Sam Abbott (@pcos.nutritionist) is back on the pod to share something near and dear to her heart: reality television. In this episode, Melissa and Sam talk about the way reality TV portrays stories about body image, diet culture, and eating disorders. We explore storylines from the Real Housewives franchise, Love is Blind, Love Island, Selling Sunset, and more. We hope you’ll learn how to use your body image skills to enjoy the “escapism” of these shows without activating disordered thinking, eating or body image struggles. We talk about how to challenge harmful body norms that impact both your individual anti-diet work and society as a whole.

Sam is a fellow registered dietitian nutritionist who helps those with PCOS ditch diets, improve insulin resistance and balance hormones without feeling guilty or stressed about food. She is the owner of PCOS Nutrition Company, where nutrition coaching services are centered around improving hormone balance without a side of diet culture or weight stigma. Sam is passionate about empowering people with PCOS to find peace and balance with nutrition, hormones, body and life. If you’d like to listen to her original Break the Diet Cycle podcast episode about PCOS nutrition, you can find it here:

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Follow Sam on Instagram: @pcos.nutritionist

Get Sam’s PCOS Intuitive Eating Workbook:

Join the Break the Diet Cycle Podcast Community in Instagram:

Connect with Melissa on Instagram: @no.more.guilt

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This episode was sponsored by No More Guilt with Melissa Landry. Reminder that though we are dietitians, we’re not *YOUR* dietitian. Podcasts don’t constitute treatment. If you have concerns about your dieting behaviors, seek out guidance from a medical or mental health professional. And if you’re looking for the process, support, and focus you need to live life without food guilt apply for a coaching program from today’s sponsor. No More Guilt with Melissa Landry is currently enrolling clients into 1:1 programs, group programs, and, recently added a do-it-yourself learning format: the Ex-Dieter’s Guide to No More Guilt.

is reality tv negatively impacting your body image? transcript

Melissa Landry  0:02  
Hi there, I'm Melissa, a registered dietitian specialize in intuitive eating for on again off again, chronic dieters, and I'm here to help you take the guilt and stress out of eating so you can be the first in your family to break the diet cycle. I'm interested in helping you unlearn generational diet trauma, so you can be who you are without food guilt. Be sure to follow on Instagram at no more guilt for more support between these episodes. Are you ready? Let's jump in. You were the first double repeat guests on this podcast. Did you know that? 
Sam Abbott  0:38  
Oh, really? Oh my gosh, I'm honored.
Melissa Landry  0:41  
You all might know her as PCOS dot nutritionist on Instagram. In my opinion, you are one of the leaders in Health at Every Size. PCOS care, we are better for you. And I'm so excited. We're going to talk about a nutrition related topic but something I know you're really passionate about, which is reality television. So before we talk about reality TV, how it impacts our food and body image journeys. Can you say hello and reintroduce yourself to everyone?
Sam Abbott  1:12  
Hi everyone. I am so happy to be back today on the pod. My name is Sam Abbott and I am owner of PCOS nutrition company and like Melissa said you can find me on Instagram at PCOS dot nutritionist and I specialize in helping people with PCOS take a non diet approach to managing PCOS. So much of PCOS care is really weight centric and based in advice restricting foods, and I just see this not being very helpful for the PCOS population. So I help you really understand what PCOS is and what these hormone imbalances are, and then give you the tools to address some of these hormone issues without having to restrict food or hate your body.
Melissa Landry  2:04  
Sam goes to DC she advocates for funding and I'm just so impressed with you and all that you offer.
Sam Abbott  2:11  
Thank you so much, Melissa. Yeah, a lot of people don't realize that part of the poor care associated with PCOS is the lack of funding from our government. And so when Melissa mentioned going to DC and the advocacy that's a lot of the advocacy work we do is really basically begging our Congress members to support this legislation.
Melissa Landry  2:36  
Yes, yes. I always get a kick out of your stories when you go you're very it's like a Insider's take of Capitol Hill. So I really like speaking, Insider's take and your Instagram, let's give the listeners a little bit of an understanding why the hell we are here talking about this. So you have a tendency to make hilarious memes as the kids call them, featuring our Real Housewives. And I think you came to mind for this episode because I was watching Love Island. We can talk about that in a moment. And I noticed for myself, the more I watched it, the more I started having these like intrusive thoughts like should I get lip fillers too? Like, do I? Oh my gosh, when I was younger, I was so much cuter because most of the women are in their like early 20s. I had all these types of thoughts I do not usually experience and I'm like, oh my god, it's because I'm bathing myself in this. So I got an idea for this episode. And I'm like, I really want to talk to someone who do I know that loves reality TV, and you popped into mind. You started talking, cracking up doing rapid fire voice memos on Insta deciding what this could be. Can you tell us a little bit about your love for reality TV, particularly the housewives franchise? Bring us up to speed with your hobbyist viewership of these shows.
