Hey, Look, a Dead Horse! *WHAP*

I just wrote this as an absurdly long comment in response to Zuzu’s take on the whole dieting kerfuffle, and I thought I’d post it, because I think it’s a much clearer distillation of my thoughts on the subject than my original rant was. And that increased clarity has come about as a result of discussing this ad nauseam over the last few days, so thanks, everybody.

Zuzu writes:

 

Do my efforts in that regard really only count if I can get a fifth-level blackbelt in Embracing My Own Fat and promise that I’ll never, ever do anything to change the body I live in?

That question has been asked and answered a whole BUNCH of times in comments at my blog and TR’s this week, though I don’t blame you if you haven’t been able to keep up, what with your own blog drama.

To me, self-acceptance is a crucial component of fat acceptance. That doesn’t mean that everyone who’s interested in the movement will be 100% self-accepting. First, I doubt that anyone ever reaches 100%, and second, I think that most people find the movement when they’re not very far along the self-acceptance path at all, and the movement helps with that. I’d sure hate to turn those people off it altogether. But it does mean that within fat-positive spaces, talking about how much you want to lose weight — and demanding that everyone else validate that personal choice — is inappropriate.

(Note: I am using “the movement” there to refer basically to the whole concept of fat acceptance, because half the problem here is that there’s NOT much of an organized movement.)

A refusal to validate the choice to diet, within the context of fat acceptance, is not the same as refusing to support people’s bodily autonomy. And I don’t think the abortion analogy holds up. To me, the most effective analogy here is identifying yourself as a queer rights activist while undergoing “ex-gay” therapy. Or at least, choosing to remain closeted. There can be a lot of totally understandable, personal reasons for choosing to remain closeted, but to expect gay pride activists (and “fat pride” is another term many people prefer to “fat acceptance”) to validate remaining closeted as a personal choice that somehow does not conflict with gay pride? Is asking an awful lot.

It’s an imperfect analogy, but it’s the best one I’ve got. And it’s as clear as I can make my viewpoint on all this.

One of the reasons it’s imperfect — and the reason I went to the ex-gay analogy first, not just the closet — is that diets don’t work. It may sound like splitting hairs to say changing your eating and exercise habits is okay, but trying to lose weight isn’t, but from my perspective, it’s a really important hair to split. Because fat people are told constantly that we must lose weight for our health, and that’s manifestly untrue (except in a very small percentage of cases in which weight does directly affect someone’s health). However, fat people, just like thin people, can reap long-term health benefits from a balanced diet and regular exercise. I split the hair because I’m sure not opposed to anyone trying to achieve long-term health benefits. But a balanced diet and regular exercise will not produce long-term weight loss in most people. So as long as we keep the focus on weight loss instead of behavioral changes and health benefits, we’re barking up the wrong tree — which also happens to be a tree society privileges, based on falsehoods, distortions, and bigotry.

There’s nothing wrong with thinking your life would be easier if you lost weight; in this society, that’s completely understandable. But the reality is, thinking your life would be easier if you lost weight is very much like thinking your life would be easier if you won the lottery. Sure, that probably would make your life easier, but it is not something you can bring about by force of sheer will, just because you like the idea of it. (This gets muddied because most people can lose weight temporarily by force of sheer will. But it does not last in virtually every case, which means a long-term strategy for being healthier and happier cannot hinge on weight loss.)

Long-term health benefits are achievable for fat people. Long-term improvements in self-esteem are achievable for fat people. Long-term weight loss, in so many cases that the exceptions are insignificant, is NOT achievable. And yet, the culture — and WAY too many doctors — keep insisting that the only way for fat people to be healthy and proud of themselves is to lose weight. This is dangerous bullshit.

And what it means is, dieting is privileged behavior. It is what fat people are expected to do to be acceptable in this society. Even if that’s not WHY a given person is doing it, the privilege issue becomes unavoidable when people come into fat-positive spaces and start saying, “But dieting doesn’t make me a bad person!” No, it doesn’t, any more than being white, straight, and upper middle class makes me a bad person. But in the context of social justice movements, insisting that my privilege be validated and respected by people who don’t share it is not gonna fly. (Once again, for the record, I am not and never was accusing Hanne Blank of doing that — nor do I think The Rotund was. This is a different issue.)

