INTENTIONAL WEIGHT LOSS?
As a practice that focuses on food and body issues, we are often approached by prospective clients who want to lose weight.
We get it.
Our culture is not cut out for folks who don’t have the “right” body, with weight stigma affecting those in larger bodies who want to work, travel, sit comfortably, eat in peace, and essentially, live their lives just like folks at the lower end of the weight spectrum. Moreover, diet culture has convinced us that our value lies in the shape of our bodies, the size of our thighs, and, of course, our weight.
So why won’t we help folks experience reduced stigma, more acceptance, more access to opportunity, and less biased medical care via intentional weight loss? Isn’t it cruel to take that stance?
We believe those who recommend weight loss can actually do more damage than good.
HERE ARE FIVE REASONS WE CAN’T SUPPORT INTENTIONAL WEIGHT LOSS EFFORTS IN OUR PRACTICE:
1) Intentional weight loss often backfires in the form of weight regain, with folks sometimes landing at a higher weight than they were pre-diet. More, dieting/intentional weight loss can set off a dangerous cycle of weight cycling.
2) Supporting intentional weight loss doesn’t respect natural body diversity and the genetics of weight. Weight, like other characteristics, exists on a bell curve. Believing that everyone should be a certain size or weight denies the biological reality of whatever part of the population we’ve decided is too big.
3) Research has indicated that while weight is correlated with health, it doesn’t cause it. It’s possible to be fat and healthy and thin and unhealthy. Someone can improve their health without losing a single pound. Promoting fitness and nutrition will do the job just fine, as will attending to the whole host of other factors that are implicated in the health equation (including access to effective medical care, social support, proximity to safe/outdoor spaces, etc.).
4) Intentional weight loss is a common predictor of disordered eating, which in turn is a common predictor of the development of eating disorders. Is it worth risking the chance that someone might develop one of the most fatal of all psychiatric illnesses?
5) We’ve seen too many people consumed – and negatively impacted – by diet culture. We believe there is so much more to life. When folks pursue weight loss (often a losing battle), they often put aside important aspects of their lives. While we support people pursuing health as they see fit, health is so much more than weight. We work with our clients to pursue their goals and values, strengthen their relationships, and improve their overall functioning. Pursuing weight loss distracts from these life-enhancing efforts.