We believe there is beauty and worth in EVERY body, and that benefits when we see a healthy body only as a thin body. Unfortunately, many helping professionals don’t look at the research on weight and health with a critical eye, and they also aren’t immune to the onslaught of media messages promoting the thin ideal.In our practice, we’ve met people whose clinicians have overlooked an eating disorder diagnosis because of their own weight biases. We know a client that recovered from an eating disorder, only to be told at an employee-sponsored health screening that they were “overweight” and should lose a few pounds, which triggered them to relapse. And one dietitian with the WIC program told us about a time she was meeting with a mom of three kids, two of which were “normal” on the growth charts and one who was “overweight”. When she affirmed the mom for her “success” with the two “normal” weight kids, the mom said, “Oh good, because all those two eat is sugar. This one”, pointing to the bigger kid, “is my healthiest eater.” Is this the kind of message we want to send to patients?
The truth is the assumptions most people, including health care providers, make about a person’s lifestyle based on their size are causing more harm than good. One pediatrics article says that, “Thirty-five percent of kids who are coming in with anorexia nervosa – with restricted eating and significant weight loss – started out in the ‘obese’ or ‘overweight’ weight range,” so their symptoms are often overlooked and doctors take a year or longer to identify the problem and make an eating disorder diagnosis.
Those of us in the Health at Every Size@ community are particularly concerned about the children growing up during this war on obesity. Everybody, and we do mean EVERY body, benefits from compassionate, weight-neutral self-care.
The Be Nourished Training Institute provides training and support in the Art and Science of Behavior Change Counseling. We know the conversations that occur between health care providers and their clients are powerful ones, capable of supporting or inhibiting the innate change process that is alive in all of us. We also believe helping professionals do the work they do because they want to be agents of change. Our institute, which is grounded in the empirically validated treatment modalities of Motivational Interviewing and Health at Every Size® can help you create well-balanced, meaningful relationships with your clients.