It is perfectly understandable not to be thrilled every minute of every day that you (collective you, not Zuzu-you) got stuck with fat genes in a fat-hating culture. But it’s not appropriate to derail conversations in spaces devoted to fat rights and fat pride by talking about how much you don’t fucking want to be fat — or as fat as you are — and how you think it’s so unfair that people won’t take your decision to diet as a personal, politically neutral act. This is what I see happening all over the place, and it’s what I was responding to.

And what all of this might mean is that The Rotund and I end up in the category of Radical Fat Acceptance Activists, while people who think dieting isn’t anathema to fat acceptance are regarded as moderates. That’s profoundly weird to me, because I think of myself as anything but radical, but maybe that’s how this will all shake out. I don’t know. What I do know is, the deliberate pursuit of weight loss is VERY unlikely to make anyone’s mental or physical health better in the long term; it actually stands a good chance of damaging people’s mental and physical health; and it is behavior that is culturally privileged as the acceptable alternative to acknowledging that size diversity is a simple fact of life, and fat people are just as human as anyone else. For all those reasons, I simply cannot see how dieting and fat acceptance can ever go hand-in-hand, philosophically.

I would never object to people doing what they like with their own bodies. If, theoretically, anti-dieting legislation ever made it to the table, I would fight against that as strongly as I do against anti-abortion legislation. And if people who are on diets want to help promote the cause of fat acceptance/rights/pride, that’s terrific. BUT, I simply cannot say the existence of some people like that means that dieting is generally compatible, philosophically and politically, with fat acceptance.

And I think that if the Fat Acceptance Movement is ever going to be a movement — instead of this eternally “emerging” concept that most people have still never heard of — people who want to be involved need to figure out where they stand on that question, because it derails more conversations, projects, and plans than you can imagine.

If some people come to a different conclusion than I have and want to approach it from a different angle, great. But I’m drawing this line in the sand in terms of the work I want to do, because my vision of a Fat Acceptance Movement includes promoting, without qualification, the fact that dieting is not necessary for good health and will not work for the vast majority of people. It’s awfully hard to get that message out when one is constantly trying not to alienate people who disagree (and will flip out if you say dieting, as a general concept, is bad news). So I finally snapped and said, okay, fine, if I alienate people, so be it. They can approach it from their angle, and maybe they’ll be much more successful at advancing the cause of fat rights than I will. But that’s not how I want to do it, not the movement I want to be a part of, and I’m done with being wishy washy about it in an effort not to turn off people who fundamentally disagree with what I think is a very important element of fat acceptance.

Make sense?

37 thoughts on “Hey, Look, a Dead Horse! *WHAP*

  1. Dead Horse? Hey, thanks.

    Here’s the comment I left in response at my own place:

    That question has been asked and answered a whole BUNCH of times in comments at my blog and TR’s this week, though I don’t blame you if you haven’t been able to keep up, what with your own blog drama.

    I did see that, but I also saw that the answer was, in at least one person’s words, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” I thought the idea was that weight loss wasn’t supposed to be a matter of morality?

    And in your response, Kate, I see you using the term “diet” without defining it. Like I said, that’s one of the frustrations I have with the stance you’ve taken: you can adopt the exact same behaviors, but if you’re not trying to lose weight, it’s HAES. If you are, it’s a “diet.” How is one damaging and not the other, if it’s the exact same behavior and results in weight loss?

    And I do understand that dieting privilege runs deep in this culture, and that it’s a radical act to be a happy fat person. I get that. More than you yourself may understand, since you’re a much thinner person than I am and walk around with a certain amount of privilege because of that (as I did when I was your size). I understand that a fat-positive space is not the place to talk about weight loss for its own sake.

    But what I have a real problem with is someone who is younger and/or thinner and does not live in my body setting out some arbitrary rule that while I may undertake measures to improve my health, those measures must not include an attempt to lose weight, even if doing so is beneficial for my orthopedic health, because if I do so, I’m not truly Committed to the Cause, or I’ve been brainwashed by the anti-fat, pro-dieting forces in society. I take real issue with the idea that Hanne Blank’s pursuit of what’s best for her body undoes all of her contributions to size acceptance just because someone without her health problems decides that she’s a Traitor to the Cause.

  2. Kate: “For all those reasons, I simply cannot see how dieting and fat acceptance can ever go hand-in-hand, philosophically.”

    I agree, even if I consider myself a little more of a moderate – I guess I’m not. I guess.

    But it’s funny; not long ago I was talking with a friend about how I would pop in occasionally on this fat blog, not a fat acceptance one, and how it would frustrate me to no end that they were rah-rah over fat women and how fat people are treated like crap in the media and then there’s a post about Weight Watchers Points and being good on one’s diet. To me it’s a big “You’re SO CLOSE to not being on that treadmill” moment, you know?

    And zuzu: “Like I said, that’s one of the frustrations I have with the stance you’ve taken: you can adopt the exact same behaviors, but if you’re not trying to lose weight, it’s HAES.”

    Not to speak for Kate (forgive me), but if you feel that HAES’s eating philosophies and a weight loss diet are the same, I suspect you are misinformed on what the former really are. Worlds different: weight loss dieting says, “You may not eat x, y, z and must eat a, b, c” along with “You must exercise x times per week” and “a sensible dinner!” Intuitive eating (which many people include in the HAES umbrella) is way different; it says, “Pay attention to what your body wants.” That’s about it. It sounds simple but is, again, very hard. It’s MUCH harder than getting on a fucking Points program and thinking, “I saved up 3 points so I can have a bag of M&Ms!” Way way.

    So, anyway, I just wanted to clarify that. Kate will probably be able to put it in better terms than I.

  3. Like I said, that’s one of the frustrations I have with the stance you’ve taken: you can adopt the exact same behaviors, but if you’re not trying to lose weight, it’s HAES. If you are, it’s a “diet.” How is one damaging and not the other, if it’s the exact same behavior and results in weight loss?

    I’m sure Kate will have a more detailed answer than this, but the way I differentiate HAES from dieting is, in HAES the behavior itself is the success, not the size that ultimately results from the behavior. If today, I practice intuitive eating, I feed myself as well as I can and function well as a result of that feeding, then according to HAES principles, after just this one day, I’m already a success. I don’t have to wait until I reach weight X or size X, or see myself go a notch down on the scale or my belt, to find out if I “did it right.” And if one day I don’t do so hot eating-wise, so what? Tomorrow’s another day. I never ever feel that way dieting; it’s always “all or nothing,” it’s always “one bite away from a binge.”

    If I own a scale and jump on it frequently to see “how I’m doing,” then I’m dieting. If I have a goal weight or a goal size, then I’m dieting. For me that’s problematic for one reason: If I don’t reach that goal weight or goal size, or don’t stay there, I’ll feel as though the improvements I’ve made in eating and exercise habits don’t count, that I wasted my time. And then I’m likely to just say “fuck it” and go back to the chips. Lots of chips. It’s crazymaking, and I won’t go there again. Well, maybe if you literally put a gun to my head, but we’re not quite there as a society yet.

  4. Not to speak for Kate (forgive me), but if you feel that HAES’s eating philosophies and a weight loss diet are the same, I suspect you are misinformed on what the former really are. Worlds different: weight loss dieting says, “You may not eat x, y, z and must eat a, b, c” along with “You must exercise x times per week” and “a sensible dinner!”

    See, I don’t agree with that, or with your characterization of what I’m saying, but at least I’m getting a sense of what y’all mean by “dieting.” And it pretty much fits in with the idea I had that it meant something like, “restrictive, possibly commercial, likely too little food.”

  5. I’m glad the convo is going in this direction, because I’ve been reading posts and comments like crazy and I keep hearing people who in my personal definition aren’t dieting who say they’re being excluded — it’s kind of weird and disconcerting…

    And then I’ve been trying to put my definition into words and failing pretty miserably… in a strange and possibly OT way it reminds me of the hoops I jump through trying to talk to my mom. With her everything I do, either exercise or food-wise must be about weight loss. No matter what my stated reasons are — she never hears it at all, seriously, it’s like she can’t even process the words…

    Me: “Oh, I was at yoga class last night when you called.”
    Mom: “Are you still doing that? You don’t look like you’ve lost any weight.”
    Me: “I’m doing yoga because I like it, and it feels better when I move more, and I haven’t been able to get outside a lot here lately. The air-quality has been awful this summer.””
    Mom: “Well, maybe if you keep it up you’ll lose some weight and maybe you should start walking again.”
    Me: ?!!??

