There’s Room for You Here

Guest post by Stephanie Johnson

To live in a body free of shame. To live in a body that is free to love, free to live, free to eat and be happy and angry and sad and anything that might fall in between; to have the freedom to be, and exist as you are.

As a child, I was told that I could be anything I wanted to be. I was encouraged to imagine my greatest dreams and to follow them. But somewhere along the line that dream narrowed down to one thing: to be thin. To be so thin that nothing else mattered. To be so thin that everyone would praise me for it. To be so thin that I would no longer have needs. To be so thin that I would finally be the best. Society tells us, particularly women, that in order to be beautiful and successful and noticed we need to be thin, or at least striving with every fiber in our bodies towards the thin ideal and berating ourselves when we haven’t yet attained it. Diet culture is rampant, spreading like a deleterious virus throughout the world of women and men, young and old, wealthy and poor, needy and privileged; diets do not discriminate against whom they target. And in the same way, eating disorders do not discriminate against whom they attack.

It is important to recognize the differences between repetitive dieting and disordered eating versus a diagnosed eating disorder, but the effects are quite similar: a life of deprivation, emotional longing, and a deep dissatisfaction and hatred of one’s own body. In both cases there is often a thought that one more diet, five more pounds, one more hour of exercise – that will be the cure-all, that will be the solution, that will make everything better. It is so seductive, so alluring, and nearly impossible to convince ourselves otherwise when we have the media and our eating disorder voices cooing these messages over and over again in our ears. How do we not listen when the solution is so nicely presented as “lose the weight and life will be perfect”? How do we not jump on the wagon when family members compare diet and exercise plans at holiday parties? What does it mean to adopt a life that actually embraces and values our hunger?

For too long we have gotten the message that we, as women, are too much in this world. Our bodies are too much, our emotions are too much, our voices are too much, our needs are too much. And to quiet this, we must restrict ourselves to the point where we either waste away or binge in secret because it is too shameful to reveal our hunger and desire to anyone else.

I now work with women with eating disorders who come to treatment each day bearing the mental and physical pain and pressure from the world that has brought this deathly disease upon them. They blame themselves for their struggles, attempt to hold their bodies hostage with words and deeds that continue the cycle of deprivation and punishment, and toil through emotional anguish as thoughts, feelings, and urges arise that previously were never allowed to be. I feel for these women. I know what it is like to be in that space, to occupy a body that seems to be changing, morphing, betraying you at every second; defying your once-perfect system that kept everything in check. The system that held back feelings, that dictated food rules, that isolated you from others and made you feel safe – because dieting and eating disorders are safe. They follow the rules, they draw inside the lines, they’re not messy or loud, and they certainly don’t draw attention… Right?

No, let’s think again.

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“This is Normal” and other Myths about Disordered Eating

We are myth busting today with one of our members, Ashleigh Partin! Ashleigh is a Registered Dietitian and owner of her private practice, Ashleigh Partin Nutrition, where she specializes in nutrition counseling for eating disorders and disordered eating. We love how proudly she denounces all things diet, and works with clients to relearn how to use their bodies’ internal cues to guide their eating.

And now, let’s hear what Ashleigh has to say about some of the most common myths about disordered eating:

MYTH #1: I am not sick/thin/small enough to deserve help.

[Read more…] about “This is Normal” and other Myths about Disordered Eating

Uncovering Where Medical Nutrition Therapy, Intuitive Eating, and HAES®️ Collide

This guest post was written by Lauren Newman. Follow Lauren on instagram @gofeedyourself_

As a dietetic intern and HAES (Health at Every Size®) advocate, I’m in an usual position: I’ve spent the past several years learning from a weight-normative paradigm in classes, while simultaneously educating myself on a weight-inclusive one on my own time. Despite the rigor and highly respected education my program provides, this curriculum—like most—offers zero education on topics such as Intuitive Eating, Health at Every Size®, and weight stigma. I often felt as if I was learning in two separate worlds: none of my MNT (Medical Nutrition Therapy) classes addressed these important issues, and none of my mentors in the HAES community were practicing in a clinical setting. For a long time, I incorrectly assumed that these two worlds didn’t fit together. I knew of no one who was doing it and heard countless stories of RDs ditching their clinical jobs once they discovered IE (Intuitive Eating) and HAES. This was disappointing because I genuinely find Medical Nutrition Therapy and critical care exciting!  [Read more…] about Uncovering Where Medical Nutrition Therapy, Intuitive Eating, and HAES®️ Collide

A Letter To My New Grad Self…

This guest post was written and submitted by EDRDpro Member Sarah Peck. Learn more about how to connect with Sarah, below.

Well you have finally graduated and can call yourself a dietitian. When you started studying, your only certainty was that you genuinely wanted to help people, now you are filled with knowledge and skills to take on the nutrition world. You feel important, not in an arrogant way, but dietitians are considered the experts on all things nutrition. You don’t come out of 4 years of intense study to not know the answers or where to find them……. right?

You will find a job in private practice which suits you well. You like to be able to spend more time with people. Weight loss counselling seems appropriate for you. If you are honest, it fulfils your need to help and fix. People are looking for the answers to fix their bodies, and they will come to you to find those answers. You are also very much a people pleaser, so meeting client’s expectations is important to you.

Your clients are successful at first, you will feel good at your job, but after a while, your clients are struggling to stick to the advice and plan you gave them. You try harder to understand the complexities and individual circumstances which drive their food choices, you will work tirelessly to come up with many different ways they can make this work. Yet still after a few sessions clients are coming back saying they have failed, or worse yet they don’t come back at all, all too ashamed to admit they have failed again. In their mind, it is one thing to fail a generic or fad diet but the feelings of failure are magnified when they can’t be successful with the advice and support from a dietitian, an expert in the field, which is tailored to their own individual needs and circumstances.

