying, “I’m serving dessert, I made a pan of brownies, here’s the brownies.” The other time is that you’re not controlling the amount. One of the key things in between those things is that you’re also saying if they’re like, “There’s brownies left, I want more.” You can say, “How about we pack it in your lunch tomorrow, or you could have it with breakfast with a glass of milk, or you can have it with morning snack.” You tell them clearly when they get to have it. If there’s leftovers they see are physically there, ready to be eaten, it’s just clearly stating that wait, we have that for that.

Tam:                      As far as knowing when to control and when not to, that sounds a little confusing to me but maybe it’s more clear if we were to really dig into Ellyn Satter’s work more?

Julie:                      She just would say, dessert is the hot topic, oftentimes, like desserts or treats or something like that, so that’s why I went to that, but I think that allows there at least to be at the mealtime, that there is this access to food. The reality is that you don’t always have more of everything, right?

Kara:                      Right, that’s what I’m thinking. I’m thinking of desserts that get served of-

Julie:                      A pie.

Kara:                      Yes, a brownie with ice cream in it in a dish, that’s just you’re serving a dessert. It’s not a pile of something that they could get more of.

Julie:                      What else feels confusing about what to-

Tam:                      I’m just thinking as somebody who really likes something really clearly prescribed for myself, I’m thinking, “I’m a mom and I’m listening to this,” and I’m like, “Okay, so now I know that at dinner time, serve dessert with the meal, one serving. Occasionally, put out a plate of more unlimited access.” Is that one time a week? Is that once every two weeks?

Julie:                      Probably more often… at least once a week.

Kara:                      Isn’t part of it flexibility, though? A part of it … It’s almost like … I’m having all these parallels-

Julie:                      Maybe a box of something comes home or you’re at the grocery store, yeah, let’s get that or let’s have that. It doesn’t have to be prescribed, but it could be a part of a family rhythm, but it doesn’t have to be. I think each person is going to find their … You like the prescription, I get it.

Kara:                      She’s saying, Julie, when you talked about you’re putting the brownies, you’re each giving them one brownie, how is that not controlled? I think that’s what she’s asking, that’s the confusion.

Tam:                      It feels a little conflicting, and also, just to be clear, I’m not just speaking on behalf of myself, but what I think other parents might ask. I think people really want clarity around this, especially if it’s not information that they have a lot of access to right now.

Carter:                  I think that one of the things that’s important is just that people don’t assume that there’s only one time to have something, or that it’s not going to come again. I think flexibility is a really important thing.

Tam:                      Which is a different level of control.

Kara:                      Right.

Tam:                      For sure.

Carter:                  What do you mean by that?

Tam:                      I was thinking the opposite of that, saying, “Here’s your brownie,” and then, “I’m not going to let you know when it’s coming again. I’m not going to give you any information around that. I am the gatekeeper.”

Carter:                  The emphasis, instead, would be on, “This is a regular occurrence. You get to have this.” Later on, when someone is deciding what they naturally want to eat, it’s not, “Oh, there’s a brownie around. I better have that, because I don’t know when it’s going to come again. I want all of them because there are 12, and I want them now because it’s so special to me.” Instead, introducing things that are special in a normal way.

Tam:                      Integrated and embedded in their daily life, not tied to a very specific thing that I have deemed special.

Carter:                  The parent attitude seems to be a big part of it, right? If you’re still afraid if they have more than one brownie, how that gets translated to the kid without even you saying it, that you’re having fear around multiple brownies.

Tam:                      Right, why is that even a trigger for you?

Julie:                      I want to try to address that, because brownies are different than broccoli, nutritionally. I can say that, I’m not afraid to say that, but it does feel like, “Okay, wait, but what? Isn’t that true?” I feel like that’s a common thing, of going, “Okay, but.” I’m not afraid to say that. Why am I not afraid to say that, but why am I afraid to say that? Right? I think in one of the phrases that I use commonly in my parenting is just that that’s not a dinner food, that’s not a breakfast food. If there is something that they’re just like, “Okay, it’s time for snack, or it’s time for breakfast or something.” I’m thinking about this meal that we just were thinking about, there’s a dessert being served and I don’t know, broccoli, chicken, and rice. I don’t know. It sounds kind of-

Carter:                  Standard.