Sam Abbott  3:56  
Yeah, I love reality television. I do primarily follow the housewives franchises i in the past have dabbled in the Kardashians bachelor. I'm embarrassed to say the other night I was watching MTV, the new Teen Mom show I saw that it was on I was like, Oh my gosh, I need to see how you're doing. I think, you know with reality TV, it's a way to escape a little bit. Before I started my private practice, I worked in clinical and would sometimes manage people in the ICU we would be doing like IV nutrition and tube feeding and you take those things home with you and at night watching reality TV was kind of a way I could check out of thinking about heavier things related to work. And especially during the pandemic. They had filmed a lot of the housewives shows you know, before the pandemic started and things really shut down. So The beginning of the pandemic, when the whole world was really, really stressful. I felt like it was just so nice to be able to turn on the TV and watch something that felt a little normal. And I had a new appreciation for for the housewives and Bravo at that time.
Melissa Landry  5:18  
It's like they set up this gift for you through the pandemic, you had that waiting to help you. I liked that framing, like, it is fun. It is an escape. It's hard sometimes to be coping with life all the time. Distraction is a very fun tool to use if you want it.
Sam Abbott  5:34  
Yeah, yeah, definitely. And of course, I do my other things like walking and making sure I'm getting great sleep and stuff like that. But it's, it's okay to have things that are just kind of fun to where you just kind of check out
Melissa Landry  5:47  
just because, for me, my background with reality is a little bit less robust. But I did. I will tell you, Netflix brought me in on it. I have felt for a really long time all my friends are obsessed with Bravo, and we'll be out to dinner. It'll be talking about things and I genuinely have to like move my food around the plate because I'm like, I don't know any of these characters. So for a long time, I have been out of the loop. Cut to the pandemic Netflix is bringing in love is blind. I get involved with this for a little while. The circle, I really enjoy that I like a Netflix setup so far. And then we jump over to love Island at someone's recommendation. So I have a little bit less experience. My husband got involved as well. We definitely did deep dives that were taking up a lot of our time, they can be very addicting.
Sam Abbott  6:37  
They can at least you have a partnership there with my husband. He knows when I turn it on, he just goes in a different room.
Melissa Landry  6:46  
Yeah, yeah. Before we jump in on some of the impacts of the shows on like disordered eating and body image. We wanted to caveat we have no beef with Bravo, these are our own opinions. We have no beef with any of the creators of these shows. Do you want to add anything?
Sam Abbott  7:02  
These thoughts and opinions are our own. If we say anything, it's allege, you can watch the show with your own opinions. Please don't sue us when we don't have those types of businesses.
Melissa Landry  7:16  
I was okay with that. I don't think the listenership is quite large enough for them to be concerned. But you know, guys, let's keep this in the room. Okay.
Sam Abbott  7:25  
I don't know Cathy Hilton likes to uh, my Instagram posts 
Melissa Landry  7:29  
Right. So okay, let's not underestimate our results. Just do not know who is listening. Okay, couple ways we can take this discussion today. Let's start with maybe we start with the body image stuff, because I think that's a little bit more obvious for folks. Yeah. What is your perception of the, the the way diversity or like types of women are, are kind of chosen for the shows? Do you feel like there is a lot of diversity in the shows that you see in terms of bodies?
Sam Abbott  7:59  
No, I mean, I think that something that really stands out to me is that there's not a lot of body diversity at all. And actually, when there is body diversity, like if someone is a little curvier, or they're at a higher weight, which honestly I would say in terms of the show, usually the person is still smaller than the average size, what we consider to be the average size in the US, their storyline sometimes turns into like them trying to lose weight, or they're dealing with viewers who are making fat phobic comments. So even then it's like when they are showing body diversity, it's almost like in a negative way. I would say most of the people on the show are people that society would deem as you know, quote, unquote, conventionally attractive or kind of fits that mold of what society tells us is beautiful.
Melissa Landry  8:55  
This circle, not the circle. Love is blind in the second season. I don't know if you watched that one.
Sam Abbott  9:02  
I don't watch Love is blind, unfortunately, okay, it tells me all about it.
Melissa Landry  9:07  
So the premise here, okay, here we are, the premise is that folks are trying to meet their match. They're trying to get married, and they place them behind walls, and they can date so it's kind of like speed dating, and they will talk over the walls to get to know one another. And over time, Attachments form and you may propose you're hopeful to propose to someone by the end of say, two weeks, however long they're at it. So the whole idea is like weed. We're not gonna even judge based on how they look, we're gonna make our soul match and then they meet in real life. They go on a honeymoon, they have a month to kind of get to know each other and then they have to decide are you going to do this or not? So that's the season the arc of the whole season. And the first one I would say most people fit that conventionally attractive bill the second season they made this big deal about like several women who were considered quote plus size, but within one or two episodes, they're gone. They're just we stopped following their story. We don't see them get matched. And so it was kind of like a weird bummer slash token like, look, see, we included some plus size folks. But then we didn't include them in the story. And we don't see this love match kind of happening. So there's many ways we could slice that and critique that whole setup. But it is kind of disappointing that there plus folks don't exist. And if they do, it becomes that becomes their personality or their narrative versus like a third deal. What are they about other arcs that we usually seeing the shows?
Sam Abbott  10:37  
Yeah, totally. And something that I see on Bravo, that's very bothersome, is that usually with a Bravo show, you know, they'll have these franchises and they'll they'll follow the cast, you know, from season to season. In season one, I feel like people show up more as like their true self. And it's interesting to watch the physical transformation throughout the years and throughout the seasons. And a lot of times, you do see a change in weight, sometimes a drastic weight loss. There's a show called Watch What Happens Live where Andy Cohen will bring on cast members and guests and interview them. And there's always open discussions of like, Oh, now you look amazing, like you had your glow up. And I just just, it makes me feel icky. It's just reinforcing all of these things that we're really trying to move away from.
Melissa Landry  11:35  
It's like they have all this time to fill with the show. And sometimes there's not a lot necessarily going on, like, you know, who we were talking about my husband I about love Island and how sometimes you can see the way they're trying to shape the story through the editing. And there's only so much of that you can do with the content you have. And so sometimes it just turns to these other, quote, base things we have in common diet culture is something that we all have in common because we all live in it. I do wonder about that? Is it like, is it in part because they run out of things to talk about? Do you think that they're purposely centering some of these body stories? Because people like them? Like, why is there such a focus on bodies?
Sam Abbott  12:14  
Yeah, you know, I think that in the diet, culture space, that talking about bodies, and dieting is something that people bond over or something, it's like a topic that people feel like they can really relate to. And I could totally see that as being part of it, that maybe producers or whoever creating the show, like they kind of view these topics as things that like the viewers would want to see or that the viewers can really relate to the cast members on Bravo shows, it's like that too. I mean, I can't name a franchise where they were not filming scenes where people were, you know, having cellulite procedures or getting lip fillers are going to the gym talking about how they need to lose weight and things like that. I mean, it's I think it's central to storylines and a lot of reality television,
Melissa Landry  13:12  
that's kind of what they're going through, we want to observe their life and or their changing by nature of becoming famous and or they are pushing some of this or encouraging some of this, there's probably a lot of different factors that cause these stories to center themselves a little bit more.
Sam Abbott  13:28  
It's important to remember when we're watching these cast members, the television, I'll use Bravo as an example, like Bravo, I'm assuming is somewhat crafting the storylines a little bit or scheduling these scenes to be filmed. And then on the other hand, you have these cast members who are subjecting themselves to criticism by being on TV and maybe like victims of diet culture themselves. So they are kind of in the thick of things, too. So I think there's a couple of different factors going on.
Melissa Landry  13:56  
A friend of mine used to work in Bravo, research, and I don't know the full details of her job, but part of her job was to do focus groups to learn what are the things that people like or don't like or thinking about? And so definitely, there is work that happens to decide, I mean, this is a product they're creating something for people to consume so that advertisers can buy spots and so there's a lot that goes into it. I think we all know this by now. Many people understand it's not all real even but you know when you're like I'm imagining myself in my little love Island vacation that I took just going to the love island you know, we watched it I want to say every single night for a little while and you think about what you're bathing in your mind in Yes, you know, it's fake, but your brain can't always it is for relaxation and distraction and for it, you let your guard down and so it makes sense if some of these messages you know, aren't real or fabricated, you know, augmented they seep into your brain and especially if you already struggle with some of those triggers. It would make sense if that got really activated as you're watching those shows.
Sam Abbott  15:09  
Yeah, definitely. I think too if you can relate to the characters are you really like and enjoy the show and you're watching it in a fun and relaxed way. I think that's even more so the case
Melissa Landry  15:20  
doing its job. I'm curious. Yeah. yond the Body Talk are like some of the storylines there. What are your non body image storylines that you really like? Are there certain tropes or things that happen on the shows that you'd like to watch in terms of their lives or their connections with each other?
Sam Abbott  15:39  
You know, I really like watching people who are like inspiring women. I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but I really love watching like Kandi Burruss on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I think she's so talented, and like, inspirational. And she's such like a smart business person. I also love watching, I think this is why I'm drawn to Bravo shows is that they really follow the cast members throughout periods of their life. And their families are part of the storyline, too. That's really big with Bravo shows. And so you're watching these, these cast members have kids and their kids are growing up, or they're going through life changes, getting divorced or getting remarried, you kind of feel like you know them as a person
Melissa Landry  16:23  
watching someone grow or develop or change because you've spent so much time watching them. It's kind of kind of cool.
Sam Abbott  16:30  
Yeah, yeah. This is gonna take my reality TV love to a whole nother level. But when I'm watching a show, I will go on Twitter and like see what's trending with the show as it's on because people are watching it live, and they're tweeting about it. And I don't know if you've ever watched The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Teresa Gudice. She was just on Dancing with the Stars, although she remember that. This is one of the earlier. Yes, it's one of the earlier franchises. Yeah, and it's still going pretty strong. But because it's one of the earlier franchises I mean, Teresa had her some of her kids like on the show, but her older daughter a couple of seasons ago went to prom and they showed her like walking down the stairs and her house and they were showing flashbacks from like, when she was little and like a her growing up. And I was like crying. I was like, Oh my gosh, she is growing up.
Melissa Landry  17:25  
Nothing makes me smile like a child growing up. Nothing tells you time has passed, like seeing a child grow up through the years. That's really good for them.
Sam Abbott  17:37  
I also love a little bit the extravagance of things like living in mansions driving these exotic cars just like going out and buying a Birkin bag and not even thinking twice about it. It's just it's fun to observe a whole nother way of life.
Melissa Landry  17:54  
Yes, that's the escapism piece. You're also, a woman of many trades, I know that you love design and architecture. So I can see where that also kind of just strikes a chord with you, Sam, like you get to see
Sam Abbott  18:05  
yes, definitely. Cool thing as well. I love home renovation, and on many of these shows, someone's like redoing their house. So I'm very interested in that piece for one program. 
Melissa Landry  18:17  
It's like HGTV gets woven in. So you get the best of everything. You know, maybe if you like these shows, and you notice some of the body image triggers coming up, maybe inviting yourself to refocus on these other aspects that you love, not just honing in and relating to all the body image things, sort of mirrors the work you do with body image where like we can't necessarily snap our fingers and not have all these triggers around body image. Sometimes the work we're doing is redirecting our thoughts and developing these other aspects of ourselves, not just focusing in so hard on the way we feel about bodies. So could be a cool practice to do that parallel process with shows you watch to really focus on what you like,
Sam Abbott  19:00  
I completely agree. And the more that you do the work, the more certain things stand out to you like how at the beginning of the show, you asked me about body diversity, I can watch a show and immediately say, Wow, this show does not represent body diversity at all. And I think it's by doing the work these types of things stand out to you as something that's not great. Whereas it prevents you from getting sucked in and saying like wait a second, should I try to look like that? Like is this how I'm supposed to look? So I agree. Keeping up those body image skills and like anti diet skills can be really helpful watching these shows.
Melissa Landry  19:38  
It caught me off guard the way I was feeling watching it like I just rarely experienced that you know having been in being in this world and having done that work, but I like I said I don't really expose myself to it very much and I just was really surprised to notice that and so yeah, like if that happens to you, I just want to normalize it it makes sense to compare yourself That's what human brains do. Our brains love to categorize things, we like to put things in hierarchies. If that happens, it doesn't mean you're doing a bad job as an intuitive eater or working on, you know, your anti diet work, it just means you're human, just letting you know, it's okay, if this happens.
Sam Abbott  20:17  
Totally. And I think so much of that work. And those skills are, it's just bringing about awareness. And I think even just you having the awareness of Wait a second, I'm starting to wonder if I should get lip fillers, because I'm watching the show. Like, that's really powerful to just have that awareness.
Melissa Landry  20:37  
And then you can move from there. If that's a thread you want to pull or not. Right, to know where these thoughts are coming from before we just automatically chase after them. So awareness is a great way to sum it up, Sam.
Sam Abbott  20:51  
I totally had those thoughts, too. I even told my husband, I was like, Do you think my top lip is not full enough? And he was like, What are you talking about?
Melissa Landry  21:02  
That's always fun when it gets to that point where you're like, that was weighing on my lips.
Sam Abbott  21:08  
Right? I'm like, All of every single person on these shows has gets like, oh, they get a lot of lip injections. And what do you think about my lips?
Melissa Landry  21:17  
You know, what else was a rough one, I watched two episodes, physical selling sunset, that one was a little bit rough to watch, because I'm like, Oh my gosh, like that one. I feel like in terms of the body diversity, it's even more like all these women almost have identical bodies. When you look at them, it was just very like, it's very, it's unmooring. I had a client once say to me, you know, sometimes when I go to the beach, I love that experience, because there's always so many different types of bodies at the beach. Like I love it. I can look around and say whatever I usually see in magazines and TV, that's when I know it's false. Because this is like a cross section of society that I'm really looking at. And I actually thought of this client when I'm watching that show, because I'm like, Yeah, this would be the complete opposite of that experience where you were like, wow, everybody looks like The Stepford Wives like they came out of a mold versus Yeah, this is just real bodies enjoying life around me. So
Sam Abbott  22:17  
yeah, I think to some of that has to do with like the geographic location. And like, where exactly that show is filmed. It's funny that you bring that up, because I live in Charlotte, which Charlotte is a major city, but I went home to my hometown, which is in Virginia, and even just clothing wise, physical appearance, luxury cars, I felt like I was in a different world. And it kind of like, brought me back down a little bit. And I think that's another important thing, you know, to think about too.
Melissa Landry  22:55  
body type, does provide status, there is a body hierarchy 1,000% that exists in the world and understanding that thinking about the types of environments that you feel safe and at home, like all of this is part of body image work. It's not always just an inside job. Sometimes you have to think about the outside world, and how does that make us feel? And how do we impact that outside world so that it stops making people feel less than when they're really not? Such a deep topic? This is pulling away from the escapism that reality.
Sam Abbott  23:32  
It's okay, it's important though, these are important conversations to have that I feel like a lot of people aren't having so
Melissa Landry  23:38  
would it be okay to switch gears into how disordered eating or eating gets pitched portrayed on these shows, I think there's another element here. Not to diminish body image, but we're kind of talking more like, quote, garden variety, body image issues that many, many women face. disordered eating is on a spectrum. And I think a lot of the clients I work with tell me all the time, I don't have a diagnosis of eating disorder. But I would not call in relation my relationship to food normal by any means. And so I work with folks that are on that spectrum to disordered eating. I work with folks who are in stable Edie recovery and are working to advance their intuitive eating skills. And then there is having a diagnosis of an eating disorder that's driven by the DSM there are specific criteria. When you think about the way that spectrum of eating is portrayed. disordered eating is portrayed in these shows, what are you seeing and observing,
Sam Abbott  24:37  
it's because of my work, I just constantly see red flags popping up everywhere for that spectrum of what you're talking about in all of the housewives franchises. Just the talk around food, the talk about specific diets jumping from diet to diet, doing things like I remember in one of the franchises is they had a group dessert, I think for the whole table and one of the cast members poured catch up on it so that nobody would eat it. Just things like this. And it's really things that stand out to me as saying, Okay, that is pretty disordered. It's just kind of normalized on the show. I totally see that. That spectrum.
Melissa Landry  25:23  
Yeah. Did they even get a bite before the ketchup was put on the dessert? Or it was just,
Sam Abbott  25:27  
I don't know. I mean, it was at the table. And some of some of the cast members were upset, like, what are you doing? Like,
Melissa Landry  25:35  
but we don't need to. I'm in theory. Anybody? This is a warning. If anybody ketchup bombs, my dessert, heads are gonna roll. That's not okay. I want to Yeah.
Sam Abbott  25:50  
Even, you know, low carb is a really big one, people being scared to eat carbs or kind of villainizing carbs on the shows. People becoming vegan for weight loss, even though usually that lasts for like, a couple of weeks. And then they're, they're back to where they were before. But yeah, just see all of these different things that we would categorize as you know, a behavior that could be disordered, or is disordered. Just seeing those popping up all the time.
Melissa Landry  26:21  
At minimum, it's reinforcing diet culture, at minimum, it's reinforcing good bad types of dualities with food or that we need to have kind of extreme caution that we can control ourselves around certain foods. So yeah, well, yeah. And adding to the culture.
Sam Abbott  26:41  
Yeah. And then Bravo, just in the past few years, has actually started using disordered eating and eating disorders as some of the cast members storylines, even to the point where some of the cast members have diagnosable eating disorders. And they've shown them like trying to get treatment or talking about getting treatment to so they really are showing that whole spectrum.
Melissa Landry  27:06  
Yeah. Well, that sounds positive, though. How have you seen that depiction? 
Sam Abbott  27:12  
Well, first of all, I do want to say I think it is really positive that they are showing that like this is a medical condition. This carries health risks, like you deserve to live a life where you're not experiencing these fears around food. And I do think they do a really good job of portraying for somebody who is in the throes of an eating disorder, what do they feel like? And what do they struggle with? Having said that, I do think that Bravo's kind of missing the mark, when you're showing bits and pieces of these stories, but you're not really giving viewers the whole picture of like, okay, what exactly is an eating disorder? Or where where is the line where someone could benefit from treatment with one of the characters. She was seeking treatment at Renfrew. And they reckon they recommended inpatient treatment, and she declined. And I wish they would have gone into a little bit more of like, what's the purpose of inpatient treatment kind of was shown in a way of like, Oh, why don't you do that? And then that was kind of it, you know. And I felt like that could be a little harmful. I also think the way that the other cast members talk about the eating disorders, it shows that they don't really have that great of an understanding of what an eating disorder is, and how their conversations could impact things. Like, for example on I'm not going to say exactly what she said, because it's pretty triggering. But on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills crystal, who is married to Rob Minkoff, who was one of the directors of the Lion King, she was sharing some of her thoughts and feelings around her eating disorder, she was being very vulnerable. And when she was sharing some of her disordered eating habits, one of the other characters, Erica was like, Well, when I eat and I feel overly full, here's what I do. Like she just gave another example of like, a disordered eating behavior. And I wish there had been a bigger conversation of like, okay, well, how do you navigate these conversations when somebody is really struggling with their relationship with food? And I think a lot of times, people tend to, like reinforce some of the things that contribute to an eating disorder of saying things like, You're not fat, or you look like you have you don't look like you've gained weight or like you're beautiful. And you know, they were talking about this on Watch What Happens Live and Andy was actually interviewing Lisa Rinna and her daughter has been in treatment for an eating disorder. And I'm like, this will be great because she has the she has kind of like more of a an in depth, you know, perspective on this than Andy said, you know, what did you think about that scenario when Crystal was talking to Erica about her eating disorder? If, and Erica made that comment to her, and Lisa led her response by saying, well, it's really hard to talk to someone with an eating disorder, you can never say the right thing by which you and I know that is not true at all. There are so many
Melissa Landry  30:18  
so on want to understand that disorder and work through it like my hairs are standing up, because it's just like such a mis categorization of the people that we work with.
Sam Abbott  30:28  
Exactly. I, I felt like they were just kind of like perpetuating some of the misinformation and the stereotypes around disordered eating. And I'm like, that's coming from a character whose daughter has really struggled. And that was part of her storyline. And I think that's, that's part of the thing. That's part of what bothers me about the way they're using these topics as storylines.
