Towards the end of July I gave birth to my sweet baby boy Viraj. This was the first time I made it to full term having had my twins very prematurely. Inactivity, binge eating and weight gain, I relished the experience of carrying this child to term. At the time of delivery I weighed more than my husband! And the baby was born. Post partum, I looked at myself in the mirror and I was intensely upset at what I saw. I called the nurse in the room and asked her. “ I just had this baby, then why do I still look like I am so heavily pregnant!” I was so shocked. New moms were beautiful in glamorous newborn photo-shoots on my Facebook feeds. The reality was far different from my expectation. “What did you expect?” the nurse said.
That was an important revelation to me. “What did I expect?” I take care of patients with obesity. I have to acknowledge my patients’ expectations of their body image are influenced by the same society; social media, advertisements and targeted marketing that affected me. Body dissatisfaction has been identified as a psychological correlate of obesity that is related to disordered eating, poor self-esteem, and depression. However, not all individuals with obesity are equally vulnerable, and ‘normative discontent’ is present in individuals with normal weight, too. A recent meta analysis confirmed these findings. Body image dissatisfaction is significantly more prevalent in women compared men of the same BMI and affects all age groups.
I want to acknowledge the fact, that there will be some instances in life that you will gain weight. You will have kids, you will face a stressful pandemic, you will become a caregiver to another individual and neglect yourself, you may suffer depression and use food as a crutch, and you may have social, work related or financial difficulties that stop you from eating well or exercising. And that is okay. I really want to an appeal to all our patients, that goal of wanting to get thinner or healthier…. let’s make it as positive as we can. Let’s consciously dissociate from negative self image or self hate if we feel, towards our current selves when we look in the mirror. You are already an amazing parent, partner, professional. And the weight issue…is just a small (significant but small) part of what defines you. Let us help you meet your weight goals for the sake of strength and health. Let us recognize the biases, negative social influences towards our weight and body image and consciously walk away from them. At Palm Beach Diabetes and Endocrine Specialists, we are here for you. We would be happy to help you in your journey towards a healthier version of yourself, both in mind and body.