    So I get to the point where I just don’t mention food, or yoga or anything health related at all unless I’m backed into a corner. Half the time I wind up just nodding and agreeing because it’s too much damn work to try to change the focus back to health. It’s like trying to be healthy has no merit on it’s own at all unless you’re thinner.

    There’s such a conflation of healthy eating and activity, and weight loss that it’s hard to sort out even when I’ve been practicing for the conversation.

    So anyway, I’m not sure what my point is except that I appreciate that this is a hard discussion to have and that while I understand what folks are saying about losing weight for health reasons. I for one really appreciate having spaces where I don’t have to deal with that discussion all the time. Some days I just can’t do it.

  6. Dead Horse? Hey, thanks.

    Oh, no, no, no! That was a tongue-in-cheek slam on MYSELF for putting up one more post on the matter, when it feels like there’s hardly a place left on the internet where I haven’t spouted the same basic stuff over and over. I thought your post was great and worth responding to — hence my beating a horse that I have already pretty much kilt dead as a doornail, in terms of what I have left to say about it.

    And I answered the definition of dieting question over at your blog, so I won’t keep repeating myself in both places, but I will say I loved what Meowser said above.

    in HAES the behavior itself is the success, not the size that ultimately results from the behavior.

    I think that’s a perfect description of where I stand, and much more succinct than I would have been.

  7. There’s such a conflation of healthy eating and activity, and weight loss that it’s hard to sort out even when I’ve been practicing for the conversation.

    Oh hell yes, Tricia.

  8. Meowser–Thank you for your excellent clarification on the behavior being the success rather than achieving a hoped-for result. I’ve been trying to figure out how HEAS differs from dieting, if one’s approach to the weight loss is balanced and healthy.

  9. Paul, from your post it seems that the necessary and sufficient condition for “diet” is the goal of weight loss.

    I know my body quite well. What it wants is KFC and turtle pie. It doesn’t like most vegetables other than corn and potatoes, and I’d rather have some scrambled eggs and sausage for breakfast than a bowl of cereal. And it’s not a matter of deprivation, once in Colorado I had steak and eggs every morning for three straight weeks, and I didn’t have the faintest urge to have a salad for a change.

    If I understand you correctly, forcing myself to eat more fruits and vegetables (which I don’t like) is perfectly OK as long as it has HAES stamped on it. That’s just trying to eat more healthy. But if I’m trying to eat more fruits and vegetables to lose weight, then that’s automatically a “diet” and therefore automatically unhealthy. I think that’s where the contradiction is – why is health based on a philosophical stance?

  10. Okay, I just have to say this here, as I did in my own blog.

    This radical anti-dieting stance is not something that the healthy and relatively smaller among us have thought up just so they can ignore the issues that larger and older people have.

    I weigh over 300 pounds. I don’t know exactly how much because I don’t own a scale and regular household scales don’t go above 300 anyway. I am on the cusp of not being able to buy clothes in plus-size stores.

    I am 30 years old. Not much in the greater scope of human life expectancy but old enough that my ankle hurt after a day of wearing flats that offer no support.

    I have health problems that complicate my relationship with food because of many, many food allergies. It has taken a year of regular steroids and other meds to allow my lungs to heal past the 50% mark.

    Would I like to be smaller? Sure. I would also like to win the lottery, as Kate keeps mentioning as a comparision. Dieting is not going to help that happen. It might for a very short time but in the long run it will do more damage to my poor, food-hating body because it will just continue to fuck with my metabolism and digestive system.

    This isn’t a bunch of shape privileged in-betweenies with no heath problems. It is people of every size and shape and health level who have realized that dieting is antithetical to Fat Acceptance as a political ideology and movement.

  11. why is health based on a philosophical stance?

    Not to be flip or anything, but mental health is a part of health, and generally speaking, diets are crazy-making.

  12. kate,

    i just want to say that you’re awesome and articulate, and i really appreciate this work you do. the world is better for it.

  13. rotund, as usual I did not explain as well as I should have. I’m horrible at writing.. oh well..

