Eating for Weight Loss or Eating for Happiness?

Eating for Weight Loss or Eating for Happiness?

Eating for Weight Loss or Eating for Happiness?

By, KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian & CAITLYN CAMPBELL, Student Dietitian. 

3rd October 2019

What do you think would happen if you stopped relying on external tools to tell you what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat (aka calorie counting, food tracking, points systems etc.)? If your thought process looks like this one you are not alone: 

Fears around food

For most, the absence of rules and regulations leads them to believe that the above image will be their fate. But, if restriction really worked, wouldn’t we all be thin by now? It is estimated that 57% of women have been on a diet in the past year! In reality, we know dieting/restriction in and of itself leads to that feeling of a loss of control around food. The real progression should look like this:Reality of Dieting

As we learned in our last article Why Can’t I Keep The Weight Off, the reason for this progression, is actually linked to our bodies own survival mechanisms. To our bodies, no matter their size, restriction equates to famine. Famine brings on hormonal responses that make us hungrier and increase food seeking behaviour. No, your body does not understand that the latest fad diet isn’t a famine. No, your body doesn’t understand that the latest “lifestyle change” is not a famine. 

Restriction is Dangerous and Damaging

A good way to know if you are ready to stop feeling consumed by guilt around what you should and shouldn’t be eating, is if you are able to recognise the less obvious forms of restrictions that may be harming you. According to Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, the founders of Intuitive Eating, recognising and acknowledging the harms dieting and restriction has caused you is the first step to dropping the problematic diet mentality.

Pursuit of Weight Loss can Interfere with your Physical and Emotional Well-being

When has the pursuit of weight loss interfered with your ability to enjoy life? Here are some common examples:

  • Ordering the less appealing menu item or skipping a night out altogether to avoid the more appealing foods.
  • Losing weight on your diet, receiving compliments and feeling shame in seeing people when the weight came back on. 

Think about the ways dieting has caused you harm. If you are still unsure if you are ready to make the jump away from dieting, here is a quiz to help you decide.

No diets? What now?! 

Maybe you’re someone who says to themselves, “Hey, dieting really messed up my life, I am ready to leave it, but I don’t know what to do next.” 

This is where intuitive eating comes in. This is an evidenced-based way of eating and it is designed to help you feel better around food. By honouring your health and respecting your internal cues, you honour and respect your body. Starting intuitive eating can be tricky, but we have the resources to help support you. When we start honouring our hunger, quit labelling foods as being good and bad, and most importantly, show ourselves compassion and forgiveness, we can begin to listen to our body’s internal cues.

The State of the Science 

For a lot of people, the news that “diets don’t result in long term weight loss” and that intuitive eating may be a better way to safely support health is a shocker. Who would’ve known that intuitive eating has over 100 published studies to support its use? Who would have known that scientific literature reviews examining the long-term impacts of dieting, would find that weight loss isn’t really related to positive health outcomes.* 

That paper, published in 2013 by Janet Tomiyama echoes that of a similar paper that says, “The results for the treatment for obesity are remarkably similar and remarkably poor.” ** What the authors meant by that statement: The results of studies examining dieting were similar in that people wouldn’t maintain weight loss over time and these results were found in virtually all of the studies the authors examined. 

The Futility of Dieting Is Not New News

This was a study done by Stunkard A. et al. in 1959. That’s right 1959. We’ve seen the opposite impact of what dieting is intended to do: the most predictive outcome of dieting being weight regain over time. We see this in long-term review studies of dieting dating back from 1959 to the present. Yet, dieting is still promoted by many healthcare providers.

#SayNudeToDietCulture 

Sounds frustrating right?! Well, in honour of all of the craziness and confusion that is out there in regards to nutrition and dieting, NudeNutrition is running a campaign the month of October 2019. The campaign, #SayNudeToDietCulture is geared towards stripping the nonsense around false nutrition information and helping you remove the focus from your weight and onto health. Follow the campaign to see stories of people ditching diet culture, tips and tricks to continue your own personal journey away from diet culture, and much more!

