Resolve the Weight Dilemma

The weight dilemma: Everyone says we should lose weight and keep it off. Nobody can do it.

Weight loss advice: Beating a dead horse

We are told to lose weight. Health policy makers and most health professionals insist - repeatedly and with a great deal of judgment and urgency - that any degree of overweight is medically dangerous. Somehow the many many studies don't sink in: There is no successful method for reducing and maintaining a lowered body weight. In fact, weight loss attempts have a boomerang effect: Most people regain lost weight and many gain to a higher level with each loss-regain cycle. That, too, is shown by the studies. While high body weight is a serious health risk only at the extremes (more studies), the far-more-common pattern of weight instability as a result of dieting is associated with negative health outcomes.

Guilt about weight; shame about eating

For people who are relatively fat, the weight dilemma is even worse. Although body composition is, for the most part, genetically determined, people of size generally feel guilty about their weight and therefore ashamed of their eating. They have accepted society's judgment that they overeat and that they are digging their graves with their knives and forks. In reality, most relatively fat people eat no more or no differently from thin people. They just pay the price. People of size at times eat chaotically, but that chaotic eating, rather than being a cause of high body weight, is far more likely to be a consequence of the weight-reduction dieting that they have pursued in the name of becoming thin.

Define the problem in the way it can be solved

Whatever your size, to keep from being caught in the weight dilemma, work with your body rather than against it:

  • Eat well and joyfully, and trust your internal regulators to guide you in what and how much to eat.
  • Move your body in a way that you enjoy and can sustain.
  • Let your body weigh what it will in response to your positive and consistent eating and activity.
  • Develop loyalty and respect for your body.
  • Stop postponing living until you get thin.

For more about becoming a competent eater (and for research backing up this advice), see Ellyn Satter's Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: How to Eat, How to Raise Good Eaters, How to Cook, Kelcy Press, 2008. Also see to purchase books and to review other resources.

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©2016 by Ellyn Satter published at You may reproduce this article if you don't charge for it or change it in any way and if you do include the for more about and copyright statements.