Sunday, September 2, 2018

Body Positive Power: How learning to love yourself will save your life by Megan Jayne Crabbe

DNF @ 33%

I had to stop reading this book because it was upsetting me so much and I think it's potentially harmful in the wrong hands (read, emphasis: the 'wrong' hands). Nutrition is something that I am very interested in, since I have some pretty bad food allergies and sensitivities that have kept me from eating processed foods for over a decade. I noticed firsthand what sorts of changes cutting out processed foods seemed to have on my body.

From what I understand, the author is a body positive influencer on Instagram whose platform revolves around feeling comfortable with the way you look even if you don't fit traditional Western stands of beauty (e.g. fit and thin). I think that's great, and I guess her sponsors think so too, because I checked out her 'gram after reading this and it appears that she models a lot of plus-sized clothes to her followers, often in styles and colors that plus-sized women are told that we can't wear. I, myself, am a plus-sized lady, so I can appreciate the efforts behind this. My weight used to be a source of anxiety for me, and then I learned that being happy and healthy was more important. It was a lesson that took many years, and required cutting some toxic people out of my life, but I am much better for it.

Here's where I take issue with this book. I have read a lot of science articles about dieting and nutrition because health is important to me, and I feel like this author cherry-picks her science in order to get the conclusions she wants. Granted, this is my interpretation of her book and maybe you read it differently, but I interpreted it this way. She suggests (and even outright says) many times that dieting is bad and actually causes weight gain, but there's a difference between yo-yo dieting (restricting calories to the point of starvation and then having that bounce-back where your starving body eats all the food and you gain back everything you lost) to long-term dieting that results from substituting less optimal choices (red meat, white bread, soda) for better choices (fish, quinoa, rye bread, water or tea). Some of the things this author says I do agree with - diet teas or "teatox" teas can be bad for you, especially if you're sensitive to the ingredients in them, and juicing just essentially starves your body while injecting a lot of added sugars into your diet. However, the author then says that there's no such thing as a "bad" food and that was when I started to side-eye this book because there is NO WAY you can sit there and tell me that Twinkies and French fries and artificially colored soda and fruit drinks have any sort of redeeming value in terms of nutrition. Eating bad food does not make you a bad person, but I think it is totally fine to be honest with yourself that you're eating garbage. I've eaten garbage before. There are days when I have eaten chips and coffee as my lunch. I don't feel great after doing it, but I just try to eat better for my next meals, maybe buy an extra salad to compensate for the nutritional deficit. That's what dieting is - a mix of checks and balances, where you have to be honest with yourself about what you're eating.

Some people genuinely can't lose weight for various reasons, but that is rare. If you want to lose weight, you have to make long-term changes to your diet and exercise. Exercise is actually less important than diet. Exercise changes your metabolism and has good health benefits but diet is what actually causes you to lose weight: it's net caloric intake. YOU SHOULD NOT STARVE YOURSELF, and weight loss does not happen immediately, but through a blend of healthy, normal exercise (walking in the park, a 20 min. morning jog) and diet weight loss is possible. Perhaps not a lot of weight loss - society instills unrealistic expectations about body size - but some. Even when I was doing heavy physical labor every day and eating only 3 small meals/day, the smallest I've ever been was a size 8. Usually I'm a size 12-16, and at 5'9" many of those older BMI charts would say that I'm almost obese (which is just ridiculous). If you don't want to lose weight, that's fine too. But I think it's dangerous and foolish to blithely ignore the health risks that accompany obesity and chant out slogans like, "There are no bad foods" (or whatever her exact words were) because that is not true, and rather than promoting body positivity, this seems to be enabling bad lifestyle choices. ANYTHING can be done to excess, whether it's not caring what you put into your mouth or caring too much. The trick is moderation. Be healthy, but don't obsess. Eat well, but treat yourself to cake once in a while. Exercise, but don't run yourself ragged. MODERATION.

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!

1 to 1.5 out of 5 stars 

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