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There is a common theme I see, especially among Registered Dietitians (RD), on Twitter and elsewhere when it comes to dealing with obesity and weight-related problems. The unfortunate consensus among many (HAES is prevalent) is that you can’t or shouldn’t try to lose weight.
This isn’t always true. Some of them say that weight loss is OK but shouldn’t be celebrated. Some say you shouldn’t set numeric weight loss goals.
Few support treating weight loss as an accomplishment.
There is something else common among them as well: they are either thin and have never been obese or morbidly obese for any length of time, or they’re obese and currently using their patients to reinforce their own belief that their weight is fine.
The focus here isn’t on the ones using their patients to reinforce their own denial; I’ve already written about the delusions of obesity.
The focus, as you may have guessed, is the people who have never actually been fat for any length of time, but feel they’re equipped to tell you how to deal with your weight because they’ve read literature and talked to fat people about how bad it is to be fat.
I don’t think they’re bad people; they seem to legitimately care about fixing a problem, just not the problem. That’s because they don’t know what the problem is. You see this a lot in discussions of drug addiction as well: people who aren’t and have never been addicted to a substance can’t fathom the mindset required to forsake your well-being for the use of a drug.
So it is with obesity. We’ve refused to acknowledge obesity as a health problem to the extent it is present, since society is trending toward obesity. There are more obese people than there are healthy-weight people in the US, and society has responded by accepting obesity as a given, instead of as a health problem.
RDs responded in the same way; this is why we have HAES, “weight-inclusive” treatment, “body diversity”, and the like. Nobody who has been thin their whole lives can understand what it takes to get to and stay obese for a long period of time, so they just assume this is as natural as their thinness.
The thing is, nobody is naturally obese. This just isn’t a reality, and never has been. Our society normalizing obesity doesn’t make it normal. That doesn’t make the obese bad people or necessarily negative in any way, but it means they have a health problem that needs to be dealt with.
In discussions of obesity, you will hear a fucking ton of excuses. In fact, you’ll hear excuses for every solution offered to the problem.
- Buy better food? MUH FOOD DESERTS!
- Stop eating processed food? IT’S CHEAPER!
- Eggs and tuna are cheap though? LALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!
I’ve been told people stay obese due to financial insecurity (wrong), unsafe neighborhoods (what?), genetics (no), and a host of other things. These are all excuses, and anybody who uses them is either obese or…
THEY ARE AN ENABLER
If you were to go to an AA meeting (you should go to an AA or NA meeting sometime, they’re eye-opening) and give them excuses for drinking, nobody in recovery would accept them. Why? They know the excuses. They’ve been there, they’ve made those same excuses to everybody else, and they knew they were making shit up to avoid the problem.
The same is true of the obese. They will make excuse after excuse for their obesity; if you don’t accept these excuses, you’re labeled “fatphobic” or some other nonsense. The reality is, they are in a place where their delusion depends on the world making excuses for their body size.
RDs who tell people they can’t or shouldn’t try to lose weight are enabling these people, and society seems to just accept this. These RDs won’t hold people accountable for their choices and actions, because they’ve been convinced to be enablers by the very people they treat. Instead of viewing the obese with a critical eye, they say “ok, well, I guess you’re just naturally fat, and all of these reasons to not lose weight are valid.”
To an extent, I can understand why: people stop going to you once you start holding them accountable for their actions. I once had a doctor call bullshit on my eating habits, and I never went back to him; I didn’t want to be held accountable at all. These RDs seem to have picked up on this, and doubled down by creating an environment of enabling and acceptance of damaging habits.
It is for this reason that somebody who is thin is unlikely to help you lose weight: they either won’t call your bullshit out, or don’t know that it’s bullshit. People who lose a lot of weight by developing good habits are often made out to be villains, because we don’t accept the myriad excuses for not eating properly. We’ve been there, we’ve made the same excuses, we have the 4X t-shirt to prove it.
If you’re obese, you can lose weight. You can break the habits that got you where you are, and you can succeed with a better way of eating. I won’t tell you what that better way is, because mine won’t be yours. If you want some ideas, I have an educational post on calorie counting that gives you an idea of how macros and calories work. You don’t have to track either of those, but understanding them is important for planning your new lifestyle, whatever that may be.