How can you tell if intuitive and mindful eating is being misconstrued in the diet culture narrative? What does it mean to eat mindfully? Why are people obsessed with weight loss? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks about intuitive and mindful eating with expert Dr. Alexis Conason.


Dr. Alexis Conason (she/her/hers) is a licensed psychologist in private practice in New York City. She specializes in the treatment of overeating disorders, body image, and psychological issues related to bariatric surgery.  She is also the author of The Diet-Free Revolution: 10 Steps to Free Yourself from the Diet Cycle with Mindful Eating and Radical Self-Acceptance.  In addition to her book, Dr. Conason’s essays on diet culture have been published in Elle Magazine, Scary Mommy, and Darling Magazine. She writes the “Eating Mindfully” blog for Psychology Today and contributes to her personal blog. Visit Dr. Conason's website, The Antidiet Plan, as well as Conason Psychological Services. Connect on Instagram. FREEBIE: Free mindful eating resources at


  • Mindful eating
  • Intuitive eating
  • Buzzword red flags

Mindful eating

Mindful eating at its core is really a weight-inclusive practice. It’s the idea of applying mindfulness mediation, so the idea of being fully aware and present in the moment with a sense of non-judgmental observation and acceptance. (Dr. Conason)
In mindful eating, you apply these concepts of mindfulness to the practice of eating. You can practice mindful eating by:
  • Practicing being fully present and aware of yourself and the environment when you’re having a meal
  • Using and taking information in through all of your senses
  • Being present with your body to learn your body cues from hunger, cravings, and satiety
  • Increasing awareness of thoughts and feelings around your body when it comes to your eating habits
[Mindfulness eating] is inconsistent with dieting because it’s about tuning into the wisdom of your body and honoring the knowledge that our body is sending us. (Dr. Conason)

Intuitive eating

Diet culture is designed to make you mistrust your body. You may learn to ignore or push away your body’s natural cravings and fullness cues, which over time destroys your relationship with your body and its communication with you.
Ultimately in both of the programs, the idea is to prioritize the information that’s coming from your body. They’re [meant] to be flexible … like in mindful eating, there really aren’t any rules. (Dr. Conason)
As with mindful eating, intuitive eating is following the cues that your body gives you.

Buzzword red flags

Both mindful and intuitive eating are great concepts for recovery and for simply building a sustainable and positive relationship with food and your body. However, they are both often usurped by the diet culture as well. You can easily spot this red flag if you see any organizations or persons using mindful eating or intuitive eating as a weight loss strategy.
A big red flag is if you see people offering mindful or intuitive eating for weight loss. These programs are not intended as weight loss plans. When we focus on losing weight, we’re inherently going to be mistrusting our bodies. (Dr. Conason)
Diet culture encourages you to mistrust your body which is the antithesis of mindful and intuitive eating.



