Why I don’t talk about weight loss (but I am today)
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I know I said I’d take a month off this newsletter, but I wanted to address something because I’ve been getting a lot of flack online this past week.
I wrote a piece for You magazine last weekend, which was inspired by one of my newsletters about how we should stop eating all the time, ie. SEAT. Eating less often has many benefits, including increased energy, sharpened focus, and giving your digestive system a break, improving gut health. But the You magazine piece was angled around weight loss (for which it’s also very effective), and this led to me receiving many angry DMs because ‘diet culture’ is bad.
The thing is, I agree with you. If you read my newsletters, including the one about SEAT, I have never mentioned weight loss. My health priorities are reducing my risk of cancer recurrence, and adding as many healthy years to my life as possible (I don’t want to live forever, I’m not Jeff Bezos, just want to stick around to see my kids grow up). So within that, I’m interested in gut health, supporting my immune system and also more superficial things like great skin and healthy hair - which normally come as a happy side effect of living well.
Generally I disagree with a focus on weight loss, because it doesn’t work. The government’s obsession with ‘tackling obesity’ does nothing but make people feel bad about themselves. Obesity is tied to identity. You say a person ‘is obese’ but you would never say a person ‘is’ cancer, they ‘have’ cancer. Anyway, there are many different factors that contribute to the size and shape of a person’s body, including genetics and environment, so I’m certainly not going around telling anybody that they should lose weight.
The You feature is angled around weight loss, because lots of people do want to lose weight, and they shouldn’t be vilified for that. It’s a perfectly reasonable health goal.
The only thing I would say is that if your only goal is weight loss, then it can paradoxically lead to unhealthy behaviours. I’ve known people obsessed with calories that won’t eat avocados or nuts because they’re too calorie-dense and, if they’re going out, they don’t eat all day to save their calories for booze. That is mad to me.
I’m just trying to help people live better. I stand by the You feature because I researched the shit out of it. I talked to doctors and nutritionists to get the most up-to-date and accurate information and advice. If you actually read the piece, rather than just the headline, you’ll find it’s about a lot more than weight loss.
So please, let’s try and understand that everyone’s different. I’m not out to make anyone feel bad about themselves. Some people found the piece useful and interesting, others feel triggered by anything that mentions weight loss. But they don’t have to read it. Nobody is making anyone do anything here. Take a breath, go outside, enjoy the summer! You’re fine, just as you are.
This week I’m…
A bit obsessed with the Oura ring I got for my birthday! Sorry in advance if I bore you with my sleep stats.
Breaking my ‘no weight-loss’ rule to recommend two books if you do want to lose weight (only if you want to! To reiterate: I’m not saying you should!). The first is Shahroo Izadi’s The Last Diet and the second is Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s Feel Great Lose Weight. Neither book is a diet plan. They’re both packed with ‘ah-ha moment’ advice about feeling better and being kinder to yourself, which would benefit anyone - regardless of whether you want to lose weight or not.
Getting back to my month offline - normal service will resume in September.