Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel promotes healthy relationships with food by educating pre-med students and parents about mindful eating. In this episode Maya talks about why eating mindfully is key. You need to pay attention to what goes in your mouths, slips off your tongue, and bounces around your brains.
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:00:03]
Our society has focused on the way to define health, but when we look at health data, I don't think that approach is working.
That's Dr. Maya Maya Steele, and she is working to change how people think about eating and weight in our third episode about understanding obesity. You're going to hear what will work.
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:00:29]
Look at wellness approach. Dr. Linda Baker is the author of The Book Health at Every Size Buying Health, rather Wellness Approach. And look around our environment also ourselves, focus on what like how we live, how we are connected with ourselves and also others,
Wyatt : [00:01:13]
Maya is going to tell us how we can treat ourselves better, treat others better, and how we can all work to be better role models for kids, which is one of the most important things we can do to prevent disordered eating.
Wyatt : [00:01:14]
You're going to hear a little bit about my relationship with food and my relationship with my weight. And my is going to tell you about how she started learning about intuitive eating at a very young age. My name is Wyatt and you could be in the middle of downloading a calorie counting app, but you are listening to this instead, a podcast from the Office of Research at Utah State University.As we get started, you might be thinking intuitive eating, being nicer to myself, focusing on wellness instead of weight loss. How is That really going to help me, I don't know. But here's what Maya knows.
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:01:55]
We are working with Salt Lake County Health Department, the wellness program at the Galanti Change in 2012 from general like in health promotion approach, including light weight loss, focus to non dieting, weight, inclusive approach. So we just finished analyzing Nagaina initial longitudinal data compared to before 2012 and then 2012 and after the trend is more positive. Yeah, that's the analysis we did. But we want to do more.
Wyatt : [00:02:32]
What are some of the hangups that people have when it comes to talking about weight?
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:02:37]
Many people just don't know what to start. It's more important for us. To be prepared to discuss the topic, we have to be a role model, we have to know what we are talking about and then the message has to come from our heart. That's why I'm like, you know, I realize I just should focus on training our future professionals. So my job is to make sure students are really, really ready to disseminate those programs and sail through the program where we teach students how we decide and what would be healthier for our mine and body. And because we don't want to suppress what we want and then we end up wanting more.
Wyatt : [00:03:40]
What are the things that parents should maybe be paying attention to or doing differently than they might be doing to help have to help their kids have a healthy relationship with?
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:03:51]
Thank you for asking the question. Stop talking about dieting, period. We have four years old, Son. He repeats exactly what I said, and sometimes it scares me. But kids are listening to our conversations and there are multiple studies already showing Ali is three years old, already talking about dieting or teasing their peers about appearance like a weight. We really need to be more mindful what conversation we provide surrounded by kids. And is it safe, is it appropriate and people always do something, take a moment and then is it really kind to ourselves? And it doesn't matter if kids are around us or not, because, you know, subconsciously we. Fueled by toxic information to kids, just never know where kids are. Behaviours or attitudes, so. So slow down and then we evaluate what kind of conversations we carry every day.
Wyatt : [00:05:24]
Yeah, I think that's really valuable for me. Like there was a period in my life where I'm 6'4, but I which is tall. So, I mean, you know that, you know, measurements. I'm 6'4 and there's a period in my life where I weighed like two hundred and eighty pounds plus. So I very much needed to lose weight to be healthier and I was able to do that. But one of the interesting things was when I was overweight, the message in my head was, you're fine, you're fine, this is fine, you know, which is an inherently positive message versus once I was closer to where I needed to be, the message became, is this good enough yet? Is this good enough yet? Is this good enough yet? And one of my friends who also had weight challenges, I was talking with her about this and we like wanted to be kinder to ourselves. And so we figured out that, like, the better way to put it for me was like, I'm not quite where I want to be, you know, instead of this isn't good enough. Just this isn't like where I want to be. And so just like figuring out a better message for me has been helpful and not being critical of myself, but still being real that like it's something that I have to pay attention to.