I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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Podcast Transcription

[DR. CRISTINA CASTAGNINI] Behind The Bite podcast is part of a network of podcasts that are good for the world. Check out podcasts like the Full of Shift podcast, After the First Marriage podcast and Eating Recovery Academy over at Welcome to Behind The Bite podcast. This podcast is about the real-life struggles women face with food, body image and weight. We're here to help you inspire and create better healthier lives. Welcome. Hello, hello everyone. I know last week was Thanksgiving and I do honestly hope that you had a wonderful holiday. However, as Dr. Jen and I discussed in the podcast we recorded last week, I am well aware for many of you this day may have been many things other than wonderful. If you haven't listened to that episode, I really suggest going back and doing that because it's not just about Thanksgiving, but about this time of the year and how to navigate some of the stressors and difficulties that may come up, particularly if you're struggling with an eating disorder or body image issues. In general, when I think about how to have the most relevant and helpful topics for the podcast, I do turn to all of you, my listeners. I have said this before, but I really mean it, your comments, questions, messages, they all had a huge impact on the show. And I've noticed that there were several questions lately asking me about the difference between mindful eating and intuitive eating. Similarly, I've had many people coming into my practice telling me that their goal was to learn how to eat mindfully so that they could finally stop binging and get to their goal weight. I've had one of the authors of intuitive eating on the show, Evelyn Trioli, and that episode is 43 in case any of you want to go back and listen to that one, but I realize that it's been quite some time since that episode and from what I'm reading, there really is a need to clarify the difference between intuitive eating and mindful eating. I'm going to continue to do whatever I can to get the message across that neither mindful or intuitive eating is a diet and that therapy never, ever has the goal of achieving a certain weight or losing weight. Therapy really is about addressing your relationship with food and if you have a diagnosis of an eating disorder, treating your eating disorder. But wait, we're going to get into all of this and much, much more today, and I'm being serious when I say this, you're not going to want to be distracted in any way while listening to today's show. I'll tell you why, because we have a phenomenal guest on here with us today who's going to get into all of this and more. I am so excited that she's here. Dr. Alexis Conason is a licensed psychologist in private practice in New York City, and she's also a certified eating disorder specialist and certified eating disorder specialist supervisor. Dr. Conason is trained in mindfulness based eating awareness therapy, which is an empirically validated treatment for binge eating, another overeating disorders, and has participated in other mindfulness workshops and training. She's currently undertaking training to specialize in sex therapy. But she's also a prolific writer. She's authored the bestselling book, the Diet Free Revolution: 10 Steps to Free Yourself From The Diet Cycle in Mindful Eating and Radical Self-Acceptance. In addition to her book, her essays on diet culture have been published in Elle Magazine, Scary Mommy and Darling Magazine, and as if that's not enough to top all of that, she writes the Eating Mindfully Blog for Psychology Today. Well, Dr. Conason, welcome to the show. I'm really excited that you're here. [DR. ALEXIS CONASON] Thank you so much for having me here. [DR. CRISTINA] You obviously are an expert and you know so much about eating disorders and the field. I mentioned in the intro that you're a certified eating disorder specialist. So we were talking a little bit before we got on, and I think one of the things we both can agree on is that people really get intuitive eating and mindful eating confused. They're very similar but different so I'm just wondering if how do you describe it to people or, it's probably not like a one sentence thing, but do you hear that people get confused about that a lot? [DR. CONASON] Yes, I think people get confused a lot about the differences between mindful eating and intuitive eating, and they either think that they're the same thing or there's a lot of misunderstandings also around what mindful eating is. So I think that's a really common question and I'm glad we're starting there. The way that I see it intuitive eating really refers to the specific framework outlined in the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole. So it's those 10 principles, it's the structure that they talk about in their book and that's what I think of when I think about intuitive eating so it's like a specific structure. It's has a description, you can go and see exactly what intuitive eating is and what it's about by reading the book. There's specific authors, like people who created it and are associated with that structure, that philosophy, that eating philosophy. Whereas mindful eating, I think can be a little bit more vague and ambiguous. That's one of the reasons that I think that there's so much misunderstandings about mindful