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Anti-Racism and Anti-Diets: What is the Connection? 

Jun

05


Nutrition Atlanta Anti Racism and Anti Diets.png

This feels like the most vital blog post I’ve ever written.

Like many of you, I’m feeling a very heavy heart and deep emotions about the national status and inequality we suffer from. 

I have not/Hnat addressed racism on my blog or with you, I’m ashamed I didn’t bring this topic up sooner. Like so many others, I have had to process my feelings and now it’s way past time to speak to my community. After learning about the history of racism, I apologize for not addressing this crucial topic sooner because it’s besties with the anti-diet movement.

Many of my {MIT} are here for mindful + intuitive eating wisdom. But the truth of the matter is that we can not/Hnat do the anti-diet work without also doing the anti-racism work too.

They are in fact deeply and intimately related. 

Diet culture is firmly rooted in racism.

Originally, diets started in part to oppress black bodies that are genetically predisposed to be curvier and to elevate white ones. Take as much time as you need to really let that sink in.

DIETS ARE A FORM OF OPPRESSION.

Again, take some time to process this statement because it took time for me to truly, truly understand this. And for my younger readers who might not understand oppression: it’s a form of discrimination or unjust treatment (usually under the guise of the government) targeting specific groups.

So for black women who are in larger bodies, for human beings who are in larger bodies, diets and trying to get into a smaller body can be a form of oppression or discrimination. I realize this can sound hypocritical coming from someone who genetically has what’s known as “thin privilege” – but I always have had a diverse group of friends in a wide range of heights and sizes and hate that people are discriminated based on weight. OR color!

Researchers don’t have a firm estimate, but currently genetics can influence your weight by approximately 40-70 percent. Yes, absolutely, food choices, portion sizes and lifestyle choices make a significant impact on weight. I won’t argue that. But your genetic make-up can influence it by up to 70 percent, depending on race.

So if you focus the majority of your time and energy on the way you look and your body weight, zeroing all your attention on your size and how much space you take up, you are now easy to control, manipulate and marginalize. Basically you stay mentally trapped because your main focus is on your looks. Is that all you have to offer?

Our weight is and never should be aligned with our self-worth or value in the world. 

Another concept to let sink in.

If that were true, if our weight was the equivalent of our worth, then shame researcher and author, Brene Brown, wouldn’t have gone viral with her Ted Talk (because people would judge her based on her body) and wouldn’t be leaving the powerful legacy she is. Countless progressive leading women, black and white, who find themselves in larger bodies, would passively sit by the sidelines not becoming the most optimal version of themselves.

They would die with the belief that the only real value they had to offer the world was the size of their body.

Sorry, but I call a big BS on that and you should too. This is the work I do with my clients to undo this toxic belief.

In full disclosure, I just edited the above paragraph and added Brene Brown because the woman who first came to mind was Oprah (who doesn’t need her last name). Since she has also partnered with Weight Watchers to strategically target children and dieting, it’s incongruent with anti-diet culture for me to use her as an example. However, her body of work is tremendous and inspiring, aside from her strong affiliation with WW. Perhaps if she understood the connection with anti-racism and diet culture, she would divorce herself from WW but no doubt, we’re talking big BIG financial gains with that partnership and so in the end, money can often beat out ethics and morals.

I stand firm in my conviction of One Love. One love is the universal love and respect expressed by ALL people, regardless of race, gender, age, creed, or color. The lesson we learned (I hope) from Covid-19 was that we were ALL in this experience we call life together. 

It felt like humans, black, white, Native American, Asian, Hispanic, Latino, European, mixed (I’m an Eastern Euro-mutt) were kinder to each other because we were in it together! 

I smiled a lot to everyone and brought back the Southern Way I remember growing up with in Atlanta. Yes, neighbors used to wave to you when they were mowing the lawn as you drove by. And we didn’t have cut throat drivers on the road either. People used to let you merge into traffic by the head nod or waving their hand in acknowledgement.  

And they used blinkers!

Can we get back to equality and focus on peace? When you start to learn about quantum physics and the Universe, you recognize the one simple/complex reality: WE ARE ALL ONE.  

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“I’m saddened by how people treat each other and how we are so shut off from one another and how we judge one another, when the truth is, we are all one connected thing. We are all from the same exact molecules.”

— Ellen Degeneres (albeit a well-known white woman, tried to find a powerful black woman to quote on quantum physics… open to suggestions)

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Could HNAT agree more! Our human brain tricks us into believing in the false idea of separation.  When in truth, nothing, including humans, is separate. 

WE ARE ALL ONE!

Let me loop back to how diets and “diet culture” are a form of oppression because if you’re new to the anti-diet concept, this can sound foreign. And if you want to learn more about the interesting history of diets, fellow dietitian Christy Harrison wrote Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating

Oh hey, I need to write more here… looping back around so check back!

