Doctor writing on clipboard as patient with a scale for a head is trying to get a look.

Doesn’t Weight Feel Heavy?

I hate talking about weight. It doesn’t matter if it’s weight loss, weight gain, or keeping it off. It never feels good. It’s probably because these topics are proxies for many uncomfortable social divisions. Dieting and weight loss are as hotly contested as religion and politics. Keto vs low-fat, vegan vs carnivore, or grain lovers vs paleo.

Concern can feel like an accusation

Well-meaning concern seems to come with the general sense that people must be doing something wrong to weigh as much as they do. The something depends upon the person and the prevailing conventional wisdom, but the scrutiny is ongoing.

Conventional wisdom changes

Growing up in the 1980s, we understood fat was the primary threat to our health. So clearly, everybody with what we'd now call a BMI over 25 was eating a stick of butter a day, or something. This sentiment cast grains, penitential cereals, and other carbs as the benevolent angels sent to save our thighs. Eggs and their demonic cholesterol were out. Avocados, kiss them goodbye. In fact, don't kiss them. That could get fat on your precious lips!

(Dietary) fat is back?

Growing up on skinless-boneless chicken breasts, steamed veggies without little to no butter, and low-fat dairy didn’t prepare me for this (dietary) fat-loving era. It literally doesn’t work in my brain, even though I know somewhere between moderate to low levels of carbs is the right place for me. That old programming is still in there, sigh.

The current enthusiasm for dietary fat isn’t all that it could be. The same unhelpful dynamics remain firmly in place. Thin people are virtuous, their bodies prove that they’re doing something right. Labels of overweight and obese are de facto proof of the opposite.

While I hope that everybody will do their best to protect their health, this intense focus on what any one individual is doing isn’t great. Health is established at the population level. I’m most interested in what our society can do to make being healthy as easy as possible.

Some of us have been harmed

Current or past hurts around diet, weight, and body image may damage our ability to trust good people who are trying to help us. It's important to recognize that sensitivities can create resistance to good advice. These sore spots might need attention to heal. A therapist, social worker, health coach, or someone else specializing in your experiences might be able to help you get to a better place.

What helps me

My doctor asked me to lose weight in May of 2021. She didn’t say anything hurtful or wrong, but it took me a while to work through my reactions. We agreed on increasing my vegetable intake over my usual 3-4 daily servings. I’m working on begun building my lunch around veggies. It’s going okay, so far.

Don't get it twisted

Nothing justifies abuse, shaming, or other hateful behavior in a clinical setting or anywhere else. Your humanity doesn't change with your weight. No matter what shape you're in, you're still a patient and patients deserve dignified medical care.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

More on this topic

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.