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By anonymous contributor
For a long time, my eating disorder flew under the radar. People always talk about calories, sizes, sugar, fat and new cure-all treatments so casually. Because thinner is better. So, for the most part, I was just like everyone else in our diet culture.
It sounds wonderful; I’ve really romanticized it. The weight comes back sometimes, fluctuating behind smiles and therapy sessions, but all that means is your bra and jeans never fit right. I think it is very important to mention that most people with eating disorders do not lose weight. In fact, the vast majority, like me, are never underweight. So all the crying and counting leads to nothing but more unhappiness and temporary, unglamorous fixes. And a lot of therapy.
I’m not here to discuss my eating disorder “journey.” I want to talk about Western society’s disordered-eating “journey.” About how being fat became a punchline, and the only thing your doctor wants to talk about during your five-minute appointment at the wellness center.
Let’s talk about how new students enter university with one of their top concerns being the dreaded “freshman fifteen.” It’s horrific that this expression has become so commonplace among my classmates. Even the calorie counts on the menus in the student center reinforce this obsession our demographic has with thinness.
This “epidemic” of obesity is on everybody’s mind all the time. I can’t tell you the number of people I witness who venomously insist on non-fat milk at Starbucks — ironic considering “non-fat” has more sugar which begs the question, what is the true epidemic here?
There are things the public health campaigns do not want you to know. Like how much money is generated by diet-fads and weight-loss companies. How little their guidelines are backed by scientific literature. How much easier it is to blame you than blame society. How hard your body will fight to stay at its predetermined ideal weight – and that you really can’t change that predetermined weight. And, the most shocking to me, how little weight affects health.
Your body was not designed to handle weight fluctuation. Any amount of weight loss is a worst-case scenario, and this is whether you are 100 or 500 pounds. So your body is going to fight like hell to stay where it is unless it’s below the genetically predetermined ideal size.
Ask pretty much anyone who has tried sustained weight loss. You can do it, but it will be a constant struggle. Unless you lose weight extremely gradually, in which case you are likely not doing it consciously, you cannot be happy or relaxed around food. You will be starving yourself until you are hungry enough to eat a horse, and then you’ll eat that horse.
As for weight and health, we all know about body mass index. 18-25 is normal, and then everyone below is a “model” and everyone above is “disgustingly” unhealthy. But the science says otherwise.
A high BMI is not correlated with high morbidity or mortality rates until you get into the above 30 range. And above 30, the rates of morbidity and mortality are far more correlated with physical activity than with weight. So most research would show that so long as you can move with your body, you can live with your body. How’s that for a slogan?
It is true that freshman do gain some weight during their first few months at university but nowhere near the exaggerated fifteen pounds. If you gained some weight, relax – it’s normal! Researchers at McMaster University are currently investigating environmental and biological determinants of weight change because, yes, that number on the scale really isn’t all up to you.
So drink that full-fat latte. Stop obsessing over food. It doesn’t lead to anywhere good. The world is your goddamn oyster, with lots of other yummy things on the menu. Quite frankly, weight loss is boring. But that’s another story.