Healthy Eating And Healthy Size

IMG_1593smI’ve been reading a lot about Healthy at Every Size (HAES).  I’ve been interesting in reading a lot about fat acceptance.  What amazes me is the backlash on fat acceptance.  People who would accept many other things don’t want to accept fat.

Here’s the thing, fat is a symptom.  Any acupuncturist should know that, but how many fall into the category of labeling someone negatively because their body is fat.  What if that’s their only symptom?  Do we label people with high blood pressure as their only health symptom in the same way?  Yes, granted, people who are very obese are often in the office for a range of symptoms. So are a lot of other patients.  Do we think of the fat people as different.

I find it interesting that even presenting the fact that fat may be an underlying symptom of something else, which is why dieting so often doesn’t work (read the research articles here), that people immediately jump on the calories in and calories out bandwagon.  Gary Taubes talks about that myth in both of his books. You don’t have to agree that some calories are better than others (he’s a low carb guy, high veggie guy), but you can see in the studies that calories are not quite the building blocks of fat that we’ve been led to believe.

Okay, let’s be clear. I’m not about to throw the baby out with the bath water.  Calories may play a part. They may not. What we need to do is look at the overall picture. If you have someone who has a ton of stasis particularly around their middle, no amount of calorie counting will make a difference. That’s not going to move.  Damp, which manifests as fat, often comes with stasis.  What might start as creating some damp (or fat) ends up snowballing into stasis making it ever more difficult for the fat person to lose weight without heroic efforts, like gastric bypass or starvation level diets.

As someone who tends towards qi deficiency and damp, believe me I get it.  Although I was still quite heavy on my one Weight Watcher’s foray I ended up down at their minimum level of points.  I couldn’t go any lower, even though I was one week into the program.  That kind of starvation means that ultimately after finishing the program I gained it all back (simply because it wasn’t possible to live on such a low calorie diet) and then some.

Heading out to an acupuncturist to say hey, I know there’s something wrong because I’ve historically been able to eat these foods and not gain weight and now I am, I wasn’t just stagnant (my tendency) but had huge amounts of stasis, leading to ever more damp and of course fat.  I’m not losing weight.  I’ve actually gained a few holiday pounds (well duh) but I’m eating more.  I’m eating more than I ever did and maintaining weight, which I wasn’t doing before this.  Something has changed. Yes, I have a ways to go. My goal?  To lose thirty pounds. When I do that, I’ll consider if I want to lose those extra ten or twenty that I always wanted to lose.  Or maybe I’ll be in a place where I can really love my body exactly where it is.

You see, that’s the biggest thing.  Because everyone can see fat in a way they can’t see high blood pressure, everyone thinks it’s okay to comment on fat.  I’m horrified by what the women on the Fat Blogs put up with in their daily lives.  I’m horrified at what they have tried to do to lose weight.  I think about the eating disorders I see in my practice. They’re clearly connected.  We need to stop stigmatizing fat and start realizing that it’s a symptom of underlying issues, that just trying to lose weight won’t solve. We need to move the focus back to health. As practitioners who see the whole person, who understand balance and imbalance, acupuncturists should be on the front lines in this one.

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Bonnie Koenig has been a licensed acupuncturist since 1999. She is passionate about helping people find real healing and real health. In the process she keeps asking about our attitudes towards sickness and health. Only by being clear on what sickness is, can we ever find health.

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