Amanda Bullat MS RDN CD, Owner of Alpine Nutrition LLC, is a certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, host of the Savor Food and Body Podcast, and ‘Be Body Positive’ Facilitator. DeliveryRank finds out more.
Growing up was pretty normal in terms of food, but when I turned nice my body started to change. I became more concerned about what and how much I ate, and I started my first diet when I was 12. This spiraled into a disordered relationship with food and my body when I became a competitive distance runner. I saw how food fueled my body to be more competitive, especially when I started running marathons while living in Austria during my sophomore year of university.
As I was leaving to study in Austria, I wondered how the experience would change me and my appearance. Would I lose weight? Come back with a new look? Inevitably with the stress of living abroad, and not loving the same meals served day after day, I ate less and ran more.
I came back to my home university in the States, an NCAA division 1 school, joined the cross-country team and went on to be one of the top 100 fastest women in the Western States. I received compliments about my body and performance. This validated my restrictive eating behaviors and over-exercising habits. My relationship with food became tightly bound to my competitive ability as a runner, and my culturally accepted smaller, physically fit body.
My relationship with food was complicated at this stage, and from what I know now, I definitely had an eating disorder. Fueled by my passion for what I thought was healthy eating, I enrolled in a Masters's program for nutrition and dietetics. In the process of earning my degree, I realized I was doing more damage than good to my body. It took over a decade of working with a therapist and dietitian to unlearn the stories I told myself about health, what it means to be an attractive woman, and what it means to be active while still having a healthy relationship with food and my body.
Today, fueled by my personal and professional experience, my nutrition counseling practice is rooted in helping women undiet their lives by savoring food and their body. There is a connection between how we feel in our bodies and the types of food we eat, but I'm a strong advocate for eliminating the morality of food. There are no good and bad foods. I no longer see exercise as a way to earn or burn off calories. I still enjoy being active and fueling my body in a way that gives me the energy to play hard, but it is not coming from a punitive place of self-control. This mindset is rooted in self-compassion; what does my body need to feel well doing the activities I love?
When I first started this work almost a decade ago, the word anti-diet really struck a chord with me. It helped me push back against a culture that messed up my life and relationship with my body for about 15 years.
While 'anti-diet' still resonates with me and my clients, these days I prefer to use the term ‘undiet.’ While there's a softness to the term, it still means that diets don’t do anyone any favors. 'Undiet' evokes more depth. It involves the unraveling and understanding of someone's whole food and body story. How did they get to their current relationship with food? Undieting goes beyond what to eat and not eat. It's a non-judgmental way to look at someone's relationship with food and body by using compassionate curiosity.
The book Fearing the Black Body by Sabrina Strings really opened my eyes to this question. We've been dealing with weight stigma, body shame, and ideal beauty based on the male gaze for a very long time - all the way back to the 1600/1700s slave trade era.
Modern-day diet culture started in the late 1800s when the BMI scale was created unintentionally for health purposes. However, in the early 20th Century, insurance companies started using the BMI scale to determine who deserved medical coverage or not.
As the 20th Century progressed, the ideal beauty standards for women moved away from curviness towards a sleek physique. As women spent more time trying to achieve the illusive thin ideal, they spent less time being advocates for social justice and equality (the majority of women). As Naomi Wolf talks about in her book The Beauty Myth, " A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience."
This mindset developed into the multi-billion dollar diet-wellness-beauty industry we all know today. The pharmaceutical industry also contributes massively to this trend. This industry is not going away any time soon which is why I love to help my clients become resilient to the seductive marketing campaigns of diet culture. I want my clients to heal their relationship with food and their bodies; to write new chapters in the food and body story going forward.
My work is founded on the principles of Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size®. To give my clients and group participants a clear path to healing their relationship with food and their bodies, I created the ‘SAVOR Strategies of Healing’. After years of seeing common patterns in my working with my clients, the word savor became an acronym, a step-by-step process to build a healthy relationship with food and body.
Savor: Start, Awareness, Validate, Options, Reflect & Release.
Bread and dairy have been on the chopping block in diet culture for years. There are 2 reasons why I chose the image. One is because the bread is made by a very dear friend of mine who puts so much love and care into making bread delicious and worth savoring.
When we give ourselves full permission to savor flavorful, satisfying foods, we evoke a sense of gratitude for the people who brought the food to our tables. Breaking bread is so foundational in many cultures around the world. It's unfortunate that diet culture has demonized bread and cheese.
The Body Positive is an amazing organization that has been helping people, particularly youth, not fall into the trap of diet culture, for 25 years! This is so important, especially around the fragile time of puberty.
As a Body Positive facilitator, whether I’m teaching a group or working with a client one on one, I help people understand that body image, how we like/dislike our bodies, is a spectrum, from complete body hatred to radical body love.
What we're really talking about is ‘embodiment,’ being in your body. Somedays you can feel more positive about your body and other days, more negative. As a facilitator, I help people understand why it's easier to be in their bodies on some days and more difficult on others (when their embodiment is disrupted). Helping them connect the dots and understand how body image works are essential to their healing relationship with food and their body.
If you would like to find out more about Alpine Nutrition LLC, visit https://alpinenutrition.org/ or follow https://www.instagram.com/alpinenutrition/