Here it is: The fourth and final post in this series exploring how to get out of a diet and deprivation mindset and find your body’s ideal weight without restriction.
These topics are near and dear to my heart, and I sincerely hope you found the last three posts informative and uplifting.
Have lingering questions?
To conclude, I’ll take on the top five inquiries I’ve encountered that keep people stuck in the diet cycle: fearing certain foods, terrified of gaining weight, judging what they eat, and doing things just because they think they “should” but not feeling satisfied. (If you have questions of your own, don’t hesitate to ask!)
1. In light of all this anti-diet information, why are diets still promoted?
Because money is powerful, my friend. The weight loss industry is valued around $60 BILLION. That gives them a lot of financial weight to throw around to make you feel inadequate and to upsell their products as the solution. Not only that, weight loss and pharmaceutical companies have been devoting a lot of money to lobbying efforts influencing policy: the weight loss message runs deep. The perfect storm occurs when we are exposed to an “ideal” in the media, our insecurities are exploited, and then we are promised the “solution” in the form of weight loss or some other body alteration.
Here’s the sad truth: no one else profits monetarily from your self-love. You don’t see tons of advertisements telling you to accept yourself as you are because then, no one gets paid.
2. But don’t doctors recommend dieting and weight loss for "overweight" patients?
Yes, but one must also consider the paucity of education physicians receive in nutrition. The majority of medical schools do not require aspiring doctors to take any special courses in nutrition, and practicing physicians often express concern that their nutrition knowledge is insufficient.
It may be out of this ignorance that doctors continue to prescribe dieting for weight loss and we continue to be told that being "overweight" itself is a “health concern.” More and more evidence points to the conclusion that weight alone is not a reliable indicator of health. In fact, a number of studies show the lowest mortality rates among people whose body mass index (BMI) puts them in the “overweight” and “mildly obese” categories. (Don't even get me started on the limitations of BMI calculations...) “Overweight” people generally live longer than “normal” weight people, and the lowest life expectancy is among those defined as “underweight.” And certainly a bigger “health concern” is the effect of yo-yo dieting, which can play a role in heart disease, insulin resistance (pre-diabetes), higher blood pressure, inflammation, and, ironically, long-term weight gain.
3. Don’t people become fat by overeating? And can’t they become thin by eating less?
It’s not that simple. In fact, many studies show that large people, on average, eat no more than thin people. (Linda Bacon, Health at Every Size). It’s simply that some people are genetically predisposed to store fat while others metabolize calories more efficiently.
If someone has put on weight by binge eating or emotional eating, dieting is certainly not the solution. Rather, that person’s relationship with food and other emotional concerns need to be addressed first, and her or his eating habits will hopefully become more natural and intuitive through the healing process.
4. By tuning into your body’s hunger cues and gravitating toward whole foods, aren’t you just subscribing to another type of “diet.”
Nope. While eating the foods that feel best for your body may cause you to seek out foods prescribed by one diet or another, this way of eating will be coming from a different place. You’re listening to your body, not the mandate of an external authority on what foods are best. And, because you’re making choices that make you feel good, you’ll actually enjoy and sustain this pattern of eating.
The best part? There are no hard and fast rules here! No particular food is off-limits. There is no need to secretly binge on Ben & Jerry’s with the lights off because you can eat as much as your body is craving.
5. Doesn’t being "overweight" or "obese" lead to [insert diseases]?
The causal link between "obesity" and various diseases has been exaggerated. “Many ‘obese’ people are healthy and don’t suffer from the diseases that we tend to blame on weight, and a considerable proportion of ‘normal weight’ people are prone to the cardiac and metabolic abnormalities that we blame on obesity.” (Linda Bacon, Health at Every Size).
It is more likely that the diseases we blame on "obesity" stem from poor nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle, and/or chronic stress. These factors may also cause some (but not all) people to gain weight. In other words, weight gain is likely a symptom of other causes that lead to the diseases we’ve associated with obesity. So it's those causes that should be addressed, rather than focusing on weight.
Again, dieting is not the solution: studies have failed to link weight loss to improved cholesterol, blood pressure, or blood glucose levels. For example, a review of multiple weight loss studies “examine[d] whether weight-loss diets lead to improved cholesterol, triglycerides, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and fasting blood glucose” and concluded: “Across all studies, there were minimal improvements in these health outcomes, and none of these correlated with weight change.”
Using size as a proxy for health is a lazy and inaccurate approach that causes larger people to suffer social oppression and body shaming for no legitimate reason.
Let’s get a little more accurate for everyone’s benefit, shall we?
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Now you may know all these things intellectually...
But when you truly embrace and live out a life free from dieting and restriction, you can start to get on with your life.
When you stop focusing on weight loss, you create space to find your ideal weight.
Let me show you how.
Through my 1:1 coaching, I can help you:
Break negative thought patterns keeping you stuck in the same defeating cycles of restricting and overeating.
Start to love the foods that love you back: those that make you feel energized and allow you to function optimally.
Stop tying your self-worth to your physical appearance or eating habits.
Learn to embrace physical activity (which is far more crucial to longevity and well-being than your size), and move your body from a place of self-love not punishment.
Make health-promoting lifestyle changes because you want to, not because you “should.”
Find and maintain the weight that is optimal for your unique makeup.
Want to learn more about how I can best support you? Let’s find some time to chat! Click here to book a FREE 30-minute Discovery Call with me.