    I’m not supporting dieting by any means. I’m just asking for an exact definition of what “diet” is. It seems to be ok to ask people to “eat healthier” which obviously means restricting some foods and increasing others. But if I’m eating less fried chicken and more fresh fruit, even though that’s not what I like, isn’t that automatically a diet? Does the whole HAES only work for people whose bodies have good intuition and don’t crave fast food all the time?

    It just seems a very contrived position and if I can’t understand it, how is someone in the general population supposed to?

  14. Rakshasa @ 14: I’m just asking for an exact definition of what “diet” is. It seems to be ok to ask people to “eat healthier” which obviously means restricting some foods and increasing others. But if I’m eating less fried chicken and more fresh fruit, even though that’s not what I like, isn’t that automatically a diet?

    Yes it is. The thing is, eating healthier doesn’t always mean focusing on restricting foods you like and increasing foods you don’t like. For many of us it might well mean no longer focusing so much on dividing foods into “right” and “wrong.” If one is overly obsessed with eating the “right” foods, stopping this obsession can reduce stress, which is healthier.

    That said, a lot of people in this discussion are using “diet” as a code word for “eating fewer calories than one needs, in order to lose weight.”

    Also, a lot of people have a pretty narrow understanding of HAES. It does not need to mean “OK, you don’t have to lose weight, but you still have to eat X, and not Y, and you have to exercise.” It can also mean “find out what feels good to you and do more of that.” In other words HAES can be approached from a mechanistic “fix the body” perspective or from a holistic perspective. (I admit to a preference for the latter.)

  15. Actually, my response was more aimed at ZuZu’s remarks to Kate about Kate being size privileged (which Kate has never hesitated to acknowledge herself) and having a hard time listening to younger and thinner people talk about this. That seems to be almost willfully ignoring the constant acknowledgment by. Sweet Machine and Filljonk that they have health issues and the commenters that are larger in size.

    I totally get your question – I will try my best to answer it.

    Dieting is, as we have been defining it here and elsewhere, the act of deliberately pursuing weight loss as a goal unto itself.

    So changing what you eat, even when you really want steak and eggs, in order to improve your health isn’t the same as dieting. Eating healthy foods (and I deliberately avoid the term “good foods”) actually will make you healthier. It is something that works.

    If you change your eating habits so that you’ll lose 5 pounds, however, even if you are healthier as a side effect, you are trying to change the very body that you claim to be accepting. And, as the evidence just keeps showing, it is more than likely not going to work. In fact, it is most likely to actively cause you harm in the long run by screwing with your metabolism and your body’s set point. That is why so many dieters wind up heavier than when they began.

    So, while your body might start to crave salad after a couple of months of nothing but steak and eggs, it is equally okay if it does not and your start eating salads anyway because you think the roughage would be good for your colon.

  16. What about Kate’s post on “Devouring the World” a while back? Wasn’t the idea that dieting, even for health reasons, gives us a kind of unhealthy relationship with food? Like the way it makes us separate foods into “good” and “bad” and makes us crave the “bad” foods more, because they’re forbidden. I thought that was kind of the point of HAES eating – eating without guilt or separatism and exercising in a way that feels natural and good. Not to put words in Kate’s mouth, so correct me if I’m wrong.

    I’m referring to this post:

    http://kateharding.net/2007/08/03/devouring-the-world/

  17. So, while your body might start to crave salad after a couple of months of nothing but steak and eggs, it is equally okay if it does not and your start eating salads anyway because you think the roughage would be good for your colon.

    I think this gets back to the difference between capital D Dieting (aka eating “good” foods for the sole reason of weight loss) and changing your overall “diet” (aka the balance of foods you eat in general, for reasons not related to weight loss). The latter type of eating (which I don’t know a good name for so I’ll just call it Happy Eating for now even though that’s an incredibly stupid name), unlike dieting, probably will work, because it has to do with very specific reactions of food in your body on a daily basis. So if you have celiac disease and can’t eat gluten, you’re not Dieting, you’re doing Happy Eating, because your goal is not to lose weight but to stop your body from having an immune reaction to wheat every day. That works, because there’s a really specific, DIRECT relationship between what goes in your body and what it does. As TR says, if you’re not crazy about salads but start eating them sometimes because you think the roughage will be good for your digestion, that’s not Dieting — that’s Happy Eating, and guess what? The roughage probably will be good for your digestion, and then you’ll feel a little bit better all the time, and you’ll start to *want* salads for your body even if you don’t want them for the taste.

