Checking In Podcast

How to Be Your Own Best Advocate When You Have a Chronic Illness

How to Be Your Own Best Advocate When You Have a Chronic Illness

Hi! I’m Zahra, SELF magazine’s executive editor and the host of our wellness advice podcast, Checking In. In this week’s episode—the final one of the season—we’re diving into a conversation about advocating for yourself in medical situations when you have a chronic illness. If you have any kind of chronic illness or if you love someone who does, you may be all too familiar with how much of an ordeal it can be to find compassionate, comprehensive medical care from providers who take you and your concerns seriously. This can become an especially difficult ordeal if you belong to any number of marginalized groups who routinely face medical racism or bias of any kind. So, let’s dive in.This week, our listener question comes from Victoria, who has endometriosis, which involves tissue from the uterine lining (or tissue that’s similar but has a few key differences) growing on other internal organs. This reproductive health condition isn’t fully understood, but it can very clearly cause debilitating pain among other symptoms that can make life with this health issue really hard to navigate. It can also be tough to get proper medical care for endometriosis for so many reasons. For one, there’s no cure, only treatment options meant to manage symptoms to a certain degree. Beyond that, though, people with endometriosis often have to deal with the unwarranted shame, stigma, and medical disbelief or even mistreatment that comes from having this kind of reproductive health condition. So, how does someone in this situation best advocate for themselves with all of that in mind? To find out, I chatted with Lauren Selfridge, L.M.F.T., a psychotherapist with multiple sclerosis and the host of This Is Not What I Ordered, a podcast about “full-hearted” living with chronic illness. After featuring her on season 1 in an episode about chronic illness and relationships, we knew we needed to invite Selfridge back for her insight into this tricky, nuanced topic. To offer Victoria and anyone in a similar position some guidance, Selfridge delves into her own journey to diagnosis with multiple sclerosis and shares plenty of words of wisdom when it comes to finding what Selfridge calls an “emotionally intelligent” doctor. She also gets into the whole second opinion discussion, including how to know when it’s time to seek one out. One aspect of the discussion that I found particularly delightful came about when Victoria asked how she might also advocate for other people in her situation—Selfridge had some compelling advice there as well. Give it a listen! New episodes of “Checking In” come out every Monday. Listen to this week’s episode above, and get more episodes of “Checking In” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.Show NotesLauren Selfridge, L.M.F.T., is a psychotherapist with multiple sclerosis. You can learn more about Lauren’s work at her website and you can follow her on Instagram @laurenselfridgeofficical. You can listen to her podcast This Is Not What I Ordered here.You May Also Like: Opening Up About Your Chronic IllnessWriting A Chronic Illness Elevator Pitch Has Made My Doctor’s Appointments So Much EasierLet’s Talk About Dating and Relationships When You Have a Chronic IllnessFor People with Chronic Illness, Social Isolation Is Nothing NewI’m Furious That It Took Almost a Decade to Diagnose My Chronic PainIf It Isn’t Chronic Lyme, What Is It?How to Support a Friend Who’s Just Been Diagnosed With a Chronic Illness

How Do You Even Start Dating Right Now?

How Do You Even Start Dating Right Now?

