Food peace is all about how to love food again. Most of us fear food because we are afraid of gaining weight. But my guest today is registered dietician Julie Duffy Dillon who will break down some steps on how we can achieve food peace.
On A Mission
Julie Duffy Dillon is an eating disorder specialist who helps people with weight issues and helps them attain food peace. She was a conventionally-trained dietician and generally, it takes people six years of study to do the job.
Getting out of school, Julie Duffy Dillon thought she was more than prepared to help people achieve food peace. After a few years, she realized that most people were not able to lose weight and the tools she had for food peace was missing the point.
“I felt there was another dynamics, so I quit and got a degree in mental health counseling. Then I started researching diets,” said Julie Duffy Dillon. “No diet will help you go long-term. Diets lead to weight regain. It led to me getting into knowing how eating disorders happen.”
According to Julie Duffy Dillon, when we pursue weight loss, we miss health. She says health is also how much power we have in our world. The journey towards food peace comes from finding what works for you and fixing the world’s view of our bodies.
“Many people think they can control all aspects of health. It’s not just about the food we eat or the way we move our body. Stress, poverty, and depression also play a big factor. Outside things determine 75% percent of health,” Julie Dillion said.
Julie Duffy Dillon essentially helps her clients realize that the body has wisdom. To be able to have food peace, one must learn how to listen to their body and figure out what energizes or depletes them.
I have dealt with polycystic ovary syndrome. It is a condition wherein my hormone levels were affected, but I was able to reverse it through a change of diet and lifestyle.
Julie Duffy Dillon says medical doctors tend to tell their patients they’re not trying hard enough. They usually advise patients to cut food groups and exercise more. But Julie Duffy Dillon says she has found a way to veer away from diets by practicing self-care.
“I help people find their place of passions. We shouldn’t feel like being tortured by food. Eat enough to be a human to have energy,” said Julie Duffy Dillon. “I help clients pick something sustainable and educate them on how to listen to their body.”
Shame is a big part of eating disorders, and it deters attaining food peace. According to Julie, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, so they’re a big deal.
“I want to do every I can to help prevent it. Shame doesn’t promote health, although it’s something we often lean on. But it’s certainly not something that works to change behavior in the long-term,” said Julie Duffy Dillon.
I had experienced shame when I was younger. My mother would subject me to shame whenever I ate rice or anything unhealthy. It was my mom’s way of showing she loved me enough to care about my health but emotionally and mentally, it did affect me.
“Unfortunately, when our motivation is fear-based, we don’t tend to make the best decisions. We need to come from genuine love because we live in a world that is not too kind to people of size,” Julie Duffy Dillon said.
Trust Your Body
Julie also stresses the need to teach children to love their bodies and to trust the messages of their body. Society puts too much emphasis on body size, and that leads to more severe problems like eating disorders. And when that happens, food peace fails.
I was concerned about my weight mainly when I was pregnant. But I learned from my Naturopath that apparently, weight has nothing to do with a healthy pregnancy. In fact, the primary thing to look out for was blood work, and mine was great!
“I think there’s a manipulation in the diet industry that makes us all freak out when we are 10 or 20 pounds heavier when it’s not as concerning,” said Julie Duffy Dillon
She also adds, “Speaking for my clients in recovery, positive body weight is important to maintain recovery. It is essential for them not to diet again or else there will be a relapse.”
Dangers Of Eating Disorders
Julie Duffy Dillon says suicide is a component for some people. She says some people die, but there’s a medical risk associated with it, too. In fact, there used to be a medical category called, “Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified Condition,” which according to Julie Duffy Dillon, the mortality rate was highest in that group.
“People with the condition usually die in their sleep. There are many facilities now that specialize in nutritional rehabilitation. They are usually on an out-patient level like my program. My rehab program is once a week and ideally, for three to six months,” said Julie Duffy Dillon.
Model Healthy Behavior
Julie Duffy Dillon thinks that sometimes, people want kids to know what’s healthy and not healthy. How kids learn nutrition is interesting.
“When we are younger, we are concrete thinkers. Nutrition and teaching healthy eating is a very abstract, formal and operational type of way of thinking,” explains Julie Duffy Dillon. So when a person is trying to teach moderation or healthy eating to a kid through words, their brain is not going to get it on the same level compared to a grown up.”
So what then is the best way to teach kids? Julie Duffy Dillon says exposure is the best teacher. Exposing kids to gardens allow them to learn agriculture and enable them to see how plants grow and what they taste like.
“It must be a hands-on way of teaching nutrition. Practice model healthy behavior by not talking about bodies unless it is something neutral or positive” said Julie Duffy Dillon.
Tips For Adults
First of all, Julie Duffy Dillon suggests having sufficient knowledge of your history with food. Because sometimes, eating is not just about hunger or being full. She says it’s also a connection to our lineage and culture.
“Know that you can trust your body and know that there’s a pleasure coming from food like cooking or eating,” suggests Julie Duffy Dillon. “Find out what serves you and what helps you feel energized. Your body was born with this innate wisdom to promote health so you can rely on it even if it has been a while.”
Julie Duffy Dillon listed down this very doable 3-step procedure that will ultimately help you achieve food peace:
- Permit yourself to eat. You’ve tried diets and know they don’t help long term. What if you experimented with permitting yourself instead?
- Instead of playing the message “I am a failure for failing my diet,” reframe it to be, “Another diet failed me because none of them work for most people.” You didn’t fail. The diet did.
- Throw out the scale or smash it with a hammer. Pursuing weight loss predicts more weight gain, isn’t supported by science to promote health and just keeps you from being you.
Love Food Podcast
To know more about how to get over your eating disorder, tune in to Julie Duffy Dillon’s Love Food Podcast. Her episodes are packed with information on how you can achieve food peace.
Julie Duffy Dillon is a Registered Dietitian, Eating Disorder Specialist, and Food Behavior Expert partnering with people on their Food Peace journey. She is trained as a mental health counselor and supervises dietitians and other health professionals to use weight inclusive and attuned eating strategies.
Julie Duffy Dillon owns central North Carolina’s group nutrition private practice and premier source of eating disorder treatment and prevention, BirdHouse Nutrition Therapy. She also produces and hosts the weekly podcast, Love Food.
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Body Respect by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphamor