Since writing The Eating Instinct, I think a lot about what makes someone an “expert.” Doctors are held up as weight and diet experts even though the subjects are covered pretty minimally in med school. Dietitians are taught about weight loss but not about how restriction can veer into disordered eating. And when we turn away from these “mainstream medical experts,” we enter the Wild West of the wellness industry, where there are no rules or standards. And across the board, with any kind of so-called expert, you have to factor in where that person is coming from; how they’ve struggled with food or their body; which biases they’ve most deeply internalized; what health means to them.
I don’t have a good answer here. In The Eating Instinct, I argue that we’re better off trusting our bodies more than we trust external rules and plans. And I think that’s still good advice, though it can be very hard to put into practice. But we also deserve different kinds of experts; people who are willing to center our lived experiences in our bodies more than, or at least alongside, their own knowledge.
What criteria do you use to assess a “health expert” before you invite them into your life?