health

An Open Letter to Dr. X, From a Former Fat Child

In the age of “childhood obesity” rhetoric amid the global panic around adiposity, one anonymous writer writes of her experiences as a fat child and adolescent in medical care. Sadly, the physician’s attempts to “control her weight” led not only to disconnection from her body, but also to a dangerous eating disorder. As much of our readership is aware, there is currently a “starvation trial” involving intermittent fasting for adolescents being conducted in Australia. Many Health At Every Size (HAES®) advocates and several professional organizations have spoken out about the potential harms of this trial, giving rise to more global awareness of the negative impacts of restrictive diets on children. Given this context, this is a particularly poignant piece about the very real harms of weight management practices with children and teens.

Dear Dr. “X,”

I hope this letter makes its way to you. It has been many years since I’ve visited your practice and I’m not sure if I have the right address or if a well-meaning assistant might deem this letter ill-suited for your undoubtedly busy schedule. I’ll admit it’s long, and possibly difficult to get through, but I promise it’s worth the read.

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An Open Letter to Fitness Professionals

by Lindley Ashline

Encountering weight-based discrimination and internalized weight bias can be particularly challenging in spaces designed to highlight fitness and body movement. In this piece, Lindley Ashline writes a letter to fitness professionals about the challenges faced by fat persons in fitness spaces and encourages fitness professionals to be more intentional and inclusive of fat bodies.

The Happy Place

Recently I saw a comment from a fitness professional that got me thinking. She said that she wants to help people in bodies of all sizes get to the “happy place” of exercise.

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Food is the New Classism

by Glenys Oyston

The argument (really just a friendly debate; not an actual fight) has stuck in my head for years.

A self-proclaimed foodie friend and I were discussing the qualities of the best grilled cheese sandwiches. I declared that my favorite was still the kind made with processed cheese slices. She was horrified. “Ugh no!” she gasped. “That’s not REAL cheese!”

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Unlearning Fat Phobia Is A Lifelong Process

by Melissa Toler, Pharm.D.

After performing at this year’s Super Bowl half-time show, Lady Gaga’s stomach was at the center of some good old-fashioned body-shaming on social media. Super Bowl viewers took to Twitter and Facebook to express their disapproval of her belly fat and suggested that maybe she should have hit the gym a little harder before the big show. It caused enough of a ruckus that she responded on her Instagram account with a brief post to acknowledge that she is proud of her body… and we should be too.

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Fitbit? No Thanks.

by Nicole Christina, LCSW

Ok. I admit they look cool. Especially the Jawbones. They look like something I might buy in the Museum of Modern Art catalog. Or a fashion statement worn by a character in the film Bladerunner. But I have a real beef with this supposed “health trend”.

For the benefit of discussion, imagine using this computerized tracking system for your dog; counting their steps, weighing and entering their kibble into an app. Doesn’t it make more sense to use your pet’s behavior to judge how much exercise and food they need? Don’t they have an internal system which tells them when to eat and how much to exert themselves?

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HAES and Naturopathic Medicine: Using HAES Principles to Facilitate Healing

by Caitlin O’Connor, ND

Practicing medicine, especially naturopathic medicine, in a weight-obsessed culture can be tricky. Food and movement are two of the most powerful tools I have to help my patients feel better, but how do I apply those tools in a culture so obsessed with diet and exercise as a means to an end (get skinnier) rather than a foundation for health? Oftentimes, my patients come to me having been traumatized by not only the weight loss industry, but also by medical professionals who have blown off their medical needs and/or focused solely on weight loss as a singular approach to anything that ails them. Figuring out how to work with women of all sizes – in a society that desperately sells the idea of small and slender as the only markers for health – has been a huge challenge in my practice.

First things first, when I work with patients, I ask them to define their goals. I would guess that at least 50%, if not more, of the women in my practice list weight loss as one of their primary concerns. This opens the door for conversation. Why is weight loss important? What has their relationship with weight been over the life span? Is there any history of disordered eating?

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