This a letter, from me to you. I wish SO badly that someone would have given me all of this information years ago. I wonder if it would have stopped me from years and years of yo-yo dieting. But I can’t go back now and undo the past. So instead, I write this letter to you, hoping, pleading, that you take this information and apply it to YOU in whatever way it serves you and your body.
First, I am going to share some comments I have received in the past few months from complete strangers. Please note: these people know NOTHING about me, who I am, what I do for a living…literally nothing. These comments are coming purely from aesthetics.
- OMG you look so good you must work out every day! (NOPE, I DON’T! When I received this comment I was in the worst of my chronic pain from an autoimmune flare up and hadn’t worked out in weeks.)
- OMG you look so good you must be vegan! (NOPE, I LOVE MEAT and I eat all food groups!)
First off I want to acknowledge my thin privilege. What is thin privilege you might ask? Great question. I had no idea what it was until 2019 and I am a dietitian. And there are MANY other dietitians and humans in general that still don’t know what it is – so we need to spread the word.
Thin privilege is the ability to move about the world easily and not get questioned, eye rolls, or rude comments for the size of my body.
For more thin privilege resources, click here to listen to these amazing podcasts hosted by Christy Harrison.
I do not know what how it feels to be in a very large body, nor will I ever pretend to know. I am human though and I am constantly absorbing the fat-phobia that is all around us. We are all so f*cking petrified of gaining weight because we live in a fat-phobic world.
Are you afraid of the word “fat”? Click here to read a very important post by author, Amanda Martinez Beck.
Look at the ads, the commercials, the media, the models, etc. Everything is screaming at us to lose weight and that “fat is bad”. It’s no wonder we are all chasing thinness AND that the rates of eating disorder are sky rocketing (see more research below).
And then there is the fear mongering. YOU BETTER LOSE WEIGHT OR X, Y, Z IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO YOU! Fat-shaming people is not going to do any good – it actually does the exact opposite.
Reposting Dr. Joshua Wolrich here with some amazing research. Click here to view the original post.
Discrimination or stereotyping based on a person’s weight has numerous negative health effects:
- depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts and behaviors (Sikorski et al. 2015)
- increased blood pressure (Major et al. 2012)
- chronic inflammation (Sutin et al. 2014)
- increased mortality risk (Sutin et al. 2015)
- metabolic syndrome (Pearl et al. 2017)
What about the argument that this is all outweighed by the fact that weight stigma ‘encourages individuals to lose weight’? The literature would disagree with that, showing it to be related to:
- disordered eating and eating disorders (Ashmore et al. 2008)
- increased energy intake (Schvey et al. 2011)
- avoidance of physical activity (Vartanian et al. 2008)
- weight gain (Jackson et al. 2014)
“Almost all of these associations were independent of BMI. Separate to the wider conversation around weight and health, it is EVERYONE’S responsibility to take weight stigma seriously.” -Dr. Joshua Wolrich
Here are some additional stats that blow my freaking mind and I needed to share:
- Eating Disorders (ED) have doubles from 2000-2006 to 2013-2018 (Patton et al 1999)
- Dieting is the most important predictor of new ED in adolescents (Galmiche et al 2019)
- 35% of dieters will progress into disordered eating and 30-45% of those dieters will progress into a full eating disorder (Shisslak & Crago 1995)
- Dieting is a consistent predictor of weight gain. Up to 2/3 of dieters regained more weight that they had lost (Mann et al 2007).
Let’s wrap this all together with a glittery bow. Click here to read my story. Have I been in a bigger body? Yes. Have I had disordered eating? You betchya (65% of women ages 25-45 have some form of disordered eating). If you look at this picture below I could easily say:
“OMG babes! Eat like me and control all your food and you’ll lose weight, gain confidence, and life will be great!!!!!!!”
But that’s not true. That would be a huge f*cking lie and promoting weight loss is not what this picture represents, AT ALL. The girl on the left was a disordered eater and probably borderline ED (orthorexia) but was told by many people to lose weight. Which triggered years of yo-yo dieting and made my already unhealthy behaviors even worse.
GIRL ON THE LEFT
- Hated her body
- Had trouble sleeping
- Had anxiety and had to go on medication
- Would work out every day to “burn calories” in attempts to lose weight
- Would eat less during the week (especially carbs) to try to “be good”
- Would binge on food when she finally broke down and ate carbs and was “being bad”
- Thought that drinking alcohol in excess on would help with stress
- Was constantly fad-dieting
- Thought that her body was the problem and that it was working against her
- Weighed herself every single day
GIRL ON THE RIGHT
- Respects her body (and started respecting her body when it was still the one on the left **this is crucial**)
- Sleeps 7-9 hours every night and is pissed when she doesn’t get her sleep LOL
- Still struggles with anxiety but has coping mechanisms to help de-stress
- Does movement that her body enjoys a few times per week
- Rests for weeks at a time if her body needs it
- Enjoys carbs at EVERY meal and snack (in addition to protein & fat)
- Does not restrict any food
- Honors her body and trusts that her body is on her team
- Understands that her weight goes up and down but trusts that her body does best
- Does not weigh herself or know her current weight
Yes, the picture on the right is a smaller body. I understand that is an obvious observation but that is not the point. These pictures are also over 7 years apart. If you truly want to make peace with food you have to uncouple the idea of weight loss. Put a pin in it, move it to the side, it cannot be a part of the equation. Can it happen? Yes. Is it guaranteed? Absolutely not.
Health is NOT indicated solely by the size of your body. We all have a weight that our body feels happiest at – our set point weight. Because I was above my set point weight, yes I lost weight but your story may be different than mine. Click here to learn more about set point weight.
If you are sick of being on the diet rollercoaster, it is time to get off and we can help you! Click here to apply to our virtual group coaching program. We would love to see your application come through, learn more about you, and have a 15-minute phone call with you to see if we can support you!
We know through research that dieting is a major indicator of weight gain and that yo-yo dieting can increase the risk of disease…so what is stopping you?! So if you are dieting to “lose weight” or “become a healthier person” please know that dieting is not only NOT the answer, but it is harmful.
I want to sign off from this letter letting you know that YOU were made for so much more than chasing a smaller body. Think about how much more you would be capable of if your day wasn’t consumed with thoughts about food and body. Don’t let the fear hold you back. Click here and let’s chat!
Co-owner of Dietitians of Palm Valley