Oprah & Weight Watchers.

On Thursday nights I lead an eating disorder support group. Oprah & Weight Watchers was a topic of discussion last night and that led me to write this post.

Oprah is epic. No doubt. If I could be friends with a celeb I would choose her. And Chrissy Teigen.  

In this new year, I have been bombarded with Oprah and her new marriage to Weight Watchers. It’s hard to see someone with so much influence promote something that I so strongly don’t believe in.

But then I remember the facts: Oprah and Weight Watchers is a business deal. Oprah purchased 10% of the company and has rights to buy 5% more, so of course she is going to be doing everything she can to grow that investment. Maybe if there was an equivalent “Intuitive Eating Corporation”, Oprah would be promoting that. But there isn’t big money in intuitive eating. It’s just you and your body! 

So when you see Oprah promoting Weight Watchers, I hope you realize it is nothing more than a business deal. It isn’t about your health.

Weight Watchers is not intuitive eating.  Weight Watchers is a diet.  Any external thing that controls what you do or do not eat is a diet.  Counting points is an external factor that determines what you eat.  Intuitive Eating involves you listening to internal factors (hunger and fullness cues) to determine what, when and how much you eat. 

I can’t imagine the scrutiny Oprah is constantly under and the judgement she has to deal with constantly. I just wish her influence could be put towards tuning into her body and learning to accept her natural body size.  And instead of losing weight, she would start focusing on trying to grow taller…because they are both out of your control.

I choose to not spend my entire life fighting my body size.  My job is to listen to my hunger and fullness cues.  My job is to find movement my body enjoys.

I know how to breathe. I know how to pee. I know how to eat. Because all of those are instincts.

I don’t fear breathing too much oxygen, just like I don’t fear my body changing sizes.  It’s not my job to micromanage my breathing, just like it’s not my job to micromanage my body size.  If you are tired of micromanaging your body (and failing), Weight Watchers will not help you. 

Love to you.  Love to Oprah.  I hope everyone finds the peace they’re looking for.


  1. I needed this message today.  I had my second baby 7 weeks ago and my weight is higher than at this point with my first baby.  I know things are different…I’m older.  It’s winter so we can’t get out to walk as much.  I’m taking care of two kids and have very little time for myself.  AND I’m more recovered from my anorexia than when I had my first son.  This time I’m listening to my body and not stuck in an eating routine. I know I am so much healthier physically now, but I can’t help but to compare my body to last time.  I just want my pants to fit..I guess I’ll have to buy some new ones!

  2. Wow what an amazing message. I’ve never thought about it that way. Thank you for sharing this, lots of women (myself included) need this reminder.

  3. I’m glad you shared this- those commercials make me cringe especially since Oprah is notorious for yo-yoing weight from dieting. Hopefully one day there will be big money in intuitive eating :)

  4. Love the comparison of losing weight to wanting to grow taller!  I love Oprah too, but her WW commercial makes me absolutely cringe! I loved your comment about knowing how to pee!  You are so right and such a hoot!!!!  Have a great weekend :)

  5. So well-put! Yesterday during our quarterly RD meeting, I went on a slight tangent about the diet industry during one of our conversations as we took a break for lunch. Earlier this week, a lady I’m friends with on Fb shared an article stating that two bananas/day is required for x,y, and z. She explained how frustrated she is that one minute they’re touted as causing belly fat then this article is circulated. I gently told her that she should be eating one if her body craves it. That no article has to dictate if you eat a freaking banana. People will avoid a fruit because Dr. Oz or some other unqualified person says to. I read comments on a recipe I planned to make by Erin of Well-Plated a while back. People were asking for the nutrition facts, asking her how many muffins they should eat. It’s so sad that people have lost sight of their own needs. We’re intuitive as children then lose this as we become inundated with diet culture. Thank you for being a constant voice in the fight to promote intuitive eating!

  6. Love this, it’s good to remind ourselves just how much in this world is a business deal, not truth OR real life.

    Also, LOVE Chrissy Teigen! She is hilarious and real.

  7. Very well said! WW is definitely one of those diets in disguise as a healthy lifestyle program. The idea of counting points on everything that goes into your mouth is maddening to me yet I still see so much interest in it. Thanks for writing about this!

  8. Love this! It’s just more evidence that diets DON’T work. I cringe when I think about the foundation we’re setting up for future generations regarding their health and eating. Thank you for being such a light to others!

  9. I’ve never understood the Oprah appeal. She puts herself on the cover of her magazine every freaking month and touts body acceptance one minute, then shills for WW the next.

  10. Wow this quote was so perfect. I am slowly learning to listen to my body and not try to manipulate the size of it. It’s hard when it’s the opposite of what main stream media preaches, I hope more celebrities and people of power adopt the intuitive life style. 

