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June 26, 2001

Weight and Weight Loss

Question from Beirut, Lebanon:

I have had type 1 diabetes since the age of seven, and had some control for about a year and a half, but now my tests are great. My very big problem now is I am tired of being fat. Every time the nutrition assistant or the dietitian gives me a diet to follow, I follow it seriously for about a week or so, but then I stop following it and I really get angry, start hitting myself, and cry. I don't know what to do. My dad's family is fat, so being fat in my family is genetic. Would you please help me make a diet so I can become like any other teenage girl?

Answer:

I really know how you feel about the whole issue of weight, but you seem to be so very angry with yourself for being human! In general, diets will not work unless they are specifically designed with you in mind. You said that you met with a nutritionist? Did that person ask what your favorite foods were? Ask about your activity level? Ask about what foods are most tempting for you? I hope so, but, even if you got a real meal plan from a dietitian, it is difficult to lose weight unless you are doing it for yourself — not for your family, your doctor, or your friends.

Hitting yourself is not the answer. If your family has a predisposition to being heavy, then you have not seen many positive role models for proper eating. Can you hook up with another person your age and make a deal to be more healthy? It is easier to manage changing eating habits with a friend. Also, is there any activity that you like? Is there a sport you might be able to play?

Basically, losing weight means more activity and less calories, but I much prefer that you decide on health instead of weight. Our world is pretty obsessed with weight. Health is a more reasonable goal. Set a goal today just to not gain any more weight. Then begin to set small goals after that. For instance, decide to eat balanced meals and to not skip meals. Then, you can add in some activity — maybe just a walk. Little by little the weight changes and day by day you get healthy. Please give yourself a break!

Try another dietitian, find a partner, and talk to your doctor, but please stop hitting yourself. Maybe a counselor could help you sort things out.

CMB