eating and it's gotten very much co-opted and misconstrued by the diet industry. But mindful eating at its core is really a weight inclusive practice. It's the idea of applying mindfulness meditation, so the idea being fully aware and present in the current moment with a sense of non-judgmental observation and acceptance and then applying that to our eating and our relationship with food. So it might involve things like being fully aware and present when we're eating, using all of our senses to observe the eating experience. It also involves things like being really present with our body and using our senses to observe what our body is telling us, so listening to things like hunger, fullness, satiety, urges to eat, cravings for different kinds of food, how different types of food impact our body, like that's all part of mindfulness and mindful eating. Then also increasing awareness of our thoughts and feelings around food and our body, so being more present with the thoughts that might come up, the feelings that might come up, the judgments, and trying to really foster a sense of acceptance and self-compassion, which is really foundational in mindfulness practices. So I think that mindful eating often gets reduced to like, turn off the TV and eat without distraction so that you can eat less or it's okay to eat three bites of a cookie as long as you do it mindfully. I think that diet culture has really done a disservice to mindful eating because that's so not what it's about. It's about, it's so much more holistic than that and it's not at all, like it's totally inconsistent with dieting because it's about tuning into the wisdom of your own body and really honoring that knowledge that inherent knowledge that our body's sending us. [DR. CRISTINA] I'm glad you brought that up about diet culture, taking over both really. I hear that too, people saying like, oh, if I mindfully eat then they morph it into like a way of dieting. I don't know if you hear that as well often. [DR. CONASON] Yes, very much so. I mean, I think that also there's a lot of diet programs that claim to be doing mindful eating, and now if you look at what they're doing, I don't think it's really mindful eating. I think they're taking like a tiny little component of mindful eating, like turning off the television or eating without distractions, which by the way, you can mindfully eat even if you're distracted as well but that's another topic. But I think it gets watered down to like the simplest little crumb of mindfulness and then all of a sudden programs like Weight Watchers or Noom are saying, oh, we do mindful eating. So I think it's gotten associated with those kinds of diet programs so people do feel mindful eating is another tool in the diet arsenal. I think that even if you haven't learned about mindful eating through a diet program like Weight Watchers or Noom or any of these numerous programs that claim to be doing mindful eating, we can still internalize that and think that mindful eating is about eating as little as possible, that it's about mindfully eating only "healthy foods" or foods that we think are per permitted. Or like I hear also a lot people saying that I can mindfully eat this, all foods fit, but if I'm going to have something that I'm judging as bad in some way or "unhealthy" in some way, I'm using air quotes. But those terms are obviously very subjective and made up in a lot of ways that I have to do it mindfully so I can eat as little as possible, so this idea of, again, like I can mindfully eat half a cookie or I can mindfully eat five M&Ms and then that should satisfy me, which is still very much diet culture. [DR. CRISTINA] And I hope this is not triggering to anyone listening, but I do often hear, well, come on doctor, I eat mindfully, then of course my eating disorder will go away and I'll lose weight and that's really my goal. As a clinician I'm going, this is not the goal of therapies for me to teach you mindful eating or discuss it in here. If that's your goal for therapy, that's really a problem. I don't know if you find that with people you're working with, they're coming in thinking like, well, I just need to learn mindful eating and get over my eating disorder so that this can be the outcome. [DR. CONASON] Yes. I mean, I think that people really hold onto the idea of weight loss for a lot of reasons. It's very challenging to live in our culture, which is immersed in fat phobia in a larger body. So it's understandable, it makes sense why people want to hold onto that idea of weight loss and it can be really contrary to a lot of the work that we're doing in therapy. Not that it's bad, not that people, I think that, again, that desire to lose weight is very normal and people like often come in and there's no problem with coming into therapy feeling like you're in a place that you want to lose weight. But I do think that ultimately therapy is about helping you shift to tolerating and coping with those thoughts rather than acting on them as a reality. So yes, it can be tricky, but I do think that mindfulness and mindful eating can be an important part of therapy, especially if you're seeing a therapist who's trained in those interventions. [DR. CRISTINA] So for anyone listening saying like, well I hear intuitive eating out in the world it's connected to dieting, it really is. It's like the intuitive eating diet or like if you eat intuitively, this is the way to