Why Society Needs to Stop Glamorizing Weight Loss

A big myth in the nutrition world is that everyone is trying to lose weight, or that is the only thing dietitians care about. A good dietitian will tell you that number you weigh is not at the top of our lists, because overall nourishment and health is more important to us.

In both clinical and outpatient settings, the main question we care about regarding weight is if you've had any recent weight changes. While most think our concern lies in the answer being weight gain, it really lies much more towards the opposite-- if you've recently experienced weight loss, how much, how rapidly, and if it was intentional or not. Malnourishment is a key concern and something dietitians set out to prevent on a daily basis in so many settings, including inpatient, outpatient, community, foodservice, research and more.

While obesity and chronic disease are hot topics that make the news most, there are plenty of individuals who struggle with maintaining or keeping weight on. The unfortunate part is that the general public hears such a problem and makes comments like "I wish I had that problem!" or "Wow that must be sooo tough" *sarcasm.* So many individuals fall through the cracks of care with this mindset, and it even prevents or delays them from seeking professional help at all. I will never forget the patient I met as a dietetic intern who said we must think she was annoying for even making an appointment because she was losing weight. This was heartbreaking to me because it showed what reactions she must have been surrounded by, while she was rightfully scared about her health. People do not view being underweight as an issue and society values small bodies no matter the cost. It is one of the biggest misconceptions dietitians try to break. It is completely unfair to minimize or invalidate this issue, because it is just as important of a health issue to address as any other.

On a personal level, gaining awareness and shifting your mindset regarding this issue is very important. This is how we can change the conversation and in the long run change culture. Think about your body-- weight loss is not the most impressive thing the body can do. Ladies: you can literally grow another human life inside of you! Your body's capabilities are endless. This simple fact is what made me fascinated with biology, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, genetics etc in the first place. I would not be a dietitian otherwise. Now think about weight loss for what it is-- a result. What actually impacts your health is the process. You do not know the WHY or HOW someone lost weight, and these things MATTER. Someone may have dealt with a debilitating illness, been going through a cancer treatment, gone through a divorce, experienced a death of a loved one, developed and eating disorder, and so on. To tell someone, "You look great!" can be detrimental and also totally blows past any type of hardship they may be going through. This is why it is so important to always check in on loved ones and never judge the book by its cover. 

Looking for compliments to give others that have nothing to do with their bodies? Try these:

1. I love how your face lights up when you talk about “x”.

2. Your passion always amazes me.

3. You inspire me to be a better person.

4. I appreciate you.

5. Your smile makes me smile.

6. I admire your confidence.

7. The way you carry yourself is admirable.

8. Your opinion on “x” opened up my eyes to see other perspectives.

9. Thank you for being trustworthy.

10. I am proud of you.

11. I love your fierce heart.

12. You are so resilient.

13. You bring out the best in me.

14. You’re a good listener.

15. You set such a good example.

16. You have wonderful sense of humor.

17. Thank you for being you.

18. I love your outlook on life.

19. I appreciate your friendship.

20. You’re a work of art.

21. You glow.

22. I love your authenticity.

23. I tell my other friends how amazing you are.

24. You helped me see my worth.

25. You are enough.

26. You’re a great story-teller.

27. You are brave.