Ever since I studied nutrition in college, family members, friends and strangers have asked me for the secret of permanent weight loss. At first, I found it flattering that people saw me as “the healthy person.” Now, my perspective has changed and I really hate these conversations. I would love to ask those same people, “Honestly, What exactly do you see changing in your life when you lose weight?” I can pretty much guarantee that not much would change. We’re made to believe that being in a smaller body is one of the keys to happiness. But, what if it’s not and what if everything we believed about being obese is wrong?
If you haven’t already noticed, weight loss is big business and the current definition of obesity has been changed not for sentimental reasons but for profit. Insurance companies are making a fortune because they can, “charge higher premiums for people with a high BMI” (NPR, 2009). Through all of this, we’ve forgotten that human beings in large bodies have feelings too. In a recent article from The Huffington Post, the normalcy of size discrimination is shown as a form of emotional trauma on large-bodied individuals. It described how medical professionals view large-bodied people as “weak willed,” “noncompliant,” and “overindulgent,” which are all stereotypes about fat people. Scared that we ourselves might be seen as lazy, we become obsessed with attaining thinness by any means necessary. However, what blows my mind about dieting is that people believe every diet is different but they are all the same. They are given different names and packaged differently to lead people to believe that THIS TIME it will work. The reality is that they all support the idea of macronutrient restriction whether its a deficit in carbs or fats, and they all promote products like cookbooks, magazines, or even speciality items at grocery stores. This drives us to insanity but for some amazing reason, we keep repeating this dreadful cycle. It reminds me of how Einstein said that the definition of insanity is to repeat the same thing over and over again and expect a different result each time. So I guess, many of us are a bit insane.
“When the joy goes out of eating, nutrition suffers.” – Ellyn Satter
We may lose weight initially at the beginning of the dieting cycle but after a while, our bodies naturally adapt and stop losing weight. Now, is it worth it to eat unfulfilling meals to lose weight when it won’t last? No, because we receive more nutrition from food when we actually enjoy it. For instance, there was a study that showed how women who ate an unappealing meal absorbed 70 percent less of the micronutrient iron than they had when they enjoyed a previous meal. Therefore, we should aim to enjoy food because it’s better for our health. Remember, our bodies’ goal in life is not to lose weight, it’s to keep us alive. If we could all accept the truth of our physiology, I believe the pursuit of weight loss would fade away.
So, what do we do if we don’t focus on weight loss? Does that mean we’ve given up on our health completely? Absolutely not! What I’m saying is that we need to focus on enjoying life more in order to become satisfied with our bodies. Our bodies have all the tools they need to take care of themselves; we just need to trust them. Sadly, we’ve been conditioned to believe that bodies different from models and movie stars are not attractive and unhealthy but all of our bodies are normal. What’s not normal is to be afraid of food or afraid to eat. Food should always be a pleasurable experience so if you don’t find food pleasurable, nothing is exciting. So, I’m going to be very blunt here: stop the dieting because it’s a waste of human life. Most of us have no clue when time will be up for us on this Earth, so why spend a majority of time worrying about every meal? All the time you spend trying out a new diet, you could have been doing something more fulfilling with your life (like going back to school, going on dates, making new friends, just some ideas). No diet will ever be able to give your life more meaning or happiness.
Bacon, L., & Aphramor, L. (2011). Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift. Nutrition Journal, 10(1). doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-9
Hare, H. V. (2017, August 16). Science Says the Healthiest Food Is Food You Actually Want to Eat. Retrieved from https://www.thedailymeal.com/healthy-eating/science-says-healthiest-food-food-you-actually-want-eat
Top 10 Reasons Why The BMI Is Bogus [Radio broadcast]. (2009, July 4). In Weekend Edition Saturday. New York, NY: National Public Radio.