Breaking Up with Diet Culture with Toni Marinucci

Welcome back to The Balanced Dietitian Podcast! How are you doing, my friends? I am super excited about today’s episode. 

Today on the podcast I have Toni Marinucci who is a registered dietitian. I am really excited to have her on the podcast because today we are talking about how diet culture can be like an abusive relationship and when to know when to end that relationship. She wrote a book about this. I am really excited to talk about diet culture through this new lens. 

In today’s episode, we discuss: 

[04:42] Toni shares her background and what led her to the work she is doing 

Like many registered dietitians, we got into the field because we kind of wanted to help ourselves to be honest. Toni grew up overweight, and very insecure and was teased constantly and it was very upsetting for her. She thought the message was that more people would like her if I was in a smaller body. So, unfortunately, at a very young age, I tied her weight to my worth.

Toni went to school to become a registered dietitian. It was a long journey of healing her relationship with food and finding balance in her eating habits. Toni has been helping people for so many years now and has a team of registered dieticians, where they really help clients break up with this diet mindset and just embrace a healthier lifestyle. 

[10:03] Dating & Dieting – How are they similar?   

There are so many parallels between dating and dieting. The parallels first came to her when women would join our program and started working with us. Toni would watch them jump from diet to diet, hoping each one would be the one. It was like they went around like Cinderella’s stepsisters trying to jam their feet into something that clearly wasn’t a good fit for them. They would basically follow the same diet just in a different book. Even in her own life, Toni started noticing so many parallels which is why she wrote a book. 

[18:04] Breaking up with diets in 3 steps      

The very first question to this three-step process is to ask yourself, will this last past the honeymoon phase? The honeymoon phase is when everything always works in the beginning, because you’re motivated, you’re excited, you don’t care how you’re gonna get there, you so desperately want to get there, and you’ll do just about anything. So it is going to work temporarily but it is not going to last. 

So the third question is, what lessons did I learn from this? Maybe something never really goes past six months or a year or whatever it is, because you’re frustrated, you’re tired, and it’s not working. So the question then is, what lessons did I learn from this that I can use moving forward? Toni says she feels her best when she prioritizes sleep. She knows she feels best when she drinks more water. Whatever it is that you’ve learned, you can take components or the things that you’ve tried in the past and pick the parts of it that work for you and throw the rest out. 

The other question you want to ask is do I even like this? The whole goal of helping people to break up with diets isn’t to not care about their health at all. It’s to help them to learn that you are unique, you are an individual and your body is going to function differently, and best based on different circumstances. If you don’t like it, then you’re not going to want to keep doing it, you’re not going to want to keep dating that person. 

[24:27] Loving your decisions & learning what is best for you

One of Toni’s favorite quotes ever is “The more you love your decisions, the less you need others to love them.” What she means by that is that once you finally figure out what works best for you, you really stop comparing yourself to other people, you even stop comparing yourself to older versions of yourself. Because you know, wholeheartedly, that this is what helps you be the best version of yourself. 

[36:31] Signs that you are settling in your relationship and diet  

One of the things Toni would say is that your partner only gets mad or gets annoyed with you when you ask too many questions. The diet analogy would be, I only got hangry once today. You shouldn’t be with someone who gets annoyed by you asking them a bazillion questions and also getting “hangry” once a day. The other one is he or she doesn’t get along with any of my family or friends so I keep them separate. Toni struggled with that a lot with one of my exes who was a complete problem. So instead of addressing the problem, he isolated her. Another sign you might be settling in your relationship or diet is you used to be happy and in love or if you are thinking it must be you and that you just need to work harder. 

The last one is at least we’re not as bad as blank – insert unhealthy or unhappy couple here or that other diet. If you are justifying then you are settling. Sometimes it’s really obvious you can be in a very toxic relationship or deep in an eating disorder and it’s very clear that you need to get out of the relationship. 

[42:13] Practical tips and first steps

If Toni was to give one tip, it would be to spend some time alone and really come up with that eating disorder name of yours. Then anytime you’re feeling triggered, or you’re struggling, whether it be with body image, or you’re eating, or whatever it is. Just ask yourself, what would the healed version of me be doing?

[43:55] Toni answers the fun questions

She genuinely loves veggie pizza. Her favorite way of self-care is getting massages. Balance means that her mental and physical health are in alignment. Balance to her is knowing that she is taking care of her body physically and also mentally. 

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