Are you getting drawn in by the New Years’ adverts for diets? What are your personal beliefs about your body and the food that you want to create? Are you finding yourself thinking in black and white around food? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks with Mya Kwon about toxic diet culture and how to manage your food mentality.


Mya("Mee-ya") is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition professor based in Seattle. Her passion is in helping life-long dieters break away from the toxic diet culture and empowering them to trust their own bodies. Her signature online programs are built on approaches such as Intuitive Eating, Health at Every Size, and self-compassion, and has helped hundreds of individuals break the cycle of food guilt & body shame and instead find food freedom and body appreciation. Visit the Food Body Peace website and connect with Mya on Instagram and LinkedIn. Email her at: FREEBIE: Check out Mya's website to access her Free Masterclass: "Why your diets failed every single time and the 4 proven steps to food+body peace"


  • What is the real problem?
  • Diet culture prefers black and white thinking
  • Move away from diet conversations

What is the real problem?

The food is not the problem. Wanting to binge, restrict, or control the food is a symptom of a greater problem. Ask yourself what is genuinely frustrating you: the food in front of you or what the eating disorder in your mind is telling you about it?
Is the problem the foods that you ate or is the problem the guilt and the stress that you are [putting] on yourself? Where is that struggle and pain coming from right now when you say there are people who ate the same way and feel great? (Mya Kwon)
Consider sustainability and balance, and consider whether your lifestyle is genuinely sustainable. Aim for balance, physical and emotional benefits, and a sense of holistic wellbeing both emotionally and physically.

Diet culture prefers black and white thinking

Eating disorder thoughts and diet culture thinking want you to have hard boundaries around food because it makes it easier to fail. It is easier to fail and fall into the trap of restriction, binging, and purging because black and white thinking around food is not sustainable.
Often people go back and forth between these two extreme ends instead of finding a place where they can really listen to their body, take care of their needs, and enjoy food. (Mya Kwon)
The diet culture and eating disordered mind enforces the idea of black and white thinking around food. If you find yourself stuck in these patterns, examine your past experiences in response to this urge and instead focus more on being intuitive than extreme.

Move away from diet conversations

If you are early on in your journey to recovering from an eating disorder or to getting off from taking part in diets, you can use this acronym.

P: Protect

Protect yourself. You may not be in a place to speak up and change people’s minds if you are not ready yet to engage in these conversations.

S: Soothe

Soothe yourself if you do become triggered by a difficult conversation. If you feel yourself going into your flight or fight mode, take a moment to calm your nervous system down:
  • Excuse yourself from the conversation
  • Text a safe person to you
  • Practice deep breathing

A: Advocate

Advocate for yourself and put some boundaries in place to ask what you need and to stand up for yourself.
I would really invite everyone to think about [using] this time to reflect on your past experiences because your lived experiences have so much wisdom and you know [your body] best. (Mya Kwon)
If you know that these rules and diets have not benefitted you physically, emotionally, and mentally, and spiritually, then decide whether it is something that is going to serve you. If not, move away from it.



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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