While weight loss trends affect people of all ages, gender, and race, some may be affected more negatively than most. As the pursuit of weight loss influences people’s eating behaviors, studies throughout the years have linked weight loss with the development of eating disorders. This relation is particularly harmful for people of color, as most of them rarely get treated for these disorders, or even diagnosed. In fact, clinicians are less likely to recommend professional help to black women with eating disorders. All over the world, people from ethnic minority backgrounds are significantly less likely to receive help or appropriate eating disorder treatment.
Today, weight loss trends spread quicker and achieve virality more frequently than they used to — so much so that it becomes harder to keep track of what’s trending. We’ve previously written about the dangers of blindly following trends that may end up being more harmful than beneficial to you. It’s more important to be your authentic self and consider how certain trends can benefit your lifestyle or personal growth. In this post, we’ll go over some ways we can reframe the weight loss trend for people of color:
Focusing on health instead
While there are many weight loss trends on the Internet, most of them are focused on changing diet choices to help lose weight quicker or more drastically. This often involves restrictions from particular foods. According to behavioral science, lifelong positive health changes are a result of long-term habits instead of short-term approaches like drastic dieting. Instead of obsessing over the newest weight loss trend that may be replaced by newer trends later on, it’s more important to focus on building habits that will contribute to your good health.
Additionally, a lot of weight loss trends tend to not be inclusive of people of color, and these viral images or videos that encourage achieving the ideal body image can often be non-representative of BIPOCs. Focusing on living healthier may prove more beneficial, rather than focusing on idealized body images that often feature Eurocentric standards of beauty.
Weight loss trends revolve around the idea that by reducing your calorie intake, you can lose weight faster. However, banking too much of your weight loss journey on not eating so that you don’t hit your daily calorie limit can be harmful for your body and immune system, making you more susceptible to diseases. Modern weight loss programs don’t consider calories as the be-all and end-all anymore. Protein, fiber, natural and added sugars, as well as saturated and unsaturated fats, are all components towards a healthier pattern of eating, and should be balanced appropriately.
Aside from healthier eating, modern weight loss programs will also recommend non-dietary changes to help you achieve weight loss over time, so you won’t develop a negative relationship with food. Things like getting adequate, good quality sleep and doing regular exercises are just as important to maintaining a healthy body, and they won’t stop you from getting the nutrients you need to be fit too.
Changing the language
Whether for lifestyle, cultural, or aesthetic purposes, people are attracted to the idea of fast and effective weight loss, especially when they see that a trend works for others. This “trendiness” is tied to the way we speak about weight loss, even when we don’t intend to. Friends and family often compliment us by commenting on our body, and because the language around it is so normalized in everyday conversation, we don’t notice it.
Ultimately, reframing weight loss and the way we respond to it is all about changing the way we speak about the topic — and maybe choosing not to speak about it. It’s difficult as it is for people of color to have access to appropriate care and treatment when it comes to eating disorders and other health conditions, so risking your health to keep up with weight loss trends may prove to be counterproductive at the end of the day.