Wyatt : [00:06:44]
What kind of. Advice do you have? That's about the messages that go on in people's heads.
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:06:59]
That's a great question, because people are so busy every day and they're including myself, I always have to remind myself, slow down and re-evaluate how I been treating myself. Do you wake up and before you go to bed, take a moment and then just remind yourself how you want to talk to yourself. So, my students have to do some activities like a self positive activities, and then how do your students respond to this assignment?
Wyatt : [00:07:41]
Like what kind of feedback do they give you? Like when they're talking about their experience doing this assignment?
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:07:59]
Well, it's really it's almost like an aha moment for them. So I review students feedback about my calls and their positive self talk activity. And I usually show video and then, you know, I apply the concept to you. So how do you talk to yourself every day? And definitely, like most of the students, including male students, I have a moment and now we realize, wow. We've been treating ourselves ourself, we need a why do we have to be so harsh on ourselves and then why do we judge and by the way, has to define ourselves by way and appearance. How we feel about our way has to determine the mood of the day. So, yeah, definitely I do. And I see positive. Yeah. Reactions from students, especially like, you know, college students, a gang, not just female students. Many people struggle with mental health, period, and that oftentimes the pressure to meet the expectations defined by society and appearance is one example. So, Mike, you know, for me, just quick checking every day. And especially now we have a I have a parenting responsibility. It doesn't matter if he is a boy or a girl, doesn't matter gender. And I just want to make sure. We send healthy messages to Sam, not just about weight and not just about appearance, but how I treat myself, how how I talk to myself. And so that's one specific things everybody should do.
Wyatt : [00:10:27]
And and what should people look for like in a program if they're seeking one?
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:10:35]
So they're a couple taking a key towns, mindfulness, eating, mindful exercise, not just eating and exercise, but I can see how we manage our emotional distress and not so much about. You know what to eat and how much we eat. Yes, it is important, but in the end, like, you know, it's up to us and then we need to find a way how we respond, our body cues.
Wyatt : [00:11:11] Can you give me an example of what thoughts somebody would be having if they were mindfully eating?
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:11:18]
Yeah. And the idea of food. And then but definitely.Set schedule like, yes, set meal time plan and then listen to a cue, if you hear stomach note and it's probably waiting too long, if you notice your hunger cue is a little bit nowhere.
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:11:52]
Go ahead and eat some snack. But what kind of snack?Sometimes it's OK for us to eat on it, but not every day. So that kind of like a mindfulness practice.
Wyatt : [00:12:11]
Yeah, yeah, I want to back up a second because I didn't ask you to explain when you are talking about the term eating disorders, what things are you talking about?
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:12:25]
Eating is fundamental Behavior to human beings engaging every single day. Oftentimes, people with eating disorders have this functional relationship with eating, so eating disorder is influenced by physiological and psychological effects. It's not just mental health effect, but over all making are often things going to people like, oh, it's just like not eating enough or sometimes all like, you know, poor body image. And yeah, sometimes some people are, but there are many more factors causing pain, eating disorders, and then there are many types of eating disorders, even though diagnostic criteria has certain types. But each client with eating disorder has a different attitude and behaviors of eating disorders. So I hope it makes sense.
Wyatt : [00:13:41]
Yeah. So it's kind of like people don't have a healthy relationship with food or eating and the effects from that. Affects every part of their life, like physiologically, psychologically in their interactions with others.
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:14:00]
Something like a traumatic event can cause eating disorder for many people and to less stress or traumatic event. I mean, people may just try to control eating so that they feel like, you know, there's something they can control or try to suppress their emotions. And the stress level or some other sense may have poor relationship with parents. And but they don't know how to express their stress to others and that instead eating disorders. The only thing they can control trying to do by eating disorders, yeah, there is a definition, but it's so hard to illustrate what the disease is. Because it's not any of them mental health that's well and. And at the same times, I don't want to open any patients with eating disorders while my case was totally different or or maybe taking on some students or people who are engaging in eating disorders with disordered eating, but oh, maybe I my situations and not meeting the criteria. But we've met so many patients who didn't even meet the official diagnostic criteria. But obviously what they're doing is harming their health.