Julie:                      Whatever, we’ll go with it, and some bread or something. In that, you’re not serving the dessert as the main course. Of course, it’s communicating something. You’re saying, “This isn’t a dinner food.”

Tam:                      These are all valuable to you, and I’m putting them all in front of you in the hopes that you’ll enjoy them.

Julie:                      Totally. In the context of an approach that’s saying, “Those things are accessible, this is something that you can enjoy. I’m okay that you enjoy it. I enjoy it, too.” There can be a comfort in that, then it’s also okay to have there be, there is a bit of a limit in saying, “I’m serving this dessert.” Some parents might be like, “Yeah, that’s fine, you can go get another scoop of ice cream,” in the context of that dinner, and that’s fine. That doesn’t go against her philosophy that somebody maybe did get to have seconds of their brownie or their ice cream in that one dinner time, but it’s just that it’s still okay, I guess I want to say and affirm, that it’s still okay to be like, “Yes, this is a brownie, I’m not serving that as dinner. I am serving this hot, warm, dish food as dinner,” so that when at breakfast, they’re like, “Oh, can I have that ice cream?” It is okay to say, “Oh, no, I’m not serving that as breakfast.”

Julie:                      I know I gave the example of, “You could have the brownie for breakfast.” You could plan to do that as a parent, and you could plan to integrate that that way, if that’s when you want to tell them that’s the next time they get to have a brownie, but you can also hold the line of saying, because we’re, as parents, are in charge of the what. We can also say, “Well, I’m not serving that right now.” She does not believe in free access to food in terms of kids getting to ruffle through the kitchen all hours of the day. She believes in meal plan and structure in terms of meals and snacks, and so-

Tam:                      Maybe you could quickly revisit that, just in the context of this conversation.

Carter:                  I hope that you will say more about this, but I think that this idea speaks to the ongoing need for adults, eventually, to both give themselves permission and discipline. You’re modeling that from the get go as well, of yeah, there’s a lunch time, and this is what you brought to work for your lunch, you need to eat it, this is what we have. Again, speaking to yourself in that, so you have an internal model of that dialectic of permission and discipline. I would imagine as a parent, which I’m not, that would be an important thing to instill already. This is what we’re having. There are limitations, and also, there’s some permission sometimes, too.

Julie:                      Her division of responsibility is that the parent’s in charge of the what, the when, and the where, and the child is in charge of how much or whether or not they’re going to eat it. In that what, when, and where, you’re creating that structure, and you’re having that consistency, and that’s one of the most important things for kids to just know that they’re going to be fed, and that there’s going to be consistency of time that’s honored and respected, to be fed. In the moment when food is given, then they will behave intuitively. They can listen to their body because they know that there’s going to be food again later.

Julie:                      One of the models that she also says is not, in addition to maybe the main entrée, the chicken and the rice and broccoli and the dessert, she would also say that you’re going to have some staples that you serve as a family. For some families, it might be bread, butter, and milk, and those are the things, and they’re always familiar, and they’re things that are comfortable and when she will reflective, “Well, maybe they didn’t go for the lasagna because it was a mixed food.” As a parent, “It’s a mixed food, it looks different than last time. You used a different kind of lasagna noodle so it looks strange,” and the kid’s like, “What are you doing with this?”

Julie:                      The bread was there and the milk was there, and if they walk out of a meal having had bread and milk, that does give them the macronutrients and a lot of micronutrients that they need. That’s the leaning into the belief that being fed and getting enough food, they’re going to be okay, and maybe coming back to that belief that it has to be perfectionistic, it comes back to that of going, it doesn’t have to be. There are many, many kids growing well by just getting to occasionally take that bites of some of the lasagna and the broccoli and the chicken and all that stuff, and living a lot on bread and milk.

Kara:                      Here’s a question, though, Julie that I think Tam could ask or other people could ask, I could ask, whatever. Give that example again of the lasagna, the broccoli, the bread, the milk, and the dessert, and they eat the dessert and that’s all they want, and that’s the only thing they’re eating for dinner and they walk away, then how would you respond? How would you answer, you would respond as a parent?