Hi! I’m Zahra, SELF magazine’s executive editor and the host of our wellness advice podcast, Checking In. In this week’s episode, we’re talking about something very close to my heart as a former love and relationships writer: How exactly do you go about dating at this precise point in the pandemic? Our listener question this week comes from Loree, who says this time of massive isolation has only emphasized how much she’d like to take her dating beyond just being digital. She’s also feeling like getting back to dating in person is finally a bit safer due to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. But she’s also understandably feeling pretty anxious about the newfound level of trust that’s involved in dating these days. Loree describes herself as very cautious when it comes to COVID-19 safety precautions. Beyond wondering how to navigate dating in general right now, she’s also questioning how to trust that potential partners are being careful enough for her comfort levels.To give Loree some guidance, I first chat with Patia Braithwaite, SELF’s senior health editor. Patia covers a wide range of dating topics, along with really important personal growth themes like how to set boundaries and learn to trust yourself. Patia also calls herself a “professional single person at this point” and has some really excellent tips from that perspective (including one dating tip I thought was particularly genius, but you’ll have to listen to learn what it is!).Then I chat with Traci Medeiros-Bagan, a licensed marriage and family therapist in California. Traci works to help clients feel like their “most whole” selves when it comes to, well, everything, but especially their relationships. Traci offers Loree some stellar tips on exploring the roots of her anxieties so she can push herself to get back out there without pushing too much. Traci also explains how to handle the fear of rejection that can be extremely real and persistent when you’re communicating about your boundaries to someone you might really like. New episodes of “Checking In” come out every Monday. Listen to this week’s episode above, and get more episodes of “Checking In” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.Show NotesPatia Braithwaite is a writer and editor who joined SELF in May 2019. She was previously the wellness editor at Refinery29, and her freelance work has appeared in the Washington Post and VICE. She lives in Brooklyn.  You can read Patia’s work at SELF here, and follow her on Twitter @PdotBRaithw8.Traci Medeiros-Bagan is a licensed marriage and family therapist in California. They work with adults who identify as QTPOC, non-monogamous, kinky, and/or those that are a part of the adult entertainment industry, along with supporting straight and cis-identified clients struggling with shame, alternative relationships, and supporting QTPOC loved ones.You May Also Like: Pandemic Dating Is Hard—But Hasn’t It Always Been Difficult? 9 Ways Non-Monogamous People Are Dealing With the Pandemic How to Deal If Being Single Has You Worried About “Biological Clocks” and Timelines 16 Quarantine Date Ideas That Are Actually Really GreatI Book Club with Bumble Matches—Here’s What I’ve LearnedRoad Test: I Tried Hinge’s Virtual Date Night KitIs Your Rebound Relationship Actually Harmful?Yes, Your Situationship Breakup Is Real16 Intriguing Dating Apps to Try If You Want to Meet Someone NewEverything Isn’t a Red Flag—Here’s How to Tell the Difference8 Cute Date Ideas to Try If You’re Tired of Staying Inside

How to Actually Cultivate Gratitude and Joy—And Why You Might Want to Try

How to Actually Cultivate Gratitude and Joy—And Why You Might Want to Try

Hi! I’m Zahra, SELF magazine’s interim editor in chief and the host of our wellness advice podcast, Checking In. In this week’s episode, we’re talking about the very difficult but necessary task of trying to feel better right now, along with how gratitude and joy can help with that process.Our listener question this week comes from Jenna, who has the incredibly relatable feeling that the world is, well, a terrible place in so many ways. There’s a vicious pandemic and relentless instances of racist violence, not to mention anything that might be going on in your personal or work life (which current events can also obviously impact). So, with that in mind, it’s hard to know how to go about feeling even a little bit better. Ideally, our country would have a network of affordable, accessible mental health care aimed at helping us all cope. That kind of care should be available to us all—and I mean really available, not just theoretically. But even if you do have an excellent, affordable therapist, you might understandably feel pretty awful about the state of things right now. And while I certainly can’t promise that gratitude and joy will “fix” anything, they do help a lot of people feel at least a little bit better. To explore how such seemingly simple feelings can support our mental health, for this Checking In episode, I first chat with Mariel Buqué, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, holistic mental health practitioner, and sound-bath meditation healer. Dr. Buqué sings the praises of cultivating gratitude and looking for joyful moments for better mental health, and also offers up some concrete strategies for actually doing this in your day-to-day life. Then I speak with actor and mental health advocate Kristen Bell, who is also SELF’s May digital cover star. Bell happens to be a big fan of gratitude and finding contentment in quiet moments. In this episode, Bell discusses how seeking out this kind of peace has helped her anxiety and depression; how her husband, Dax Shepard, helps her look out for her mental well-being; and more.New episodes of “Checking In” come out every Monday. Listen to this week’s episode above, and get more episodes of “Checking In” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.Show NotesYou can learn more about Dr. Mariel Buqué’s work here, and you can follow her on Instagram @dr.marielbuque.You can follow Kristen Bell on Instagram @kristenanniebell and on Twitter @KristenBell. And here’s SELF’s May digital cover, featuring Bell discussing mental health, parenting in a pandemic, exactly why she’s still so in love with Dax, and beyond.You May Also Like: The Healing Powers of Gratitude4 Small Ways to Practice Gratitude Every DayPlease Celebrate Yourself—Even During a PandemicBlack Joy Isn’t Frivolous—It’s NecessaryIn Praise of Black People LaughingWhat Is Resilience, and Can It Help Us Bounce Back From This?13 Small but Impactful Ways to Cultivate Resilience7 Ways to Find an Actually Affordable Therapist10 Online Support Groups for Anyone Who’s Struggling Right Now41 Mental Health Apps That Will Make Life a Little Easier