eat. It's pouched very much so. So what's the difference between intuitive eating for what's out there in the diet culture world versus like how it's really intended to be? [DR. CONASON] Yes, well I think with both intuitive eating and mindful eating they are intended as weight inclusive practices. So when they get taken in by the diet industry and used through that lens, it really loses the intention of what these practices are about. We know that restrictive eating both in terms of like actually actual nutrient restriction, but also restrictive ways of thinking about food, so I have a, I just like to clarify this because there's a lot of clients who, or a lot of people I talk to who say, oh, I'm not dieting or I'm not restricting because I'm just eating everything. I'm out of control with what I'm eating. I'm eating too much. That's the problem. Often, it's that mentality around, I shouldn't eat that even if you are, that can be really problematic in terms of disordered eating. So we know that any restriction, restrictive thinking or restriction is going to increase the risk of disordered eating. It's going to exacerbate disordered eating and eating disorders and it's also going to, in most cases make people feel like they are out of control around food. So when intuitive eating or mindful eating are used within the dieting paradigm, they don't really have a chance to work as they're intended to work because it's like they're becoming the problem that they were intended to solve. [DR. CRISTINA] You talked about the 10 principles with intuitive eating and some of the things I read out there in the world, it makes it sound like it's like a guideline for how to follow yet another diet or way of eating to reach this goal versus, I mean, could you define it for people like why the 10 principles and how are they not strict rules that somebody needs to follow? [DR. CONASON] Yes, well, and I will just say in full disclosure that I am trained in mindful eating and work a lot with weight inclusive, mindful eating. So I'm a little bit less, I have less expertise in intuitive eating although I am familiar with their program but I think that all of these, whether it's mindful eating or intuitive eating, I think that it's all about reconnecting with your body and allowing your body to guide you in your eating. They're similar but different frameworks about how to reconnect with our body because we know that through many of us decades or years spent in diet culture, we're taught like from very young ages to mistrust our body and not to listen to our body. So sometimes we do need a framework or a structure to teach us how to listen to our body again. But ultimately in both of those programs, the idea is to prioritize the information that's coming from your body. They're designed, I think to be flexible in some way, like I think that, in mindful eating at least, like there really aren't any rules. It's not about you can never eat in front of the TV or you can never eat when you're rushing. That's why I say like what gets watered down and sold as mindful eating and diet programs is so far from what it actually is because it becomes rules, it becomes mindful eating is taking 15 bites of a grape, or her mindful eating is about sitting in silence when you eat. Really mindful eating is just about finding a way to be present with your eating experiences, with your body, with yourself. That could be showing up and being present when you're sitting with your kids having a meal and it's all chaos around you, or sitting and being present, even if you're like also watching a movie or a TV show while you're eating. All of those things are very possible and I think that again when people approach these frameworks from a diet mentality then it becomes a diet, it becomes rigid. The principles become rules. There becomes a right and wrong that again, leads into the mentality that if we're not doing it perfectly or if we're not following all their rules, then screw it, it's not working. I might as well go eat whatever I want. So when you hear people say, I'm intuitive eating isn't working for me, or I still feel out of control, there's usually some diet mentality that's still going on. I don't want to speak in universals. I mean, I'm sure there's different reasons that it wouldn't work, but I think a lot of the time it is that people are trying to, they feel like they're doing it wrong because it's become rule-based and rigid because with mindful eating, I really always tell people like, they don't want to hear it, but there is no wrong way to do mindful eating. [DR. CRISTINA] I'm glad you said that because I think people do have that idea of like, oh gosh, I could never mindfully eat every meal. There's no way, that's impossible or this is so hard and how do you do that? If you get back to that point, it's like people saying, well how do you mindfully eat while watching TV, because I know a lot of people, I can't imagine not eating in front of the TV. That's what I do every night. [DR. CONASON] I love eating in front of the TV. I eat in front of the TV most nights too, and I don't think that's contrary to mindfulness and I think that these structures have to be things that integrate well into our lives. So I think that when we say, well, mindful eating can only be done sitting at a dining table in complete silence with like, my meal on a beautiful plate, then it becomes unattainable and