What Should We Do About #DearFatPeople?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past week, by now you’ve have heard of, read about, or watched the offensive and shaming #DearFatPeople video Nicole Arbour created in the name of “comedy”. You may have even seen one of the responses, which at least this awful video gets people talking and saying “this sh*t ain’t right.”

There is a lot of chatter going on about the idea of fat shaming, summed up to “it’s bullying” and “it’s never OK.” I agree. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been supporting Association for Size Diversity and Health (I’m a member) Health at Every Size and their collaboration with Women’s Health Magazine in their #StopTheShame campaign on Twitter.

The Gasoline for Weight Stigma

In thinking about what I could possibly contribute that would add to the “this is not OK” conversation, I was immediately drawn to exploring what fuels weight stigma in the first place. The first thing that comes to mind, is the idea of dieting. In our desperation to conform to societal thin ideals, we diet. Instead of exercising and eating well because we love our bodies, it’s because we hate them. We compare. We despair.

It’s Not Just Adults Who Diet. It starts Early.

I have been working on a blog and infographic on teens and dieting. The fact that I’m even having to do this is sad. It sucks. As a mom of two, I dread my girls feeling the pull of dieting like I did by 12 years old.
What I want to know is, what should we do about it? Let me know in the comments below.

A 10-year study looked at dieting, unhealthy and extreme weight control behaviors, and binge eating to determine if engaging in these behaviors during adolescence increased the risk for continuing them into young adulthood.  The study involved 2,287 adolescents and young adults that were about half female and half non-white and divided participants into a younger group (average age ~13) and an older group (average age ~16).

At the beginning of the study approximately 50% females and 25% of males reported dieting in the past year. For females and younger males, this number stayed consistent through young adulthood.  The number of dieters in the older male group actually increased as the study progressed.

Over 50% of females and 33% of males engaged in unhealthy weight control behaviors at the start of the study.  Particularly alarming was that extreme weight control behaviors including diet pill use in all groups, and laxative use in young females increased significantly over the 10 year period.

Overall, those who reported dieting at the beginning of the study were more likely to continue this behavior.  The same result was seen in regards to unhealthy and extreme weight control behaviors and binge eating.

Other studies have linked dieting to weight gain, binge eating, disordered eating, and eating disorders.  One study of 17,000 kids found that those who dieted were 8-12 times more likely to engage in binge eating than those who never dieted.  Researchers from this study actually suggested that dieting may be at the root of the current obesity epidemic!  These results were echoed in a twin study which showed that the weight gain associated with dieting is independent of genetic predisposition to weight gain.

This video provides more details on these studies.



These findings, suggest that we need to prevent these behaviors before they start.


Young people with weight concerns need to be guided towards healthy behaviors, including intuitive eating and physical activity and away from destructive dieting.

Healthy behaviors can start at home.  Practice intuitive and mindful eating as a family.  Focus on eating for physical hunger as opposed to emotional hunger. Also make fitness a family activity.  Everyone can benefit from healthful eating and exercise, get the whole family involved in the healthy lifestyle and DITCH the DIET!

For more information from Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and her work with Intuitive Eating click here

Source: Neumark-Sztainer, D; Wall, M; Larson, NI; Eisenberg, ME; Loth, K. Dieting and disordered eating behaviors from adolescence to young adulthood: findings from a 10-year longitudinal study. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Jul;111(7):1004-11.

So… what should we do about #DearFatPeople?

I think one thing we need to do is loudly say that no amount of fat shaming is OK (and we need to listen to people who have been shamed!) They will tell you that family, friends, and medical professionals make them feel shame when they push and push and push for weight loss over healthy lifestyle as the goal. (At least that is what I hear time and again.) It’s as if their love is conditional. That’s just sad. What if someone makes the changes they want and don’t weigh what you think they should. Are you OK with that? I think we need to realize it’s not up for judgement. If we care about weight shaming, we need to also care about healthism, the idea that you can’t push health on people. Read what I have to say about it.

What Do You Think?

What do you think we should do about weight shame, stigma, dieting etc.? What were some of the best response articles and videos you found? Do you have a fat shame story? Share in the comments below.