    A big difference here is the mindset. Eating should not be a punishment for being fat. Eating should be something you enjoy and that makes you feel good, whether it feels good at that moment in your mouth or a bit later in your general well-being.

  18. I must say that kerfuffle (greatest word ever) aside, I’m really glad this is being discussed. And that even though people are getting pissed and annoyed and offended and upset (myself included), I think it’s a really important subject that needed to be brought up. I mean, the fact that people are reacting so strongly proves that it needed discussing.

    I know that, personally, it’s causing me to examine and reexamine a lot of things I believe and support. And it’s causing me to think and question a lot. About ideology vs. action and the struggle over doing something when it’s at odds with your personal beliefs.

    I think movements falter when its members become too complacent. With society, themselves and each other. Even though a big part of me wants to run away from this whole topic, I can’t. I want to be challenged. I want to be questioned. I want to be made to feel uncomfortable and vulnerable because I know that’s when the real work starts. And real work is what causes real change.

  19. Sweetmachine said: The latter type of eating (which I don’t know a good name for so I’ll just call it Happy Eating for now even though that’s an incredibly stupid name), unlike dieting, probably will work, because it has to do with very specific reactions of food in your body on a daily basis.

    Happy Eating is NOT stupid name, and if you don’t mind, i’m probably going to start using it in my own blog. :D

    My mom in law had an interesting experience with this sort of thing. A few years ago, her doc recommended she start eating plain yogurt for various health issues. She didn’t like the taste, but she has a really great doc that she trusts, so she started eating it for breakfast every morning. After a while, she started craving it, even though she still didn’t like the taste. There was stuff in it that her body wanted.

    Me? I love salads. Love love love. But i also love a variety of things. Sometimes my body screams GIMME SALAD NOW, and i tend to listen to it.

    I think that perhaps living with fibromyalgia has given me a bit of a leg up on people who don’t have health issues: it’s forced me to listen to my body, what my body does and does not want. The bad reactions to certain foods are almost immediate and recognizable.

  20. The “ex-gay” analogy was mine, so naturally I support it! ;)

    But seriously, I think the discussions of privilege and oppression are really important in EVERY social justice movement, and yeah, these discussions will ALWAYS cause much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    I spent 11 years working in the feminist movement, and time and again, I invariably witnessed some privileged women become disruptive (weeping, protesting, even storming out of the room) whenever we engaged in a discussion about oppression, because they took it personally. Privilege is invisible to those who have it; being made to see one’s privilege can make one naturally upset, self-conscious, and defensive. The reality is that WHENEVER people’s privilege is called to the mat, a few privileged people WILL try to take up all the space in the room, and make the discussion all about them and their privilege group. (I’ve even seen, for example, white women talk about how THEY are being oppressed BECAUSE of their whiteness.)

    This is a normal part of any social justice movement, and especially feminist ones. We have to have the “fights” in order to get to the root of the matter. Conflict in itself is not unhealthy – it’s how we deal with conflict that matters.

    At the same time, we all have to learn to not only recognize and acknowledge our privilege, but recognize that it is NOT okay to deny, use, or flaunt one’s privilege, and it’s especially NOT okay to do so when we are in the room where oppressed groups are meeting. Failing to acknowledge one’s role in perpetuating oppression IS oppression.

    Kudos to everyone who has managed to remain engaged in this discussion, because it is important – vital – for the long-term growth of this movement.

  21. Pingback: Fat Activism and Happy Eating | BABble

  22. Man, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that if something doesn’t sound good to you, no matter how good it seems like it should be for you in theory, you SHOULD NOT EAT IT. It probably doesn’t sound good for a reason. At least that’s the case for me. So if you don’t want fruit, whatevs, don’t eat fruit. Would it kill you to throw in a multi-V, probably not. But yeah, forcing yourself to eat anything is a bad idea, even if it’s not necessarily a diet (for instance, time and time again I go “I really should have some peanut butter on my apple, otherwise I won’t have had any protein this meal” and then I go “ow ow ow ow ow I shouldn’t eat peanut butter.” Nothing to do with weight loss; still stupid.)