Julie:                      I would say as a parent, especially if that is … You just don’t know how the kid is actually behaving with it. Where are they coming to that table? If you know and you’ve been with them and they have not eaten, and then that’s all they’re eating, it would probably be dis-regulating to a parent, because it feels uncomfortable, and they’re going to be okay. That’s what Ellyn Satter’s model shows and over and over, is just that they’re going to be okay. They may have a larger breakfast the next day, or they may come with a little bit higher need at snack time before bed, with a little bit more intensity towards you about that snack time, but it’s going to be okay.

Julie:                      Over the course of thinking about the way that we feed ourselves, and this is true for adults, too, is that we can’t look at one isolated incident in terms of making sure that we’ve gotten all the nutrients we need. I just think about a kid that might do that, what they’ve been exposed to at the table. Even a meal time could be five minutes long, honestly. In this research with her, we are not talking long, stretched out times with beautiful music in the background and all this stuff. It’s the real life of parenting. It’s short times, it can be at meal times, and if they come and they then … They’ve seen.

Julie:                      They’ve seen that lasagna that looked different and had the different texture, and they smelled the smells, and they noticed and maybe they put something on their plate and they touched it, or they put it up to their lips, all of those food acceptance things help with exposure. I guess I can speak as a parent that does have … I have moments where it’s frustrating because I have more perspective that I feel like something’s getting played out, in terms of power dynamic. I’ve been, recently actually, just thinking like, “Wait a minute. If I feel that way, that means that I’m not … I’m doing some of the things that she doesn’t want me to be doing,” which is some of maybe the urging or some of the little nudging or some of the little opinions, and I’m prey to it too.

Julie:                      It’s very easy because we care for our kids and there’s this moment that you’re like, “I just cooked all this!” For me, it’s a lot of the energy that I might put into it, and then if they don’t show any interest, it’s very discouraging and it’s hard to not show that. It’s hard to not show that. I especially feel like one of my kids knows that, and if he wants to get to me, he’s not going to eat the food. It’s not about the food. I’ve seen him eat that food, so it’s fine. He’s going to be fine, when he needs the food, he’s going to eat it, and I need to back off and I probably need to be more neutral around that.

Tam:                      You mentioned-

Julie:                      There’s so many-

Tam:                      That the parent’s responsibility is the what-

Julie:                      The when, and the where.

Tam:                      The when, and the where. If the child, say, at dinner, eats the brownie and walks away and they’re done, but then wants a snack at 8:15 and bedtime’s at 8:20, that’s the when. Do you hold firm to that?

Julie:                      I would say it’s pretty important that at the mealtime, you tell them if they are going to have access to food again. I know that not everybody does an evening snack in their home.

Tam:                      Awareness of access sounds like a pretty critical piece with this model.

Julie:                      Yes. I do that, I observe what’s happening at my table, and then I decide. If I feel like they’re playing something out there are times when I say, “This is the last time I’m serving food. It is 7:30. We’re having dinner, bedtime’s at 8:30. I’m not going to do another snack, so this is the time. I want for you guys to make sure you’re attentive to the fact that this is the last time I’m putting food on plates and putting food out tonight, and so just consider that.”

Tam:                      They might not like that very much, but at the same time, you’re not instilling any fear about food scarcity.

Kara:                      It’s more dynamics. What she’s describing right there is relational dynamics between her and her kids, right? That’s what’s so interesting, too, about the table is it plays all that out.

Julie:                      I just think It’s okay to leave it be, and let them then listen to their body. I want, utmost, as you can hear right, is trust. I want trust. I want them to be able to know that I trust their body and I trust their appetite and their ability to listen to their body. If I can at least give them that message, like “Okay, I just want to make sure that you’re getting enough food so you know that you know you have it, and that your body, you’re listening to your body, and that this is the last time so that you can go to bed and wake up in the morning ready for the day.”

Julie:                      It just comes back to that. I just want to make sure that they know that I trust it, I trust them, and I think that’s one of the most important messages to give to them and, I think, to ourselves, to parallel it to the adult thing. It’s like can I trust my own self? Can I be in that context with my own self as an eater, and know, “Okay, have I listened to my own body? Do I trust my own body?” To then know, “I can leave some of this food here or I can go get more, because I am connected in this moment and I also know that I can have food again later.”