We hope that this campaign is one that can help folks continue to step away from the cyclic nature of dieting and feel happiness around food. Adopting the practices of intuitive eating can help individuals achieve food freedom. Eating food is not and should not be a reward. Nourishment is your human right.  

References

*Tomiyama, A. J., Ahlstrom, B., & Mann, T. (2013). Long-term effects of dieting: Is weight loss related to health? Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 7(12), 861-877.

**Stunkard A & McLaren-Hume M. The results of treatment for obesity: a review of the literature and report of a series. Arch. Intern. Med. 103:79-85, 1959.

 

Intuitive Eating Tips For Those Starting Out

Intuitive Eating Tips For Those Starting Out

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Intuitive Eating Tips For Those Starting Out

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

August 2nd 2019

Ditching dieting for Intuitive Eating (IE) may sound a little scary, but today I am offering some tips for those just starting out.

First of all, some of you may be wondering, “What is this Intuitive Eating thing anyways?”

Well IE is an evidence-based way of eating, created by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. It has over 100 published studies to support its use, and is used by many Registered Dietitians who specialise in non-diet approaches. 

Let’s take a look at an example… 

Intuitive eating is most easily thought of in the context of toddlers. Toddlers tend to eat when they are hungry, stop when they are full, and they naturally seek out a wide variety of different foods. They may even leave ½ a biscuit or chocolate buttons on their plate… when was the last time you did this? 

We are born with an innate ability to understand and regulate our own hunger. As we grow older, we can lose this ability. Being told to finish everything on our plate can teach us to unlearn how to listen to our natural cues. We then add in years of dieting, food judgement, ignoring our hunger/fullness cues and we can lose trust in our own bodies.

Intuitive Eating has been developed to help people build that trust up again in their own bodies to tell them what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat. To heal people from the chronic side effects of dieting (binge eating, secret eating, rebound weight gain, food obsession, food guilt and much more). 

It can help remove those judgy voices that may sit on your shoulders telling you that you’re good for eating a salad, and bad for eating a cake. It can help you discover what foods you actually enjoy and what foods make you feel good, versus what you think you ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be eating. 

One of the creators, Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S, describes intuitive eating as, “a personal process of honouring health by listening and responding to the direct messages of the body in order to meet your physical and psychological needs” (Evelyn Tribole). Basically, this is a method where you learn to honour hunger and fullness while respecting your body.  

Intuitive Eating is composed of 10 key principles:

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality
  2. Honour Your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food 
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Respect Your Fullness
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Honour Your Feelings Without Using Food
  8. Respect Your Body
  9. Exercise—Feel the Difference
  10. Honour Your Health with Gentle Nutrition 

This may all sound like a lot, after all, leaving dieting behind is no easy task. But no fear, we are here to help! Here are some tips to help you get started on your intuitive eating journey.

1. Take the quiz to find out if you’re ready.

Check out the link here:  How Do You Know if You’re Ready to Stop Dieting?

2. Say goodbye to dieting.

In the spirit of Marie Kondo, say goodbye to dieting, it does not spark joy!  The very first principle of Intuitive Eating is to “Reject the Diet Mentality.” Intuitive eating is not another fad or 21st century “wellness diet” or food plan. So can you throw away the scales, drop the diet tools and reflect on how dieting has not served you? Take some time to journal or reflect upon instances of dieting and the ways it has interfered with your life. It is okay to miss dieting, or even mourn it for a little, whatever you have to do to respectfully say goodbye, thank it for whatever role it served, and move on. 

 3. Start honouring your hunger.

One of the second most important steps of IE is to learn to honour your hunger. How can you possibly  eat consciously and moderately when you approach food in a state of monstrous hunger? Of course you’re going to shovel it down, eat anything in front of you, feel overly full and then potentially guilty about ‘overeating’. If you can stop yourself getting to this point of monstrous hunger, you may be able to implement some of the other principles. See this as the first layer to the process. So try rating your hunger on a scale of 0-10 before you eat something. Are you tuning into your hunger cues? Here’s a scale to get an idea of how.