Melissa Landry  30:50  
Yeah, yeah. Even when you see documentaries, sometimes they just put a little like title card with texts, like just something of a redirect, like maybe Bravo doesn't feel like they have the scope or the expertise to talk about it. But wouldn't it have been nice to just acknowledge that and say, we don't really know how to deal with this, but here are people who do?
Sam Abbott  31:08  
Yeah, yeah, I think I liked the way that you worded it, it's when I watched the show, I just see constant missed opportunities over and over and over again. And it's just disappointing that they're clearly using the topic as a storyline. And at the end of the show, they show the little screen that's like, if you know, someone with an eating disorder, here's a number that you can call. And I, they kind of present the topic of like we're showing this because we're trying to help people. So I just wish that sometimes they would give a little more professional context to the story.
Melissa Landry  31:43  
They certainly have the money, they have the access to, hey, maybe you want to be consultants for Bravo, I think I'm probably not well suited. You'd be a great Bravo. I see this.
Sam Abbott  31:56  
You know what I do to anyone? I was listening. I can be your consultant. No, I mean, like, even with Jackie, they were showing her working with a dietitian at Renfrew. I thought it was great. They made her go get bloodwork before they would even talk about her treatment, because they were so concerned about how restrictive she was being in refeeding syndrome. And then I just felt like that was kind of it. And I just wish there had been more follow up. So if anybody abroad who is listening, give me a call. We could chat.
Melissa Landry  32:31  
She got you. And she's gonna she's gonna maintain the integrity of the brand because she loves the brand.
Sam Abbott  32:37  
Exactly. I get it. I get it. I'm here for the Ferraris. I'm here for the fashion or not. I don't want to take anyway.
Melissa Landry  32:47  
On enhance you. We're trying to enhance you move this in the right direction.
Sam Abbott  32:52  
Melissa Landry  32:53  
Oh, no, any of that
Sam Abbott  32:57  
I can't help what what a Bravo show be like, where there was a lot of body diversity. And you were showing people living their best lives and you weren't presenting it in a way that in that one aspect with physical appearance or body size that someone was struggling? I think it would be a really popular I think that would really resonate with a lot of viewers.
Melissa Landry  33:22  
Yeah. What do you think holds them back? Is it just that this is how it's always done? They don't want to fix what's not broken. 
Sam Abbott  33:25  
here's what I think. And I see this in my day to day life to so many people are deep in diet culture that they just feel like this is the way it's supposed to be. This is what people are interested in this is we should be having these types of conversations. I think it takes someone saying it actually doesn't have to be this way. It's okay to talk about other things. It's okay to accept yourself as you are. I think it just takes people saying that and being able to be vocal about it, but it's a cultural shift, right? It's you're going against the grain, you're kind of paving a new path, then. It's it's very needed. But I think until people realize that this is actually problematic. It's not just entertaining, it's like perpetuating a lot of a lot of harmful things. I think people need to realize that if.
Melissa Landry  34:26  
The well-being of these cast members, there's all this stuff coming out about various reality shows like the hours that they sometimes are put under and all these things like they are providing entertainment and a service and they deserve to be treated in a way that supports their well being so it's feels like a no brainer to us. I don't know. Yeah, it will take time and it would be so great to see these storylines not be like, ooh, specialty niche like Lizzo show kind of was amazing, but it's kind of presented like okay, this is a special show about big girls like That's wonderful. And we need that, especially right now. But like it would be very cool to see folks in bigger bodies or different sized bodies just like be part of the story. Just not not even exactly, no, I think you see that sometimes in scripted shows a little bit more where folks and bigger bodies are just characters, and they're starting to develop that not enough, but be cool if reality kind of just moved along with that we don't really even need to mention it. Because there are plenty of folks in bigger bodies or diverse bodies who do not struggle with disordered eating. Like that's a thing that we should also mention, like, just because you don't have the ideal body does not mean that you have some type of disorder like this, this is not linked to a body size. This is something that can exist in small and large bodies. Man, I did not know all this stuff was happening. I feel so torn because there is this feeling within me. I don't know, if you always ever feel like this, Sam or like, I just wish I could just chill it and enjoy.
Sam Abbott  36:05  
I just know, I like that I'm right there with you
Melissa Landry  36:08  
that wants to just like chill and not always be like, well, but what about, like, there's a restorative part of me that I always want to like, fix and improve things? And then there's a part of me, that's like, no, that's awesome. We need that. So for you, as a viewer, how do you balance both of those sides of you that are like, I want to enjoy this, it's my escape and that side of you that's like, do better? How do you live with both of those sides. And I think a lot of people feel that as they become more aware of diet culture, it can be hard to hold that it can be really hard to be awake, and just enjoy life. So how do we make space for both.
Sam Abbott  36:47  
You know, not just with reality TV, but in general, when we're making a shift to be more HAES aligned, or to be more weight inclusive with our thoughts and feelings. Understanding that the root of HAES is really about like undoing a system of oppression. And I think anytime you're doing something related to like social justice in any way, you're just always going to have those thoughts. And it's completely normal. And so I think that you can hold space for like, recognizing those thoughts, but also having sympathy for, you know, nobody's going out and getting lip fillers, because they're trying to cause people harm. They're still deep in diet culture, they are having their own body image struggles, or even like producers may have the same things going on. So I think having some compassion for people who may not be in the same space, can be really, really helpful when you're allowing yourself to just kind of sit back and relax and enjoy these types of shows.
