What is Weight Neutrality?
I wanted to write a post that discusses the idea of weight neutrality, because my assumption is that it might be a new term for many readers. And you may have seen the term “weight neutral dietitian” tossed around a bit around here, so it is important to talk a little bit about it.
As a dietitian working in Canada, many people assume I am in the job of helping people “manage their weight”. This is an easy assumption to make; we have heard millions of messages over the past 50 years talking about the (supposed) problems of increasing average body weights and increasing ill health facing many people in our countries.
When many of us think about health, and in particular preventative health (in other words, the idea of trying to prevent ourselves from getting sick, or developing a chronic disease), we often connect our body weight to that prevention. This means we tend to think that lowering our weight, or being thin means we are healthy, or healthier than if we exist in a larger body.
But what if the link isn’t so black and white?
This might be surprising news to many readers. It might be hard for some of us to wrap our heads around because we have heard the message repeatedly from the news, the media, and many health professionals. Moreover, many of us have spent many years working to decrease our body size or supposedly maintain a smaller body size – likely with varying degrees of success.
We now refer to this more traditional point of view as “weight centric”, because it centers weight as the crux of health. However, the science doesn’t add up for this perspective. Along with that, we also don’t have a “solution” for higher weight bodies to shrink that is successful for most people long term.
Weight neutrality is an alternative point of view, where we see weight as neutral in the pursuit of health; instead of seeing it as the thing that needs to change to achieve health. It is at most a byproduct. An unpredictable byproduct at that. It is no longer a middleman, holding your health hostage on the other side of a smaller body.
Yes but I really do need to lose weight
A desire to lose weight is completely normal. There is pressure from every corner of society for everyone to lose weight. If you live in a body that is considered large or “above a healthy weight”, there is extra pressure. I will be talking about this more in the future, but for now I’d like to leave you with a couple questions for reflecting on:
If you want to dive into these questions with someone, book a 15 minute discovery call with me, because it isn’t easy to rethink our we think about health and weight, but sometimes it is exactly what we need to do to really regain a sense of agency around our health and our life.
As always, sign up for my newsletter if you want regular insights into achieving health without needing to lose weight first.