Podcast Episode 155: Diets, Diet Culture & Dietitians – Abby Langer

Jul 15, 2020

To Diet or Non-Diet – Is it Really “Wellness” vs. “Weight”?

A healthy diet is more than what we eat; it’s also our attitude towards food.”

There is a growing awareness of the importance of body positivity and intuitive eating. More people are embracing the Health At Every Size (HAES) concept and the belief that weight status does not equate to health status. However, there are some who believe that any “intentional” weight loss is more dangerous than being overweight and that it’s also pointless, because “95% of people who go on diets regain the weight.” This 95% statistic is repeatedly cited but it’s actually from a 1959 study whose author claims it is outdated and overused.

People will always want to lose weight. That’s never going to change. The best thing we can do is accept that and work with them in the kindest, most gentle way possible.”

There also seems to be a growing divide within the field of dietetics with some practitioners drawing a line in the sand between “diets” and the “non-diet approach.”

Dietitians demystify and de-weaponize food. We teach clients how to accept their body the way it is. Weight loss may result from the changes they make. Whether they lose weight or not, the changes we help them make can have a tremendous positive impact on their life in terms of physical and emotional health.”

Tune in to this episode for a discussion about dieting, weight loss, diet culture, behavior change and why some dietitians think there is more to agree on than disagree on when it comes to this topic.

If a person wants to lose weight for whatever reason, giving them some guidelines about what to eat, teaching them to eat intuitively, and digging deeper to help them work on their emotions and behaviors around food and eating is not “pointless”. Teaching them to focus not on weight, but on finding joy in their life and in food and in what their body can do, is a good thing. Treating the desire for weight loss as something shameful and harmful, is not.”

Abby Langer, RD

Abby Langer, RDAbby Langer has been a dietitian for twenty years and has worked in various settings from ICU to outpatient to media and consulting. She has worked with every client population and has built up an extensive knowledge base not only in clinical nutrition, but also in behavior change and counseling.

In 2012, she started Abby Langer Nutrition to teach the world how to eat well without dieting and falling prey to nutrition fads. Her focus on the importance of both physical and emotional health and how they intersect with food and eating has resonated with thousands of readers. Her frank and edgy voice and her ability to break down complicated science into manageable information has earned Abby a place among Canada’s top media dietitians. She has a large and devoted following on her blog and on her social media platforms, where she can frequently be found debunking nutrition myths and explaining the latest nutrition research to her followers.

Abby has written for and has been featured as an expert in many well-known media publications, including The New York Times, New Yorker magazine, Vice, Men’s Health Magazine, Women’s Health Magazine, SELF Magazine, Cosmopolitan, The Kitchn, Health magazine, SiriusXM, and many others. Her first book Good Food, Bad Diet will be published in January 2021 by Simon and Schuster.


Abby Langer: Website/Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Blog posts discussed on the episode:
Learning Curve: Do 95% of People Who Lose Weight Really Gain It Back?
Nutrition Myth Busters: Coronavirus Cure and Prevention Edition
Can You Prevent Coronavirus With Food Or Supplements?

Referenced Study: Stunkard A & McLaren-Hume M. The results of treatment for obesity: a review of the literature and report of a series. Arch. Intern. Med. 103:79-85, 1959.

Related Posts:

Obesity Care & Body Positivity – Sound Bites Podcast episode #142 with Ted Kyle

The Longevity Diet™ – Sound Bites Podcast episode #137 with Dr. Felicia Stoler

W.I.S.E. Choices: Weight Improvement, Satisfaction & Energy – Sound Bites Podcast episode #79 with Dr. James Hill

Transformational Weight Loss: What You Really Need to Know about Exercise – Sound Bites Podcast episode #24 with Dr. James Hill

From Stigma to Self-Compassion: Mindset Matters – Sound Bites Podcast episode #121 with Dr. Gary Foster

What Truly Matters: A Closer Look at 10 Health Behaviors – Sound Bites Podcast episode #109 with Dr. Vineet Nair



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Music by Dave Birk

Produced by JAG in Detroit Podcasts


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  1. Ruth T Murillo on July 15, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    I am so glad that you covered this topic! I have felt so conflicted as a dietitian that I have to choose between weight loss vs. intuitive eating/HAES and have often wondered “why not both?” What happened to treating every client individually and finding the method and best meets their needs?

    Also wanted to point out that a person can’t go to a dietitian for help losing weight they WILL go to someone else (personal trainer, health coach, internet expert, etc). I would much rather them meet with me to set healthy goals (that may or may not include weight change) and be able to discuss things like behavior change and relationship with food than turn to the internet for another crash diet.

    • Melissa Dobbins on July 15, 2020 at 3:49 pm

      Thank you so much for your feedback – I’m glad you found the episode helpful!

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