Student Wellness
Student Wellness

Joyful Eating: FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions and responses for our Student Wellness Dietitian, Lisa Nolting R.D.


What are ways someone can achieve better wellness without falling into diet culture’s trap? 

In regard to eating, you can get in touch with hunger and fullness cues by identifying when you’re hungry or when you may be using food as a coping mechanism. To learn more about this, consider enrolling in our self-guided Joyful Eating course or checking out the Intuitive Eating book.  

With activity, find activities that you and your body enjoy and look forward to. Try out new activities at the gym, go outside for a walk, try a free Youtube yoga video. And don’t forget to allow your body rest when it is needed rest so that the activity remains fun and not something you feel like you “NEED” to do.  

How do you let someone know that what they are saying is triggering? 

First, give them the benefit of the doubt- the person lives in the same world that you do, which is filled with diet culture. If you are in a group, wait until you can pull them aside individually so that you can have the conversation in private. When you are able to talk to them one on one, start with a sentence such as “I totally understand that (fill in the comment here) is normal dialog, but I’m struggling with food and body right now, and those comment can throw me into a tail spin and be very triggering to me. If we could rephrase the statement into (fill in a rephrase statement) that would be much better for my recovery. Do you want me to answer any questions?…. Thank you for understanding.” Our Health At Every Size canvas courses has a module on how to rephrase comments that may be triggering.

If you are not the one struggling but you know of someone who is, you can still let the person who is saying triggering comments know. Again, wait until you can speak to them one-on-one, and start with a similar sentence: “hey, I know that (fill in the comment) is normal dialog but I know that some people may find that triggering while they heal their relationship with food and body. If we can rephrase the statement to (fill in here) that would be much less triggering for them. Do you have any questions?…. thank you for understanding”. 

Coming at the conversation in a non-aggressive way and making a conversation out of it by asking if they have questions is a much less of a threatening way to go about the situation than becoming angry with them in front of a group of people. Hopefully they will be more receptive of this. 

How do you deal with stress eating? 

Food is a common coping mechanism for dealing with emotions. However, by using food as a coping mechanism, you are likely to get out of touch with your true hunger and fullness cues. Finding ways to cope with emotions in a way that does not revolve around food is a good place to start. When starting to feel the unwanted emotion, take a few deep breaths to calm yourself down. Next, write out your thoughts or feelings in a journal, notebook or on your phone if you are on the go. To learn more about this, consider enrolling in our self-guided Joyful Eating course or checking out the Intuitive Eating book.  

What about the 80/20 rule? 

The 80/20 rule is something that is fueled by diet culture. Anytime there are rules about what to eat and how much you “should” eat, diet culture is present. The 80/20 rule is something that is hidden by “health”. It may seem like this is healthy to consume ‘80% healthy food’ and ‘20% unhealthy food’, but this is a way of controlling food intake instead of listening to your hunger cues. The 80/20 rule also labels food as ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’, which are food rules that can dictate and overtake innate cravings and food choices. When listening to your body’s hunger cues, your body will let you know when you have met your fullness for certain foods. 

How can I safely lose weight in a weight class sport (ie wrestling)? 

First, examine if the sport or the requirement to be at a specific weight is triggering for you in any way. If it is, we recommend speaking with your coach about this. If the sport is important to you and is NOT triggering for you in any way, then we recommend that you speak with a Registered Dietitian. 

How do you feel about foods that are branded as ‘skinny’? 

Food labels such as ‘skinny’ are fueled by diet culture. Reflect on how these food labels make you feel about regular foods that are not branded as ‘skinny’. Are you more likely to choose the ‘skinny’ option because of lower calories? Are you more likely to feel like you can eat more of the ‘skinny’ food because of the label? If so, diet culture is budding its head into food choices through the term ‘skinny’. Choosing food that sounds good regardless of calories is food freedom, and is leading to intuitive eating.