So what can YOU do as a privileged white person?

  1. DONATE: if you have the financial means to do so, please support the protestors and other organizations under the Black Lives Matter umbrella.  A comprehensive list is HERE.

  2. EDUCATE: learn about structural racism, systemic oppression, and white privilege. Since unlearning hundreds of years of systemic oppression can’t magically happen overnight, make a commitment to yourself that this will be a life-long practice.  A great place to start is with White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo (I’d rather not post a link to Amazon because quite frankly, I’m tired of supporting billionaire Bezos who isn’t doing good in the world with his BILLIONS so instead, support a black-owned bookstores HERE or download the ebook elsewhere). Also Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad and So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Films include but not limited to: 13th (on Netflix), Dear White People, When They See Us, Selma, and I am Not Your Negro. That’s a start.

  3. PAY: Black people and support their business (PS my fave green, fair-traded shea butter body wash is by Alaffia). Pay Black activists and educators that you are learning from. AVOID asking Black people questions about their experience or expect them to educate you or help you do better. Google it. Read the books above. Google things. Watch Netflix movies. My yoga friend Fred Knight, chair and professor of History at Morehouse College and wrote a book titled Working the Disaspora: The Impact of African Labor on the Anglo-American World. Fred traces how Africans drew upon knowledge from their homelands to shape the agricultural and material worlds of New World slave labor camps. So we have the wisdom and knowledge of Black people to thank for our food! Additionally you can pay for the valuable resources that Black people are offering. Do the work!

  4. LISTEN: to what Black people are saying and have compassion and empathy for their actions. If you are triggered and get defensive, you have work to do. Avoid pushing back on the heavy emotions. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how you would feel if your race was beaten and abused, living in fear for their lives for so long. Watch the video of how George Floyd died. The genuine lack of humanity is crushing and disgusting. Don’t turn away. This is a pivotal time in history and no one can take the privileged stance of “not being able to handle it because it’s too painful”. SIT in that pain and you will get a teeny glimpse of the pain, frustration, anger, and outrage by the Black community. It’s been going on for FAR TOO LONG. Sit in that pain so that you will want to do something about the systemic racism our country was built on. It never should have happened in the first place and we have the opportunity to rewrite history. I pray that we all rise up and do the right thing. Free podcasts to educate yourself : episode 01: The Good Ancestor Podcast with Rachel Cargle, episode 011 with Robin DiAngelo on White Fragility; episode 014 The Conscious Kid o Parenting Through a Critical Race Lens, Therapy for Black Girls episode 148: Talking to Kids About Race. That’s a good place to start. If you’re triggered during these podcasts, you have to ask yourself WHY and do the deeper work to try to understand where the racism might exist in your life without judgment.

  5. SPEAK: we HAVE to recognize our white privilege and talk to friends and family about the shameful historical events and our ancestors past behaviors and actions. Yes, the conversations can be uncomfortable but white silence IS white violence. And quite frankly, aren’t we sick of talking about Covid-19? Gawd, I am. If you take care of your immune system you can decrease your chances of most common diseases. But Black people can’t and shouldn’t have to change the color of their skin in order to be treated with dignity, equality and respect. WHITE people have to change their beliefs, behaviors and habits as well as value Black people for building our agricultural system and putting money in our pockets. Do you eat produce? Then thank Black People! It’s time to change the conversation.

  6. TALK: to your kids. It’s never too late to have this conversation. “Adults often think they should avoid talking with young children about race or racism because doing so would cause them to notice race or make them racist. In fact, when adults are silent about race or use “colorblind” rhetoric, they actually reinforce racial prejudice in children. Starting at a very young age, children see patterns — who seems to live where; what kinds of homes they see as they ride or walk through different neighborhoods; who is the most desirable character in the movies they watch; who seems to have particular jobs or roles at the doctor’s office, at school, at the grocery store; and so on — and try to assign “rules” to explain what they see. Adults’ silence about these patterns and the structural racism that causes them, combined with the false but ubiquitous “American Dream” narrative that everyone can achieve anything that they want through hard work, results in children concluding that the patterns they see “must have been caused by meaningful inherent differences between groups.” In other words, young children infer that the racial inequities they see are natural and justified. So despite good intentions, when we fail to talk openly with our children about racial inequity in our society, we are in fact contributing to the development of their racial biases, which studies show are already in place.” (Dr. Erin Winkler, 2017)

  7. SIGN: petitions and support the cause HERE.

  8. FOLLOW: some powerful Black voices who I learn a lot from on the ‘gram!  @sonyareneetaylor @rachel.cargle @ibramxk @i_weight @thebodypositive @sistersofthemvmt @blackandembodied @grassrootslaw @leemerrittesq and so, so many more. Follow who they are following.

