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A Note From Dr. Alexis Conason (She/Her/Hers)

As someone raised deep in diet culture, I grew up seeing dieting and overeating as the norm. I learned early on that bodies were enemies to be wrestled into submission through denial of pleasure. Food was a powerful force to be feared, one that could only be mastered through rigid control. If you faltered in that control, you risked being overcome and surrendering to temptation (aka french fries). It’s no wonder that my entire relationship with food and my body was characterized by conflict and shame for much of my life.

My belief in the holy grail of dieting was so strong that I decided to pursue a career in psychology with the intention of helping others lose weight. I studied psychological strategies to help people eat less and exercise more, did postdoctoral work in “obesity” research, trained at a bariatric weight loss surgery clinic, and eventually opened my business as a psychologist specializing in weight management.

Thankfully, about a year into my career, I was introduced to the concept of Health At Every Size. It was then that I had to confront the ugly truth: diets don’t work. Not only do they fail to deliver long term results, they also cause physical and mental harm.

Dr. Alexis Conason is a licensed psychologist, certified eating disorder specialist-supervisor, and founder of Conason Psychological Services, a private practice in New York City. She and her team are trauma-informed, LGBTQ+ affirming, HAES-aligned, fat positive, and social justice oriented.

Her specialties include the treatment of binge eating disorder, disordered eating (including diet-binge cycles, "emotional eating", and "compulsive overeating"), body image dissatisfaction, and bariatric surgery. She also treats people struggling with depression, anxiety, adjustment problems, relationship issues, sexual functioning, career issues, stress management, and other psychological challenges.

Dr. Conason’s therapeutic style is characterized by a warm, non-judgmental stance, curiosity, compassion, and collaboration with her clients to regain agency in their lives. Using a blend of psychodynamic psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), she helps her clients increase self-awareness and process their past. So they can uncover and challenge the often unconscious beliefs holding them back.

Alexis Conason, Psy.D., is the author of The Diet-Free Revolution: 10 Steps to Free Yourself from the Diet Cycle with Mindful Eating and Radical Self-Acceptance (published in 2021 by North Atlantic Books and distributed by Penguin Random House). Forward Reviews called the book “packed with keen psychological and scientific insights” and Christy Harrison, author of Anti-Diet, said “Alexis Conason offers a truly weight inclusive approach to mindful eating that will help you develop self-compassion, practice self-care, and find pleasure in food and your body.”

Dr. Conason wrote The Diet-Free Revolution at the request of her clients, who wanted to share what they had learned from her with others. Starting with an evidence-based explanation of why diets don’t work and are harmful, The Diet-Free Revolution walks the reader through 10 steps to learn what they can do instead to create a compassionate relationship with their body, tune into their body’s signals, and free up mental energy from food and body preoccupation so they can live their life and focus on the things that really matter.

In addition to her book, Dr. Conason’s essays on diet culture have been published in Glamour Magazine, Elle Magazine, Scary Mommy, and Darling Magazine.

Dr. Conason offers consultation services for brand collaboration, media, speaking, and legal purposes.

When partnering with brands, she works with weight-inclusive businesses that promote wellness, social justice, and body positivity. She offers a unique psychological perspective on dieting, mindful eating, and body image that can grow your brand, bring your vision to life, and show your audience that you care.

She can bring her expertise to your business through social media collaborations, content creation, keynote speaking, and more. As a licensed psychologist, she can lend credibility to programs or products that align with her values and the research on weight, eating disorders, and health.

She has worked with Athleta as a Guide in their AthletaWell program, a community dedicated to female wellbeing. In her collaboration with Athleta, Dr. Conason created content on the topics of mindful eating, mental health, and wellbeing for their AthletaWell site. Additionally, she created social media campaigns to drive traffic to the AthletaWell site.

After earning her doctoral degree from Long Island University’s Post Campus and completing an internship at The Karen Horney Clinic, Dr. Conason completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital (now Mount Sinai Morningside) in affiliation with Columbia University. In this capacity, Dr. Conason worked closely with the Center for Bariatric Surgery at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital as part of the treatment team conducting preoperative psychological evaluations, designing treatment plans, and leading support groups. While she initially entered into this position with the intention of gleaning knowledge to help others lose weight, she shifted to a weight-inclusive, Health At Every Size stance after being presented with a great deal of evidence that intentional weight loss doesn’t work and is harmful. Dr. Conaon’s research focused on psychological outcomes following bariatric weight loss surgery (WLS). Her groundbreaking dissertation research on substance use following WLS was one of the first studies to document an increased risk of alcohol use following Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery; now a widely-recognized phenomenon.

Her research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Surgery and has been cited hundreds of times in peer reviewed articles.

