Misinformation and Diet Culture

As you may notice there are a lot of ideas about how one should address food. Our culture is highly focused on weight as an indicator for health as well as some form of food perfectionism that is defined by the latest diet fad. I agree with the Association for Size Diversity and Health that our focus on the “war on obesity” has caused harm and continues to frame all food and health discussions in a problematic way.

“Health policies routinely emphasize weight loss as a target for health promotion. These policies rest upon the assumptions: 1) that higher body weight equal poorer health, 2) that long – term weight loss is widely achievable, and 3) that weight loss results in consistent improvements in physical health. Our review of the literature suggests that these three assumptions underlying the current weight – focused approach are not supported empirically.”

From “An Evidence Based Rationale for Adopting Weight – Inclusive Health Policy in – Social Issues and Policy Review 2020

For those who are in recovery for an eating disorder the fear of addressing this concern is fraught with worry over changes in body shape/size. Many people reach out because they have been asked to follow specific advice for a health concern that includes a weight focused approach. I would like to assist in changing this conversation to be about how to enjoy your life with food while finding self care that meets your needs.

Changing the food and weight conversation is an endeavor as the national narrative on this topic primarily includes guilt provoking or shaming messages about bodies and food. Instead of using over-simplified public health messaging that warns people to beware of a nutrient, I strive to understand individual struggles with daily self care patterns and work together to make progress. I encourage us to move towards a body positive approach which means moving away from the goals around micromanaging body shape and size. Many physician groups have not yet strongly supported a non-weight focused approach to health and wellbeing, however the American Academy of Pediatrics has a wonderful paper to help guide providers away from harmful approaches here AAP – guidelines .pdf.

There are times in eating disorder treatment when it is necessary to focus on medical recovery or nutrition rehabilitation, however following the more structured portion of recovery, we can move into building confidence and trust. Specifically this means that in our work together there may be times when specific eating targets are set while the goal is to move towards flexibility.