A Beginner's Guide to Meditation

A Beginner's Guide to Meditation

Hi! I’m Zahra, SELF magazine’s interim editor in chief and the host of our wellness advice podcast, Checking In. In this week’s episode, we’re talking about something a ton of people have questions about (me included): meditation. Specifically, how the heck does one actually go about starting a meditation practice? Also, for the uninitiated among us, what’s the real point of trying to meditate in the first place? Our listener question this week comes from Nan, who sums up these types of meditation questions pretty well when she says, “I guess my basic question is: What is meditation? Specifically when I’m sitting there—what do I do? Is the reward in the process of trying to distance yourself from your thoughts in some way? Is there some state of mind you’re trying to achieve?” But also: “Especially during the pandemic, I want to know, why meditation, of all the things that I want to cultivate into my life.…Why should this be getting my time?”All excellent questions! To answer them, I first speak with Carolyn Todd, SELF’s health editor, who dug into the potential health benefits of meditation for a past feature on the subject. Carolyn also happens to be an avid meditator herself, so she’s able to speak on the beauties and challenges of meditation from multiple perspectives. I then chat with Kriste Peoples, a runner, outdoor adventurer, and community facilitator with the app Liberate, which focuses on the meditation experience for Black people and other people of color.  Together, Carolyn and Kriste offer solid insight into the many potential benefits of meditating, how to figure out if it might be right for you, and how to actually get started.New episodes of “Checking In” come out every Monday. Listen to this week’s episode above, and get more episodes of “Checking In” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.Show NotesCarolyn Todd covers all things health and nutrition at SELF. Her definition of wellness includes lots of yoga, coffee, cats, meditation, self-help books, and kitchen experiments with mixed results. You can follow Carolyn @CarolynLTodd on Twitter, and read more of her work here.Kriste Peoples is a runner, writer, producer, speaker, and community facilitator with the app Liberate (among other roles!). You can learn more about Kriste’s many passions on her website. And you can follow her on Instagram.Here are some popular meditation apps if you’re interested in giving it a try:Liberate is a subscription-based meditation app that includes practices and talks designed for the Black community. According to its website, it has curated content from 40-plus teachers of color with a diverse background in lineage, perspective, and approach.Headspace is a subscription-based meditation app with a friendly interface. It helps guide you through meditations, both single mediations and dozens of courses that address anxiety, loneliness, gratitude, and much more.Ten Percent Happier (Carolyn’s favorite!) is dedicated to skeptics. You can even connect to a coach who will answer your questions, and the app has also spun off into a podcast and book you may find helpful.You Might Also Like:If you’re interested in learning more about any of these topics, here are some articles from SELF you might enjoy:What Meditation Can—and Can’t—Do For Your HealthHow to Meditate When You Have No Idea When to StartThe Has Never Been A Better Time to Start MeditatingThe 15 Best Meditation Apps, According to People Who Actually Meditate

