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Recognize the Healthy Bias_Final

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>> Hi, welcome back to emotional eating psychology. In this lecture, we're going to talk about the healthy bias and how it might affect your coaching, particularly when it comes to topics like emotional eating. What is the healthy bias, you might ask? Let's start with understanding the concept of bias. A bias is generally considered to be a type of unfair prejudice that either favors or goes against something, someone, or a group of people. You might describe it as a subjective judgment or an assumption that's not necessarily based in logic or fact. You've probably heard of stereotypes, glossing over individual characteristics in order to fit people into distinct groups, including gender, ethnicity, or level of education. You can also think of biases as personal perspectives based on personal experiences. Having biases doesn't make you a bad person or a bad coach, we all hold them. But biases do interfere with our ability to fully put ourselves in our clients' shoes and see the world from their view. So it's important to be able to recognize the biases we hold. Explicit biases are biases that we can observe and change because we're aware that we have them. Implicit biases are unconscious or involuntary. In fact, they might even go against our explicit biases. For example, even if I explicitly believe that emotional eating comes in all shapes and sizes, I might coach an overweight female client differently than a fit looking male because unconsciously, I associate health with "fit." Luckily, we can unlearn biases over time. If you research biases, you'll see that many types exist. For the purposes of this course, the important thing to remember is that biases can affect our mindsets and behaviors, in particular how we coach our clients. Biases can start developing from a young age as we learn about the world and tell ourselves stories about the things and people we encounter. These biases might sometimes distort reality because again, they're subjective. However, they serve very important purposes. Here are three of those purposes. Number one, biases simplify. Our brains can only absorb so much information and they receive a lot of it. Just as habits are automatic behaviors, biases are automatic cognitions. They serve an adaptive function by forming generalities and reducing information to the key elements. The problem is that we often oversimplify with stereotypes, for example, which can lead us away from open mindedness and adaptability. Number two, biases speed up cognitive processes. Sometimes, we have to make quick decisions in the face of uncertainty, and biases allow us to do just that. Time is precious after all. The problem is that acting quickly can lead to flaws and miscalculations. And number three, biases help us make meaning. We humans love to make meaning out of things, and our brains need ways to categorize all of the information we receive. So they look for patterns and fill in gaps when needed. The problem is that we often forget which parts are "filled" in, and those parts also become part of our reality even if they're not true. Here's a brief story to illustrate all of this. I once had a client who had struggled with her weight since childhood. Even though she wanted to feel better physically, she found eating "healthy" a constant struggle. Over time, we recognize that this stemmed in part from a high school peer group. This group of girls always made fun of her weight and prided themselves on their "willpower." They were always on a diet. When my clients spent time with other girls, she not only felt more accepted, she also had more fun. Over the years, she saw similar patterns again and again until she saw all women who eat healthy foods as obsessed with dieting close-minded and "boring." This client developed a bias against a healthy eating lifestyle. Tired of trying to figure out what healthy eating meant, she simplified and constructed her own meaning of healthy eating, obsessive, close-minded, and boring. Can you see how this client's bias kept her stuck in her current habits? This leads me to the healthy bias. Based on what we've covered so far, how might you describe the healthy bias? Grab your journal, hit pause, and spend a few minutes brainstorming. What did you come up with? There are many possible factors that contribute to a healthy bias, and we can describe the word health in many ways. To keep it simple, we'll describe the healthy bias as a subjective judgment or perspective about what it means to be "healthy" based on personal experiences. Now this is a massive concept to think about. What does it mean to be "healthy"? Well, health includes physical health, nutrition, mental health, and spiritual health. It can mean so many different things based on so many bio-individual, social, and cultural factors. We provided an opportunity for you to explore this with yourself and with clients via a multimodal exercise handout, which can appeal to multiple learning styles. For now, we're going to focus on one particular aspect of health, weight. Body Mass Index or BMI is the ratio of height to weight. While BMI is far from the perfect measure of health, a higher BMI can often be associated with a wide range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Bias