Wyatt : [00:15:39]
There's been times in my life where I've like sought comfort from food and there's other times in my life where, like, I worked like like made a essentially a game and got like satisfaction out of like losing weight and like I needed to lose weight at that time. And so I didn't. I don't.There wasn't like.Things were never that severe for me, you know, and they weren't like I could pull myself out of it and like there was I don't know I don't know how to say that it wasn't a big deal because it wasn't anyway.But like, when I got.
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:16:13]
Back up, it it was probably a big deal. But that's that's like that's why, you know, I have to be careful when I talk about the definition because I don't want people to think, oh, I guess, you know, mine's my situation isn't that bad. No.That's why I often used eating disorders and also disordered eating.
Wyatt : [00:16:40]
Yeah. Yeah. And I would say I had some disordered eating, but I think it's something similar like at times, but I didn't have an eating disorder. And to the world of prevention you've been working in, is that mostly with adults? Is that in schools? What is the setting of this education to help prevent eating disorders or.
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:17:02]
Definitely.Parents. And then health care providers. And Dole and then, well, educators, public health professional, those are the primary population groups I've been focusing on.
Wyatt : [00:17:26]
You said that people often don't think of weight based bullying as bullying. Why is that? It's because in our society it's more like an accepted ism.
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:17:42]
You know, racism. Everyone knows we can make racial slurs. Mm hmm. Think about how adults talk about their kind of co-workers or random strangers who have a larger body type and subconsciously make fun of those.
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:18:06]
And unfortunately, that is the reason why I kind of like in a way based component is overlooked. And and then there are some qualitative data and coming from kids and black female students verbally expressed rape based bullying is more brutal than racism. And then she's only 12 years old. Mm hmm. So, yeah, again, kind of back to social norms. Unfortunately, it's acceptable.
Wyatt : [00:18:54]
Yeah, it's. Is it acceptable because it's just like. Race isn't something that people have control over. People have control in air quotes over their weight, and so therefore it's acceptable to teach them about it.
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:19:10] Right. And then oftentimes, you know, obesity is something they caused. That's what other people believe, like you say, always should be controllable measure, and it's just as easy for them. So that's kind of like stereotyped images toward people that nurture like body type or high BMI, but it's more complex than most people think. But, you know, people are so.
Wyatt : [00:19:47]
Yeah, I mean, I I'm always interested in how people who have different experiences, how like in the comparison of our relationship with food here in Utah or in the states versus the relationship with food and eating in Japan, how are things different or at least interesting? It sounds really rude. No, to be rude, I can like fine.
Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel: [00:20:13]
One thing I noticed was a lack of food culture here. And it's really unfortunate because I cook thanks to my mom who cooked my meals even though she was working and I'm not like, you know, selling women she could go back to.My parents are divorced, so she was the only one. And so I. I had been exposed to.The meals look like.So I know and and now also I can help to moderate my eating because my mom told me and I stop eating when you notice about like 80 percent of fulness. And then, like I said, researching and working in the eating disorder, I feel an intuitive eating concept cuisine to Jooste. And I was like, well, that's exactly what I learned from my mom.So but I you know, I feel so bad because many people didn't learn that skill checking emotions, feelings and their fullness notice different sensations.And improbable, probably all taking a little bit longer to finish your meal if you chew more and the longer will give enough time for brains to be singing nearby. OK, yes, we have enough food.
Wyatt : [00:22:04]
All right, that was just some of my conversation with Dr. Maya Miyairi. So spend the next couple of weeks figuring out how you can better check in with yourself and then check in with Maya and Gabby and Dayle from episodes 41 and forty two in the second virtual blue plate research event that will be held on January 13th. You can find more information at Blue Plate Research WSU edu. Make sure to follow at instead podcast on Instagram. Subscribe to the show on your podcast app. Leave us a review and make sure to tell your friends about us. This episode of Instead was edited by Nick Vázquez and Me. Wyatt is part of our work in the Office of Research at Utah State University.