3 Dieting Myths I No Longer Believe After Reading ‘Beyond a Shadow of a Diet’

By: Sarah Bousquet, American University student and Intern

beyond a shadow of a diet

I recently read ‘Beyond a Shadow of a Diet’, by Judith Matz and Ellen Frankel.  This book discusses the negative impact of dieting on our society and why dieting does the opposite of the intended goal of losing weight.  The authors also focus on how weight and BMI are not accurate representations of health and wellness, and what we as individuals and as a society can do to better understand our health and our bodies.  There were many myths about dieting and weight that were debunked throughout the book, but these three stuck out to me the most.


Myth 1: Diets help you lose weight

  • As the book proves, dieting has the opposite affect on your body.  Through dieting, certain foods that are deemed ‘bad’ by our society become forbidden, and therefore the dieter will have an increased desire to eat these foods. Although dieting can initially help you lose weight, the authors show that after about 2 years approximately 95% of dieters gain the weight back, or enter into a ‘yo-yo’ system of dieting which leads to gaining and losing weight over and over again.  This is detrimental to the health because when dieting the body will begin to burn muscle and fat, so when the dieter gains the weight back they will gain it in fat and lose overall muscle mass, and therefore their health will be in a worse state than at the beginning.

Myth 2: BMI is an accurate depicter of health

  • BMI was originally used to show the weight and general health of the population, not the health of the individuals.  BMI standards for overweight and obese has changed in 1998, creating a new basis for what is considered ‘normal BMI’.  BMI is not an indicator of health, only an indicator of a person’s overall body mass index.  Since BMI is not an indicator of health, the number of your BMI is not nearly as important as treating your body right and, as the book states, being fit is much more important than losing weight or being thin.  There is no correct body shape or weight, and, according to the authors, “a range of female body shapes celebrate life, renewal, and growth”.

Myth 3: Weight is an indicator of health, and obesity causes health problems and diseases.

  • Weight actually has little to do with fitness and health, and therefore is not an accurate indicator of health. Everyones bodies are different, and people who are considered ‘overweight’ can be much healthier than people who are considered ‘normal’. The idea that obesity can cause health problems and diseases are not founded on facts, and studies that were done on obesity tended to be biased, because the doctors who have run those studies in the past were found to work for pharmaceutical companies that were releasing weight loss drugs.

The book ‘Beyond a Shadow of a Diet’ is working to end the stigma that is associated to weight and end the weight bias.  They recognize that body shape, size and weight are not evidence of any particular way of eating or level of health.  They are trying to show that mindfulness, or bringing awareness to your own health and eating without judgement or expectation will lead to self acceptance.

Just Released: Health At Every Size Curriculum

I’ve been a proponent of size diversity for a long time now, and couldn’t be more thrilled about the recent release of the Health at Every Size (HAES) Curriculum. It was developed through a collaboration of the Association for Size Diversity and Health, the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior and the National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance. You can download the curriculum for free at http://haescurriculum.com/.

What Does ‘Health At Every Size’ Mean?

It means taking a weight-neutral approach with patients/clients/the general population, and not letting weight bias affect the care and guidance we give people. Just because a phealth-at-every-size-curriculumerson has a larger frame doesn’t mean they don’t have healthy habits, and on the flip-side just because a person is thinner, doesn’t mean that they do. It also takes a balanced approach to eating and promotes mindfulness and enjoyment, rather than restriction around eating.

What Does the Curriculum Include?

The website is a wealth of resources including overview Powerpoints, a section of supplemental materials that contains handouts (for students and instructors), discussion questions, assignments and much much more. There’s even a resource list for additional outside reading.

Who Would Benefit From Reviewing the HAES Curriculum?

The curriculum was developed for college students and health professionals but really anyone could benefit from the education it provides. I feel that it’s important that this movement spread through the health care community, but also throughout all of society as well.

How Can You Implement This Curriculum?

Leave a comment below and let me know how you plan to incorporate this curriculum into your practice/life.


I don’t do much with guest bloggers, but when people are willing to share their story, I want to give them a platform. Let’s all support Adele and thank her for her insight and courage.

Guest blog By: Adele Schroder

It’s funny how perspective is everything. Looking back now I see how completely ridiculous what I believed to be true then actually was, but at the time it made so much sense, I was doing what was right, what was healthy. There was nothing wrong with eating about 500 calories per day – so many diets out there suggest it – smart people, famous people, doctors even, all support the idea that the best way to lose weight was to reduce what you eat and some even go so far to suggest that those who are lower calorie diets live longer. Skinny at any cost is the healthy thing to do.

