In addition to the many patients I see for eating disorders, I often have individuals come to see me for help with weight loss. This goal is completely understandable in the current context of our society. Most of us have been told by numerous sources that weight loss is essential for health, and only if we are at the “right” weight will we live long and healthy lives. And up until about five years ago, I would have agreed with this assumption.
But, as I have written about in many other blogs, I’ve had a paradigm shift. There is more and more scientific evidence out there that weight and health are not inextricably linked. In fact, it is completely feasible for someone to weigh considerably more than the BMI and weight charts tell her to and to be perfectly healthy. In contrast, I have seen countless patients in my office who are at their “ideal” weights, yet are using extremely unhealthy measures to stay there and have numerous health issues as a result.
Therefore, I am concerned when the New Year comes around, as I know that our office will become busier than ever with people wanting to lose weight. I’m afraid that prospective patients will have the wrong idea about what I will and will not do. As a registered dietitian, I am knowledgeable about nutrition for health promotion. This means I can provide nutrition education for my patients and help them figure out ways to establish some healthier eating habits. While these healthier eating habits may lead to some weight loss, weight loss will not be the inherent goal of our work together. If any weight loss occurs, it is just the byproduct of the lifestyle changes one instills. It isn’t the primary goal.
Maybe 2014 will be the year that we can all start taking our eyes off of the scale and instead focusing on making healthy lifestyle changes instead.