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Hey there, lovely radicals… podcast time!

In today’s episode of the “Life. Unrestricted.” podcast, I bring to you the absolutely amazing Dr. Deb Burgard, a FAED (Fellow for the Academy of Eating Disorders) from the San Francisco Bay Area. I had the great pleasure to talk to her a few months ago. Deb is a psychologist and activist specializing in concerns about body image, eating, weight stigma, and relationships. She is also one of the founders of the “Health at Every Size” model, as well as the very original Body Positive website “”, and the “Show Me the Data” listserv, building communities where people can find each other and the resources to resist weight stigma, especially in medical and psychological treatment. Her activism includes working with healthcare providers to integrate an understanding of the social determinants of health and creating interventions that address structural oppression and support stigma resistance. Deb has a PhD in psychology, and has been licensed psychologist ever since 1993. In the early nineties, she was the director of Clinical Services as Woodside Women’s Hospital, and after the mid-nineties, after having started working in private practice, she was also the supervising psychologist at the Santa Clara University Counseling Center. Since 1997, she has been working exclusively in private practice where she helps clients with eating disorders, weight and body preoccupation, sexuality, depression and relationship concerns. I’m very happy to say that, in the time since we spoke, Deb has been rewarded with the “Frances. J. Bonner” award for her outstanding work in the field.
Today, Deb talks about:
– Why she never lost touch to that part of her that felt joyful and carefree about her body
– What she remembers about her mother’s relationship to food and diets
– Why she started questioning our culture’s “assignment to become thin” fairly early on
– Why most people almost automatically take on the “body project” and assume it’s their “duty” to invest all they can into it
– What made her realize that she didn’t have to do this anymore
– Why most therapists never address the body and food issues of a client
– What the “cult of thinness” promises and never delivers
– Why we tend to blame bad things that happen to us on our looks/bodies/weight
– What the medical model fails to acknowledge when it comes to health
– What constitutes the most important factor in a person’s health
– Why stigma and oppression are detrimental to a person’s health
– Why she believes this continuous assignment “to be thinner” amounts to a misspent, lost life
– What made her observe that “we prescribe to fat people what we recognize as disordered eating in thin people”
– What working with eating disorders has taught her in relation to how this society’s views on weight/weight-loss might be, indeed, backwards
– How she approached data and studies related to weight-science
– Why she calls dieting “weight-cycling”
– Why she calls eating disorders “disorders of the pursuit of weight-loss”
– Why eating disorders often get mis-classified, or missed altogether, when weight is used as the main criteria for the diagnosis
– How people who are eating highly restrictively (and suffering severely), are almost always either complimented for their “efforts”, or their malnourishment is missed, because people tend to not believe them when they say how little they actually eat
– What the Minnesota Semi-Starvation experiment proved about the effects of caloric deficit (through dieting, restricting or overexercising) on people’s physical AND mental health
– How she explains the logic of size diversity
– Why people recover from disordered eating and eating disorders much faster and much more completely with a weight-neutral approach
– Why communities where people can support each other in resisting this culture’s fixation on weight together is so important in recovery
– How we can work on our resiliency to stay strong in a world that promotes disordered eating
– The cost of conformity versus the opportunity to live your truth
– Some of the history of the weight-loss industry and why/how it has come back with a vengeance after having being exposed as a failing concept in the nineties
– Why most weight-loss studies only hold up because they only track people’s weight-loss for less than 2-5 years, so “it looks like they have been successful”
– Why she is optimistic that this weight-inclusive paradigm will eventually persist over the old weight-normative approach
– Why the faster people stop cooperating with and participating in our society’s imperative on “weight-loss at all costs”, the faster the paradigm will change
– Why it takes each and every one of us speaking up about our experience with weight-suppression to make a harmful system change
– Why recovery is an “authenticity task”, leaving behind the “conformity task”…

… And so much more!

Find out more about Deb (including her email address) here:

Here’s the link to the “Health at Every Size Blog” of the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH):

Here’s the link to the original, award-winning body image website “Body Positive”:

Here’s the link to “Adios Barbie”:

Here’s the link to “The Body Is Not An Apology”:

Here’s the link to “Trans Folx Fighting Eating Disorders”:

Here’s the link to the (fantastic!) “Poodle Science” video of the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH):

Here’s an interesting article about the “Minnesota Starvation Experiment”:

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