Episode 92: How to Combat Chronic Illness with an Anti-Diet, Intuitive Eating Approach

In this episode we’ll talk about our practice and approach, and we’ll address some of the diseases, illnesses, and conditions that we see in our clients. I bring registered dietitian, and our podcast content creator, Raegan Perkins, to the show. This is going to be an introductory episode to all the illnesses we’ve seen – which will be followed up by more in-depth episodes dedicated to each illness/condition.

We are a weight-inclusive, anti-diet, compassion-driven practice that helps our clients build a positive relationship to food, make peace with their body, and reconnect their lives to their values.

By using Intuitive Eating (IE), we help clients avoid chronic dieting and help people living with PCOS, digestive issues, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health concerns breakaway from restricting food to manage their symptoms.

There are several types of diabetes. Most commonly known are Type 1 and Type 2. There is also gestational diabetes and pre-diabetes. A short description of these include-

  1. Type 1 Diabetes. This is caused by our immune system attacking and neutralizing the part of the pancreas that produces insulin, leading to a lifelong dependency on insulin injections.
  2. Type 2 Diabetes. This is caused in several ways: insulin resistance or insulin deficiency.
  3. Pre-diabetes. This is similar to type 2 diabetes, specifically it is the early onset and hasn’t met the technical requirements for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
  4. Gestational Diabetes. This type is similar to type 2 diabetes, and occurs during the second half of pregnancy. The chance of the woman developing type 2 diabetes later on is also increased.

Healthcare professionals are trained to help clients with diabetes by restricting food – specifically carbohydrates, usually to encourage weight loss. Some research seems to suggest that weight gain isn’t necessarily the cause of diabetes, but rather simply a precursor.

Hypertension happens when the body increases the pressure at which the heart has to pump blood. A high blood pressure diagnosis can either be due to an increased systolic rate or an increased diastolic rate, or both.

  1. The systolic rate. This is the rate at which the heart pumps blood out. This is the top number in a blood pressure reading.
  2. The diastolic rate. This is the rate at which the heart receives blood. This is the bottom number in a blood pressure reading.

The main problem with the diet approach to hypertension is the lack of association to stress and the relevant bodily responses to that stress. The effects of long-term stress can be seen all across the body, especially in the brain, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal system, skin, liver, and kidneys.

The hypertension diet model (DASH) recommends restricting sodium, which plays an important role in many metabolic functions. The hypertension-diabetes combination is also very common, making the diet approach even more nonsensical, with a restriction of both sodium and carbohydrates.

When we tell people to exercise for weight loss, we place the problem on them. We could similarly find ways to encourage movement to improve stress levels, which could help lower blood pressure.

Hyperlipidemia (High cholesterol)
This diagnosis typically means there’s more cholesterol in the blood than is deemed “appropriate.”

More recent research has suggested that dietary cholesterol and saturated fats have little to do with blood cholesterol levels.

If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, your dietary restrictions will include carbs, sodium, and fatty food. Good luck finding a diet with low carbs, low sugar, low sodium, and low saturated fat.

Gut health
With IBS, particularly, the symptoms presented are stomach pain, bloating, excess gas, diarrhea, and/or constipation.

If we focus on the pain specifically, we can create a link to the same bodily response that is responsible for many of these conditions – stress.

The most common approach to IBS is the FODMAP diet. It focuses primarily on the saccharides in certain foods which can promote bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation. Stress is also a factor that can influence IBS symptoms.

It’s important to remember that our gut flora can be affected by our environment as well, and as we go through the various phases in our lives, each has its impact on our gut flora.

Eating disorders
Restriction is a fundamental cause of eating disorders.

Dieting (or pseudo dieting) is one form of restriction. This restriction or avoidance typically leads to overeating.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
The diagnosis is typically marked by unexplained weight gain, insulin resistance, inconsistent menstrual cycles, and cysts around the uterus.

There is a tendency to follow a carb control diet due to the insulin resistance component. Our bodies need carbs to function – it’s our primary source of energy, and it’s the most easily utilized energy source.

Socio-economic effects
The socio-economic environment of patients affects their health more than almost every other factor.

We see people with all these health conditions who live in a variety of body sizes and shapes.

Our approach
We take an anti-diet, weight-inclusive approach. A typical session with Raegan includes:

  1. “Did you know?” Statements.
  2. Hone in on what your body is trying to tell you.
  3. Rebuilding the relationship with food.
  4. Breaking away from the fear.

It’s important to establish a more positive relationship with food. We try to neutralize “problematic” foods, and get people back to a state of enjoyment of those foods.

“You are perfect exactly how you are, and the food that you want, you deserve. You should have it.”

We’re coming up on our 100th episode, so send me some of your questions. Follow us on our social channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or send me a message me at my website. We truly hope you enjoy this show, and would love to hear what you think.

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Once again, I greatly appreciate you for listening and supporting my show. Remember, it really only takes One Small Bite over time to transform your life, so let’s – Chop the diet mentality; Fuel your body; and Nourish your soul!

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