Melissa Landry  37:50  
I heard this quote once before, like change can be incremental, and then all at once. And I that was really helpful for me that that is how a lot of social justice or cultural shifts have happened has been little by little. And that has been important. And then all of a sudden, things are different. You know, we're mentioning Alyssa, but like the existence of her on the mainstream might not have been accepted 4050 years ago, the way that lyrics and the way she holds and depicts her body that might not have existed that took a lot of people pushing and pushing and pushing and her to be there at the right time and be who she is that. And that's just one of many examples of celebrities and bodies. She's probably most talked about in mainstream these days, but
Sam Abbott  38:33  
and she just accepted N word. I don't remember which one I was. But in her acceptance speech, she said, I was always just wanting to see somebody on TV who was like fat like me and black like me. And I just realized, like, it had to be me. I think even just having these types of conversations, like I think that's where change and a shift happens of like just giving people the opportunity to be aware of these things or to think about these things I think that can be impactful too
Melissa Landry  39:09  
you provided such a great role model of that. I can imagine some people watch these shows and are like, Oh my god, can you believe she didn't go into treatment? Or, you know, there's sort of this secondary gossip that can happen after the shows, and even watching them more as an observer and talking about them in a different way. That's like, that's really sad. She didn't wasn't able to pursue treatment. I hope that she's doing all right. Sometimes the way we talk about the shows and the characters can almost grassroots shift that culture a little bit because remember, somebody somewhere is doing market research. And so the way we talk about these characters is 1,000% feeding into the characters they show us your how you saw that, even if we don't know how to fix it or change it. That compassion that you just showed was something for listeners to kind of hold and take it.
Sam Abbott  39:57  
Yeah, and I think so much when we're talking About body diversity and like eating behaviors and, and body image struggles. I think approaching any conversation with like, compassion and curiosity instead of judgment can just be so powerful.
Melissa Landry  40:16  
I will say I probably did not start with a lot of those skills as it relates to food and body image just from my own personal upbringing, the dietetics training that we received, it takes like, gosh, I'm doing it with you out there, folks. I'm learning and growing every day, and yeah, just get comfortable with learning, messing things up and learning again, that's, that's how it starts to happen.
Sam Abbott  40:40  
You probably are gonna mess things up. When you're, when you're going into these areas and like, that's okay. It's, it's more about like, how do you learn and grow from that?
Melissa Landry  40:50  
This was really, really fun. I learned a lot. Maybe I need to go back and watch some real housewives franchises and get a little bit more into it a little sold on some of it.
Sam Abbott  41:04  
I think that you would enjoy it. After we get off of here if you need to make a suggestion of which one to start with. I will I will 
Melissa Landry  41:12  
want to hear it. Now. What would you suggest? You know, a little bit about my day by now. Which one do you think that most resonate with? What city shall I go to? Well
Sam Abbott  41:22  
Well my favorite is Atlanta. Okay. I love Atlanta. It's so entertaining. Everybody has their own storyline. I think with some of these franchises. It's like the show's follow them for so long. They kind of reach like I'm happy that they're in a stable place in their life, but it's not quite as like entertaining, if you want to. Are you familiar with Bethenny? Frankel? Of course,
Melissa Landry  41:49  
I remember back. I didn't know how in the beginning in the little Okay, remember some of these ladies?
Sam Abbott  41:56  
Yeah, I think it would be interesting for you like to watch Real Housewives of New York to kind of watch her evolution because she does have the brand skinny girl. I think that would be interesting for you more from like a analytical perspective. I also love New Jersey because you have the dynamic of like Melissa and her family and that's pretty much been going on since I think season two so it's like you do really follow the evolution and in that show, it's it's been the main like Melissa, Joe and Teresa have been the main characters. So even though you have some people coming in and out you are following their relationships throughout the years.
Melissa Landry  42:37  
All right, I have my shortlist. I joke that I have an imaginary List of television shows that everyone else people like you gotta watch. You gotta watch me like, oh, yeah, I'll put it on the list. There's no list, but I do keep them in my heart. I do keep my heart sometimes a rainy day happens and you just wind up on a show someone recommended to so I will add these to the list.
Sam Abbott  42:58  
Let me know let me know if you decide to watch it.
Melissa Landry  43:03  
If I follow through Winter's coming, that is my TV. Hi seasons. Oh,
Sam Abbott  43:08  
you know what? You could start watching the Real Housewives of Salt Lake City because that one is really good and they're just in their third season. It just premiered so it wouldn't be like you would have to binge watch eight seasons.
Melissa Landry  43:22  
It's all lakes like the New LA I feel like McGee studios that whole home. What is it called Home Makeover? It's not Extreme Home Makeover. That was something else.
Sam Abbott  43:31  
I know the show you're talking about.