If You’re Feeling Reluctant About the COVID-19 Vaccines, Read This

If You’re Feeling Reluctant About the COVID-19 Vaccines, Read This

So, to help unpack the answers to these questions and explore these very natural feelings, I spoke to two people who are experts in this realm in their own way. First, I chatted with Tara Smith, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology at the Kent State University College of Public Health and frequent SELF contributor. Dr. Smith walked me through so much of the nitty-gritty science here in a really helpful, easy-to-understand way. She explained how the different COVID-19 vaccines offer protection, debunked some persistent vaccine myths, explained why side effects can happen (or not), and emphasized that actually worrisome side effects are reassuringly rare. She also gave some useful insight into her thoughts on how the vaccination rollout has gone so far and how it can get better—along with how to navigate it yourself.Then I called up Sarah Jacoby, SELF’s associate news director. Sarah has been keeping an extremely close eye on the vaccine development and rollout process from the start, making sure we cover what people need to know in a way that’s accurate and empathetic. When we spoke, she was honest about her initial journalistic instinct to be skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccines really being as good as they seemed, and how her reporting helped her realize that these vaccines are indeed worth celebrating. She also opened up about her own vaccination process, including the anxiety she felt about potential side effects, and how some really lovely vaccine administrators helped her through it. After talking to Sarah and Dr. Smith, I’m feeling even more grateful that we have these vaccines. But I’m also still concerned about a few key things, like the inequitable rollout that makes it harder for communities of color to access the vaccine. I continue to worry about some states relaxing restrictions too soon, especially in light of coronavirus variants that seem to be increasingly circulating. Sarah summed it up well when she said, “I just don’t want people to throw caution completely to the wind, because we know that even with these really effective vaccines, it’s going to be a gradual process to contain the pandemic.”Show NotesTara Smith, Ph.D., is a professor of epidemiology at the Kent State University College of Public Health. She obtained her Ph.D. in microbiology at the University of Toledo and her B.S. in biology from Yale University. Dr. Smith’s research focuses on zoonotic infections (infections which are transferred between animals and humans), and she has published over 80 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters on topics in infectious disease epidemiology. You can follow her on Twitter @aetiology and read her work for SELF here. Sarah Jacoby is the associate news director at SELF. She’s an experienced health and science journalist who is particularly interested in the science of skin care, sexual and reproductive health, drugs and drug policy, and mental health. Sarah is a graduate of NYU’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program and has a background in psychology and neuroscience. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram and read her work for SELF here.Zahra mentions a March 2021 survey about there being little difference in vaccine hesitancy between Black and white Americans. You can find more information on that here.You Might Also LikeIf you’re interested in learning more about any of these topics, here are some articles from SELF you might enjoy:On COVID-19 vaccines:Here’s How to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine9 Ways to Prepare for Your COVID-19 AppointmentWhat Can You Do After Your COVID-19 Vaccine? The CDC Just Released New Guidelines.COVID-19 Vaccines Are Safe for Pregnant and Breastfeeding People, According to New StudyDoes It Matter Which COVID-19 Vaccine You Get?9 Major Questions About mRNA Coronavirus Vaccines, AnsweredHow Much Do You Need To Worry About Coronavirus Variants?7 Small Things You Can Do To Help Protect Yourself From Coronavirus VariantsWhy States Reopening Too Soon Is Still Extremely DangerousFinally, here’s all of SELF’s coronavirus coverage to date.

What’s ‘Normal’ When It Comes to Sex After Baby?

What’s ‘Normal’ When It Comes to Sex After Baby?

And then even if everything goes totally as planned, no stitches needed, and you’re able to walk out of that hospital room, your body is still different than it was before you were pregnant. It takes a long time for your uterus to shrink back down to its pre-baby size. Your pelvic floor muscles and ligaments are stretched out. You may have diastasis recti, where your abdominal muscles partially or fully separate, or potentially even pelvic floor issues that could use some attention. And then regardless of how you gave birth, you’ll likely be wearing jumbo pads (or even diapers of your own) for quite a while, because you’ll continue bleeding for weeks.
Then if you’re breastfeeding, that means your estrogen levels will be particularly low, which can interfere with sex drive, and inhibit your natural lubrication. Not to mention—breastfeeding can be extremely uncomfortable at first for some people. There’s nothing sexy about blistered nipples.
And then there’s the fact that you’re keeping a newborn baby alive, likely feeding it every three hours around the clock… for weeks, or months. Extreme sleep deprivation can be a libido killer, too.
Meanwhile, you’re undoubtedly experiencing a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, thanks to the hormones that come with pregnancy and childbirth and postpartum. And if you’re dealing with postpartum depression or anxiety, those can also—obviously—get in the way of wanting to be physically intimate with your partner.
And on top of it all, your body is new to you, and doesn’t feel or look the same as it did before you had a baby. You might feel uncomfortable in your skin, physically or emotionally. And if you have a partner, you’re simultaneously trying to navigate new frontiers in your relationship. Learning to become a parent is a very intense experience. There isn’t a manual for this!
All that is to say that if you had a baby four months ago and you’re ready and eager to have sex again with your partner, that’s amazing, and good for you, and get it on, by all means. But if you’re in a different headspace, or not quite ready, or even not quite sure what pleasure even feels like for you anymore, that’s also fine. Something that Garbes and I discuss in the podcast is how, after baby, you might have to reacquaint yourself with your own body. You might need to learn what pleasure feels like. And what you like now post-baby might be different than what you liked pre-baby. And it’s a process. And that’s okay.