Hunger Fullness Scale

4. Quit the food labelling.

Try to eliminate the “good/bad”, “healthy/unhealthy” food language. Think about this. If you tell a kid not to eat something, what do they want to do? They want to eat it! The same happens with us adults. So if you place certain foods up on a pedestal (bread, cheese, chocolate, crisps are usual suspects) then of course the desire to eat them will be stronger. When you remove them from their pedestal, put them onto a level playing field with all foods, you get to decide whether you actually like the food. No single food is good/bad/healthy/unhealthy. After all, you don’t just eat a carrot and tick off health. Or eat a cake and undo your health.

5. Be forgiving to yourself.

The beauty of intuitive eating is that it leaves room for our imperfections. How many years have you been trying to shrink your body, follow food rules and diet plans? I imagine a little while. So you can’t expect to undo this work overnight and that’s okay! Sometimes you will eat and feel overly full and sometimes you may still feel hungry. All of this is part of normal eating. Like most things in life, intuitive eating isn’t linear and ups and downs are to be expected. One thing I would encourage is to practice talking to yourself like you would your best friend.

6. Practice a bit of mindful eating.

Take some time, if possible, to eat without distractions. Sit down alone at a table, with your phone tucked away and the TV turned off. How does the food taste, smell, and look? Practice acknowledging your hunger and satiety. This will help you learn what is satisfying to you. *Spoiler* if you misgauge your hunger and serve yourself more than you actually want, you can save it for another time!  

7. Stop thinking that your body isn’t worthy of care.

Our bodies are pretty freaking cool. They are so many systems in place that allow us to survive. This isn’t something that happens overnight or even ever entirely. But how about you set a goal to be more generous to yourself more days than not? Or, identify one thing a day you can do that shows yourself care and compassion. This can look like a good bedtime, decluttering toxic social media from your feed, or spending a day to break from work. You are worthy of self-compassion and care. You owe it to yourself to invest in yourself.  

Summary


Intuitive eating is complex and it’s a personal journey of building up your own toolkit of life skills. This way, you can be the boss of you! Not the meal plan/points system/or calorie counting app! Many people think that when they give themselves permission to eat and stop following the rules, they have ticked off this intuitive eating thing. It’s a lot more complex than that and there are many levels to unravel. If you would like to learn some more ways that you can get started on this journey, check out my free audio guide and workbook, providing you with 7-steps to find food peace and food freedom. 

7 Top Tips from Registered Dietitian on How to Ditch the Weighing Scales

7 Top Tips from Registered Dietitian on How to Ditch the Weighing Scales

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7 Top Tips from Registered Dietitian on How to Ditch the Weighing Scales!

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

July 24th 2019

So you have decided to ditch the weighing scales!

Congratulations!

You’ve learnt how diets don’t work for most people, and how weighing yourself may be doing more harm than good!

You are taking the first step to improving your mental and physical health.

But breaking a habit is hard, and perhaps you are worried you won’t be able to resist the temptation? 

1. Dive straight in by throwing them in the bin!

The correct way to ditch the weighing scales is easy! You can put it in your recycling bin if it is marked with the crossed-out wheeled bin symbol. If you’re not sure about how to dispose of electrical items, your local authority will provide guidance on recycling of these items.

Un-recycled electrical equipment ends up in landfill where hazardous substances can leak out and cause soil and water contamination. This can harm wildlife and also potentially our health too! 

2. Put the scales where you won’t see them

If throwing them in the bin feels too scary, this may be a good alternative. For many people, weighing themselves is a habit, something they have been doing regularly for a long time. Putting the scales somewhere you don’t see them may reduce the likelihood of accidentally stepping on the scales simply because it is what you have always done. The back top shelf of a wardrobe or in the garage/loft is a good idea. 

3. Take the batteries out of the scales

It may still be tempting to step on those scales, even when you told yourself you wouldn’t. Taking out the batteries adds another step to getting that number. This gives you time to really think about the decision you are making, especially if you store them separate from the scales.

4. Ask a family member or a friend to hide the scales from you

Having a family member or a friend to keep you accountable may help you break the habit for good. Needing to ask someone for the scales forces you to externalise your thoughts and rationalise them to someone else. By this point you might realise whatever excuse you told yourself about needing to know your weight, isn’t rational at all. 