I simply couldn’t ignore the facts: study after study detailed all the ways dieters failed to lose weight and keep it off long term. Among my own clients, I saw that the harder they tried to control their eating, the more out of control they spiraled.

In light of this evidence, I felt I had no choice but to radically shift not only my entire perspective on food, health, and bodies, but also the path of my career.

I discovered mindful eating and learned about weight-inclusive approaches to health. I embraced the radical notion that I and every human deserves a life full of respect, love, and pleasure – regardless of what size pants we happen to be wearing. My eating started to feel more in control once I stopped trying so frantically to control it, and I stopped thinking about food all the time. Most importantly, the deep shame I had carried since childhood started to ease.

This is what I want to share with as many people as possible: that it is possible to feel better about food and your body—but not in the ways that most of us have been taught. Instead of living our lives trying to be as small as possible, we can take up the space that we deserve in the world.

Her mindfulness-based interventions include a focus on mindful eating, self-acceptance, and self-compassion. She also incorporates relational approaches to help her clients improve their relationships and connections with others. In every situation, Dr. Conason’s main goal is to help her clients develop the tools they need to change the cognitive and behavioral patterns that aren’t serving them.

When working with clients seeking help with disordered eating, Dr. Conason employs her signature mindful eating program, developed from evidence-based mindfulness practices to be a weight-inclusive, HAES-aligned treatment program.

Dr. Conason earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from Long Island University–Post and did post-doctoral training at The Karen Horney Clinic and The New York Nutrition and Obesity Research Center in affiliation with Columbia University.

Dr. Conason offers both in-person services at her NYC office and virtual services for clients in New York and Florida.

 

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She writes the “Eating Mindfully” blog for Psychology Today and contributes to her personal blog on this website.

Dr. Conason has also been featured widely in the popular press, and her research has been published in peer-reviewed medical journals including the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Surgery.

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She also partnered with Happify to design a mindful eating track for their application that combined their signature gamified learning style with her expertise in mindful eating. Dr. Conason led the team in designing the content for this track including learning modules, games, and guided meditations. A few years after completion of the track, Happify again sought Dr. Conason’s services to adapt the track for use with adolescents.

Dr. Conason has been interviewed as an expert for articles in ABC News, NBC News, The Washington Post, US News, Teen Vogue, Oprah, InStyle, and countless other outlets. She engages in press interviews to offer expertise on a broad range of topics around the psychology of dieting, body image, and mindful eating, as well as the harmful impact of diet culture.

Dr. Conason speaks at both academic and industry conferences, workshops, and webinars, as well as workplace wellness programs and corporate trainings. Notable past engagements include TalkSpace (“Early Onset Adulthood” – a discussion of social media and body image), Happify (“Why Mindful Eating Can Change Your Life”), The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (“Medical Nutrition Therapy and Behavioral Health Interventions for Binge Eating Disorder”), The American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (““If ‘Everything’ Gets Better after Bariatric Surgery, Help Me Understand Suicide/Self-Injury Post Surgery and Post-Operative Eating Pathology”), among countless others. She has also presented to journalists of a media outlet on inclusive and non-stigmatizing language to use when writing about eating disorders and body size.

In legal cases involving bariatric surgery (aka “weight loss surgery”), Dr. Conason is qualified to speak from a psychological perspective on the impact of procedures and a patient’s suitability for bariatric surgery. In the capacity of an expert witness, she has reviewed case files and evaluated possible negligence or medical malpractice concerning the patient’s psychological suitability for surgery.

She has also published on sexual functioning following bariatric surgery and the increased risk of suicide and self-injury following WLS.

While she no longer maintains an institutional research affiliation, Dr. Conason stays current with new research findings in the fields of bariatric surgery and eating disorders. She regularly attends and presents at research conferences and serves as a peer reviewer for bariatric surgery medical journals. From 2014-2022, she served as the Research Liaison for the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals New York Chapter (IAEDPNY) and continues to serve on their Advisory Board. From 2019-2022, she served as a board member of The Center for Mindful Eating (TCME) and continues to serve on their Advisory Board.

Dr. Conason did additional post-doctoral training to earn a certificate in eating disorders, addictions, and compulsions from the William Alanson White Institute and a certificate in psychodynamic psychotherapy from the American Institute of Psychoanalysis. She is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS) and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist Supervisor (CEDS-S). She offers supervision to mental health professionals looking to develop expertise in treating patients with binge eating disorder, helping clients who have been psychologically impacted by bariatric surgery, and using mindful eating techniques with clients.

Dr. Conason is trained in Mindfulness Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT), an empirically validated treatment for binge-eating, and has participated in other mindfulness workshops and trainings, including Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). She has also completed training in sex therapy.

Dr. Conason is licensed to practice psychology by the State of New York and is a registered Telehealth Provider in Florida.

 

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