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Weight Stigma Awareness Week: Don’t Measure Your Self-Worth

By Michelle May, M.D.

diabetes wordsWhile sexism and racism have slowly declined, weightism is on the rise. While it is just as harmful, weight bias is somehow seen as justifiable – or worse, helpful. Those with medical conditions like diabetes may be particularly vulnerable to stigma related to their weight from employers, health care providers, and people they don’t even know.

Is there a bully residing between your ears?

Some people with diabetes internalize this stigma. In other words, the bully moves into their head. Pause and ask yourself: Do I experience shame about my weight? Am I preoccupied with dieting to try to lose weight? Do I feel guilty about eating? Have I convinced myself that this bullying is justified because it somehow helps me manage my diabetes?

A scale doesn’t measure your self-worth.

A scale simply measures the weight of your tissues and substances that are just passing through – none of which have anything to do with your value as a person. Your weight doesn’t accurately measure what’s going on  inside your mind, heart, spirit, or even your body! Yet, a number on the scale is given the power to change your mood and affect your behavior, often in unhelpful ways. For example:

Have you ever said…

  • I was so good but I didn’t lose any weight. I might as well eat.
  • I did so well this week. I deserve a treat!
  • I don’t have to weigh in until next week so I’ll splurge now and make up for it later.
  • I was terrible this week and I still lost weight. I guess it doesn’t matter what I eat.
  • I only lost a half a pound. It wasn’t worth it.

Clearly, focusing on weight interferes with your ability to make meaningful, sustainable changes to help you manage your diabetes.

Let it begin with me

We have a long way to go before weightism is a problem of the past. In the meantime, can you practice seeing your own weight as neutral – simply a number without the power to deflate your spirit and derail your intention to effectively manage your diabetes? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

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