Have you ever been body shamed? What is up with that? Why on earth does someone think that they have a right to tell you what your body should or shouldn’t look like or measure as?
More and more, clients are coming to me saying that they’re worried about working with me because as a dietitian, I’m going to tell them to lose weight. They are concerned that I’m going to body shame them and make them feel bad about where they are at health-wise and body-wise.
Newsflash: no, I am not! In fact, I don’t even care how much you weight unless you care how much you weigh. Whatever flashes up when you step on the scale, if you feel healthy at that weight, then I’m happy with you staying there!
Body shaming never made anyone lose weight
Don’t get me wrong. There are health professionals out there that will tell you that you ‘have to’ lose weight because ‘it’s risking your health’. There are magazines and Instagram influencers everywhere that insist that losing weight is what everyone wants to do.
Spoiler alert: body shaming does not encourage healthy habits or weight loss. It actually enforces bad habits and negative feelings about food choices, because our inner rebels want to ‘stick it to the man’. If anything, body shaming encourages people towards disordered eating and emotional eating.
So if you’re dealing with people telling you that you have to drop the kilos, you’re probably hanging out in the wrong circle. In my circle of health professionals, we all agree that health is not a size – it’s a feeling.
If you’re not sure about whether or not you should be changing your eating and exercise habits or try to lose weight, ask yourself these questions.
Do you have good eating habits?
No, this doesn’t mean that you have to ‘eat clean’ all the time – in fact, I’d classify that as an unhealthy habit! But have a think about whether you have generally good habits when it comes to your food choices.
Do you eat a variety of nutritious foods that you enjoy?
When you do enjoy your favourite food (caramel slice is my weakness!), do you savour it and feel fine afterwards?
If you’ve said ‘yes’ to most or all of these, guess what? You don’t need to change a thing unless you want to.
But if you feel guilty after a treat, or you feel virtuous for shovelling in kale even though you hate it, you might want to take a closer look at how you’re viewing your food choices.
Have a closer look at why you decide to treat yourself with food. Do you crack that bottle of wine at 5 pm because you feel like a glass of wine? Or are you justifying it because you had a rough day and you ‘deserve it’? In this case, something that looks like self-care can often be self-destruction in disguise.
If you don’t have good eating habits, does that bother you?
Some people have habits that might not be the healthiest for the body and certainly, aren’t recommended by health experts. But if making those choices don’t make you feel bad in any way, you do you!
On the other hand, if your eating habits are making you feel bad, that’s a sign that change is needed. If you feel guilty, ashamed, less than, frustrated, depressed or anxious when it comes to your food choices, it’s time to seek support from someone who can help you come up with healthier strategies.
Do you feel good in your own skin?
Are you jumping out of bed feeling energetic and ready to seize the day? Do you feel good about how your body looks and feels? Does your body make you feel empowered and able to take on the world?
If the answer is yes – go ahead, live your truth, be happy, and tell the shamers to look at their own habits before they judge you.
The bottom line is: food might be more or less nutritious, but that does not mean it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Food is just food. If you are feeling guilty, ashamed or other negative emotions around your food choices – THAT is what is unhealthy.