The truth at the time, I was over weight. I know I was, but I was healthy, I ate fairly balanced, exercised, my cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar I dowere all fine, but my doctor was still pushing me to lose weight. Truth is, she made me feel horrible about myself and at one point even said that if I couldn’t control what I was eating myself, then she would give me a prescription for appetite suppressants. It was that comment that began the slippery slope that would eventually become a case of accidental anorexia.

I started restricting what I ate – I went from eating balanced to eating one thing per meal – one yogurt, one piece of skinless chicken, one piece of cucumber. There was nothing balanced or healthy about it, but the weight started to come off and my doctor, family, friends, and anyone else who saw me started praising me for “looking so good”. I read about all the latest fad diets – it didn’t seem like anything I was doing was wrong – so many people ate like this, limiting there intake to a few select “safe” foods to make yourself healthy again. It was great – I was getting skinny and everyone was proud of how much “will-power” I had to stick with it.

A year, and almost 90lbs later, things started to change. I was always tired, my hair was falling out, I had passed out a couple times – but I was skinny, “beautiful” and “healthy”. Staying that way was all that I could think about – an Ana brain inside of me had taken over – nothing was more important than self-control and skinniness – skinniness at any cost. I was working at a place that insisted everyone eat lunch in the lunchroom. Didn’t take long before people started to talk and I remember that day that I got pulled into the meeting room. All of upper management was standing there and they simply said, “we want you to see a dietitian, you don’t look well”. I was royally pissed off – some of these people were the same people who just months before had been telling me how great I looked….they must be jealous, that was it, I was convinced! They were just jealous at the self control I had.

I sat in the waiting room of the dietitian’s office going over what I was going to say – figured it would be easy – just tell her what diet I was following, what my doctor had said when I was fat – how I was just being healthy…she would just sign that stupid thing for work and I could put this whole embarrassing “you need help” crap behind me. It’s not like I wasn’t doing something that so many other people weren’t doing – and I wasn’t one of those skinny-little-nut-jobs you see on those reality help shows – I was a well off business person who just took control of a problem (being over weight) and fixed it. Nothing was wrong with that.

Unfortunately my appointment didn’t go that way – instead I was bluntly told that how I was eating was dangerous, completely unacceptable, and that if I didn’t stop I would die. I told the dietitian she was crazy, rolled my eyes and must have told her I was fine at least 20 times. But the hardest part came at the end of the appointment – all she asked me to do was have an extra yogurt at lunch – one 80-calorie yogurt – and I lost it. There were tears, begging, saying I wouldn’t do it and that she wasn’t listening to me – I wasn’t doing anything wrong I was just doing what Dr X said to do and following Y diet – I didn’t have a problem, I was just trying to be healthy and why was she trying to make me fat again.

She stayed calm through all of it – repeated that what I was doing was not ok, not healthy and that I was going to die if I didn’t stop – then told me she would see me next week. I refused – she shrugged and said that it “wasn’t a suggestion” then walked with me to reception to make the next appointment.  I hated her – she didn’t know me – so how could she judge me. But I knew I at least had some saving grace – she was pregnant – so I figured that if I couldn’t fight her I would play her silly little game for 3 months and she would be gone. And being honest, I probably did at the time – but something else happened – I started to respect her, if for no other reason than she was consistent in what she said, “you can’t keep eating like this, it is not healthy, you will die”. Three very simple and blunt comments that stuck with me.

My eating did get a little better when she was away on maternity leave that year – not because I wanted to get healthy but because I was told that if I lost more weight then a hospital stay would no longer be up to me (I had mandatory monthly check ins with an ED psychologist that year, I played along with the stupid game) – I wasn’t better by any stretch of the imagination – I still thought that barely eating was the right thing to do – I just wasn’t willing to give up everything I had accomplished and end up in the hospital – so I ate the bare minimum I had to to avoid that consequence.

