A bunch of you lovely folks responded to my post about my weight loss struggles, some with hilarious fad-diet suggestions (holla, cabbage soup!) and some with heartfelt advice on shifting pounds. I thank you all for both. The fad diets were super funny, and the advice was genuine and thoughtful.
Several people sent me links to Health at Every Size materials, which I’d seen before in conjunction with intuitive eating. The premise behind both is that our hunger signals have become all screwed up, due to dieting and poor nutrition and bad social messages about appetite and body shape, to the point where we don’t know when we’re hungry or how to feed ourselves. From the HAES community site: “…the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control).”
There’s a lot I like about both, so let’s start with that. Both ideas seem to me to encourage:
1. People to speak more kindly to themselves, and to treat themselves more like beloved friends.
2. People to feed themselves, instead of treating food like a potential punishment or reward.
3. Maybe, possibly, oh please God, a few doctors will read this stuff and stop treating fat patients like lazy assholes who are dying to break the examining table, for fun. I have seriously had doctors insist on weighing me when I came in for a possible sinus infection.
That said, I’m not totally sold, and here’s why:
1. I have issues with high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and hypoglycemia. If I ate til I was full, or when my body wanted me to eat, I would eat mostly carbs, all day long.
2. I don’t, however, have any eating disorders from a psychological perspective. I don’t eat when I’m lonely or when I’m bored. I don’t stuff myself, or starve, and I don’t have issues with portion control.
3. I don’t think I’m ugly as an overweight person, or unworthy of love or pretty clothes. I do, however, think I’d have less of a chance of falling prey to Type 2 Diabetes if I were at a normalized weight.* I don’t believe that my body was meant to be the size it became when I was hypothyroid and untreated. Unfortunately, endocrine disorders can damage your metabolism, so after I went on medication, I found it much harder to lose the weight I’d gained. But I don’t think that means this is my “new normal.” It might be stubbornness, but while I believe in genetic predisposition, I do not believe in genetic destiny.
The real issue is whether it’s better for your blood sugar, and health in general, to diet or to stay constant. I’ve done some reading over the past couple of days, and my initial conclusions are that it’s probably best to lose weight slowly and steadily until you reach a healthy weight, and then keep it off. Next best is not to gain, and to be active and kind to yourself and to feed yourself nutritious food. After that is yo-yo dieting, which we can all agree is terrible for you and no fun at parties.
Regardless of what you decide to do, the goal should always be nicer to yourself. In that way, I’m in full agreement with HAES.
* HAES people disagree with that, by the way. I’m not totally persuaded, because I’m a jerk and need to see a million studies before changing my mind, but it’s worth taking a look.