Suspension of disbelief is the idea that you ignore the implausibilities of a story so that you can enjoy the greater themes. I’m not against the concept on its face – it’s why I can love the A-Team Movie and the final choreography from Center Stage.
I am not willing to run my life with suspension of disbelief at the center, but that’s what the diet industry and plenty of doctors seem to think I should do. Over half a century of research has failed to produce a single study where more than a tiny fraction of people lose weight long term. There is not a single study showing that long term weight loss leads to better health. When I point this out to doctors they typically agree with the numbers, then suggest that I still try to lose weight:
Weight Watchers own numbers show that the average client loses 5 pounds in two years (paying $254 PER POUND in meeting fees alone for the privilege.) but people are still on my television gushing that this time it’s going to work.
Ads for weight loss products are legally required to have a disclaimer because they sell a scenario that almost never happens, but I’m supposed keep trying.
Thin people are told that the healthiest thing they can do is eat a variety of foods in moderation, locally sourced etc. As a fat woman I’m told that the healthiest thing I can do is
- Drink two thin chocolate beverages that contain laxatives, eat one meal a day that is low fat and low carb
- Eat reconstituted soy protein shakes five times a day and one meal of low fat protein and green vegetables
- Eat a bacon double cheeseburger but hold the tomato and the bun
- Take pills whose label suggests that I “wear dark pants and bring an extra pair to work” because of “uncontrolled anal seepage”
- Eat an extremely limited low calorie diet 6 days a week, binge eat on the 7th day
- Eat breakfast cereal 4 times a day, eat a meal of lean proteins and low carbs for dinner
- Eat a ton of cabbage soup and on Tuesday eat as many bananas as I want but nothing else
I’m often met with incredulity by those who tout weight loss when I discuss my choice to focus on behaviors rather than body size manipulation to support my health (knowing that health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, completely within my control, or guaranteed.) The reason is pretty simple – when it comes to the concepts of weight loss, especially as a path to health, I just can’t muster this kind of suspension of disbelief necessary to go down the weight loss path (and that’s saying something because I love the Iron Man movies.) I have a right to make choices that make sense and that I believe have some basis in reality and, for me, dieting simply doesn’t qualify.
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