Carter:                  I would say that for you Tam or for anyone else that is awed by the question of do I trust my body, or how would I even start that process, or why isn’t that there to begin with? I feel like that is a good question to continue asking, what are the messages that I’ve gotten through my whole life that say that I shouldn’t? Whether they were really overt or more subtle, because I think once those messages can get broken down a little bit more, it probably was never about the fact that you naturally ate too many brownies in your life and therefore, you’re untrustworthy.

Carter:                  It’s probably about more messaging or more relational dynamics, or trauma even. All these different things that can tell us why our body is not trusted. I don’t think that our culture really sets us up, on any front, with food or otherwise, especially as women, to say that your body is a trustworthy source of wisdom and information. Mostly, we’re getting opposite messages. As we wrap up, are there other questions that you have, Tam?

Tam:                      One thing that we haven’t touched on yet that I’ve been extremely curious about is, I remember when you said the most concerning issues relating to dieting emerge during reintroduction of foods after a period of restriction, because of the biological impact that it might have on a person. That made me wonder a lot of different things, but one of them being what about a two week experiment? Is it really that bad?

Carter:                  If someone’s cutting out sugar for two weeks or something?

Tam:                      Let’s say for two weeks, I decide to eliminate all sugar. Is there really that big of a biological impact, and at what point does it become concerning on more of a long term level?

Julie:                      I want to speak to the psychological piece first, because that’s a piece that I think you hear on the podcast so often, and that we talk, and we keep on addressing, so I don’t want to miss that, but I will get to the biological. Having a restriction for a period of time, however long or short, is still what we see as a diet, as a restriction, and then that is something that leads to the consequence of what we see in deprivation, and deprivation actions which is usually more chaotic behaviors with food and the psychological impact of … For somebody to actually take the measures to do something like an elimination diet, or eliminate a particular category of food, the Whole 30 or do something for even two weeks or something, there’s a lot of one’s capacities that have to be put into that.

Julie:                      They’re having to look at food labels, or you’re having to take time when you’re shopping that’s more than your normal, and then you have to believe at a level, like to believe it enough to do it and that it’s going to have some positive impact, I think, because there’s a lot that you’re sacrificing in order to do it. I just feel like there is a belief in that that is hard to walk away from, if that makes sense.

Julie:                      The people that aren’t doing it probably don’t ever get to the point of believing it that much, and so the fact that somebody’s done it for two weeks and then stopped doing it, they still probably believe it just as much. The psychological impact of not doing it, and then therefore failing and not eating perfectly, according to what they think they should be doing, I think is the reentry, psychologically, that I think is so challenging and detrimental. I don’t know if you’d say anything else about it, Carter.

Carter:                  I think that that sounds pretty good. It reminds me of the qualitative versus the quantitative relationship to exercise that you might be able to do the same thing, what’s your attitude about it? The fact that someone might have to intensely actually pay attention to their habits and what they’re putting in their mouth in such a way that with a relationship to food, we’re doing it all day long and we might be hungry and all of these things. That little alarm bell of, “Oh, I shouldn’t eat that. Oh, I shouldn’t eat that.” How do you get rid of that?

Tam:                      That continuous preoccupation-

Carter:                  Exactly.

Tam:                      Becomes a way of being and consumes your energy.

Julie:                      I know. I find that to be one of the reasons that I think people become more cycle chronic dieters, people that try it or do it, do it again, because they’re stuck in that and be like, “Oh, at least I have the relief of that chatter in my mind for that period of time, because I’m doing the right thing and that moralistic I might feel better about myself, or attributing some sort of character traits along with the fact that I’m so disciplined, I can do that.”

Carter:                  There was a time I was really proud of myself because I wasn’t doing this thing, and I want to get back to feeling proud of myself. I think that that translates-

Tam:                      Tying your sense of esteem and self worth to-

Carter:                  To the time when you were eating-

Tam:                      Your success or lack of success, once you’ve committed on that journey, because you’ve bought into it. It sounds like a slippery slope.

Julie:                      When it comes down to actual benefit, health benefit of it, I think that’s one of the things that’s so interesting because there’s so much placebo effect that can happen, also, when somebody has all of those psychological things that you guys are just touching on, right? Of how it might feel for somebody to have done that and had those actions, is there actual health benefit or biological health benefit?