5. Don’t have scales in the home

Throw your scales away, or give them to a friend. It’s difficult to weigh yourself when you have to leave the comfort of your own home and find a public place to step on those scales. Then it will truly no longer be a habit, rather a firm decision to step on the scales.

6. Seek support from a health professional.

I support women who want to give up dieting for good. Part of this process involves learning how to listen to your internal cues (hunger/ fullness) instead of the external ones (the scales). If this sounds like something you would like to try, you can book a free discovery call here. I would recommend finding a Registered Dietitian or Registered Nutritionist who specialises in non-diet approaches. 

7. Remember, the scale will always be there to go back to

It might feel daunting giving up something you have always done. Just know that it doesn’t have to be forever. I challenge you to stop weighing yourself for a month and see how it makes you feel. If after that month you want to go back to weighing yourself, that’s OK! We are all different, but you will never know whether ditching the scales can help you improve your mental and physical health unless you try.

Whatever you decide to do just remember, you are more than a number on the scale.


**If you are struggling to stay away from the scales or are feeling anxious about not knowing how much you weigh then you may have an unhealthy relationship with the scales. Getting support from a mental health professional may be beneficial in helping you overcome this.

How to know if weighing yourself is doing more harm than good

How to know if weighing yourself is doing more harm than good

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“I weighed myself, but I wish I hadn’t”

How to know if weighing yourself is doing more harm than good

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

July 24th 2019

Do you ever dread weighing yourself? 

Do you ever lay awake in the morning worrying about what that number will be?

Maybe you try to remember all the things you ate yesterday, wondering whether they were the right choices.

Will today be a good day? Or will it be a bad day? 

When you step on those scales I’m guessing one of three things happens. 

Image by Gesina Kunkel 

1. The number goes up

Your heart sinks. Feelings of shame and disappointment take over your body. Your biggest fear came true… you gained weight. Logically you know it is impossible to gain 2 pounds of fat overnight, but you have no time for logic. Your brain is too busy with negative thoughts about yourself or scrambling to figure out how to ‘fix’ it. You either plan to restrict what you eat for the next few days, or you let the negative thoughts swallow you whole. ‘Why did you eat that extra slice of bread!!’ you think. Inevitably, both of these thought processes end in you overeating at some point. You wish you hadn’t weighed yourself at all.

2. The number stays the same

Phew, it didn’t change!  After a moment of relief to see it hadn’t gone up, you get a pang of disappointment. It still wasn’t the number you wanted to see. You would think about all of the things that you ‘shouldn’t have’ eaten and would promise yourself to eat ‘better’ today. Either that or you feel angry and frustrated your efforts aren’t giving you the results that you wanted. ‘Stuff it’ you think. “Why do I bother eating healthy and exercising if it clearly isn’t working?” You decide to get fast food for lunch today, because what’s the point of even trying. Later that night, you worry about what the scales will tell you tomorrow. 

3. The number goes down

Yes, excitement! You check and triple check the scales just in case you somehow stepped on the scales wrong. For a short while, you feel great! But then you feel nervous. What if it was just water weight and it all comes back tomorrow? Maybe you’re tempted to eat even less today so you lose even MORE weight tomorrow? Or maybe you are tempted to ‘reward’ yourself for your efforts. ‘I deserve this ice-cream’ you think… until later that night, you begin to regret it. Maybe that was a bad idea.  You dread stepping on that scale tomorrow, what if I gained it back?

If any of these three resonated with you, then weighing yourself may be causing you more harm than good.

Many people battle with their scales every day.

I know I did.

I know most of my clients did too. 

This is no surprise considering self-weighing is related to increased concerns about weight, increased depression, decreased body satisfaction and poorer self-esteem in people who are sensitive about their body image. This is especially true for women and teenagers, who are more likely to experience negative emotions from weighing themselves.

If this sounds like you, it’s important to know that you are not alone. One in five people in the UK report feeling shame about their body, and according to a 2016 study, it was estimated that 57% of women had tried to lose weight in the last year alone. It is clear that this a common struggle.

So if self-weighing is making people feel so bad about themselves, why are they still doing it?

Why do people weigh themselves?

