Every day we are bombarded with hundreds of messages on health, weight, appearance and fitness. When the industry labels things like sugar and cheese as addictive as cocaine, we hear them. Even though these messages are a distortion of the truth, we can’t help but believe them. The media has sensationalized our bodies and turned us against them. The public war on obesity, has made us terrified to be fat, and because of that, women are forever criticizing and competing with each other. Who can eat the healthiest and who can be the slimmest. The food industry has made it nearly impossible to embody self-love. The worst part is that much of the information fed to us is a lie!
Years ago, when I decided I needed to drop 10 pounds, I was already within the healthy weight range. There was nothing wrong with my size, yet every diet company was happy to help me lose weight and MORE than happy to take my money. By losing that last 10 pounds, I developed unhealthy habits, a negative attitude and a toxic mindset. I was searching for something that was never going to be possible within my body. No one should’ve tried to help me lose weight. They should’ve instead reinforced that I was perfectly healthy to begin with. But here lies the fundamental problem with the diet industry – its primary goal is to make money. The skinnier the body ideal is, the fewer people will be able to reach it, and the more people will pay for the help they think they need. When a person’s health is secondary to an industry’s financial gain, everybody loses.
So what is the industry telling us? Over the past 40 years, we’ve seen countless studies that have turned our favorite foods into harsh generalizations. The black and white, ‘good’ or ‘bad’ labels have caused a ton of confusion over foods like eggs, avocado, red meat, carrots and countless others. The fad diets constantly advertised with women in commercials dropping their old pants after they’ve “lost 40 pounds in 2 months” blur our understanding of what health means. The more we see skinny bodies attributed to healthy lifestyles, the more likely we are to believe that health only comes in size 0-4.
What about the studies we don’t hear about? Many of the lesser known studies have shown that it’s changes in lifestyle that lead to increased health, and not in fact weight loss. Let’s take one of the studies produced by Reproductive Healthcare Ltd. in 2014. It was a fertility study that examined women going through IVF treatments that were considered clinically obese. They separated the women into two groups; one group of women exercised regularly before the treatment, and the other did not. Neither group lost weight and neither saw any major changes to their BMI, but the group that exercised were 3 times more likely to take home a baby. There was something about exercising that changed their physiology enough that they were not only able to get pregnant, but they were able to sustain the pregnancy to term and have a baby.
So many women, including those in the fertility world, are at war with their body. They’ve been told that the only way they can reach their health goal is if they lose weight. Instead, the focus needs to be on making sustainable changes in their lifestyle. We need to work on becoming healthier versions of ourselves, not smaller versions of ourselves.
This is what we need to fight against; it’s this fat fearing mindset. Although you might not be able to change the industry, you can change your perspective, and that of future generations.
Rebel against the fat-phobic culture with:
1. Compassion: We need to stop judging people by their size, weight or appearance. The health of other women is simply none of our damn business. Have compassion for everyone you meet; you never know what struggles they have in their life.
2. Company: The women we surround ourselves with shape our understandings and our perspectives. When you surround yourself with positive people, you surround yourself with positive thoughts.
3. Catching your Thoughts: Nobody is perfect. When you hear that negative voice inside your head criticizing, realize that you can correct it. The thoughts that you have don’t have to turn into words that you share.
Together, we can put a stop to this fat-phobic culture. Let’s put health before the size of our waistlines and happiness before the numbers on the scale. The food industry is filled with misguided rules and short term studies. Don’t believe everything you hear. Remember that weight loss does not always lead to better health. The best thing you can do for yourself and your tribe is to spread positivity, and stop the fat talk.
Until next time,
Live Life. Love Food. Be Free.