Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Holidays, Fitness, and Food

Here we are on the cusp of the holiday food season, and the diet/exercise talk has already intensified. On the day before Halloween, that dreaded candy-workout image reappeared on social media - you know, the one that identifies different types of Halloween candy by what types of workouts you'll need to burn them off?

Here's why this type of thinking is dangerous: If you choose the Reece's over the Twix only for calorie count, you're missing out on an opportunity to eat intuitively, to find pleasure and enjoyment from food. To me, it doesn't so much matter if you choose one or the other (or neither or both), but if you're going on calorie count alone, you're ignoring your preference, something that could end up backfiring in the long-run.

Do your kids want candy? Let them eat it. The allure will fade away soon. I like this mom's approach. 

And how about those exercise equivalents? So often, we're positioning exercise as a punishment for something we enjoy. We're robbing movement of its innately reinforcing value and instead suggesting that exercise only exists for the purpose of calorie compensation. But this isn't true! This is a myth that the diet and fitness industries use to lure people to buy products, pills, plans, and memberships. But what if fitness were fun?

For several months now, I've returned to my fitness roots, leading group cyling classes at a local university. I can't tell you how much I enjoy teaching again! I love the opportunity to encourage and inspire students, to lead them through a challenging but manageable course, to appreciate good music together. I love that I'm helping them improve their physical and mental health. 

But my favorite part of returning to teaching is making a small dent in an often disordered industry, one that celebrates unhealthy weight loss, views exercise as punishment for eating, and tries to motivate through self-attack. My classes are about building strength and power, celebrating our capabilities, and mostly, about having fun. I'd rather have students approach me after class and tell me that they enjoyed my music (which they do!) than comment on their calorie burns. It's the joy of movement, and the feelings around it, that sustain a lifelong commitment to physical activity.

So, if you want the Twix, eat the Twix. If you want to exercise, do that, too, But keep these things mentally separate to avoid that slippery slope. 

You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at

Monday, October 26, 2015

Anna's Law and Eating Disorder Lobby Day

"My insurance is cutting out."

That dreaded sentence professionals fear most.

When I first began doing this work, I was struck by the irony of hoping someone would become more symptomatic so her insurance company would authorize her to get help. . . that someone already receiving care would continue to struggle so that her insurance would keep paying for the care she so desperately needed. Even then, her insurance might cut funds for lack of sufficient progress. It's the Catch-22 of health insurance. Do well and they cut off. Don't do well enough and encounter the same risk. 

I've seen patients denied access to care because they aren't sick enough. I've seen insurance cut out when patients most need support. And I've seen insurance refuse to pay when patients and families are struggling to finance a physically, emotionally, and fiscally debilitating illness.

Something has to change.

The Anna Westin Act of 2015, also known as Anna's Law, was introduced by Kitty Westin, who lost her daughter to anorexia. Kitty's advocacy efforts focus on holding insurance companies accountable for paying for eating disorder care. To learn more about why we need Anna's Law, click here.

Tomorrow marks the final 2015 eating disorder lobby day. If you can't be in Washington this week, you can still do something. Donate, write a letter, contact your state's insurance commissioner when an insurance company refuses to pay. Help a growing movement gain momentum toward the goal of making eating disorder treatment accessible and affordable for all.

You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at

Monday, September 07, 2015

Enough with the "New Skinny"

"Strong is the new skinny."

"Healthy is the new skinny."

"Curvy is the new skinny."

Everything is the new skinny.

These slogans, presumably constructed to promote body acceptance and offer an alternative to the thin ideal, still posit a common end-goal. We're still striving for some iteration of skinny and continuing to promote thinness as the gold standard of success.

So let's step away from skinny as the solution - and focus on strength, health, curves, or whatever else we value without a tired target diluting our intention.

We don't need another skinny.

You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Misinterpreting Intuitive Eating

As a proponent of intuitive eating, I'm often presented with challenges to the model that seem to misinterpret its basic premise. I've heard some interpret intuitive eating to mean that we're advocating that people eat cake each and every time they're hungry.

But that's really missing the point. Intuitive eating is a flexible practice that encourages you to trust your body - but it encourages you to be mindful of the signals your body is sending before, during, and after you eat.