It can be hard not to worry about the number on the scale when we live in a society that values thinness. Some people believe that they will be happier or more confident if they are thinner. Others weigh themselves because of concerns regarding their health.

However, not only are the scales not very accurate, but they also tell you nothing about your worth, or your health (see my last article on having Health at Every Size).

Whilst stepping on the scales can be useful for some people and for some medical needs, for others it can cause more harm than good. Being unhappy with the number on the scales can encourage restrictive dieting which, for most, results in rebound weight gain, disordered eating, psychological distress, slowed metabolism, reduced self-esteem, weight cycling (see my previous article on Why Diets Don’t Work). 

If not weighing yourself, then what?

You may be wondering how you are supposed to manage your weight without knowing what it is. But what if I told you that focusing on weight is actually distracting you from your bodies natural weight management system? 

Whilst it is possible to lose weight in the short term, the body has powerful physiological mechanisms to bring your weight back to where it wants to be. In short, when you lose weight your body responds by slowing down your metabolism, making you hungrier, and think about food more often to bring your weight back to its happy and healthy place – its set point. 

These powerful physiological mechanisms are so strong that they can actually cause our body to ‘overshoot’ its needs. This is why most dieters regain all the weight they lost, and sometimes even more

So what can you do instead?

Intuitive eating uses mindfulness to teach you how to get back in touch with your bodies internal hunger and fullness cues, to work WITH your bodies natural weight management mechanism rather than against it. This is known as the non-diet approach. Evidence shows that this approach can improve lifestyle and eating habits, self-esteem, body image, and mental health. 

Tips to ditch the scales

If you have made the brave decision to ditch the scales, well done! You’ve made your first step to improving your mental and physical health.

Breaking a habit can be hard, but I have written some tips to help you ditch the scales. 

If you would like to begin your journey to making peace with food and your body, you can get started today with my FREE audio guide and actionable workbook (below). 

Remember: You are more than just a number on the scale.

 

How do you know if you are ready to stop dieting?

How do you know if you are ready to stop dieting?

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How Do You Know if You’re Ready to Stop Dieting?

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

July 23rd 2019

Firstly, let’s just clarify what I mean by ‘dieting’. Dieting is anything that you do in order to try and shrink your body. Whether it’s a juice cleanse or a ‘lifestyle’ change jazzed up as some kind of wellness thing. 

You can have health and wellness without the never ending battle of trying to shrink your body. I have written about ‘why diets don’t work‘ and how you can have ‘health at every size‘ so I won’t go on.

So do you want to know if you’re ready to stop dieting? 

This questionnaire has been written to help you identify the ways in which dieting may have interfered with your life. To help you identify where you are currently at, and where work may be needed with your relationship with food.

This may help you identify whether you’re ready to stop dieting, so that you can save money and create more brain space to be the best version of you!

 

If you would like to talk through your challenges with me, you can schedule a FREE 20-minute no obligation call. 

Alternatively, you can get started on changing your relationship with food TODAY, by listening to my FREE audio guide on 7-steps to find food peace and food freedom. 

Sign up below! 

 

Can You Really Have Health at Every Size?

Can You Really Have Health at Every Size?

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Can You Really Have Health at Every Size?

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

9th July 2019

One question that frequently echoes around the place of work, social media, and social circles, of many Health at Every Size (HAES®) practitioners is, “But, come on, can you really have health at any size?”. 

This question usually comes after an individual first hears about the social justice movement HAES®. They are immediately confronted with a lot of confusion. We are told from a young age by doctors, other respected professionals, friends and family that our weight is a major (if not sole) determiner of our health and morality. It is no wonder that the messages surrounding HAES® come with some confusion.

Understanding weight science is one of the first steps to heal your relationship with food. Hopefully this article can help alleviate some misperceptions as well as shed some light on the principles of HAES®.

What is Health at Every Size ( HAES®)?

Health at Every Size® is a set of principles to help us advance social justice and create an inclusive and respectful community. It’s been developed to support people of all sizes in finding compassionate ways to take care of themselves. The phrase, “Can you really have health at every size?” comes from a general misunderstanding of what HAES® is. 