Julie:                      We’re all about food and body wisdom, and embodiment, and listening to one’s self, and that’s one of the things that I hear from people, “Well, when I eliminated sugar,” you mention that, it’s like, “If I eliminate sugar for a period of time, I feel so much better. I sleep better or I have better energy,” or all those things. Okay, but then it’s hard because is it really … Is it the mix of all of these beliefs linked with the placebo effect, linked with … Is that what it is, and is there some biological piece to it?

Carter:                  I would also add, too, that it does make me wonder if there’s been an elimination of a food and suddenly, someone feels better, what was their relationship to the food before that? Was it something that they were just having when they actually, genuinely wanted it? Were they having it and then binging on it because they sometimes did feel like, “Oh, this is the only time I can have it,” or was it just a normal part of their diet that they just had sometimes?

Carter:                  I would think, “Yeah, if you’re only having sugar or there are meals that are just composed of that, maybe you wouldn’t feel awesome.” If it’s something that you are regularly integrating into your diet, the absence of it probably wouldn’t make as big of an impact, rather than biologically, if suddenly it was a main thing or something that you were having all the time. I don’t know, Julie, if you’d add anything to that.

Julie:                      I was trying to rack my brain because I feel like I’ve read something in regards to certain demographics that then have an easier time just doing something like that, short term, and why can they not develop an eating disorder, and what is it about that? Some of it is that I think that it’s just not that important to them, actually. They can do it. It’s people that join studies just because they want to be the control in the study because they get the $45 or whatever. It’s that.

Julie:                      Those people can do it, but then it doesn’t lead to any major consequences. I guess the other piece in terms of what you were talking about, just to continue to name the … When I spoke to the reentry being so much more challenging, a lot of it is this, which I do think impacts our biology because of our emotions connection and our brain and our gut connection, but physically, too, just at the elemental level, when we eat food that is common and familiar to us, our body knows how to digest that because we have a mix of enzymes and different acids and bases and things like that that are just in our bodies and in our gut, that then help to digest things.

Julie:                      That is a mix of, “Oh, this is a,” even like I think of probiotic and prebiotic, so these foods that then are creating these bacteria’s, so then help keep that flora up. If you stop eating some then yes, your body is not going to have that same input and same creation and ability to create that bacteria. When we just eliminate something that then our body is used to having, when we maybe bring it back in, then what’s the impact of that?

Carter:                  We might not have the enzymes available anymore?

Julie:                      Exactly.

Carter:                  If they were stopped being produced.

Julie:                      Exactly. Some of those things come from our body and are created. Some of it is with the other foods that we’ve eaten. We talk a lot about this at Opal, is just that you never eat one food in isolation. While you might say, “This food can increase somebody’s blood sugar level quickly and then have you dip, and then you’re going to have low energy. The reality is that when you only eat that one food by itself-

Carter:                  For three days in a row or every meal.

Julie:                      Yes. When you’re only eating white rice, you’re never … Very rarely are you going to only eat white rice. You’re going to eat it in combination of other foods. The same thing is that then the body can lose track of what it’s used to then interacting with and digesting, and having the metabolic impact of that. That can cause digestive distress and also, then, can filter into energy level or to clear mindedness or sleep and all those things.

Tam:                      It could create mild discomfort.

Julie:                      Sure.

Tam:                      I’m wondering how extreme could this impact be and at what point is it more hazardous versus not generally recommended?

Julie:                      I find different people have various impact when they … Depending on, too, how long they’ve done elimination of a particular food, too. Commonly I’ve worked with some people that were vegetarian or vegan, and then started introducing meat products. Even just the way that their body is able to digest that can be mildly distressing to moderately distressing, for sure, and then they can move through it, and their body can start to do it again, to digest it again. It’s hard to say. I guess everybody’s experience may differ based on what it is they’ve eliminated and what not.

Julie:                      I’ve also seen people that have done such an extreme round of elimination that even when they do try to reintroduce, it’s high intense distress, and they can’t do it to the point that they end up developing an eating disorder, and having a lot of biological impact of lack of nourishment overall, because they’ve eliminated so many foods and then gotten themselves in this predicament that when they’ve re-eaten these foods, they have major distress. Both psychologically, but I’m talking biological distress like vomiting and diarrhea and gastric cramping, major distress that they just really can’t get those foods back in.

Tam:                      It’s so aversive to them that they would just rather avoid it all together at that point.