In her piece, "Why I'm Not an Intuitive Eating Coach," Isabel Foxen Duke offers some additional misconceptions around the practice of intuitive eating. While she's right - that many will turn intuitive eating into a diet - the premise of intuitive eating is based on rejecting the diet mentality, so if you're turning it into a diet, you're not doing intuitive eating. If you're creating rules related to intuitive eating, then you're still interacting with the food police.

Intuitive eating, as discussed by Tribole and Resch, offers a set of 10 practices that are just that - practices. They aren't rules, rigid guidelines, or anything else so structured as to invite rebellion and dissent.

That said, they offer a decent blueprint for developing a healthy relationship with food. Note that only two of the ten practices involve how people normally define intuitive eating - eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're full - "Honor Your Hunger" and "Respect Your Fullness." When someone turns intuitive eating into a diet, she's really ignoring the rest of the principles and overly, rigidly focusing on these two.

What's more, intuitive eating, in my understanding, was developed as a compassionate approach toward healing disordered eating. If people eat past fullness or use food to cope with feelings, they aren't shamed or berated by their counselors; rather, the information is used as a learning opportunity. The spirit is of collaboration and compassion, diametrically opposed to the diet mentality.

Intuitive eating promotes eating for nourishment and pleasure, a balance, which, as a delicate dance, is fluid, evolving, and forgiving.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Dear People. . .

Dear People Magazine,

I recently happened upon your exclusive video, Kendra Wilkinson on Why She Can't Really Have a Six-Pack Right Now, and I wanted to share a few thoughts.

Kendra's six-pack, or lack thereof, isn't news. Some may argue that all celebrity gossip lacks journalistic integrity, but this item is particularly insignificant.

More, Kendra shouldn't have to defend the fact that her abs currently lack chiseling. No excuses are necessary for her body shape or size. And suggesting that she doesn't have a six-pack "right now" implies a promise of abdominal contouring to come. People readers don't need a guarantee.

Women's bodies - their weight gains and losses, their cellulite, their "problem areas" - need not fill your pages. You could publish an entire year's worth of magazines without a single feature, or even comment, on a celebrity body - and in doing so, you would contribute to a growing culture of positive body image promotion and self-acceptance. Imagine how newsworthy that would be!

You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Happy Bookiversary and Another Book Giveaway!

In honor of the one-year anniversary of the publication of Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight, I'm hosting another book giveaway!

To enter the contest, either email me privately (drstaceyny at gmail dot com) or comment below on the topic of: "What Recovery Means to Me."

The deadline for entries is 6/29/15. Two winners will be selected at random that week, and the books should arrive around Independence Day.

Fine print: Please enter the contest only once. For those who submit via email, please include your mailing address to receive a book if you win. If you submit via comment, be sure to send me a follow-up email with your mailing address. By submitting an entry, you authorize DEWHAED to post your anonymous response. Winners will be selected by drawing so as to preserve response integrity. Prior contest winners are ineligible to win this contest.

You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Love Letter to My Patients in Early Recovery from Anorexia

You recently accused me of wanting you to be fat. Here's what I've been thinking. . . . Long after we part ways, I'll remember the sound of your voice, the tender and emotional moments we shared, those times we burst out laughing together. I'll have little memory of what you weighed.

I have no investment in wanting you, according to your eating disorder, to be fat. What I care about is your brain, that it's nourished sufficiently for you to think clearly and be yourself again. I'd like to see you return to the you you were before this ugly illness hijacked your anatomy and convinced you to accept this as your new normal.

I want you to be healthy - yes, I know you hate this word right now - but, I do. I want you to be able to swim in the ocean, sit comfortably in class, breathe in the mountain air, sleep like a baby, and have a baby (if you're a woman and that's what you want).

I want your bones to be strong enough to remain fracture-free, to support you on the dance floor and through old age. Hopefully, you'll live long and hard in recovery.

I want your hair to return to its previous fullness and luster.

I want your organs to function efficiently, as if to shout, for example, "This is what it looks like to be a working kidney!"

I want your heart to beat at a normal rate and rhythm. I want your most precious muscle to be stable and strong.

I want you to experience less depression and anxiety, for you to rest comfortably through the night, and for those frightening suicidal thoughts, that never plagued you before, to fade into the darkness.

I want you to feel energized, strong, and capable.

You're so immersed in this illness that you don't think anything's wrong. But there is. And I know that the core you, the real you, is terrified and pleading for help.

I don't want you to be fat. I just want you, in multiple definitions of the word, to live.

You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at