nobody's ever going to do it because we're like waiting for that perfect moment that we can try out mindful eating and it just becomes aspirational and not realistic. So I think that mindful eating really does need to integrate into our lives the way that it is and it's just about being present. So if you're watching a movie or watching TV or something while you're eating, it can just be about sometimes it's just about intentionally checking in with yourself when you first sit down and taking like a moment to recognize what you're eating, how hungry you are maybe just noticing the first bite of food. It might also just be trying to tune in to your hunger signal, your hunger and fullness signals as you're watching. It can also be the decision that you're not going to eat mindfully at this moment. I think that it's important to also have the permission to say I made this bowl of pasta. I'm probably just going to eat the whole thing. I just want to tune out. I want to feel distracted or numb for whatever, like those things have a place as well, and I think we can mindfully make those choices to eat in a way that's more distracted or whatever. [DR. CRISTINA] I'm just imagining some people listening going, oh gosh you're saying exactly what they're afraid of, is if I have these certain foods, I don't trust myself around them. Once I start eating them like all bets are off. Like I know people have these list of foods, they're like, oh, I can't have them in my house. I don't trust myself around them. They can't imagine ever mindful eating them or eating them in a way that's not like in a binge or out of control. So they just say, nope, I just made a rule. I'm never going to have them in my house. I'm never going to be around them. They're never going to be something I allow myself. What would you say to somebody listening who's like, yes, that's true. I can't ever have like ice cream or cookies or whatever in the house. [DR. CONASON] I would start off by saying that it makes a lot of sense that you believe that. I think that that's often the message that we're told is that if we eat too much of something or that food is we're out of control around something, we should just try to avoid it as much as possible and never be around that food. Look if that's working for you and whatever, that's fine. I mean I always tell people, I'm not going to say like, you have to bring those foods into your house but usually if people are, I would think listening to a podcast like this, or they are certainly coming to see me in my office or reading my book or something like that, then I say, maybe that isn't working for you keeping those things out of the house. It's really hard because first of all, our body and mind craves the things that are restricted. So if we say, I can't have this, this food has this unreal control over me, which again, is also making the, it's putting a lot of baggage onto like a food item that this food has control over you. But also the more that we tell ourselves that narrative and that we are afraid of the food and that we restrict it and say that we can't have it for most people, the more that we want it. Whether that means that you're going to be at a party where they're serving it and eat more than you want to or eat in a way that feels out of control or that you are binging on it and going out and buying that food on occasion, that strategy tends not to be so effective for people long-term. But I think that mindful eating, intuitive eating and really the whole anti-diet movement can be really overwhelming for people, especially if they're just coming in maybe through social media and like stepping, they're stepping a toe into this and they're just seeing these snippets that are putting, being put out on Instagram or on TikTok or Facebook or whatever. They're like, okay, I hear I shouldn't be dieting, diets don't work. I should eat what I want and then what? I think that can be a really overwhelming place for people because one of the things that diet culture does is it offers us structure, so diet culture tells us if we do X, Y, and Z, then we're going to have everything we want in life. We'll be healthy, we'll be happy, we'll be desirable, we'll be valuable, loved, everything. It's all a lie, which is the problem, but we believe it. We're really, I think in many ways indoctrinated into this so much so that oftentimes we don't even question whether what we're being told is true. But I do think, and that structure that people want to hold onto that sense of, if I could just do this, then everything will be okay because that feels comforting, that feels reassuring. I think it can be really overwhelming with the anti-diet movement to say, okay, well actually that doesn't work. That's a lie and now you have nothing. You have no support, you have no structure, many people feel they have no hope when they have let go of that. So I think that introducing like fear foods into the home or challenging yourself by like bringing in foods that feel really scary it doesn't have to be the first step and it may not be a step at all. But I do think that, one of the things I thought a lot about when I was writing my book, the Diet Free Revolution was, is there a way that we can bring people into the anti-diet movement and introduce mindful eating with some flexible structure that provides that scaffolding that I think people need as they're transitioning away from diet