Weight Watchers for Teens? Say NO!
Have you ever been on a diet in order to lose weight? Followed a plan which encourages you to count calories, fat grams, vitamin or mineral amounts, weigh portions and so on. Did it work? Did it lead you to a peaceful place in terms of body image, eating behaviours, mental and physical health? Likely no. And if it did, you're in a tiny minority.
Weight Watchers recently announced that they will be offering free membership to teens this summer (no coincidence that summer is that time of year that money making schemes like to manipulate the pressure on women and men to have beach bodies...yawn). I won't be surprised if they also offer a free post Christmas and New Year plan to undo all the 'sinful' and 'naughty' eating that is perceived to take place <insert another yawn> - this is all getting so old. And so damaging.
Diets don't work. Diets damage our physical and mental health. They reduce our relationship to food and eating to measurable units which are then applied to immeasurable entities - us! We are all unique individuals who cannot be analysed and addressed as robots. It breaks my heart every single time I have a patient in my clinic (daily), head in hand, crying with their sense of failure over having lost their ability to adhere to a diet plan (a journey often decades old). People blame their inability to adhere to plans, such as Weight Watchers, on their own inadequacies rather then blame the diet plan and entire concept itself! It's enraging and needs to stop.
I don't know who came up with a plan to market this awful concept to teens but it's at worst evil corporate money making and at best utterly ignorant and misguided. Diets put people at much greater risk for developing eating disorders and how much more is this true for teenagers?
Please don't forget that eating disorders are the most fatal mental health condition. Children who are in majorly formative years having to come to terms with messages which tell them they're not good enough if they don't fit a certain body image. And this body image ideal bears no relevance to their own essence and journey as people. In addition, many of these children may already be at elevated risk of disordered eating after watching their own parents struggle to navigate diets in an attempt to contend with the fat stigma they are faced with day in, day out (not to mentioned their own disordered eating patterns which are likely directly a result of the fall out from cyclic dieting patterns). We are, as a population, so far removed from being able to eat intuitively that I would argue there are more women who have a disordered relationship with food than don't.
Anyone who has worked with me as a patient knows that I do not keep weighing scales in my clinic and my focus is always on your health: mental and physical. If your body decides to lose weight while we work on a health condition which is bothering you (again...mental or physical or both) then that's what organically happens. My job is to get you optimally nourished, as uninflamed as possible and relaxed into a happy cycle of intuitive eating.
Please protect your children from this corporate act which does not have the health of your teens at heart. If you're concerned about your child's health with respect to nutrition, please seek out an excellent registered dietitian who puts health before wealth and lifelong wellness ahead of image.
Petition here: https://www.change.org/p/weight-watchers-discontinue-plans-for-weight-watchers-program-for-teenagers
A video I made recently about mothers and dieting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjAij8dUn0k