As a nutritionist that doesn’t promote weight loss, the question inevitably comes up, “what if I want to lose weight?”

Seeking weight loss isn’t always inherently a bad thing.  

But you need to be pretty honest with yourself to get to this relationship.

Let me make something very clear up front, there is health at every size.

Just because you’re thin and “healthy” via appearance, doesn’t mean that you are. And just because you are larger bodied doesn’t mean that you are inherently unhealthy, lazy, (or whatever else society likes to peg larger bodied individuals as).

Body bias is something that needs to be discussed and broken down. It runs rampant in our culture – and it needs to stop.

Having the desire to lose some weight can be genuine and isn’t always rooted in a negative self-image and negative relationship with food and the body.  Sometimes, it’s the result of healthy striving rather than perfectionism.

This is rare.  

Full disclosure: I still have things that challenge this within myself. That I have to restructure, re-pattern, and work through. To me, I see this as a journey, not a final destination.  

Sometimes the body needs to hold onto the 5, 10, 15, 20 pounds in order to function optimally, have functioning female hormone cycle, and provide you with the resources you need for energy.  

A few reasons why you need those nutrients and extra pounds:

  1. Women need fat cells in order for their thyroid (aka the metabolism center) and hormone cycle to function properly.
  2. Restrictive diets put unnecessary inflammatory stress on the body and the adrenals that can lead to dysfunction of your thyroid, adrenals, and potentially autoimmune responses in the body.
  3. When we have a history of restrictive diets and low caloric intake, it causes stress on the body leading to malnourishment.
  4. Your body needs nutrients to function optimally when we put it on restrictive diets, you are more than likely removing foods that your body needs such as carbohydrates and fats.

When we fight against our body, we can put it in a place where illness and dysfunction can grow and flourish.  

This is the opposite of thriving from within.

Do you really want to spend the rest of your life jumping from diet trend to diet trend?

I encourage you to ask yourself, is this really worth it? When you look back on your life, will you be happy that you gave up the cupcakes all the time?

More often than not, I see/hear/talk/work with women that are seeking weight loss as a means of obtaining perfection, desire, attractiveness, self-worth, societal ideals, “beach” bodies, and confidence.  

This is a dangerous road – leading straight to restrictive diets, calorie counting, cutting out major food groups, excessive exercise, binge eating, and other disordered eating patterns.  

As a clinical nutritionist, I get very concerned when I see this pattern in my clients because these are constructs that need to be broken down, worked through, and unraveled with a trained therapist in disordered eating.  

The difficulty is that so much of this is socially acceptable – we don’t associate ourselves with disordered eating unless we’ve been formally diagnosed with an eating disorder.  

But we can still have a negative relationship with our body and foods without being formally diagnosed. We can still fall into this dangerous pattern.

What level does this pattern need to get to before we seek support?

{If you’re struggling with this pattern, I have some resources at the bottom of this post for therapists and social media accounts I highly recommend.}

This is where women predominantly seeking weight loss services from me, leave me feeling conflicted and concerned.  

I cannot, in good conscience, encourage and support someone to lose weight without first supporting a more positive outlook on their body and their relationship with food.  

What I get concerned with is the mindset and the goals associated with the weight loss.

It’s the culture of weight loss that really grinds my gears.  This impacts our mindset around weight loss and this needs to be watched very carefully.

Most of my clients come to me with physical symptoms that they want to be alleviated. They are seeking more vibrant energy, want to learn more about nutrition and how to fuel their body, chronic pain, headaches, digestive distress, chronic health diagnoses (diabetes, IBD, Celiac Disease, Thyroid Disease, Autoimmune disease), rashes, etc.

Some of the ways to work through these symptoms and illnesses are by isolating and identifying the root causes which are often food sensitivities, nutrient deficiencies, and inflammatory-related.   This can require elimination protocols to isolate the triggers, rebuilding the nutrient stores, etc.

And for someone with disordered eating patterns or negative body image – jumping right into one of these healing protocols – is dangerous and can be a slippery slope, especially if they are unsupervised.

The relationship between food and the body has to be addressed simultaneously.

What I have found are women using these types of elimination protocols as a means of weight loss.  I do not use these types of protocols as a result until we’ve worked through the deeper why behind the shifts.  The motivation cannot be simply to lose weight.

The disordered eating patterns have to be worked through and addressed, otherwise, these elimination protocols are used as just another restrictive diet.

I encourage you to ask yourself if you are wondering if you have a pattern that could be supported with the help of a trained Disordered Eating Therapist, the following questions:

  1. Do you spend a significant amount of time in your day thinking about food and/or your body?
  2. Do you experience feelings of anxiety, guilt, and/or shame around certain foods?
  3. Do you frequently ignore your hunger cues?
  4. Do you fill up on diet beverages, water, coffee, and other products in an effort to mask your hunger?
  5. Are you afraid of gaining weight?
  6. Do you follow a series of “food rules?”

If you said yes to these questions, I highly recommend you refer to the resources at the bottom of this post.  You might benefit from getting additional support in your journey.

Part of the problem, that I see in practice, is the extreme measures women are willing to go through in the name of their “health”. These extreme measures are the exact opposite of the picture of health. They lead to nutrient deficiencies, malabsorption, inflammatory processes within the body, and can often be the ROOT CAUSE of the physical symptoms.  

If we consistently ignored the relationship with the body, the impact of diet culture, and disordered eating patterns, we’re missing out on the long-term benefits of healing from within.  

With some of the elimination, healing protocols out there – you might get some immediate relief. But what about the long-term quality of life and working through the root cause?

You’re likely to end up right back where you started.

You’d be missing out on this incredible experience of getting through to the other side – a loving reciprocal relationship with your body and no longer seeing food as the enemy.

Food is not the enemy – it’s the answer.

So, back to the original question, is seeking weight loss always bad?

Short answer – no. But it’s time to really ask yourself, what are your true motivators with seeking weight loss?

 


Resources for Disordered Eating Support:

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

http://nedic.ca/

https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/

https://www.bulimia.com/topics/eating-disorder-hotline/

Therapists I Love:

https://www.jenniferrollin.com/

http://www.seedsofpotential.com/

http://centerforintegrativecounseling.com/index.html

https://www.bodylovetherapy.com/

 

Body Positive Resources on Instagram:

@thefatsextherapist, @jennakutcher, @brittanywatkinstapping, @jennifer_rollin, @recovrywarriors, @nolatrees, @beatingeatingdisorders, @justgirlproject, @bodyposipanda, @realfoodwithdana, @shethrivesblog, @emilyfonnesbeck_rd, @madelynmoon, and @megtherhn

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