We cover a ton of ground in this episode, which I personally found extremely fun and helpful to produce and narrate. I hope that our conversations help Traci feel better about herself, about her relationship with her husband, and about her future sex life. And I hope if you’re a new parent, or about to be, that it can be helpful and affirming to you, too.
Show Notes
Angela Garbes is a journalist and author of Like a Mother. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Cut, New York, Bon Appetit, and has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air. You can follow her on Instagram @AngelaGarbes, and subscribe to her newsletter.
Lexx Brown-James, L.M.F.T., is a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex educator. You can follow her on Instagram @lexxsexdoc and on Twitter @lexxsexdoc.
You Might Also Like
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8 Women Share What It’s Like to Have a C-Section
7 Women Reveal How Their Relationships Changed After Having Kids
8 Ways to Get in Touch With Your Sexual Side if It’s Been A While
Actually, Scheduling Sex Is Good
How to Know if You Should Talk to Someone About a Low Sex Drive
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7 Women Share Their Experiences with Low Libido

Opening Up About Your Chronic Illness

Opening Up About Your Chronic Illness

Hi. I’m Carolyn. I’m the editor in chief of SELF and the host of our wellness advice podcast, Checking In. In this week’s episode, we’re talking about opening up about your chronic illness, and getting the support you need, both at work and from your loved ones.

Today we’re hearing from Sophie, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) right before the pandemic hit early last year. “It’s still pretty new for me,” she says. She tells us that the people closest to her know about her diagnosis, but that she’s worried about sharing the information with others because she doesn’t trust that they’ll react appropriately or fairly. “What I’m realizing is a lot of people don’t really understand MS. I’m worried that people might associate negative connotations with what I can do with my work,” she says. “To let that information out without any sort of context I think could potentially be damaging, long-term, for my career.”

New episodes of Checking In come out every Monday. Listen to this week’s episode above, and get more episodes of Checking In on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

There are nearly a million people living with multiple sclerosis in the United States. When you have MS, your immune system attacks your own central nervous system. An MS diagnosis is life-changing, and can be really scary. There are some medications and therapeutic methods that can help, which can slow it down and help control symptoms. But there isn’t a cure.

A lot of people are able to keep symptoms and attacks at bay for a long time, but it can worsen over time, too. An MS attack, also referred to as a relapse, can include visual disturbances, muscle weakness, trouble with coordination and balance, sensations such as numbness, a prickling that feels like pins and needles, and cognitive and memory challenges.

Our listener, Sophie, is dealing with so many aspects of living with MS—the physical symptoms, processing a new diagnosis, navigating shifts in her mental health, and navigating her relationships on top of it all. It’s a lot to process all at once.
And communicating her needs through all of this, especially in relationships with others, can be really, really hard. There’s so much to talk about when it comes to MS, but in this episode we focus primarily on the social stuff: when to disclose, and how to ask for help from your friends, family, and the people you work with.

What Does Eating Disorder Recovery Even Look Like?

What Does Eating Disorder Recovery Even Look Like?

Hi. I’m Carolyn. I’m the editor in chief of SELF and the host of our wellness advice podcast, Checking In. In this week’s episode, we’re talking about eating disorder recovery.

Today, our listener Sara wants advice on how to heal from an eating disorder—she estimates that she’s lived with bulimia for 12 to 15 years. “But if you want to be honest about it, it’s been a lifetime of back and forth yo-yo dieting, restricting fasting, being bullied, and struggling with body image issues,” Sara tells us. And as a Black woman, she says she’s found it hard to find resources or examples of healing that speak to her, or that reflect her personal experiences. Maybe because there’s a myth surrounding who these conditions actually affect.

“As I’ve done research on my own eating disorder, I have found that there is not a lot about the healing process,” Sara says. And she says what resources and information she has found has been very generic. “It’s very frustrating,” she says. She wants people to know: Anyone can have an eating disorder. “For the record, eating disorders are not skinny white girl diseases,” she says.

New episodes of Checking In come out every Monday. Listen to this week’s episode above, and get more episodes of Checking In on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

To help Sara out, I speak with Erikka Dzirasa, M.D., M.P.H., a psychiatrist in Durham, North Carolina, who specializes in treating eating disorders. And she says that Sara is totally right: Our cultural beliefs about who has eating disorders are fundamentally flawed—and those misunderstandings can interfere with people getting the care they need. “It’s important to know that for Black people and Indigenous or other people of color, because they don’t necessarily get treatment sooner, they suffer in silence for much longer periods of time, meaning that over that time their eating disorder may actually get worse,” Dr. Dzirasa says.