    But as I said on TR’s blog, I do not consider myself to have health issues. I have digestive idiosyncrasies.

  23. I forgot to add this earlier, but “Hey, Look, a Dead Horse! *WHAP*” is just about the funniest headline I’ve ever read.

  24. “why is health based on a philosophical stance?”

    Because…

    a) HAES works in concert with scientific evidence, and with the goals of the individual, i.e. to be healthier, and to eat more peacefully and calmly. WLD (Love the abbreviation. It works), which ruins health and/or causes weight gain and/or encourages disordered eating, is directly in opposition to the stated/perceived goals of the WLDer, i.e. to become healthy or to lose weight or to eat “better” or less “compulsively”. HAES is sane behavior; WLD is loonytunes.

    b) WLD encourages people to suspend their common sense, to look upon their own experiences and results as evidence of existential imperfection (“It can be the diet that’s not working. I must be bad.”) and to look on their body as an enemy to be mistreated and conquered. HAES encourages people to think clearly, to trust their own experiences, and to treat their bodies/selves with love and respect.

    c) WLD can be commodified, packaged and sold, since it relies by definition on the WLDer looking outside her/himself for validation and approval. HAES cannot be commodified and sold because it’s validation comes from the intelligence and experience of the individual.

    d) Since WLD has no anchor in reality, it can never be proven illegitimate — the failure is always on the part of the WLDer. HAES, by definition, is anchored in immediate, tangible reality, and can immediately be modified in response to the individual’s changing needs.

    (Duped on da blog.)

  25. Way to break it down, Kell. Thanks. (Also, I’m loving your posts on all this. And I know you’ve been through it a billion times before, so thanks for patiently getting into it once again.)

  26. OK, I’m afraid this will sound VERY dumb after all these much more eloquent posts!

    Embracing HAES is the only eating plan/diet/lifestyle change (hate that term) that has ever worked for me. It knocked some sense in to me and I stopped restricting food and playing games. It’s also the only way of thinking that has ever helped me lose weight and keep it off. But really, once I had the right mind-set the weight loss was just a side effect. The real reward was how great I felt when I finally finished a kick boxing class, ran a mile, and my knee stopped hurting. I just started looking at food as fuel. If I eat a frosted sugar cookie before i go to the gym, I’m going to feel like crap so I should probably eat some cataloupe. (I’ll eat the cookie later if I want it.) I know that writing it like this makes it sound simpler than it is. But listening to your body, as Paul said, really does work. There are days where I um, “listen” and I think it’s telling me to eat cheetos…so I eat them. Later when I’m trying to run at the park fueled only by styrofoam covered in orange dust and a Mt. Dew Code Red…then I think maybe I didn’t really “listen”.
    But since I gave up dieting and adopted HAES, i don’t have guilt. It’s gone. I could never say that when I was dieting. I really hate to use the term “lifestyle change” because I think it’s become code for diet. But I know that I’m not on a diet because what I eat makes me happy, fuels my days and I can continue living this way forever. I used to hate eating in front of people. I wondered what they thought constantly. Now I just don’t care. Mostly I was probably just paranoid from the guilt of dieting. Now I figure…let people think what they want. I know that I take care of myself and I’m happy.

    Kate, I hope this wasn’t a useless ramble! I am new to your blog but I love it!

  27. Thanks Kell!

    The last straw for me with dieting was when I actually thought eating a brownie made me a bad person. What?! Yeah, I shouldn’t eat brownies everyday but give me a break! It’s just food.

    After I gave up dieting, I started to be seriously annoyed by all the food talk around me at work..”Oh, I’ll just have a little bite since I’ll work out later.” or “Oh, I REALLY shouldn’t have a Reece cup because I’m (dieting/fat/insert pretty much anything negative).”

    Um, yes or no? It’s a Reece Cup…not a moral delimma.

    The answer is ALWAYS yes to a Reece cup though! That should be noted.

    :)

  28. Pingback: Unexpected wisdom… | Creamy Nougat Lair

  29. Pingback: Fat Activism and Happy Eating « babble

  30. Pingback: dieting is dieting « Silentbeep is not so silent anymore

  31. Pingback: A reminder of why I am here… « Silentbeep is not so silent anymore

Comments are closed.