Most of the arguments I come across online regarding whether we should diet revolves around health is a thing that should be aspiredto. If it is, what is the best way to achieve it.

My take on the whole thing is that while health is a good thing, it is not a measure of someone’s respectability. Nor is it a measure of our worth. We are not automatically more worthy of love just because we are “healthier.” We therefore should judge no one based on their health status.

I think as a registered nurse, I can objectively comment on what health is and what it isn’t. If I’m talking health with a patient, I’m discussing particular lab results, imaging results and symptoms. We diagnose diseasesthis way. Sometimes, we can make predictions based on those results to determine if a person will recover or not. You can also tell if a condition is acute, chronic or terminal.

Health is therefore definitely a thing. One can be healthy or unhealthy. But here’s the thing, you CANNOT tell someone’s healthby looking at them (and frankly neither should we attempt to), not even health professionals can. So, if your doctor or health provider looks at you and tells you you must lose weight to be healthy (without running other tests that show a direct correlation), it is time to get a new provider.

The question then is, if we cannot tell how healthy or unhealthy a person is basedon how slim or fat they are, why do we correlate being slim with being healthier? Because it is this assumption that has people judging fat people for how “unhealthy” they must be. It is also this assumption that leads to the internalized fat phobia that has most people jumping from diet to diet in the guise of getting healthier.

Most of my patients who have various chronic health conditions are average weight. Besides what I see in my practice, study after study has shown that the harm to our health results more from Yo-Yo dieting that most people engage in in their quest to be skinnier. Isn’t that something? Trying to be skinnier by constantly being on a diet makes you sicker and not being fat.

Sure, being fat may make it harder to engage in exercise and for some people, may lead to certain health conditions or at least exacerbate it. Does it then mean that if you are fat AND unhealthy, you must become healthier to be worth of respect from others? Absolutely not! No one owes us health. Not a single person.

We must all make choices based on our unique circumstances.  Sometimes, those reasons are mental health conditions, socioeconomic status, race, inner city residence with lakeshores of access to food markets, medical condition such as PCOS and the list goes on and on. I believe in providing education and access to mental health care, grocery stores etc. within communities that are predominantly black and non-white. After we provide the education, we must leave the individual alone to determine for themselves what best fits their life.

And that for me will always be what it boils down to. Provide equal opportunities across the board and allow people to make a self-determination as far as they can. It is incredibly fatphobic, ableist and privileged to do anything other than that.

XO,

Christabel.

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