weight loss Hi. I’m Carolyn. I’m the editor in chief of SELF and the host of our wellness advice podcast, Checking In. In this week’s episode, we’re talking about weight, health, and healthy eating—and how a lot of our beliefs about eating for good health may actually be pretty harmful.
Today’s question comes from Robert. He’s dealing with a lot of confusion and conflicting emotions around the ideas of weight loss and healthy eating. His doctors and loved ones keep telling him that he needs to lose weight to be healthy, in order to address his high blood pressure. But he’s got a nagging feeling that might not be the full picture. He’s curious: “What could the other options be that could be equally as valuable and beneficial?” And it’s a great question.
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A lot of people have been in Robert’s shoes before. Being told by a doctor, or a loved one, or even by a stranger on the street that weight loss is the most important thing you can do to achieve better health.
That’s how a lot of health care providers are trained, for starters. Our society is fatphobic in a lot of ways, including in how we view health. And it’s a message that’s constantly and pervasively reinforced—this idea that you can tell how healthy or unhealthy someone is just by looking at them, or knowing their weight. And also that the best and most effective way to become healthier is to become smaller, to lose weight.
The truth is that this is a misguided, incomplete, and genuinely harmful way of thinking about health, wellness, and healthy eating. Luckily, a growing number of experts are recognizing that there are probably better, more effective, more humane approaches to helping people live healthier lives.
This is something we’ve covered pretty extensively at SELF over the years, so when I heard Robert’s question, I knew exactly which experts I wanted to talk to: Wendy Lopez, R.D., and Jessica Jones, R.D.
Our conversation covers a wide range of topics, from the basic principles of Intuitive Eating and health at Every Size; to how to incorporate gentle nutrition into your relationship with food when you’re managing a health condition; to techniques that people can use to deal with fatphobic comments from loved ones and medical professionals.
For listeners who are new to ideas like intuitive eating and health at every size, the advice that Lopez and Jones give in this episode may seem radical. But for anyone who has felt like a failure because they can’t seem to lose the weight that they’ve been told they should, it also may provide enormous relief. I hope these takeaways are helpful for Robert, and for all of you who listen to the episode.
You Might Also Like
6 Myths About Intuitive Eating—And What It Can Actually Do for You, by Christy Harrison, M.P.H, R.D.
Healthy Eating Should Include Your Emotional Health Too—Here’s How, by Wendy Lopez, R.D.
We Have to Stop Thinking of Being ‘Healthy’ As Being Morally Better, by Your Fat Friend
Weight Stigma Kept Me Out of Doctors’ Offices for Almost a Decade, by Your Fat Friend