The Whole View, Season 3 Ep 25 & 26: AIP, Orthorexia, & Intuitive Eating w/ Jessica Flanigan of the Loving Diet

Welcome nutritionist Jessica Flanigan to the Whole View! This week, Stacy and Jessica dive into new science behind AIP, orthorexia, restrictive dieting, and intuitive eating. In this episode, Stacy and Jessica build off the AIP and intuitive eating foundation set in previous shows to give listeners all the information available to help them make their own informed decisions.

Find Jessica: 

Jessica is offering 20% off her Self-Compassion for Disordered Eating (The Stanford Class) that starts October 4th, 2022. Use Coupon Code: Wholeview at thelovingdiet.com

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Key Takeaways

Introductions

  • Jessica has been in this field for a while. Her practice has been clinical nutrition since the inception of functional medicine. She got into the world she’s in now because she has an identical twin sister who was diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases about 12 years ago.
  • Because they are identical, Jessica has the same genetic markers for the same diseases. So as a nutritionist, she went on a diet journey with her sister to help her feel better. That opened the door into the world of autoimmune paleo.
  • There’s not one diet that’s right for everybody. And so, over the years, we have been tinkering and customizing. Looking at all of the lab tests that have come forward is pretty astounding for finding the root cause.
  • Her practice is private one-on-one in that she’s been developing groups to help people wanting to take a different perspective on hard things. That evolved into studying self-compassion in the last few years.
  • Now she’s at Stanford and in their Compassion Certification Program. And as a student, she was able to run her own study on how self-compassion helps with eating disorders.

Can the AIP Become a Crutch?

  • The work goes beyond changing your diet and exercise rhetoric people get when they say they don’t feel well. A standard medical practitioner is inaccessible to many Americans who have difficulty finding resources.
  • People were struggling emotionally and that surprised Jessica. She’d not experienced anything like it, though she’d never worked with people to that level of restriction. 
  • We have stool tests now, map the microbiome, and have so much at our fingertips that we didn’t at the start of AIP. 
  • None of this conversation is to discredit how many people have gotten better, gotten their lives back, and are thriving on it. We’re speaking to people who felt scared and uncertain when it didn’t work.

Stress, Trauma, AIP, & Intuitive Eating 

  • You do the best you can until you know better. As a clinician looking to support these people, you need to take feedback and experiences from thousands of people, clients, and others on the internet who are experiencing frustrations. In that case, it is your responsibility to try to find a solution to that. 
  • The solution might be something different than what works for somebody else. That’s the difficulty in the space between anti-diet and following your intuition and listening to your body.
  • So it becomes almost impossible for highly traumatized people to get an autoimmune diagnosis. And their interceptive awareness, their ability to interpret accurate signals in their body, goes down. So you end up with a bunch of people trying their best to eat properly and don’t know how to interpret the signals correctly. And it’s not because they did anything. 
  • That was the message many people got, especially on AIP, in groups moderated by people with everybody’s best interests in mind, but it didn’t translate well. 
  • As we restrict our diet, we decrease diversity. And that makes people more susceptible to viruses coming in. So people can get caught in this weird loop and don’t know how to get out of it. That’s when AIP becomes a crutch.

AIP Topics discussed

  • When Jessica published her book, The Loving Diet, she said, “I evolved how I approach AIP now because I saw too many people not getting better, and saw the clinical failings of blindly following a diet that was not personalized.” [source
    1. When there’s more going on that food can fix, AIP becomes a crutch, not a cure.
    2. Foods that are AIP “approved” are provoking an immune response for YOU. 
    3. You are not looking at what you believe about your life and the role of your disease in that equation.
    4. You have trauma – physical or emotional, perpetuating an immune response in your system.
  • So many people they work with are functional medicine practitioners diving DEEP into potential co-infections and going through VERY stressful protocols to address the potential issues. In most cases, people are likely to have issues with stress. 
  • That tired adrenal gland protocol you read on your favorite AIP blog is actually CMV or EBV in the adrenal gland, and no amount of adaptogenic herbs or nutrient-dense foods will heal that [source]
  • Stacy was on modified AIP for YEARS. She thought she had reintroduced what she could and gotten as healthy as she could with severe food restrictions and obsessions. Quitting caffeine and EATING MORE was eye-opening for her. Replacing that “paleo/keto/AIP” morning drink with breakfast was the best thing for her health beyond all the food eliminations. 
  • She normalized her stress levels, and other health factors are falling into alignment because they can! She reintroduced corn (her only food restriction is gluten with Celiac and family history) and some nightshades. But even then, she’s been bringing those back in successfully when she’s able to modulate her own stress about it.
  • Jessica shares her experience with Oral Tolerance.

Restrictive Dieting & Intuitive Eating

  • The diet isn’t making you suffer, it’s that you aren’t either doing it right, or the way you were talking to yourself on the diet that leads people to feel marginalized and invalidated.
  • You are allowed to do it exactly the way that works for you. Realizing that, it was the first time Jessica started to see that this there’s a rigidness and a dogma that was coming along with this.
  • There was something about the execution of all intuitive eating and restrictive dieting, and the community building that sometimes sent the wrong message. People started second guessing themselves.
  • All of these restrictive diets, or even intuitive eating, are ways for us to learn something incredibly valuable and useful about ourselves.
  • A lot of us have ingrained in our behavior that if this thing didn’t work for me, it created maladaptive behaviors or feelings that weren’t positive for me. So what’s the next thing we can jump to?

Orthorexia & Intuitive Eating Topics Discussed

  • It’s not possible to properly do intuitive eating while on a restrictive diet such as AIP or orthorexia.
  • The problem is much more pervasive within the AIP and restrictive diet communities than its participants and leaders are willing to admit.
  • The scientific and medical communities are hesitant to say that diets themselves cause disordered eating. If you dig into the research, you’ll find wordisms like “precursor” or “significant risk factor” or “potential trigger.”
  • The pass/fail construct of restrictive diets is itself driving an unwell condition that I’ve come to term, “Healing Diet Orthorexia.” HDO is characterized by a pronounced obsession with restrictive eating, such that individuals believe their dietary choices are matters of disease remission, life, and/or death.
  • Rather than being generic forms of Disordered Eating or Orthorexia, HDO is a mental, emotional, and psychological condition brought on, and exacerbated, by a diet meant to heal disease.
  • Six stages of healing:
    • 1: Motivation
    • 2: Frustration
    • 3: Recommitment
    • 4: Depression
    • 5: Obsession
    • 6: Relief
  • If you’ve been on paleo, keto, AIP or any kind of restrictive diet and are feeling the symptoms of Healing Diet Orthorexia or Disordered Eating – you are not alone

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Note: Stacy and her guests are not medical professionals. This podcast is for general educational purposes and NOT intended to diagnose, advise, or treat any physical or mental illness. We always recommend you consult a licensed service provider.

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