In this second installment in “Conversations on Mindful Eating” we are chatting with Shira Rosenbluth, LCSW. Shira is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in the treatment of eating disorders/disordered eating, the author of the wildly popular body positive style blog “A Sequin Love Affair,” and—I’m SO excited about this–Shira has just joined me as a therapist at my practice! If you are interested in working with Shira, you can contact us to set up a consultation session. We are dedicated to making treatment as accessible as possible and Shira offers a sliding scale for those who are unable to afford the full cost of treatment.
Q: You are an advocate for the Health At Every Size® approach. Can you explain what this approach is and how it informs your work with clients?
Shira: I’m passionate about the Health At Every Size® movement because it takes the focus off body size, which is largely genetic, and instead focuses on ways to improve our health, regardless of a number on a scale. Research has proven time and time again that diets are not sustainable or effective in the long run yet so many of us continue contributing to our $60 billion diet industry because of the constant messages we get telling us we are not good enough as we are.
How many people do you know who start a diet or make an effort to exercise, yet give up because their weight doesn’t go in the direction they want it to go? Exercise, independent of diet, has been proven to prolong life. But if the scale doesn’t budge, people view exercise to be futile which is incredibly sad. When we start focusing on incorporating healthy habits in our lives because we want to feel our best (as opposed to being thin), those changes will likely be sustainable and impactful.
Q: Let’s talk body positivity. Research shows 91% of women are dissatisfied with their body. But I think it goes deeper than simple dissatisfaction—many of the women I meet are immersed in straight up self-hatred. What would you say to these women who may think: I hate my body, how can I possibly get on board with body positivity?
Shira: In our thin obsessed culture that practically teaches us to hate our bodies from an early age, I wouldn’t run towards body love but rather body tolerance or body acceptance for those that find body love to be beyond their reach.
I also think it’s important to acknowledge and process the role society and diet culture has played on how we feel about our bodies . The abuse and stigma that people in larger bodies face is a serious issue and one that needs to be talked about.
And lastly, I’d encourage you to surround yourself with people who support the body positive and HAES® movement both in your life and via social media. Choosing what you scroll past on a daily basis is empowering and you might be surprised by the difference it makes in how you view different sized bodies.
Q: Part of your offerings at my practice will be working one-on-one with clients guiding them through The Anti-Diet Plan program. Why do you embrace a non-dieting philosophy?
Shira: Because quite frankly, diets just don’t work. Why would I encourage something that may work in the short term but has ultimately been proven to actually slow down your metabolism, increase your set point and contribute to disordered eating?
If you’re concerned that I’m promoting a lifestyle exclusively of doughnuts and french fries, let me clarify that I think it’s important to learn to nourish our bodies so that we feel our best without restricting any food groups. Learning to eat intuitively and mindfully by recognizing and responding to our body’s hunger and fullness cues while also allowing ourselves yummy desserts because they taste darn good is a lot healthier than lifelong yo-yo dieting.
I want my clients to know that they are absolutely not required to shrink their body to fit society’s narrow standards of beauty. You are worthy of love and acceptance as you are right now.
Q: Tell us about “A Sequin Love Affair.” How does a therapist become a style blogger? How are you spreading the message of HAES® and body-positivity through fashion?
A. I’ve always been interested in fashion but from the viewpoint that ALL women deserve to feel beautiful and confident regardless of their size. I was actually thinking of stopping my blog a couple years back but that same week ended up being reposted by a major brand. I started to see comment after comment on my photo from women saying, “Thank you for posting someone that looks like me,” “Finally a girl I can relate to,” and “So refreshing to see a pretty model with the same body type as me. More like this please!” Reading those comments as well as the daily messages I received from girls and women thanking me for giving them the courage to feel more confident in themselves, made me realize that I couldn’t stop blogging. It was then that I decided to push the body positive message even more and have been using my little corner of the internet to try and combat the constant diet and weight talk that permeates our entire society. It’s important to me to use my platform to spread these messages that I’m passionate about and the fact that my blog seems to resonate with so many women keeps me continuing to blog 5 years later.