HAES®  is kind of like you, living your best life, where body size isn’t situated as the star of the show. You and all the things that you cumulatively value, are the star. This is because the phrase, “health at every size” is different from the phrase “healthy at every size.” HAES® takes the approach of examining the whole person and not an isolated characteristic of the person (aka weight).

HAES®  is kind of like you, living your best life, where body size isn’t situated as the star of the show.

Image by Moose Kleenex

But doesn’t being high weight increase your health risks?

It turns out, despite decades of being told body size equates to health, new information indicates otherwise. Fat-phobia, or the fear of fatness, is rooted in many elements of our culture. Scientific researchers were and are, not exempt from that particular fear. Flawed research methods and a gross overgeneralisation of research results has added fuel to the fear of fatness.

Let’s look at some of the data…

The chart below is taken from a large study of 12,000 adults followed over 14 years below. It demonstrates that as a person partakes in more and more healthy habits (regardless of size), the risk of death reduces. 

If you look at the group with a higher weight (BMI over 30kg/m2) the risk of death is the highest when no positive habits are followed (on the left). However, when this group partakes in a few positive health behaviours the risk of death is no greater than that of a thin person partaking in the same activities. I repeat – the risk of death is no greater than that of a thin person partaking in the same activities regardless of their weight. 

These activities includes; physical activity, not smoking, reducing alcohol intake and increasing fruit and vegetable intake.

Why you may not be receiving the healthcare you deserve…

HAES® allows healthcare practitioners to provide equitable care to all patients regardless of their size. Have you ever been to the doctor for something really irrelevant to your weight like an eye infection, and left with a pamphlet on weight loss? Or maybe the healthcare provider didn’t give you the time of day? Maybe they didn’t believe you when you said that you eat your vegetables, don’t smoke, don’t drink and exercise? These are examples of weight stigma and these instances likely lead to avoidance of going back to your healthcare provider and ultimately worsened physical and mental health

By taking a weight inclusive approach through HAES®, practitioners are acknowledging that assuming someone is healthy or unhealthy based on their size, is an unhelpful way to approach health care. Weight inclusivity acknowledges that an individual’s moral value and body size are not related to one another. One’s health is just that—their own health. Health can mean a lot of things to different people and we must all respect others in the ways they do, or do not, choose to pursue health. 

The next time you visit the Doctor, and are told you need to lose weight for the 1274848728762784 time, perhaps you could use some of these phrases instead;

Taken and adapted from “Dances with Fat

Asking, “Can you actually have health at every size?” shoots us all a little off the mark of what is really going on.

This question distracts us from the real injustice: People of all body sizes are not getting appropriate medical care or respectful treatment due to weight bias. To make matters worse, experiencing weight discrimination deters the individual from participating in potentially beneficial health behaviours. Because diet culture places an emphasis on weight, overall health is sacrificed. 

Maybe you’ve experienced this during a time when you felt light headed and fatigued, but still didn’t eat, for the sake of a weight-related goal. Or maybe you’ve sacrificed a personal relationship for the sake of maintaining a diet. Whatever it may be, chasing a body size distracts us from other important aspects of our lives and health. 

Rather than asking, “Can you actually be healthy at every size” we should all be asking, “Regardless of body size, in what ways, can we support health and well-being?”. The latter question acknowledges that all bodies are worthy of respect and compassion and that there are many ways in which we can support our health that have nothing to do with the size of our bodies. 

Rather than asking, “Can you actually be healthy at every size” we should all be asking, “Regardless of body size, in what ways, can we support health and well-being?”.

 

Final Thoughts

Well, I warned everyone that this question wasn’t going to have a straightforward answer, but here we are. “Can you really have health at every size?” is a question that misses the mark. It fails to acknowledge that Health at Every Size® does not equate itself to the phrase Healthy at Every Size. Even so, as we examine new research, scientists are beginning to piece together that our health behaviours may play a more crucial role in our health than body size alone. 

Finally, the question itself, is a distraction from the real injustices occurring in our society. In order to correct the damages that weight discrimination has done, we must confront our own internal biases and work towards a better world. With that, I leave the readers of this article with a question. The next time you hear, “Can you really be healthy at every size?”, how will you respond?