There’s No Health at This Size

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There are unhealthy sizes.  Like 57 for example.  That was my father’s pants size when he died at 424 pounds. 57 is bigger than the XXXL size category.  57 doesn’t have a size category.  There is no health if you are that size.

We’ve traded the psychologically damaging world of fat-shaming for the physiologically damaging world where we pretend obesity is a legitimate lifestyle choice.  Trading one type of harm for another isn’t progress.

Recently, an expose on nutrition influencers showed that the more popular they are and the more followers they have, the more likely they are to misinform you for their own gain.  They are often backed by the big food companies, who use them as innocent-looking cover for positioning foods that play no part in a healthy approach to eating.

A Cure Worse Than the Disease

I remember the fat shaming growing up (although that term didn’t exist then.)  The stares and laughs when going places with my parents.  It really is awful to witness (real) fat shaming. 

Too often, in correcting a wrong, the pendulum swings too far in the other direction.

This shows up in the irresistibly appealing anti-diet movement and well-meaning yet misguided and naive ideas like Health at Every Size (obviously flawed…impossible to be healthy at size 57 and over 400 pounds) and nuanced ones like Intuitive Eating (heavily conditional on what you are eating.)

Here’s the bullet-point truth:

  • Health at Every Size is a feel-good fairy tale.  There is no health at size 57.  There is no healthy version of 424 pounds.  To pretend otherwise is feeding people emotional junk food that feels good now at the expense of their long-term health, just like real junk food.
  • “Intuitive Eating” only works if you aren’t eating junk.  Highly processed junk foods disrupt enzymes and hormones to an extent that makes the hunger signals you get from your brain untrustworthy and inaccurate. 
  • Obesity is not a form of personal expression nor is it finding your inner truth or living your best life.  Yes, BMI has its problems, but we can’t pretend that the doubling of BMI over recent decades is not meaningful.  It’s better to look at metabolic health, but that requires examining blood work.

Good people who are hurting, genuinely confused, and seeking guidance about sound nutrition find the superficial feel-good influencer-fueled high of #DerailTheShame #AntiDiet #HealthAtEverySize #NoBadFoods, #FoodFreedom #DitchTheDiet and #blahblahblah irresistible because it feels liberating in the moment. 

Which all puts us at a place where, as Scott Galloway says, “A huge swath of our economy is run on a lie — that obesity is finding ‘your truth’ — that enables the industrial food complex to addict you to shitty, unhealthy food and then hand you off to the Diabetes Industrial Complex…obesity invites illness and disability, including coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, gallbladder disease, and Type 2 diabetes and is the fifth leading cause of death globally.”

Physiology doesn’t care about feelings.  Your body is on your side. However, if your food is fighting your body, you will lose.

What Can We Do About This?

  1. Keep It Under 10,000:  While we’re trying to get our 10,000 steps a day in, we should likewise listen to no one who has more than 10,000 followers in the nutrition space.  
  2. Stop Shooting Messengers:  Treat all humans with kindness and respect while not sugar-coating the message that terrible foods lead to terrible health and a terrible life. It’s not our fault we find junk irresistible – it is engineered to be that way.  It’s too easy to go after individuals saying something we don’t like when instead we should be blaming the chemically engineered edible food-like items that are continually shoved in our faces.
  3. Shun Extremists – in all areas of your life but especially with nutrition.  If someone tells you that eating whatever you want is a path to freedom, listen to your gut.  (Your gut will be telling you it is BS.)
  4. Get Back to Basics:  Stick to the basics and the fundamentals of what your body needs (there’s nothing click-baity about sensible health behaviors.) Here’s what that looks like:

Feed your body what it is asking you for from real foods, avoid foods that have more ingredients than they do nutrients. 

Get moving in enjoyable ways, and move frequently throughout the day.

And most of all, remember that your body is on your side and if you use it and feed it in ways that support vitality, you will move closer to vitality. However, if your food is fighting your body, you will lose.

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