culture? I'll tell you, in my book, with my group programs in my private practice introducing fear foods is not the first thing that we do with people. And I think that's something that people often miss when they start doing intuitive eating or mindful eating. It's like they try to do it all at once instead of taking it step by step and seeking support when it's needed. Like a lot of these programs were developed by therapists and dieticians who are working with people in a much more intensive setting we're working one-on-one with people and then people take those principles and just think, oh, I should be able to just figure this out on my own, which I think is important that the tools are out there for people, for more people to access, but also the expectation for people that they should just, this should be something easy to implement. I think it can sometimes be a little bit unrealistic. [DR. CRISTINA] I think that's absolutely right on. How do people discern between like working with somebody like yourself or in a program like you offer versus like, hey, Weight Watchers, whatever they are using these buzzwords, mindful eating, intuitive eating and or other people I see all the time, like I'm a wellness coach and I use these things, but it's really, you look deeper, they're really promoting diet culture, they're really promoting weight loss, they're really promoting all these things. How do people listening go, well, how do I know who to seek support from because they're using mindful eating, they're using these words, so where do I seek support? [DR. CONASON] I would say a huge red flag to look out for is that if you see people offering mindful eating or intuitive eating for weight loss. So these programs are not intended as weight loss plans. When we focus on losing weight, we really are inherently going to be mistrusting our body. It's like all premised on this idea that like, my body's been doing something that I don't like and I'm going to try to overrule it to change my body. So it's like about when we are intentionally pursuing weight loss, oftentimes almost, I'd say usually that's about exerting control over or trying to exert control over our body whereas mindful eating or intuitive eating is really about developing a peaceful relationship with our body and coming in as partners with our body, to listen to our body, to honor our body, to respect our body. So they really like aren't about weight loss at all. I think that what we've seen happen is a lot of these coaches or diet programs see that intuitive eating and mindful eating are popular and they are effective when done as they were intended in a weight inclusive environment. So they've taken, these things that have gained a lot of traction, especially in grassroots movements and said, oh, people, people want this, I'm going to offer it. They also know that people want weight loss because we're in a fat phobic culture where we're told, again, the story that if we just lose weight, everything will be okay. So it's a great marketing plan, like they are have a much easier sell to say we can, you don't have to diet and you'll lose weight. I get why that's appealing to people, but it really, I think it is harmful because it's not the intention of these programs and it's going to end up triggering or exacerbating eating disorders and disordered eating because it is ultimately a diet program. We know how harmful diets can be. It drives me nuts really because a lot of these programs are targeting people. Noom, for example, targets people who are explicitly trying to heal from diet culture who have been harmed by diet culture and they're looking for whether it's eating disorder recovery or just healing from disordered eating through the anti-diet movement. They've taken the same phrases that those very vulnerable people are searching for and said used it to direct them to their diet program, which just seems incredibly cool. [DR. CRISTINA] Well, get my suboxone about certain programs. I hear things that I cringe and then I get people in my office that say like, well, come on doc. Of course, if I mindfully eat or I'm no longer bingeing or whatever, of course I'm going to lose weight, so just teach me how to do this and it'll be fine if you don't want me to go to Noom or Weight Watchers, like I'm coming to you. This cannot be your goal but to your point it's understandable why people have that as a goal when it's pervasive out there in the world. How do we have that discussion about like why that as a goal is so toxic? [DR. CONASON] Yes, I mean I think that again, I really do try to normalize people coming in with that goal and how understandable and typical it is. Also, I think that part of therapy and the work that people can do is trying to really unpack that so what is it that they're wanting through weight loss? What is it that they think they'll have if they lose weight? Is it improved health? Is it more desirability, more social capital? And again, some of those things are completely valid. I think when clients come in and they say, I want to lose weight because I want to be able to fly in an airplane without having to purchase two seats, or I want to be able to shop in a brick and mortar store, or be able to find things in mainstream stores. Of course, and I think that there's so much work that needs to be done in terms of advocacy around just changing the really embedded fat phobia and weight-based