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What To Do If You’re Told You Need To Lose Weight To Get Pregnant

By Katherine Kimber, Registered Dietitian | October 28, 2020
Plus Size Happy lady

If you’re in a bigger body and want to get pregnant, the chances are you’ve faced some problems. Like being told “you need to lose weight to get pregnant” and subsequently being dismissed by your request for help from a healthcare professional. 

This could be despite multiple attempts of weight loss which have not been sustained. Or a history of disordered eating or an eating disorder that stemmed directly from the pursuit of weight loss. If these are your experiences, they are in keeping with the scientific research that does not support the long term benefits, or sustainability, of weight loss.

With this in mind, many who are in bigger bodies trying to get pregnant chose to pursue a Non-Diet approach to nutrition (intuitive eating). This is an evidence-based practice that supports the pursuit of health without focusing on weight or body size. And importantly, does not trigger disordered eating or poor mental health. 

We’re told that fat is not healthy and that getting pregnant whilst “overweight” is the most irresponsible thing to do. There are so many myths around getting pregnant in a fat body. Being told you “need to lose weight to get pregnant” is just not helpful. That’s why I have invited fat positive fertility coach Nicola Salmon to offer her top tips on fat positive fertility, getting pregnant in a bigger body. 

Who Is Nicola?


Nicola is a fat-positive feminist and fertility coach. She advocates for change in how fat folks are treated on their fertility journey. She supports fat folks (and others with disordered eating) who are struggling to get pregnant and find peace with their body, find their own version of health, and escape the yo-yo diet cycle.


Here are her 3 top tips on what to do if you’re told you need to lose weight to get pregnant.


Top 3 tips on what to do if you’re told you need to lose weight to get pregnant

1) Release the vice-like grip that the scales might have on you

We’ve been brought up to believe that our health is determined by the number on the scales and it’s just not true. Your weight tells me absolutely nothing about your health or your fertility. The only thing that weighing yourself regularly brings is a ton of stress and anxiety. 

The idea that fat folks struggle to get pregnant is based on the assumption that being fat is unhealthy. The reason that fat folks experience higher risks is that they are not given adequate healthcare and are shamed and judged when they access healthcare. We also know that there are no intentional weight-loss interventions that have any long term results. The only long term results from dieting are the likelihood of regaining any weight lost, increased risk of disordered eating and eating disorders.

ACTION: What’s a small step that you can take to moving away from the scales?

  • Maybe it’s shifting from weighing yourself daily to once a week?
  • Is it getting the scales out of your house? (I smashed mine in the garden! It was very satisfying)
  • Or shifting your focus to something else, like getting better sleep, improving your energy levels or feeling stronger?

2) Practice advocating for yourself

If the only advice you are getting from healthcare professionals is to lose weight, then it might be time to advocate for yourself. We are never taught how to advocate for ourselves, it’s a skill that we need to learn and practice. 

It’s important to acknowledge that advocating is work. It takes physical and emotional energy and it’s work that you should not have to do. It’s the systems that need to change. 

You are entitled to appropriate and respectful healthcare.

Unfortunately, systems take time to change. So it means that advocating for yourself in order to get that treatment may be the only option right now.

Advocating includes finding healthcare professionals that will treat you if that’s an option. Or having conversations with your current healthcare team in order to get tests and treatments that you might need. It might involve asking difficult questions.

ACTION: What small step can you take towards getting your healthcare needs met?

  • This could be asking local friends/online communities for recommendations for appropriate doctors/clinics.
  • It might be spending 15 minutes writing down what your needs are around your healthcare. This way you can identify where they are and aren’t being met.
  • It could be writing a letter (or asking your nutritionist/coach to write a letter for you). This can outline your needs and that you do not want to discuss weight loss/dieting at future appointments.

3) Set boundaries with friends and family

Friends and family can be a great support and get us through the hardest times in our lives. They can also say the most insensitive things when they don’t understand what we are going through. Especially when it comes to weight and fertility. 

It may appear that talking about their own dieting adventures or giving you well-meaning diet advice is coming from a place of love. But impact always trumps intention and the impact of this well-meaning advice can be huge. It can trigger patterns of self-loathing, pain and shame within us. This can have a measurable negative impact on our health. 

ACTION: How can we set boundaries with our close ones without alienating them?

  • Can you try telling them about your needs. For example, “talking about diets and weight-loss makes me feel shame about my body. I need you to talk about your dieting/weight loss advice to someone else”
  • You could have a go at asking for their buy-in. For example, “did you know that there is no evidence that any form of intentional weight-loss actually works!!?! If you want to learn more I’d definitely recommend Anti-Diet by Christy Harrison”. 
  • You might focus on prioritising keeping yourself safe. If having conversations with others feels too difficult (and sometimes it does!), you can keep yourself safe by removing yourself from the harm. This could look like going to the toilet when your colleagues start talking about diets. Or quickly change the subject when weight loss comes. Or avoid spending time with people who talk about dieting all the time. 

Being told you need to lose weight to get pregnant is simply not helpful for many. The biggest thing to remember is that you’re absolutely worthy of feeling safe and having support in growing your family. It’s okay for you to want to become a parent. You are not selfish or irresponsible. You should not be made to feel ashamed or guilty. You are entitled to choose when you grow your family. And you are worthy.

Welcome to Nude Nutrition

I am Katherine Kimber, a Registered Dietitian, and Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor with a first-class Undergraduate and Masters’s degree from Kings College London.

Are you fed up with not knowing what you should or shouldn’t be eating? Perhaps relying on external tools such as the time of day, points systems, calorie tracking or rigid rules to show you the way.

If you’re ready to get out of your head when it comes to food decisions, and more into your body then you’ve come to the right place. I’m here to strip the nonsense, so you can feel better in your body and figure out a sustainable approach to movement and nutrition.

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From an 8 year battle with “binge eating”, to “my life no longer revolves around food”.

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Miss M – “Reclaim Your Intuition” programme 

From a lifelong battle with binge eating, dieting, and an attempt to end her life earlier this year because of it, to being able to look forward to social occasions without agonising over menus, being more present with friends and family, feeling less isolated, and a sense of absolute freedom around food. “This programme has changed my life”.  

Mrs P – “Reclaim Your Intuition” + ongoing support  


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