  9. SEND: Cards of support to the victim’s family and grass roots effort.

My hope is that this post has been the most impactful blog you’ve read from me.

I recognize my responsibility and I intend to use my privilege to continue educating myself and having the deeper, more meaningful conversations with others. This includes my {MIT}.

Harley and I were so distracted by what was happening in our city, state, country, and the world with the inequality and hate crimes that we found it practically impossible to be productive. We wanted to educate ourselves in this revolutionary time in history. So if you are struggling with the same emotions, it’s normal.

We applauded our past leader, Barack Obama for coming forward due to our current presidents lack, and addressing the George Floyd racial injustice.

In case appetite has been impacted by watching videos and reading about the gut wrenching history of black slaves, it’s normal. It sickens me and can lead to either a loss of appetite or eating to soothe emotions. Again, that’s NORMAL. I’ve been vacillating between having zero interest in or making food. I’m so used to eating “what I want, need or craving (intuitive eating)” but right now I just don’t want anything. And then when I do eat, even ice cream, the pleasure is significantly muted.

I mention that because if you find your eating habits funky, you just might be processing the heavy grief and emotions that the rest of us are struggling with. In fact, I’m starting another 6-week virtual Mindful Eating support group because a lot of clients are hit with another pandemic- racism and how it’s impacting their eating habits.

I highly recommend my sister from another mister, Lena Franklin, who has a powerful video on Tonglen, a Buddhist meditation to help process heavy feelings and the objective truth of the current reality. We can’t be “sideline sympathizes” of systemic oppression and racism.

Regardless of how you deal with everything, be kind and gentle to yourself. Sit in the discomfort. Process it. Learn more. Take action. Remember, white silence is white violence.

Lean IN instead of out during this racial revolution so that we can heal as a country and come together in unified solidarity.

Please contact me with any questions, concerns, or feedback on this vital information. We have the opportunity to come together as one like John Lennon wrote and sang about in Imagine…(I know this is a white person but he was talking about ALL humans and was clearly a humanitarian)

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not/HNAT the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one.

Black Lives Matter*

Jennifer 

*  “…this doesn’t mean that all lives don’t matter. Of course all lives matter, that really doesn’t even need to be qualified. But the fact that white people get so upset about the term black lives matter is proof that nothing can center the wellbeing and livelihoods of black bodies without white people assuming it is to their demise.”  — Rachel Cargle

Amen and Aho Rachel!

“We need a US leader who can speak the truth of our nation’s history and is willing to say:   ‘I hear you. We are listening. We know you have been traumatized for generations. We know we built our current thriving economy on the backs of your ancestors being raped, beaten, tortured, murdered, lynched and enslaved and then left them to fend for themselves. We know we built a system that failed the black American father and mother. And this large gap of cognitive dissonance, gaslighting, and social injustice against black Americans ends today. Let us begin the healing.’ ” —Cherie Aimee

Amen and Aho Cherie!

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THE LATEST

This feels like the most vital blog post I’ve ever written.

Like many of you, I’m feeling a very heavy heart and deep emotions about the national status and inequality we suffer from.

I have not/Hnat addressed racism on my blog or with you, but like so many others, I have had to process my feelings and now it’s time to speak to my community. Actually after learning about the history of racism, I’m ashamed I didn’t bring this topic up sooner.

Many of my are here for mindful + intuitive eating wisdom. But the truth of the matter is that we can not/Hnat do the anti-diet work without also doing the anti-racism work too.

They are in fact deeply and intimately related.

Diet culture is firmly rooted in racism.

Anti-Racism and Anti-Diets: What is the Connection? 

First thing’s first: we need fat in our diets.

Thankfully long gone is the fat-fearing diet days of the past with low-fat and fat-free products! Fats are essential for long-term energy, cell growth and communication, organ protection, insulation for your body, nutrient absorption, and hormone production.

So yes, your body definitely requires good fats.

There are numerous diets out there that are either at one extreme of the “fat spectrum” or the other. For example

Getting back to basics: FAT

Hey y’all! My name is Harley Cobb and I’m a rising junior at the University of Georgia, majoring in Dietetics. I was born and raised in Charlotte, NC (the Queen City!) where I also became a 200-Hour RYS certified yoga instructor last summer.

This summer, I will be Jennifer’s “sidekick” in all things mindful and intuitive eating with Nutrition Atlanta!

Meet my new summer intern, Harley!

Perfection is this unsustainable goal that can be toxic during a diet. It does not last long and can lead to negative mental chatter and falling off the diet wagon.

Dieting is not normal – or sustainable. But in todays world you would think that dieting is totally normal. The problem is that dieting and restriction is a swift gateway to binge-y like behaviors.

Dont believe me? Google Minnesota Starvation project or….

Why I Let Go of the Chronic Need to be PERFECT