Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: OK Wow……I just read Myth #12 and I’m really, really depressed! I thought I was average weight….I’m 5’3″ and weigh 140 lbs….and your chart says I should be around 105! That means I need to lose at LEAST 30 lbs or so (if I give myself some leeway). I’ve NEVER been that low in my adult life, and don’t consider myself overweight. Is this truly realistic? I’ve always been told that I’m ‘solid’, medium bone build, strong, muscular legs, and just a little in the middle–had twins, gained 60 lbs. with that pregnancy…skin stretched a tad, lost all the weight and some extra. I can’t even imagine myself at 105, or 110, or 120 for that matter.
Answer: First of all, it’s not my chart. It’s Dr. McDougall’s chart that I submit to my readers as something to think about. Let’s just let it expand our mind and give us something to think about. Let’s not get married to it.
The point is that when you use averages from people who eat an exclusively whole-foods diets, like the indigenous peoples who live on plant foods, around the globe, you get dramatically different–even shockingly different–averages. That chart is based on weights of healthy indigenous people. (And you may be aware that extremely thin people have the longest life expectancy, around the globe.)
Right . . . you’re going to say that you and I aren’t living in the Sahara with access to only a handful of foods. We have the constant temptation of living in the modern world where processed foods are some of our gods. I understand that.
The point is simply to let go of those lame standardized charts your doctor shows you. They give us a false sense of security about what is truly healthy. I’m not trying to create hopeless ideals–please let go of beating yourself up about your weight–I’m trying to ask provocative questions about how we’ve been educated about health and nutrition.
If going to the weight in that chart would be unhealthy for you, then don’t do it. And looking at an end goal like that can be daunting. (Note: I am 5 lbs. over the ideal in the McDougall charts, too! However, unlike this email I got and several others, I think I’d look just fine, quite healthy in fact, at the ideal weight for my height in the chart. The further you are from that number, the more outraged you’re going to be by the number.)
Don’t hold up huge, unrealistic goals for yourself. (It goes without saying that starving or bingeing/purging are bad ways to get to your ideal weight.) Don’t view the McDougall chart as the new gold standard for 100% of people. (We vary in bone size, etc.) Just also don’t be surprised if, when you reach your “target weight” based on the American norms, you realize that you want to–and can, without massive effort!–get even leaner. I’ve seen this happen with many people eating all raw or “high raw” on plant foods.