In this episode, Dr. Dzirasa shares a ton of valuable information about what eating disorder recovery looks like—including the fact that there’s not a fully agreed-upon definition of “recovery” to begin with. Meanwhile, we discuss what diagnosis and treatment would look like under ideal circumstances, and she explains that eating disorders often require multiple medical practitioners to help with treatment—perhaps a nutritionist, a psychiatrist, and a general practitioner to help with the medical conditions that might arise from eating disorders. And she shares some composite examples from her own practice of how her treatment might vary to account for cultural differences from one person to the next. She also gives helpful tips about how to support a loved one with an eating disorder, or how to ask for help from your loved ones and community if you’re trying to heal from yours.

How to Create a Workout Routine (For Real This Time)

How to Create a Workout Routine (For Real This Time)

Hi. I’m Carolyn. I’m the editor in chief of SELF and the host of our wellness advice podcast, Checking In. In this week’s episode, we’re talking about how to create a workout routine (that you actually stick to), and what tools may help make exercise a lifelong habit.

Today’s question comes from Monica. She says she knows she should develop a fitness and exercise routine—but she just can’t find the motivation to get started. “I literally have everything,” Monica says. “My sister-in-law gave us a stationary bike. I have a treadmill. My daughter was into ballet, so I bought her a ballet bar…I have a stability ball…I just haven’t had the motivation or honestly, it almost feels like even the desire to work out.” Monica wants to reap the mental and physical health benefits of exercise, but she’s having trouble turning that desire into an actual workout routine.

New episodes of Checking In come out every Monday. Listen to this week’s episode above, and get more episodes of Checking In on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

A lot of people, myself included, can relate to Monica’s question. Even as the editor in chief of a health and fitness magazine, I struggle enormously with working out on any regular basis at all. I know it’s good for me. I have all the stuff I need. And I just can’t bring myself to do it.

For this episode, I spoke with Amy Eisinger, SELF’s digital director. Amy is a certified trainer and has written a lot about fitness and motivation. “We want fitness to be a lifelong practice that grows with you, that changes with you,” she says. “In the same way that the food you consume changes, where you live changes. And that’s kind of how I look at fitness.”

Amy also says that motivation isn’t necessarily the best framework to use when thinking about building a workout routine. Instead, she likes to think about developing habits. If something is a habit, it doesn’t matter much if you feel like doing it or not. It becomes an act like brushing your teeth or making breakfast—it’s just something you do.
“It’s kind of like moods,” Amy says. “You have days where you feel like you’re on point and really crushing it. And then you have days where you’re like, I just need to get through the day. Your workouts can be like that too. You can have workouts where you feel like you pushed yourself to that next level. And then you have days where you’re like, I just want to get through it. And that’s where the habit comes in.”

What Is ‘Healthy Eating,’ Anyway?

What Is ‘Healthy Eating,’ Anyway?

Hi. I’m Carolyn. I’m the editor in chief of SELF and the host of our wellness advice podcast, Checking In. In this week’s episode, we’re talking about weight, health, and healthy eating—and how a lot of our beliefs about eating for good health may actually be pretty harmful.

Today’s question comes from Robert. He’s dealing with a lot of confusion and conflicting emotions around the ideas of weight loss and healthy eating. His doctors and loved ones keep telling him that he needs to lose weight to be healthy, in order to address his high blood pressure. But he’s got a nagging feeling that might not be the full picture. He’s curious: “What could the other options be that could be equally as valuable and beneficial?” And it’s a great question.

New episodes of Checking In come out every Monday. Listen to this week’s episode above, and get more episodes of Checking In on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

A lot of people have been in Robert’s shoes before. Being told by a doctor, or a loved one, or even by a stranger on the street that weight loss is the most important thing you can do to achieve better health.

That’s how a lot of health care providers are trained, for starters. Our society is fatphobic in a lot of ways, including in how we view health. And it’s a message that’s constantly and pervasively reinforced—this idea that you can tell how healthy or unhealthy someone is just by looking at them, or knowing their weight. And also that the best and most effective way to become healthier is to become smaller, to lose weight.

The truth is that this is a misguided, incomplete, and genuinely harmful way of thinking about health, wellness, and healthy eating. Luckily, a growing number of experts are recognizing that there are probably better, more effective, more humane approaches to helping people live healthier lives.
This is something we’ve covered pretty extensively at SELF over the years, so when I heard Robert’s question, I knew exactly which experts I wanted to talk to: Wendy Lopez, R.D., and Jessica Jones, R.D.
Lopez and Jones are SELF columnists, registered dietitian/nutritionists, and certified diabetes educators. They also host their own podcast, Food Heaven.

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