Julie:                      Right.

Carter:                  Probably the messaging that they’re receiving from their body being in distress is, “Oh, that’s a toxic food,” or “How could I have put that into my body in the first place?”.

Tam:                      Could swing the interpretation to their favor.

Carter:                  Right.

Julie:                      Exactly. I just more so look at it going, “Is it worth it? We are not dirty. We have our liver and our kidney that are there to cleanse the toxins. We don’t need to do cleanses, we don’t need to do these detoxes. Allow ourselves to keep living in our every day life and do reasonable things versus the extreme.” The risk, I just see the risk to be way too high.

Carter:                  Interesting way to think about it, huh? It shifts everything. To me, when we start talking about food, it’s hard to not, then, translate it to all these other areas of one’s life to notice, “Oh, how else am I being restrictive? How else am I not trusting myself, and where else am I getting myself in a predicament because of that cycle that I’m acting out?” We’re most concerned with the food, which makes sense, because we can control it.

Tam:                      There’s this domino effect that happens at a deeper and deeper level, internally, biologically, that I think the average person is very clueless about. It’s helpful for you to illustrate what that looks like.

Julie:                      We can put this link, but there is really, really strong research now that’s more so researched the chronic dieter, so somebody that has cycled and cycled and cycled through dieting for years, and what the impact does on that. They’ve probably tried every diet that our listener’s thinking about and considering, what we’ve seen advertised, for decades.

Julie:                      Maybe it is to maybe a bit of an extremer level, like a chronic dieter versus somebody who’s just going to jump in and try one thing, but I do think it’s good to look at the research that then is showing that there’s higher incidences of some of the commonly thought of metabolic disorders like diabetes and hormone irregularities around fertility and around polycystic ovarian syndrome and things like that, that are just cardiovascular system risk is increased for those that have chronic diet, damage to bones.

Julie:                      There’s just a lot of that that we, often in this day and age, it’s often attributed to, ” Well, everybody needs to stay in a smaller size body to prevent a lot of these things, and that is what’s going to keep people from being sick, quote unquote, with cardiovascular health or hormonal distress, or what other common sicknesses would you think? Cancer. Whatever it might be, you got to do that by keeping your body small, or normal, at least, quote unquote, on the BMI.” What this research really backs up is the fact that people that are consistently trying to stay smaller and probably to an unnatural level, end up being larger in size. It’s not their body size, it’s what they’ve been doing over the course of their life that then has actually led to all these health concerns.

Tam:                      All the additional stressors they’ve put on their body and their mind.

Julie:                      Yes. I want that message out more. It’s just like, “Well maybe it’s a little dip the toe in and try this thing here and there for people,” but I don’t know because it could also be so risky. If somebody gets that domino effect that you’re talking about, psychologically and emotionally, then they just keep doing it.

Tam:                      Get stuck in a cycle.

Julie:                      Yes. Long term consequences are shown to really, really impact one’s overall health.

Tam:                      Speaking as a parent, just to want to model a healthier way of being.

Julie:                      That is a very high predictor if there is a dieting parent in the household or even just as a parent is eating differently than the kids, and are maybe not eating the one part of the meal or something like that, that then speaking to what messages our kids are getting at the table, that’s going to be a strong message that they’re going to see that really clearly.

Tam:                      It’s not shocking, and yet, it’s I think always good for parents to be reminded how our kids pick up on the subtleties. Not the overt, “Do I look fat in these jeans?” But, I’m just going to pass on all the carbs on the table and just eat the salad. They pick up on that.

Carter:                  They’re definitely going to get the message that they shouldn’t be having carbs, either.

Julie:                      They’re getting the message outside of the home. We have to recognize that. They are going to get that mainstream message of some of these main, normative food values that link up more to the diet culture. If they’re going to get that and then they’re also seeing a behavior in a family member in their home, they’re going to jump to the conclusion that that person aligns, this person aligns with what I’m hearing, therefore, this is a trusted individual. I’m going to trust everything else out there that shows that that’s a thing.

Tam:                      Instead of you being the person to counteract that within the family culture. Unfortunately, I think a lot of women really believe that if they’re not saying it out loud, it’s not going to impact their girls or their daughters. The one thing that we didn’t get to that I’m especially curious around is if there are certain temperaments or personalities that might be a little prone toward habits or addiction, and if really all people are created equal in whether or not they can trust their bodies?