It was a year later that I ended up getting a new family doctor – and with that change came the routine “base-line” blood work workup. I got a call I never expected, “the doctor wants to see you back in her office today regarding your blood tests, how soon can you be here?”. I sat in her office looking at line after line of abnormalities – high cholesterol, high liver enzymes, poor kidney function, a large amount of ketones in my urine, and electrolytes that were all over the place. She was questioning me on how I felt, if I had been on any medications etc etc and I sat there thinking, “the dietitian was right, I’m hurting myself…” I felt so confused – why were there so many diets out there saying what I did was right? Why did my old doctor praise me? Why was my blood work normal when I was fat but so abnormal now that I was skinny…why wasn’t skinny healthy? I wasn’t “dangerously thin” – my BMI was fine – so why wasn’t I healthier than when I was over weight? Isn’t that what we are taught? Skinny is healthy…my whole world came crashing down that day. Everything that I had believed regarding what it was to be healthy – everything that I had read and seen in the media was wrong – and because I believed it, I was now sick.

The next day I swallowed my pride and sent a “you were right” email and asked for help. This time was different – I tried not to fight as much (hard to give up the fight completely) and I worked towards a goal – I wanted to be healthy – I wanted normal blood work. I wanted to learn to eat well and enjoy food again. I learned that I had to start putting my health first, my body first – it was all in my control to be healthy.

Today I can say that I am healthy – I eat well – and I eat anything and everything without worrying so much about if the food is “good” or “bad”. But there is one thing that still bothers me: how is it that even though I am well educated and a professional person I was able to believe that what I was doing was right? I accidently became anorexic, not because I was trying to gain control over my life or any of the other things that you hear about when you think of eating disorders – I became anorexic because I honestly did not know that what I was doing was harmful or wrong. And what was the worst part of this whole thing? Even if being anorexic was not your intent, once Ana brain sets in, there’s no escaping it, no controlling it, no seeing any other opinion. It is far easier to believe what you see every day than believing the truth: skinny does not always equal healthy.

Perspective is everything – and mine has now changed. I put me and my health first and realize that the number on the scale doesn’t always have anything to do with health.


Thanks, Adele!

If you are intrigued by what you read here, you may want to check out the “Health at Every Size” principles and community.

The Obamas Don’t Diet and Neither Should You “It’s a Lifestyle”

My heart is full at this very moment. It’s not often that positive messages about healthy living get out there. It’s RARE that the word “DIET” is out there in a negative or neutral context. But that’s exactly what happens in this video with Sam Kass, White House Chef when he said “we don’t diet – it’s a lifestyle”. THANK YOU! It is so important for the public to hear dieting in a negative context.

People equate healthy living to dieting. That is not the case. Changing your behaviors to eat more nutritious may feel like “dieting” because it is so new, but when you eat healthy, nourishing foods your body will naturally lose weight if you need to. People also equate “not dieting” to eating without any boundaries, inhibitions, or structure. Also not the case. Intuitive eating guides you to balance out what your body needs (nourishment) and wants (cravings and appetite)

Dieting is deprivation and a complete waste of time. If you need motivation for swapping a diet-mind for a self-care mind focused on your own health (not size) check out the “me” movement. However, we have a long way to go… check out some of the post comments in the Yahoo blog. People ripped apart the use of dried fruit. Hello, FOOD POLICE. Thankfully others in the comments sorted it out. It is so clear that most of us are still very diet-minded. It’s another reason we have to ditch diets!

Yahoo video: A favorite Michelle Obama snack: Exclusive access into White House kitchen

Fruit, Nut and Oatmeal Bars

originally posted at Yahoo.


6 tablespoons grapeseed oil, or other neutral oil, plus extra for brushing pan
2 cups rolled oats
½ cup mixed seeds, such as pumpkin, sunflower and sesame
½ cup honey
½ cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups mixed dried fruit, such as raisins, cherries, apricots, papaya, pineapple and cranberries (at least 3 kinds, cut into small pieces if large)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
2 tablespoons of butter

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, letting a few inches hangs over side of pan. Brush with oil
2. Spread oats and seeds on another baking pan and toast in oven just until golden and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes, shaking pan once.
3. In a saucepan, combine oil, butter, honey, brown sugar, maple syrup and salt. Stir over medium heat until smooth and hot. In a mixing bowl, toss together toasted oats and seeds, dried fruit and cardamom. Pour hot sugar mixture over and stir until well combined.
4. While mixture is warm, transfer to prepared pan, pressing into pan evenly with an offset spatula.
5. Bake until brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer pan to a rack and let cool completely. Using the overhanging foil or paper, lift out of pan and place on a work surface Cut into bars, about 1 ½ inches by 3 inches.