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Look Who’s Not Coming to Dinner: Morality

This guest post was written and submitted by Whitney Hightower, MS, RDN, LD. Learn more about Whitney, below. 

“Eat to live, don’t live to eat. Eat clean. Guilt-Free Eating. Earn your food at the gym. Nothing tastes better than skinny feels.” Messages of morality are woven into our conversations about food and wellness every day, and often out of the mouths of well-intentioned people. Diets are masquerading as “lifestyle changes” and when we find ourselves unable to follow the food rules outlined so clearly by those who we feel know better than us, we feel like failures. Diet culture has created an interesting and harmful paradox: Eat this way or you are bad. Eat clean or you are sinful.

I’ve made a career of teaching young professionals how to apply their knowledge of nutrition in real-life, every day scenarios. As a dietetics educator, I emphasize the need to see food as emotional and cultural, to see it’s true role in our lives and the lives of those around us. Its place extends far beyond nutritional value.

When I was a baby, my sleep-deprived mom fed me at midnight, my grandfather spent his weekends picking homegrown tomatoes and strawberries from his garden for Sunday brunch. My dad makes his famous Beef Stroganoff on my visits home, my mom bakes cookies and mails them from Washington State to New Hampshire for my husband and I to enjoy. I spend time rifling through traditional Mexican, BBQ and Southern cookbooks so I can infuse some nostalgia into our kitchen for my homesick Texan.

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Upcoming EDRDpro Membership Events!


MARCH 13 – Monthly Round Table with guest expert Fiona Sutherland, APD. Our monthly round table is a live video chat with members and our guest where we review cases and questions together. You can always submit a question for anonymous review as well.

MARCH 27 – Webinar: Clean Eating in a Dirty, Dirty World: An Update from the International Orthorexia Task Force by Jessica Setnick, MS, RD, CEDRD Learning objectives: 1) Describe proposed criteria for a new diagnosis of orthorexia; 2) Differentiate between orthorexia and anorexia nervosa; 3) List criteria of orthorexia that may require hospitalization.

APRIL 10 – Webinar: Interpretation is Everything: Advocating for Protective Nutrition Messages for Children by Anna Lutz, MPH, RD, CEDRD & Katherine Zavodni, MPH, RD, CD Description: The current generation of children are inundated with weight-biased, age inappropriate nutrition messages. As eating disorder savvy professionals and informed parents, we can advocate for children to be shielded from these harmful messages. We will look at the research showing how children interpret nutrition information and what is appropriate nutrition education for different ages. Experts Katherine and Anna will provide resources, strategies and tools to empower attendees to advocate for children with other healthcare providers and school personnel.

APRIL 26 – Webinar: Eating Disorders and Men: Featuring Aaron Flores, RDN and Dan Lewin, APD: This discussion style event features two well-known dietitians who specialize in treating disordered eating, Aaron Flores, RDN and Dan Lewin, APD. Aaron will be joining us from his home base in California and Dan from Australia. We will come together and hear from them both on the critical aspects to know about the assessment and treatment of men for disordered eating and body image struggles.

APRIL 28 – Webinar: The Weight of Our Words: Developing a Vocabulary for Eating Disorder Best Practices by Debra L. Benfield, M. Ed., RDN, LDN, RYT: This webinar will invite you to: 1) become more aware of your vocabulary and habitual patterns; 2) develop new insight into word choice which best serves you and your clients; 3) practice a language which invites client-focused curiosity, discovery and change



How I shifted from compulsive exercise to intuitive movement. Plus 10 tips

A guest post by EDRDpro™ Member Caroline Young, MS, RD, LD, RYT

Follow Caroline on Instagram and learn more about her services at The Whole Yogi RD

My relationship to exercise has changed drastically over the past decade of my life, but most significantly in the last 3ish years. It wasn’t until I was in the beginning of grad school when I realized my dependence on exercise had become much like a drug addiction – something to help me cope with a lot of stress and numb unwanted feelings/emotions. But since we live in a culture that normalizes things like dieting, and disordered eating and related behaviors (i.e. excessive exercise), it’s easy to be labeled as “healthy,” and even be applauded for the effort to “better yourself.” What a bunch of bullshit.

Before I was able to change my relationship to exercise, I found intuitive eating and committed to that journey of truly connecting and listening to my body, honoring and trusting its hungers and desires. The exercise piece was the hardest and last part of adopting the intuitive lifestyle.

[Read more…] about How I shifted from compulsive exercise to intuitive movement. Plus 10 tips

Help! I’m so tired of listening to diet talk.


I received the letter below from a client who has worked hard and made great progress to heal from disordered eating and chronic dieting. What she wrote is a common frustration that comes up for people who have done or are doing this work of going against the cultural current of food and weight obsession. What people around us say can be triggering and emotionally draining.

Letter: Help! I’m so tired of listening to diet talk

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I’ve Stopped Depriving Myself and Still Think About Food Constantly. How Long Will This Last?

Casey finishes her lunch feeling a warm, comfortable fullness. Her meal tasted great, it was exactly what she’d been hoping for when she ordered. She was happy to have decided to add on the house-made brownie with her cappuccino to finish off her meal – and it was so satisfying. Months ago, as she’d been doing since she was 13, Casey would have only given herself the option to have a salad – dressing on the side, no croutons, and a diet coke.  [Read more…] about I’ve Stopped Depriving Myself and Still Think About Food Constantly. How Long Will This Last?