I Hate Diet Culture
Ugh, let’s talk about diet culture. I am not a huge fan of dieting. Too often, dieting values weight reduction over actually being healthy. Diet culture makes you question every calorie you put into your mouth. Did you earn that food, or are you being bad? Do you need to punish your body with an intense workout because you *gasp* ate when you were hungry? Or, do you get to reward yourself with self-care because you managed to lose weight? These are the questions diet culture throws in your face on a daily basis.
I take issue with diet culture because it is fundamentally false to equate the size of your body with being healthy or unhealthy. I have been thin and in the worst mental health of my life. However, my doctor never questioned my wellness when I was skinny. When I gained weight my doctor started to worry. At my latest check-up, in 2020 (several months into the pandemic) I found out that as a result of continued weight gain, I am now officially considered: obese.
I would be lying to you if I pretended the word “obese” did not slap me across the face when declared by my doctor. It turns out, when you are obese there are a number of things to worry about. I was told that I am now at risk of developing heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, infertility, high blood pressure, etc.
I think my doctor was trying to make me feel better when she suggested that since I was thin for most of my life, losing weight wouldn’t be too difficult. She pointed out that I was almost 35 years-old. So now was a make or break time in my life to develop “healthy lifestyle changes” otherwise my fate as a fat person could be sealed forever. Ok, so she said it a lot nicer than that. But the sentiment was the same. Fat = Bad.
Never one to feel defeated for too long, I decided to research diets. I quickly settled on the keto diet after reading a number of positive reviews. I had recently started this blog and decided my new found obesity was actually a blessing in disguise. Now, I had the opportunity to start the keto diet, lose a ton of weight, and blog about how healthy I became.
In my innermost fantasy, I dreamt about starting my own keto weight-loss coaching program. I was going to be so inspiring! And thin! I even took some “before” photos for positary. I envisioned juxtaposing those photos at a later date with some “after” shots when I was back to my skinny former self.
Haha! How naive I once was! A number of things happened over the course of the past year that fundamentally changed the way I thought about dieting, weight, and health.
BMI Calculator Problems
I discovered that the BMI (body mass index) is inaccurate and misleading. BMI = weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. This confusing equation dates back to the 1800s. The BMI does not take into account the person’s body fat versus muscle (lean tissue) content. Today a waist to height ratio is thought to be a much better screening tool than the BMI. The new recommendation is to keep your waist circumference to less than half your height to low risk of weight related health issues.
The Obesity Paradox
Another shocking thing I learned about was the obesity paradox. Apparently, there are surprising benefits of obesity. Studies suggest that being overweight actually protects patients from an increasingly long list of medical problems, including: pneumonia, burns, stroke, cancer, hypertension, and heart disease. Few medical professions would recommend anyone in the optimal weight range intentionally gain weight to reap the benefits listed above. However, the obesity paradox highlights the need for further research into the coloration between weight and health.
I also learned about the anti-diet movement. It turns out a large number of people have been awakened to the harmful effects of diet culture. Mainly the idea that being thin equals being healthy. A major voice in the anti-diet movement is dietitian Christy Harrison. According to Harrison:
“Diet culture convinces us that honoring our hunger, seeking satisfaction, and feeling full will send us down the road to perdition. It tells us our instincts…are bad and wrong. We have the capacity to get back to a place where our relationships with food are as simple as they were when we were babies—where hunger and pleasure are nothing to be ashamed of, and where fullness is a signal that we can take our minds off food for a while.”
Reiki for Weight Loss
My former dream of keto diet coaching has been replaced with a radically different approach to weight loss. Today, I am working on a reiki informed weight management program. I find that the reiki principles have helped guide me to a much healthier place in my weightloss journey.
Specifically, reiki lends itself to intuitive eating and exercising. My focus is on honoring my body with food and movement. To learn more about the ways reiki has helped me and/or how it can help you, check out my instagram. I will also be posting additional blogs about reiki and weight loss.
Fat has a stigma that diet culture feeds off. What a radical thought that you could love your fat. Our body-fat stores energy and protects our internal organs against trauma. It is possible to love your body and honor your fat while losing weight. If you do not change the negative stories you have created about your body- no amount of weight loss will make you feel good about yourself. And you can not tell if someone is healthy by looking at them. Peorid.