Weight Mistakes

One of the things that always astounds me about the way that our society currently deals with weight and health is the way that we prescribe to fat people what we diagnose in thin people.

It’s no secret that I absolutely hate the show Biggest Loser and one of the reasons is that I when I behaved exactly like the contestants on The Biggest Loser I was hospitalized for an eating disorder, not given a $250,000 check.

Is it strange to anyone else that the whole push right now is toward natural foods, grown locally and prepared fresh – unless you’re fat in which case you are encouraged to go on Jenny Craig and/or Nutrisystem where you microwave food that comes to you frozen in a plastic baggie?  Or Medifast where you drink 5 reconstituted soy protein shakes a day? I’ve been to several farmer’s markets and never saw even one packet of reconstituted soy protein shake there.

I don’t believe that the same behavior is healthy for fat people but unhealthy for thin people, I don’t think that we should diagnose and treat in some people what we recommend and prescribe to others.

It’s supremely annoying to me that that we have to fight to get decent information about health. But, just because so many other people aren’t using any common sense, and just because so many businesses put profit in front of health or truth doesn’t mean that we have to get caught up in it or run over by it.

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13 thoughts on “Weight Mistakes

  1. Totally with you on the food thing. I remember the one time I actively dieted, I read through a low calorie cookbook that had a jello and cool whip dessert in it. I remember thinking “I didn’t eat that *stuff* when I wasn’t working at losing weight, I’m not going to start now.”

  2. Yes. I hate the Biggest Looser too. I’ve only seen 2 episodes but that was enough. Down right dangerous behaviour I think. On one of the shows I saw a woman collapsed unable to breath and after giving her a big of oxygen they let her carry on with the intense workout. She was in her 50’s. That’s not a healthy way to loose weight! And as for the food, the less anyone eats out of a bag or packet or tin the better. Seasonal food, fresh, organic if you can and cooked at home. What can be better than that.

    1. What’s better than that is eating regularly. Seasonal, fresh, organic, cooked at home is terrific if it’s something you can manage. A lot of people can’t, though, for a long list of reasons including money, time, availability of ingredients, and disability. Trying to meet your standards (even without the modifier organic) would cause a lot of people a lot of food insecurity. The position you’re taking is one that has been widely criticized as classist and ableist, and often racist, since working-class people of color especially so often live in food deserts, cannot afford fresh produce even if they have access to it, and don’t have the time or kitchen space to cook at home effectively. I really encourage you to do some serious research on the critiques of what you’re saying.

    1. I hope you’re being sarcastic, because that’s really not true. Being fat or skinny isn’t what determines whether or not something’s healthy, but there are a lot of conditions that do. Different people have different needs to be healthy, and what’s healthy for me (a flexitarian diet) is not what’s healthy for my friend whose intolerances make her an obligate vegan.

  3. This will blow your mind!!! I was reading about the ten most miserable states to live in and they go by the rate of things like unemployment, violent crime, the rate of diseases, the divorce rate and the rate of obesity. Isn’t that a hoot! They put obesity in the same category as the worst of society’s ills.They can’t put in the rate of starvation even tho it exists in America because it does not rate as serious as obesity. Personally I’d rather see 200-300 pound people running around than deranged starving ones running around. Wouldn’t you??

  4. I’m a lurker who has read just about everything you’ve written on this blog and you’re definitely one of my heroes. Normally I wouldn’t speak up but I’m just in one of those moods…While I think HAES is the best option for fat people right now, the whole natural organic from scratch thing really rubs me the wrong way and keeps me from fully embracing the movement. I love going out and I love my processed food. And nothing is going to change that. So not to try and derail but where is there room in HAES for someone like me? I have plenty of options and I’m making the deliberate choice to eat the foods I love and that make me happy. So does that element of preachiness I’m detecting from HAES really exist, or am I just being oversensitive?

    1. The natural organic from scratch thing is NOT a necessary part of HAES. I refer you to The Fat Nutritionist’s saying Eat food. Stuff you like. As much as you want. (She also has up videos of her eating things like a Cadbury creme egg.) The other is really a whole different movement, of which there are many criticisms.

      Me, I get a bit prickly about the thing I see from many HAES advocates (NOT Raegan, or indeed any of the serious writers on the topic I’ve read, but general people being rah-rah about it) is the idea that EVERYONE should be HEALTHY by some set of standards, and all they’ve done is substitute new standards for old ones. But not everyone can be healthy by those standards, for one thing, and perhaps more importantly, no one has an obligation to be healthy.

  5. @Jen, I know what you mean. I focus on a fusion of things that WORK FOR ME and my health. There is no “one size fits all” health or fitness advice, and there is no way to say what is best foodwise for anyone (even if you’re allergic or it gives you bad digestive problems, it’s your choice to eat those foods, and there should never be some unspoken “mandate” that people should eat one way or other).

    It’s like my favorite nutrition blogger “The Fat Nutritionist” always says: “eat the food you like in amounts that satisfy you.” Anything else is just posturing and using food to create artificial morality/feeling of superiority to others.

    Not to say that I don’t enjoy organic stuff, but I can honestly tell you that as a person who grew up with “organic” fruits from our backyard full of worms and moth larvae, I have a special appreciation for an apple where I don’t have to worry about biting into it and getting half a wiggly thing in my mouth as well.

    Sometimes I have box macaroni as part of dinner. But my husband also likes to broil chicken and then serve the breasts, using the rest of the parts for soup full of veggies later on. Sometimes I have acai bowls with fresh fruit and specialty granola. Other times I want a nice packaged rice crispy treat. I’m still getting a hold on this whole intuitive eating thing, but ever since I’ve found out that I’m pregnant for a second time (yay!), my intuition for what I need to eat has kept me from feeling overly nauseous, but it does lead to things like me finding cookies repulsive (although at some points I do desire said cookies, lol, which I then eat until I’m satisfied) and eating like three or four giant oranges, and finding the smell of shrimp vomit-inducing but not being able to get enough of noodle soups. And with the help of my understanding of nutrition, it looks like I have more than enough healthy food choices that do my body good and keep my *relationship* with food healthy.

    🙂 But, as many people will tell you, your mileage may vary! Everyone’s food, exercise etc needs and abilities are different!

  6. I guess I’m cynical. I don’t expect better from people. Of course they will try to profit from us. But good information is available, you just have to read studies and not take people’s word for it. For example, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association said in their last physical activity guidelines back in ’07 “It is reasonable to assume that persons with relatively high daily energy expenditures would be less likely to gain weight over time, compared with those who have low energy expenditures. So far, data to support this hypothesis are not particularly compelling.” In other words, there’s no data showing exercise helps you lose weight. That information is out there to be had if you go find it. I mean, yeah, it ticks me off there aren’t more standards on what can be sold to people but at the same time I want the right to pick and chose what I want to do so I guess it has to be on us to get the information that’s important to us.

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