Interview: Food Freedom & Diet Culture

Laura sat down with Jillian from the Frontcourt Female Podcast where they talked about food freedom and diet culture. Imagine what a world without diet culture would look like! Why are diets unsustainable? They cover all of this and more.

This is a portion of their conversation. The full interview can be found here.

Jillian: Freedom is a word we’re hearing a lot nowadays that I have been obsessed with. I’ve been following food freedom accounts. We’re going to talk with Laura about how to achieve this seemingly unicorn of a thing. I’m the first one to admit food freedom seems just kind of far off to me. I’ve become aware of some slightly unhealthy patterns in my personal relationship with food and I’m interested in this movement and fixing them. So Laura, in your work, you claim boldly that 95% of diets are unsuccessful. So why is this true? And is it even healthy to say the word diet?

Laura: I think it depends on how you’re referring to diets. First, it’s a fact I had found from a source that 95% of diets are unsuccessful. The reason they claim to be unsuccessful is because they don’t last long-term. How many people have had success, whether it’s for a month, two months, a year, two years, but then something happens and takes them off track? And then they’re just like, ‘Screw this. I’m going to abandon this and eat whatever.’ So you can stick with them for an amount of time.

Part of that is because we aren’t always focusing on what is important to us or works for us, so it feels like we should, we must, we have to. We might hear from somebody that the Keto diet, for example, was really helpful for them, so they’re like, ‘Oh! I should try that too because maybe it’ll work for me.’ But then when we get into it, it’s really hard to stick to. And once we feel like we’re starting to slip or we’re not being “successful” with it anymore, then it’s really easy to abandon that. And/or if you have a trigger that comes up, then it can take you off track as well. It can be hard to get back on track because so many diets are built around deprivation and about having to resist food, as opposed to finding something that will work well for you so you don’t feel deprived and don’t have to resist it anymore.

Where we want to shift to is really getting to a place where you’re not triggered by food anymore. And that’s what I work with people on is to not have to feel like they need to turn to food.

Jillian: I wanted to clarify really quickly the difference between anti-diet and anti-diet culture. To me, anti-diet means anti-diet culture, right? Not like anti healthy eating.

Laura: That’s how I define it as well. Even with anti-diet culture, our society is based so much on all or nothing thinking and black and white thinking. I feel like we view diets as all or nothing too. If we think about diets on a continuum and bring some nuance to it, we can find a way of eating that works well for us and make it our own. That’s where we really want to get to; still being able to eat healthy and work towards our healthy eating goals, but not necessarily having to follow a specific “diet” that has been prescribed to us that may not align with us, our values and our lifestyle.

Jillian: Let’s dream about a world where diet culture didn’t exist. How might our relationship to food really look different without that influence?

Laura: If we didn’t have diet culture and this hadn’t been ingrained in us, we would have more of a neutral view towards food because diets also label foods as good and bad. That’s why there was the low-fat craze. And then lately it’s been sugar and carbs have been the enemy. It really takes specific food groups and turns them into kind of a villain in a way.

There’s so much nuance or context that’s missing. Not all fats, sugar or carbs are created equal. It really villainizes different food groups and many people go into an all or nothing type of mentality when they go on a diet. That puts the onus on us where if you feel like you’re falling off track and not sticking to the diet, then you’re failing and there’s something wrong with you.

It’s not necessarily looking at, is this diet working for me? Is this fitting within my lifestyle? Am I choosing this? There’s a lot that goes along with it that if we had a world without diet culture, there would be a lot more neutrality. There would be a lot more balance that comes along with how we view food. And we wouldn’t necessarily put so much onus on us that we’re the ones that are broken or failing as well.

About Laura: 

https://laurabfolkes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/gummy-bears-5-4-3-1.jpg is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and holds a certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). She has supported over 80 clients who know what they should be eating but have a hard time sticking to it by helping them identify the familiar patterns keeping them stuck so they can radically transform their relationship with food.

Laura is a facilitator of the research-based Truce with Food® process, which helps clients achieve sustainable results by getting to the bottom of why they fall off track and aren’t able to remain consistent. She’s also the creator of the self-paced course, “Behind Your Cravings” and the creator and facilitator of the free, online Behind Your Cravings Community.

After successfully losing 60 pounds and working through her own emotional relationship with food, Laura’s mission became helping others get to the bottom of their self-sabotaging patterns.

Laura coaches clients one-on-one, in small groups, runs workshops, speaks at summits and conferences, and has been featured in Voyage Chicago. Laura can be contacted at www.laurabfolkes.com or [email protected]

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