People do the following things, often at the recommendation of their doctors, to be “more healthy”
- Completely cut entire food groups from their diet.
- Eat highly processed soy-based food 5 times a day and then one meal of protein and vegetables only. Avoid activity.
- Eat only bananas one day a week.
- Eat only processed foods that come out of a plastic bag and that they cook in the microwave.
- Eat candy bars and milkshakes as long as they stay below a certain number of calories per day.
- Eat little enough that they are hungry all the time. Ignore their body’s signal that it needs nourishment and instead go workout when hunger strikes.
- Take a pill every day whose side effects include: “You may feel an urgent need to go to the bathroom. Until you have a sense of any treatment effects, it’s probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work.” I am not in any way making this up – this actually appears on the documentation.
- Eat extremely strictly Monday through Saturday. Binge eat on Sunday.
- Eat food which has replaced natural ingredients with heavily engineered artificial versions of those ingredients, which are shown to cause cancer in animals. (edited because the original was poorly worded and punctuated, making me sound like an idiot.)
- Eat chips whose label indicates that they “may cause anal leakage”. Oh yes, you read the right. Anal leakage.
- Replace two meals a day with a thin chocolate beverage that acts as a laxative.
To be clear, people are allowed to do all of those things and more, as they are the boss of their underpants. I think it’s important that people have access to true information. Like, for example that nobody has been able to prove that anything works for long-term weight loss for the vast majority of people, but doctors prescribe things as if they work and then blame the patient if they don’t, and diet companies claim responsibility for the short term weight loss that almost anyone can achieve, and then blames their clients for the long term weight regain that almost everyone experiences.
BMI was created by an epidemiologist in the 1800′s to be used as a statistical tool to evaluate sizes of large populations, and yet we continue to use it as a tool to measure health in individuals. As I once heard the very wise Jon Robison say – it’s not that BMI is a poor indicator of health, it’s that BMI is NOT an indicator of health.
Babies come in a multitude of sizes and shapes. People come with wildly varying shoe and hand sizes, but people still claim that our bodies should all fit the same narrow ratio.
A great many of the studies from which we derive our information about the effects of being “overweight” and “obese” are funded by diet industry giants like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.
Weight Watchers defines “success” as maintaining a 5% weight loss. So if you were 5’4 and started out at 210, lost 90 pounds to reach your “goal weight” of 120, then gained back 80lbs and ended with a weight of 200, you would have started and ended in the “obese” BMI category, but Weight Watchers would count you as a success for their efficacy studies. (While trying to convince you to keep paying them for another round of weight loss and if you weight cycled again then you would still be obese and they would be counting you as a success twice.)
The FDA received 23 reports of serious health problems from a diet pill. These report included jaundice, elevated liver enzymes, liver damage requiring liver transplant, seizures; cardiovascular disorders; and rhabdomyolysis, a type of muscle damage that can lead to kidney failure among other things. Because the diet lobbies have done such a good job of restricting the FDAs authority where weight loss supplements are concerned, these reports weren’t enough to take the pill off the market. They weren’t able to ban it until somebody died.
Just think about it is all I’m asking – does it make sense that we’ll be healthier if we’re thinner, even if we do extremely unhealthy things to get there? If that’s the case why not just give all the fatties cocaine. That ought to make us thin in no time.
Doesn’t it seem more likely that healthy habits will lead to a healthy body, even if they don’t lead to weight loss? It’s a shame that it’s so difficult to get good information about what healthy choices mean because the diet industry is so busy lobbying to sell pre-packaged foods wrapped up in shame and guilt. Mmmmm, that sounds super-healthy (hey, look: sarcasm).
Studies tell us that people are more likely to maintain health improvements over the long term if they make healthy behaviors their goal instead of a specific weight. There is a mountain of research that shows that regular exercise improves health indicators, even though it doesn’t typically lead to weight loss in people who are obese. Why is that not the topic of discussion?
Maybe because it’s not as sexy as a “war on obesity”. Maybe because it would be harder for people to make wild, baseless assumptions about our health if we insisted that people’s health be judged based on their health and that it is their business and nobody else’s how they prioritize their health and how they get there? Maybe it’s because the diet industry spends plenty of it’s 60 Billion dollar a year profits to lobby our government to wage a war against over 60% of its citizens for how they look?
Who knows? What I believe is that we have the option to take our health into our own hands and for me the first step was thinking critically about the messages that we are getting, where they come from, and why those sources might say that. Then the first thing that I exercise is a little common sense.
Like the blog? Check Out the Book. The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!
I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact so it is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price”
Become a Member, Support The Work!
This month’s member deals come from More of Me to Love, Jodee Rose, The Fat Nutritionist, Golda Poretsky, Jeanette DePatie and of course me. If you are a member and haven’t received the e-mail with details and passwords just let me know!
I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, you can become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or you can support my work with a one-time contribution. The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post. Thanks for reading! ~Ragen