For a long time, before I became a nutritionist I had my own struggles with food, weight and my body. I wanted it to be smaller. I wanted to lose weight. And it was not until many years later, with hindsight and more learning (and unlearning!) that I could see what it was I was looking for by trying to lose weight.
It was this messy, disordered relationship with food, eating and my body which lead me to this current career. But I wasn’t always firmly planted in the non-diet, weight inclusive camp. In fact, some of my early business cards had the tag line “Lose weight without dieting” on them. This was before I understood that, that concept in of itself is an oxymoron.
If we are pursuing weight loss intentionally then we are dieting by default. I am not against people who wants to lose weight, but I am against the harm that the Diet Industry and Diet Culture causes.
Many of my clients come, still, with the desire to lose weight, even though I am always up front saying that a) I have no idea how your body will respond when healing your relationship with food and b) It is ok to want to lose weight, but we are not actively going to work on making that happen as it is antithetical to healing your relationship with food.
I am guessing that you are not unlike many of the awesome people I have had the great pleasure of working with over the past decade that when asked what they are hoping to achieve by weight loss, or trying to maintain any weight lost (but struggling to do so) tends to be:
- Feelings of being successful
- Feelings attractiveness to the opposite sex
- Feeling confident
- Being healthy
- Improve levels of fitness
- Feeling happy
When we look the desire to lose weight through this lens it makes sense. This it is very much the message that we are being sold by Diet Culture and the multi billon dollar industry that goes with it. You are not bad or wrong for wanting any of those things.
It is just that when we are hinging our entire sense of self-worth on something as changeable as our bodies, we will always be in shaky ground…
When I asked people what their biggest fear of gaining weight was, it was:
- Fear of being judged
- What people might think of me
- In accessible clothing options
- Being shamed and feeling shame
These answers shows that the when the desire to lose weight is not about feeling successful or healthy it is about belonging to the group, about feeling accepted and not being outcast for being seen as different or “other”.
This also makes sense when held against a backdrop of worshiping thinness and explicit and implicit weight prejudice.
And then there is all of these that I also think you want when turning towards dieting:
- Feeling in control (when other areas of life is chaotic)
- Feeling safe
- Feeling loved
- Feeling like you belong to the group
- Escape from weight stigma
You then end up in this crazy and challenging double bind, as you are reaching for dieting and it isn’t giving you what you are looking for. And it sucks, of course it does.
Sure, maybe you do feel that elation when your body is shrinking, until you begin to feel miserable because you are trying to eat less than what your body is asking for. Lower energy, headaches, low mood, less ability to concentrate. And the rebound eating and weight gain (that inevitably happens) because your body is trying its hardest to keep you alive.
Oh and to top it all off, you probably also feel like it is all your fault. That if you just had more will power or tried a different diet, it wouldn’t be this way.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There is hope, but it won’t be found in another diet.
We can work several of the things that you are hoping that dieting will give you, without the need to restrict anything.
Want to work on health promoting behaviours? No problem. What can you ADD in? More colourful vegetables? Drinking more water? Taking some helpful supplements (or meds)?
Want to work on your fitness? What could that look like if you did that without making it about trying to shrink your body? Working on strength? Or flexibility. Or perhaps you have a goal of climbing a mountain or running a 5k / 10k / half marathon?
Want to feel more in control? Sometimes we can do this through planning and with structure. Perhaps you need to set some boundaries? Saying no, instead of yes? Sometimes life is just incredibly messy, painful and chaotic and what we need is to give ourselves grace, compassion and to do the best we can with what we have.
Wanting to feel loved and safe are basic human needs. Perhaps something needs to change in your environment? Do you need to walk away from a destructive relationship? Change job? Get support through therapy?
You deserve to feel love and to feel safe, regardless of what your body looks like. A diet might feel like a solution, as controlling food is something tangible. But it comes with unpleasant side effects (that few people like to talk about).
I have seen it, time and time again that people enter this work still with the hope of changing their body but leave with a newfound gratitude and connection to it. Body Trust. Body kindness. Instead of continuing to fight their body, they realise what it can feel like being on the same team.
Maybe this is hard to imagine from where you are right now, but things can be different.
This is what some of my past clients have said:
“A fascinating journey of self discovery and acceptance. There was a positive shift towards inner peace and perception. I feel I have a useful set of tools to move forward with courage and happiness. Sincere thanks to Linn for her support and insight.”
“Linn is patient, kind, and informative. For me she created a non-judgemental, safe environment during her sessions which allowed me to discuss my issues whilst also exploring potential remedies. I cannot recommend Linn enough, she was excellent in helping me.”
“I have really enjoyed my learning experience with Linn. I feel like I have a fresh, kinder, more patient perspective on how I am improving my health. Thank you Linn.”
“ I now trust my body, with my emotions, with my hunger and with food. This is a revelation and something that has enhanced my life no end!”
If you are looking to try something different, if you are looking for eating disorder recovery, or just want a different relationship with food, rather than just doing one more diet, then let’s talk!
And also thank you for being here. Together we can build a new weight inclusive world.