Melissa Landry  43:34  
Like I'm just hearing a lot about the Utah lifestyle lately. So intriguing. Sam, thank you so much for your time and expertise you never knew you'd need to talk about but you just did. So we appreciate you. Everyone can find you at PCOS nutritionist Is there anything you are working on now you want to mention and invite people to especially if you're feeling like your head is spinning with PCOS Sam is my go to I sent a lot of my clients to her materials, what might be helpful out there right now? 
Sam Abbott  44:04  
Well if you want to visit my website on my homepage, I have a free, intuitive eating workbook for PCOS, which I think what a lot of people struggle with with intuitive eating is understanding how that overlaps with PCOS. So that would be a really great starting point. I'm not quite sure when this episode will publish. But I do have some big plans for the new year of shifting my group coaching program a little bit. So stay tuned for that. If you sign up for my Intuitive Eating guide, you will be on my email list. So anybody on my email list always gets first dibs on everything that I'm doing.
Melissa Landry  44:42  
Amazing. Get on that list. Sam will take care of you. Thank you again for your time. I will see you in our spaces. Sam, you're the best. Okay, have a great day.
Sam Abbott  44:51  
Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. This was so fun.
Melissa Landry  44:54  
Bye bye. Of course after the episode was done, I went down a Google rabbit hole or to just see what some of the research was saying about the relationship between reality TV and body image. No surprise, there was one survey that said almost one in four people 24% Say that reality TV makes them worry about their body image. And they think that this has to do with comparison. When you have increased exposure to thin images, and the thin ideal, the more likely you are to experience body dissatisfaction and eating disorder features. And all that comes with that like negative mood, low self esteem. It just reminds us like we don't always need a research study to validate what we go through. We don't even need a formal diagnosis of an eating disorder. So many of my clients who have shared with you on the pod describe this feeling like look, they didn't meet the criteria for an eating disorder. But by no means would they have called their relationship to food quote, normal for as long as they can remember, they remember feeling guilty or tense or extreme around food. And you know, research is important. diagnoses are important. But it's not the only way you can know that you're struggling and that you need to develop skills to work with this environment of diet, culture, and fat phobia, and all this stuff that really does impact in individuals in a way that matters. And so, just interesting to compare research with our actual lived experience. I'm curious about you, are you someone who needs like a diagnosis or a label or researcher that information in the formal way to validate you? Or can you validate yourself on your own? Can you tell yourself, look, what I went through on food and body image wasn't okay. It's not okay. And I'm committed to taking care of myself regardless, because I matter. And you do. If you struggle with body image and food, it's valid, it is valid if it's happening to you, it's worth giving an attention because this impacts our everyday life. Speaking of everyday life, seasonal affective disorder, I'm starting to notice her signals. I don't know if you all have been feeling this way. We have seen a bunch of rainy weather here. And for the past three days, my body was sending some cues, low mood, racing thoughts, all the things and it reminded me I've got to get my seasonal affective disorder plan in place. And this is an example of how intuitive eating work can extend beyond food. We can use our body experiences to guide our planning and structure if we want it so I am thinking a little bit more about what am I going to do to get through this winter in New England? It's what is it October like we're not even in the throes of it. So I'm I'm learning every year not to get caught off guard. We could totally do this right now we could make a sad plan, a seasonal affective disorder plan. I used to keep a notebook of things I wanted to do in the winter. So I wouldn't forget them. I'm telling you, I'm always workshop and my sad. I'm always workshopping it. So you know, I would love to hear if you have any suggestions what helps you to get unblu or feel better during the winter? What are your favorite movies, traditions, rituals, what are things that make you feel great, Sam gave me some shows to add to my imaginary TV list. But there just isn't enough time to watch them all. So I put them all on imaginary lists. And truth be told, I likely will reference it during the winter when things aren't feeling so great. 
I'm also thinking a little bit more about things like movement, making sure I eat regularly, making sure I'm drinking enough water. And so if you just need that little reminder to like take five and jot down a few self care behaviors that are non negotiables. For you, during this winter season. Consider yourself reminded it's important. And this type of thinking is so much more powerful than promising you're gonna go on another diet, promising you're gonna go on another diet probably would worsen seasonal affective disorder. The less you eat, the more likely we are to feel anxious and preoccupied and those who experienced generational diet trauma are absolutely plucking worries and fears and guilt. We just don't need this time of year, especially this time of year. So that's your invitation to take good care of yourself. Make a little plan start working on self care behaviors. 
And if you're needing more support with doing that in the intuitive eating way, I want to invite you to apply for coaching now right now I'm only accepting one to one clients. We could get you in sooner than later but if you're thinking you might prefer a group method, I was super excited to see a bunch of names hit the waitlist when I offered it to you a few weeks back so know that I was very excited to see there is still some interest for groups out there. I'm gonna continue to leave that waitlist open and email everyone on it once we have a number that's feeling like you know it's likely that it could it could happen so you know you're swaying me all you get me excited about a group again, if you are feeling like that would be something you'd like to look forward to and have as part of your self care plan this winner put your name on the waitlist otherwise, now I'd love to work with you one to one. All right, my friends. Thanks for listening to the pod and for being who you are. Until next time, good to your body.
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