We can best help you to prevent war not by repeating your words and following your methods but by finding new words and creating new methods.
Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas
Here’s a sample of words from the Well Now glossary. Some are new and some are borrowed as newcomers to conversations on food, health and lifestyle.
There are several definitions in the literature. When I talk about allostasis I use the meaning “a physiological adaptation to chronic stress”. Used in this sense, allostasis expands the concept of homeostasis. Homeostasis explains how we respond to circumstances so our bodies get back into balance. For example, if we are too hot then hormonal, neuronal and behavioural changes occur so we sweat, remove clothes, open a window, drink water and so on until we cool down. If we are stressed we have other neuronal, hormonal and behavioural responses. When the stress has passed we gradually get back into balance. Allostasis recognises that if we live with chronic stress it is not always possible for our bodies to get back into balance. Instead, our system gets overloaded and we reach a changed state called allostasis. In this new state, we are more prone to disease processes linked to metabolism, such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
Interestingly, some researchers say social status is fundamental to the concept of allostasis. They note that homeostasis involves reflexive reactions but allostasis also involves the body’s response to our assessment of social relationships largely mediated through cortisol.
‘-genic’ means causing. Carcinogenic, for instance, means causing cancer.
Bigotogenic means causing bigotry. We are bigoted when we treat people with hatred and/or intolerance because of our own non-rational prejudices. Of course, we might rationalize these prejudices to ourselves.
I use the term bigotogenic because we are too often told by people with power that the environment is causing us to be fat, and that being fat is a bad thing. I want to draw attention to fact that terms that configure fatness as a problem arise from, and perpetuate, bigotry. This is true even if someone’s intent really is to improve population health and end weight stigma. I hope that using the term bigotogenic sheds light on the unintended consequences of a popular concept and encourages people to think again about how they speak about bodies, health and society.
Colliberation is the process of two or more people or groups working together to advance a project that has emancipatory aims.
Connected eating describes an approach to eating taught in Well Now. It is concerned with helping people make sense of their eating behaviours and choices. It does this by providing a framework that links corporal (body), cognitive and collective aspects of eating. In other words, it blends different ways of knowing to embrace all dimensions of our lifestory. It encourages us to pay attention to body knowledge and what’s going on around us and it shows us how to make nutrition science relevant in the context of our particular circumstances. This framework is built around a core belief in human worth. Connected eating teaches that our dignity and our right to respect is innate, that it is not dependent on our eating behaviours, health status, intent to change or any other judgement or extraneous frippery.
Because it relies on body cues, values our experiences and the context of our lives it can be described as embodied, relational and intentionally political. These principles are hallmarks of Well Now theory and practise.
The short version is: Connected eating recognises that eating meets many needs. These include health, pleasure, values, family, social and emotional needs. Connected eating helps us to feel at ease around food so that we eat in a way that supports
our health and happiness.
Critical Dietetics originated as a movement in June 2009 and the enthusiasm that fuels its momentum confirms it as an idea whose time has come. Critical Dietetics create a space for critical inquiry and dialogue to build on and broaden the body of knowledge in dietetics through collective and inclusive efforts. It necessarily embraces multiple disciplines, perspectives and voices and members actively welcome contributions from allies who share our aims. Read more here https://criticaldieteticsblog.com/about/
Dietitians for Social Justice
A UK-based group of dietitians and others who are passionate about ensuring work around food and health builds a fairer, safer world for all. We want to support and educate ourselves and others as we work together for change across the whole food web. We believe that bringing ‘social justice thinking’ to nutrition talk changes how we think about wellbeing, kindness and equality and that this will influence the conversations we have in other areas of life too. link to website or pdf.
“#DTMH is a community of academics, administrative staff and students at UCL, committed to righting racialised wrongs in our workplace and in the wider world.” From: http://www.dtmh.ucl.ac.uk
Scriptocentrism is the notion that everything worth knowing can be written down or that written knowledge is superior to other forms of knowledge. Various authors point out how these beliefs resonate with and through forces of imperialism.
Social Determinants of Health
The WHO definition is “The social determinants of health are the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age, and the systems put in place to deal with illness. These circumstances are in turn shaped by a wider set of forces: economics, social policies, and politics.”
http://www.who.int/social_determinants/thecommission/finalreport/key_concepts/en/ Accessed 20.12.16
All too often the social determinants of health are misrepresented as ‘socially-stratified differences in people’s lifestyle habits’. In fact, lifestyle differences make only a small contribution to health inequalities. Non-lifestyle factors, like living with oppression or shame or insecurity play a much more significant role.
By way of example, imagine a food project that aims to reduce health inequalities by tacking the social determinants of health. If the project aim to focus on improved access to food then it might improve people’s nutritional wellbeing but any impact on the social determinants of health will be incidental. In fact, by implicitly giving the message “health is mainly determined by lifestyle” it can reinforce neoliberal beliefs and so do more harm than good. A food project that acknowledges social determinants will work to change narratives and practice about health, society and lifestyle,, including being conscious of power dynamics and language.
This term was coined by Michael Marmot to describe the fact social standing directly affects our health and life expectancy. In other words, socio-economic position is an important determinant for health outcomes. This is true when effects of income, education, gender and lifestyle risk factors, such as smoking, are taken into account. Marmot identifies the feeling of “being in control” of one’s life as protective to health, and a lack of autonomy (low choice and poor control) as detrimental. Put another way, status syndrome states that “if you are treated as a second class citizen your health will suffer, even if you follow recommended public guidelines for diet, activity, smoking, skin care and so on”. Following this reasoning, public health will improve in when societies become more participatory and socially just.
Status Syndrome Denialist
Someone who denies the existence of status syndrome. This denial may be explicit or implicit and is seen across beliefs and behaviours. For example, I asked Alison Tedstone (Medact conference, Friday 8th Dec 2016), National Director with responsibility of diet, nutrition and healthy weight (my term) in the Health and Wellbeing Directorate of Public Health England (PHE), how her work integrated Marmot’s data from the Whitehall Studies. I said this data finds as little as 5-25% of health inequalities could be attributed to lifestyle. In her reply, she told me I /these figures were wrong. She then went on to talk about poverty and food ‘choice’. This makes Alison a status syndrome denialist. It also indicates her support for a neoliberal ideology.
Waymarkers (of Well Now)