Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Seven reasons not to compliment someone on weight loss — and what to say instead

By Carrie Dennett of the Washington Post (05/24/18). 

It's a compliment that rolls easily off the tongue: "You look great. ... You've lost weight!" While some people welcome such observations, there are a number of reasons it's better to take a different approach when you're tempted to praise someone's weight loss. 1. They may be ill or experiencing a crisis. Because thinness is valued in our society, when someone loses weight, the assumption is that it's intentional and healthful — but that's not always the case. Recent research, funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the British Journal of General Practice, found that unintended weight loss is an early sign of several forms of cancer, including prostate, ovarian, lung, pancreatic and colorectal. Also, while many people respond to intense stress and anxiety by eating, others have the opposite reaction, because part of the body's normal "fight, flight or freeze" response is to shut down digestion. That noticeably thinner co-worker could be coping with a personal crisis — a painful divorce, a serious illness in the family — and losing weight unintentionally. If you are not privy to that information and offer what seems like an innocent compliment, you may add to their pain. 2. They may have an eating disorder. In her 2015 book "Body of Truth," author Harriet Brown writes about how women would approach her then-14-year-old, praise her thin body and ask for diet tips. That's really not appropriate in any circumstance, but it was especially unfortunate in this case: The teenager was grappling with anorexia nervosa, which severely threatened her health. For someone who is working on recovering from anorexia or bulimia nervosa — another life-threatening eating disorder characterized by binging and compensatory behaviours like self-induced vomiting — weight loss compliments can be problematic in several ways. Although anorexia, like other eating disorders, is complex and multifaceted, one factor that can encourage the progression of the disease is positive reinforcement. By praising someone for losing weight when — unknown to you — they have anorexia, you are rewarding them for a behaviour that could eventually kill them. And you can't tell who has an eating disorder by looking at them. People of all body sizes can have anorexia — the term "atypical anorexia" refers to people who engage in severe food restriction but are not low-weight. 3. They may have a history of trauma. Read more at the following link including what you should say… https://www.thespec.com/living-story/8628265-seven-reasons-not-to-compliment-someone-on-weight-loss-and-what-to-say-instead/

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