can affect BMI. Recall that biases impact mindsets and behaviors. A cognitive bias towards unhealthy foods can predict an increase in BMI, while a bias toward healthy foods can predict a decrease. Why do you think that is? You're likely very familiar with weight stigma. It runs rampant in America but also in many other countries. Weight sigma is a pervasive problem, not only in culture but also in health professions. In fact, studies show that physicians are often the number two source of obesity bias and weight stigmatization for both men and women. This bias can even occur in people who are otherwise fair-minded and non-judgmental, even an obesity specialist. Dr. Rebecca Puhl, Deputy Director for the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at UConn, has studied many effects of weight stigmatization. Her research shows that it can lead to maladaptive eating patterns like eating more food or refusing to diet. In other words, a weight-based bias can lead to poor self-image and increased stress and in turn promote emotional eating as a coping mechanism. In the cycle of bias and obesity, Dr. Puhl illustrates how the obesity bias might lead patients to delay or cancel appointments, thus perpetuating unhealthy behaviors and poor self-care. Many clients seek support due to the health consequences of high weight gain. But they end up avoiding it, due to distress caused by biased experience. How do you think weight stigmas like the obesity bias might affect health support and emotional eating? Grab your journal and spend a few minutes thinking on this. Looking at what you came up with, how do you think this might translate to your work as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach? As a Health Coach, it's important to recognize biases that you might hold on what being healthy means to you. As you know, helping clients work towards healthier relationships with food requires exploring a wide variety of potential contributing factors, as well as viewing health through a wide-angled lens. It means focusing on behavioral goals not just outcomes. It means respecting bio-individuality and honoring that we all do the best we can given our circumstances. Finally, it means guiding with sensitivity and shedding light where clients can't yet see, while challenging them to find their own paths to greater health. In fact, addressing weight in health related biases might enable meaningful conversations with your clients. Weight is often a difficult topic, but again, you might be the first person to truly listen and provide a safe space for them to talk about it. Therefore, recognizing your own biases, whether conscious or not, helps you provide better support. Health At Every Size, H-A-E-S or HAES, is a movement that helps people of all sizes adopt healthy behaviors. HAES focuses on challenging assumptions about what it means to be healthy and valuing body knowledge and personal experiences. It notes that fighting fat hasn't lead to greater health outcomes and that thinness doesn't necessarily equate with health or happiness. The solution, making peace with our bodies. HAES incorporates bio-individuality, mindfulness, self-compassion, joy, and pleasure, familiar themes in this course. At a workshop I attended on Health at Every Size, the speaker began her presentation with the word "fat." She spoke about the need to reframe the fat bias and the word "fat" itself so that it's no longer taboo. This speaks to the value of neutrality, another important aspect of coaching. What about the skinny bias? Yes, this is also real. It's not as common and one might argue thin is often the cultural ideal. However, weight stigma is an important variable and well-being across a wide range of weight issues. Continue to think about how weight and biases around it affects health, particularly emotional eating. As always, it's important to consider the whole picture. Perhaps you have a thin client who isn't healthy because he or she can't properly absorb nutrients. Keeping an open and curious mind inspires your clients to do the same. Okay, let's end there for now. To recap, here are the main points to remember. A bias is a subjective perspective or judgment in favor of or against something, someone, or a group of people. We all have biases. They help us simplify, speed up processes, and make meaning in a world that constantly bombards our brains with information. The "healthy bias" is a subjective perspective or judgment about what being healthy means. One aspect of health is weight, and weight stigma is one common healthy bias. Finally, weight stigma can perpetuate unhealthy behaviors, including emotional eating. Okay, time to apply this material to yourself. We've included an exercise handout for you called Visualizing Healthy. Set aside some time to fill it out, then spend 5 to 10 minutes journaling. What are your healthy biases and assumptions around health? How might they affect your coaching? Share with your course mates in the Facebook group, and remember that we all have biases. Self-awareness is a valuable starting point for personal and professional growth. Until next time.

Video Details

Duration: 12 minutes and 45 seconds
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: None
Views: 5
Posted by: integrativenutrition on Aug 30, 2018

Recognize the Healthy Bias_Final

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