discrimination in our culture. So I think it's validating those things and exploring if some of them can be accomplished where we are now in terms of oftentimes, people say, oh, I want to lose weight because I have hip pain, or I want to be more mobile. We talk about, well, have you ever seen a physical therapist or have you tried doing any movement that might help ease the joint pain or seen a doctor, whatever. Oftentimes, people haven't because they've just attached it completely to their weight. So I think what ends up happening is that people aren't able to fully live their lives in this moment because they have attached to the outcomes they want to weight loss. So even putting aside for a moment whether or not weight loss is possible, like why not start living and working towards those things that you want now, to me, that makes more sense. So I think it's really like a process of unpacking what it is they want, working towards acceptance? I think acceptance is also saying that's like very misunderstood by people, but we can accept ourselves and it doesn't mean that everything's going to stay the same forever. I think it's muddy. It's really like hard and again, I think that people come in with these expectations, especially if they're not working with a therapist or they're just trying to do this on their own and they're like, oh, I still want to lose weight. What's wrong with me? I know that's diet culture and they beat themselves up and give themselves a hard time about it when it's a really, can be a really sticky process in therapy. I spend a lot of times with people working through their desires for weight loss and why that's important and what it's like to live in our culture that is fatback. [DR. CRISTINA] I'm glad you mentioned that because I think the more we talk about it, the more we bring awareness to it just for people to understand like of course, it's a struggle and you're not alone in feeling the way you do. I don't think it's talked about enough. To be honest with you there's much more talk about like all the other toxic stuff like we've said. Why do you think we're not talking about it as much? What do you think is going on that like, we're not discussing like what the desires really are, what people's real needs are, because weight loss, if they achieve it's so fleeting and it doesn't last. There's the yoyo weight cycling and things like that that I don't think we talk about enough either. But why is there not more emphasis you think on like people focusing on what they're really wanting, which is to feel better about themselves or to live a different life or feel valued? [DR. CONASON] Well, I think that often people don't even have the opportunity to dig into those deeper reasons. As you're saying, like it's not talked about and I think part of that is that we are, I think that the way that diet culture operates, it encourages us to stay in this concrete way of thinking about our weight and our bodies. So I think that we're, and it's very, when I ask people, well, why do you want to lose weight? It's really interesting because a lot of people are like really shocked to hear that question. They're like, well of course I want to lose weight. Like they look at me like I'm an idiot, like why am I confused about that? But I think that that comes from this idea that it's like assumed that of course we want to lose weight, of course that's a healthy good thing. I think there's so much misinformation that we get through the medical field where weight bias is very much ingrained that losing weight is like the most important thing that we could do for our health and that if we diet that's going to lead to improved health, even though the research really doesn't support that. So I think that people stay in the concrete and again, that idea of, well, if I can just lose weight, then X, Y, and Z. People hold onto that and I think in a way we want to believe that because we want to believe that all those things are possible. That's why there's a lot of, I think grief work that goes along with moving away from dieting as well. [DR. CRISTINA] So when you say that and people are like, what do you mean grief work? [DR. CONASON] Well, yes, I mean I think that as we, so if we recognize and start to examine the story that diet culture has told us that if we lose weight we are going, that A weight loss is possible and sustainable and healthy and won't come to any negative impact on our mental wellbeing. That's the first part of it and that B, if we lose weight, then we will be essentially able to have whatever we want in the world. We will be able to have good health. We'll be able to, if someone has pain, chronic pain, their chronic pain will be alleviate. People will be able to be more mobile, people will be able to have all their health problems go away. People will be more lovable. You'll be able to find a partner more easily. You'll be able to find a job more easily. Now again, there is weight-based discrimination so I don't want to say that these things aren't true, but again, it's that that weight loss is possible and not harmful part that is also important to remember. So I think it's all very complicated, but as we move away from dieting and if we start to say, start to accept the fact that for most people weight loss is not sustainable for a long period significant weight loss is not sustainable for a significant period of time and that dieting