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Stop Threatening Weight Gain

TW: Dieting, weight loss, disordered eating.

By Emily the Period RDPublished 2 years ago 4 min read
Stop Threatening Weight Gain
Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Let me start by acknowledging the privilege I hold in the weight-inclusive space. I am a thin person, and up to this current date I have always been a thin person. While I have had my own struggles with a disordered relationship with my body and food, I have never at any point had a provider make a comment about my weight, a store not have my size or go to a location that could not accommodate my body. I cannot truly speak to the experience of all bodies, especially the most marginalized, because I have never lived those experiences and there’s a possibility that I never will. It is my hope, as a weight-inclusive and non-diet provider, to make space for individuals to process the harms of diet culture and fatphobia and move towards a lifestyle that nourishes them physically, mentally and emotionally.

There is no room in this space for fatphobia or feigned concern regarding the health of fat folks. In this space, we acknowledge that all bodies are good bodies, and health is not a requirement for respect and care. We also fight for access to inclusive health care and community services for all bodies, especially those most marginalized.

I cannot count on my fingers and toes together the number of times I have heard the threat of weight gain through the lives of my clients. It needs to stop.

I can appreciate wholeheartedly the desire for a provider to be concerned about the health of their patients – of course, we want the people we work with to be well and happy. However, encouraging a person to not make some choices because it may increase their weight is not an appropriate way to communicate or achieve this.

Medications are a huge area where this comes to life. Many mental health medications, blood pressure medications, pain medications and even insulin, may have impacts on appetite and metabolism, and clients often express frustration that their provider recommended against some medications for fear it would increase their weight. Some clients are even against using medications for these conditions because they are fearful of gaining weight.

I can only imagine the pain of struggling with depression and anxiety, while also feeling the immense pressure to maintain our bodies at a certain size and appearance. It’s critical that providers remove the fatphobia of these conversations, and offer the best medication for the individual without the threat of their body changing. While reviewing all side effects and body changes in taking some medications is definitely appropriate, the disgust in which weight gain is mentioned needs to go.

Physical activity recommendations are also an area where threats of weight gain occur. When a person is in pain, struggles with balancing their life outside of exercise, or has other reasons not to engage in regular movement, the pressure to avoid or stop weight gain becomes incredibly loud.

We’ve been taught that larger bodies that don’t move are lazy and unworthy of respect, and neither of these things are true. We do not all have the same 24 hours in a day, and movement should be supportive to the person in front of us. Putting weight change as the “carrot” does not foster a healthy relationship with exercise.

And of course, we can’t forget the way fatphobia and nutrition counselling intersect. Dietitians, nutritionists and naturopaths can all be guilty of recommending dietary changes to avoid weight gain. Hell, when I first started as a dietitian, I thought weight loss was the only area of value in nutrition and did this type of “counselling” on the daily – I know much better now, and after receiving further training reached out to many of those patients to apologize for the harm that work did.

Dietitians, nutritionists and naturopaths that recommend drinking water when you’re hungry, or using smaller plates, or counting your calories are not safe spaces. You deserve nutrition professionals who understand the nuances of eating, the science of metabolism and weight, and don’t threaten you with body changes that neither of you have any true control over.

Focusing on weight doesn’t help people get healthier. It creates a preoccupation of the body that takes away from time with family, friends and career ventures. It fosters an unhealthy relationship with food that degrades nutrient density and mental health, contributing to the increased risk of eating disorders and other physical complications of dieting. And it certainly doesn’t have sustainable results – most people who engage in intentional weight loss gain back the weight they lose within 2-5 years, and many gain more back.

This isn’t a threat to stop you from dieting in case you gain weight. This is an awareness that dieting doesn’t work, and you deserve to achieve your version of health without body or food shame. Your weight is a poor indicator of the health of your body.

If you’ve been struggling to find peace in your relationship with food, or need a starting point to build a non-diet lifestyle, let’s talk! You can find me at sayyestonourish.com, or at [email protected].

advicebodydietfitnesshealthlifestylelongevity magazinemental healthscienceself careweight losswellness

About the Creator

Emily the Period RD

I help people with periods navigate menstrual health education & wellness with a healthy serving of sass (and not an ounce of nutrition pseudoscience).

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