Julie:                      That’s a complicated question, but-

Kara:                      I would say that’s part of trust, is knowing yourself because we’re unique beings, and our temperament is a part of it. I love all the temperament stuff, but our temperament is a part of it. That goes to the, I don’t feel like we can compartmentalize these aspects of our lives, but knowing more fully who we are and our temperament, that is a lens on all of these fronts, with our relationship with food, with our relationship with exercise.

Julie:                      I think biologically, sure. Appetite regulation does link up to hormones and so sure, there are some situations or conditions where those hormones may not be actually giving and firing and communicating in the ways that we would need. I think we overestimate how many times that’s the impact. It’s a very small percentage of people that are going to have a biological, metabolic disorder. It’s a very small percentage.

Julie:                      I think that that gets exaggerated often. In terms of addictions or things like that, in the midst of even somebody that might … I know that many people will see a parallel with food addiction, and we all are drawn to having positive experiences and having pleasure and those things, and food does have a limiting effect to that. There is a diminishing returns, when it comes to food addiction versus when other substances. We don’t subscribe to believing that food is addictive, and-

Tam:                      Does that include sugar? I feel like as a parent, that’s a big one, the message that we get that our kids will get addicted to sugar.

Julie:                      Yes, and I do not believe it, I really, truly, believe that so much of the power, advertising and the concern around advertising, the power is not just in the chemicals that might be in the Doritos, it’s about the way it’s advertised, also. The mix of the whole context, and then how we behave, and if those are in our home or not, is what is then making it, quote unquote, addictive. The research when we look at people that are diagnostically binge eaters, when we look at the research, they are restricted eaters. They’re deprived eaters. They are not over eaters.

Julie:                      I always have that frame, because that’s what we get ourselves stuck in, too, if we could limit things and put them in a bad category, we are just going to want them. I think that that whole cycle that happens and watching our kids with that, so much of that is context, and when given the opportunity to just have that bowl of gummies out there, there’s a point where it ends if you do it more often than once a year. If you do it only at Halloween, yes, your kids are going to be crazy over that. Not because of the sugar in their body, but because of the restriction of the sugar.

Carter:                  I would add, too, that there seems to be something about maybe an attitude around compulsively eating something where that’s not trusted, like you would eat something and it would never end. I don’t know if people are necessarily listening to how it tastes, eventually, for some of those reasons, as well. I don’t know the science around this too, but aren’t there foods that are genetically modified or there’s some chemical that makes it salty so you’re salivating more, or something? I’m thinking of some foods like that. I know that that’s a food that does that, but if I’m slowing down as I’m eating, and check in with my mouth, my head, my stomach, my body, and I really, actually am listening to all the parts of my body, is it just my tongue that is wanting the food right now? Is my stomach also saying that it does? Often not.

Julie:                      After you’ve had some.

Carter:                  After I’ve had enough and I’m satisfied and I liked it, and I think that oftentimes, we’re also not necessarily taught to listen to ourselves. Back to the trust, that it’s not just about trust with food, but do you trust yourself to slow down? Are you attuned and embodied to the experience of eating, as well, and is that okay to be connected to the food in the moment and then notice when you’re done? That, I think, takes practice to notice.

Tam:                      It sounds like as a parent, there’s the what, when, where.

Julie:                      Yes, what, when, where.

Tam:                      There’s the what, when, where, but then also, the contextual skills that you want to be helping your kids understand.

Julie:                      Your attitude towards the environment.

Tam:                      If we could just package that up and tie it with a bow, send it in the mail to me, that would be great.

Carter:                  Thanks so much for listening to our first season. We’re taking a little summer break, so please stay subscribed, and stay tuned for our next season. Thanks to Jack Straw Cultural Center for sound engineering, to Erin Davidson for The Appetite’s music, and to Opal’s Sara Taylor for production assistance and editing. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, we’d so appreciate it if you’d leave a review of the podcast in your podcast app. This can make it so much easier for others interested in non-diet approaches to food and body to find The Appetite. If you have any questions or just want to connect, email us at theappetite@ To learn more about Opal specifically, you can find us at, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to stay in touch. Thanks again for listening.