and intentionally pursuing weight loss can have a lot of risk to our mental and physical health. Then we also have to grieve the idea that at some point if we can just have the proper motivation, willpower, discipline will have all those good things in our life. There's a loss that goes along with that. [DR. CRISTINA] Right [DR. CONASON] I don't know if that makes sense. [DR. CRISTINA] It does because this is, you were talking, I'm just like hearing lots of people always say like, gosh, I'm so successful in all these other areas of my life. Why is this the one thing I keep failing at? Why can't I just get this one? Why can't I work hard enough at it? Why do I keep screwing this one up? Why can't I get it? I think it's just to everything you've been saying, it's like, it's not about willpower or trying harder or doing it right. It's not it. [DR. CONASON] Exactly, yes. [DR. CRISTINA] Just as you were talking about the intuitive eating and mindful eating, this is something it's like why are there rules based on like what you just are innately born to do, which is to eat, to fuel yourself and stay alive and now all these rules are put on it and all these emotions and expectations and it's just so sad to me? [DR. CONASON] Yes, I mean, I think there's a lot invested in us believing that our body is somehow wrong, that it's flawed, that we need to fight against ourselves. It can be really hard to repair that and to reestablish a connection with ourselves that's nurturing and compassionate [DR. CRISTINA] And that there's something wrong with, if you do get in touch with your body and fuel it in a way that's like honoring your hunger signals and your body doesn't look however society says, has value and worth it, somehow you did something wrong when you didn't. [DR. CONASON] Yes, exactly. I think that our culture is very much still embedded in this personal responsibility narrative around weight. Most people still believe that people who are in larger bodies have less discipline, they're not trying enough, they're lazy, they're unmotivated. That's where we get this idea, I think that's one of the reasons that weight stigma and weight and fat phobia runs so rampant. It's that people believe that well if you cared, you would just change that about yourself, that we think that weight is something that should be totally under our control and that people are essentially choosing to be fat because they are glutinous and lazy and undisciplined. So yes, we see where the problems are, [DR. CRISTINA] Right, and not all bodies are meant to look one way. [DR. CONASON] It's hard for people to accept that. [DR. CRISTINA] I mean it's, I always wonder it's like we don't do that with foot size. People have all these different foot sizes and it's like, for some reason when it comes to weight and body size, we just, we look at it so differently. I don't know why. [DR. CONASON] I think a really fascinating book to understand some of the history of fat phobia is Sabrina Strings, Fearing the Black Body, which really goes into, until I read that book, I really have to say I wasn't aware of the racist origins of fat phobia and the BMI. That's an enlightening book for anyone who's interested in the history of fat phobia. [DR. CRISTINA] Thank you for mentioning that. That's good read. Also, you mentioned your book, so if anyone does want to read your book and actually know more about you, how can they find your book? I know you also have more information about the difference between intuitive eating and mindful eating. You've got a lot of good information out there for people. [DR. CONASON] Yes, so you can find most information, you can find a link to my book and my work on, which is my website. I also have a weight inclusive group therapy practice here in New York so if you're interested in therapy, you can check us out. We're at Then I do have a free video for people who want to understand more on the difference between mindful eating and intuitive eating because like I said, there's so much misunderstanding in this area and such a common question that I get and point of confusion. So I created a free short video that you can get at the There's also, I also do have a six-week online mindful eating course that I always preface it and say it's a weight inclusive, non-restrictive mindful eating course because diet culture really has done such a number on the way that people hear even the term mindful eating. But if you're interested in learning about how to implement mindful eating in a way that's really about nourishing your body and building self-compassion with yourself, then you could check out my course, which is also at the You can always find me on social media at the Anti-Diet Plan. [DR. CRISTINA] Fantastic. Thank you so much. You have really just brought so much great information. I know people ask all these questions and there's so much confusion, so really appreciate it. Before we end, any last final comments or anything you want to share with the audience? [DR. CONASON] No, I think I would just remind people that this is a really difficult process if they're undertaking trying to heal from diet culture and starting to implement mindful eating and intuitive eating. So just try to give yourself grace and lots of self-compassion and be kind to yourself. [DR. CRISTINA] Thank you so much. [DR. CONASON] Yes, thank you. [DR. CRISTINA] This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.