  11. I’m wondering what you think about Whole30. I mean obviously it goes against what you stand for. But do you have any specific thoughts on it? Melissa Hartwig stresses a healthy mindset toward food and feeling good instead of worrying about weight. But it is still very restrictive. I tried it and felt crazy.

  12. On a slightly unrelated note what is your take on eating 1-2 of the exact same meals everyday? I suppose getting less variety of nutrients but it seems to work for some people and is sort of appealing because we have so many choices. My dad does this, same breakfast and lunch everyday when home in normal routine and then has whatever my mom makes for dinner. He’s now late 60s with no chronic medical problems, very happy and full life. 

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  14. I totally agree on what you say about Oprah. I have dealt with food issues and body image in the past and just started whole 30. I saw some of the comments on this page and people asking about your thoughts on Whole 30. Yes it is restrictive in some ways but since I have started I have felt more food freedom than I have before and am eating more intuitively. All the food is real food which I think the body is able to handle much better from intake to out put than other diets. I don’t plan on eating this way for life, it is supposed to be a cleanse and then youre supposed to reintroduce foods to see how they affect you, but I have had so many positive outcomes from it, unrelated to my body size.

    • Hi Fran, I’m glad you’ve experienced positive outcomes unrelated to your body size.

      My thoughts are that Whole30 is very rigid and strict. Saying Whole30 is inline with intuitive eating is like saying calorie counting is inline with intuitive eating. Anything external that controls the way you eat is a diet (in my opinion, Whole30 falls into the category of something external that controls the way you eat). Feel free to disagree! If you are someone who comes from a place of restriction/dieting/binge eating/emotional eating, many times you need to learn how to eat again before you can intuitively eat. For this reason I created my course as a bridge from restriction/dieting/binge eating/emotional eating to intuitive eating:

      Also, instead of Whole30, I’d so encourage you to read Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole if you haven’t already. It’s available on audiobook as well if you are like me and don’t love reading:)

      Best of luck making peace with food and your body!

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  16. Thank you for this! So many people need to hear this. So true.

  17. While I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment and I too personally dislike the idea of restriction and diets… I have to disagree with you throwing Weight Watchers away completely. Yes intuitively eating is the best approach – listening to your body and stopping when your full and not having an emotional connection with food. However, not everyone has that ability. Weight Watchers isn’t just a diet, it’s a support network as well. My parents go to something similar to WW (Slimming World) and each week they sit down with a bunch of like-minded people and discuss any problems they’ve had that week with food. They can support and help each, and provide advice. Yes there is a counting element but for people who have overeaten for so long or simply have a very limited understand of what foods to eat in order to live a healthy life, groups like WW can provide a structure and a guide to help them forward. No it’s not for life and shouldn’t dominate them, but as a starting point I think it’s fantastic. Some people need that structure and commitment. And yes body size isn’t everything, but some people aren’t losing weight for body image reasons but for actual health reasons that could be brought on by being overweight.
    Just my two cents!

    • Love you two cents! Thanks for commenting, Anna!

      I agree that people who come from a place of dieting/restriction/emotional overeating/bingeing, have to learn “how to eat” again before they can connect with the intuitive eater inside them. I do use meal plans and structure as a bridge to intuitive eating in my private practice, so I agree with your thoughts that WW can provide structure and a guide that is helpful. If WW is 1) used as a way to reconnect with “how to eat” – protein + carbs + fat + fiber at each meal and 2) clients are not weighed each week, but instead encouraged to focus on healthful behaviors…I would have no issues with someone following their structure until hunger/fullness cues return. I also realize working one-on-one with an non-diet approach dietitian is not something everyone can afford and WW may be the only option for reconnecting with how to eat. I’m glad your parents have found something that works for them.

      I would also add, working with eating disorders it is insane how often I hear from binge eating disorder clients that they were taken to Weight Watchers when they were 12 years old and it led them to the restrict-binge cycle. So I naturally have a negative opinion towards WW because the number of lives I’ve seen it mess up…but I guess any diet/pediatrician who told a 12 year old “you are fat and need to lose weight”/fat-shaming bully at school could have ruined their life and set them on the restrict-binge cycle.

      Another thought, I don’t think being overweight is necessarily a risk factor for poor health. I believe healthful behaviors can improve health regardless of weight loss. Here is some research on that if you are interested:

      I can see where you’re coming from. Thanks for the comment!

  18. “I don’t fear breathing too much oxygen, just like I don’t fear my body changing sizes.  It’s not my job to micromanage my breathing, just like it’s not my job to micromanage my body size.”  – very well written! 

    Sometimes we become too overly focused on ourselves and forget that fact that we have a mission for this life, whether it is to build something,  help someone, or even just to get go somewhere, our body is there to enable the mind to do what it wants. 

    Here’s something I’d like to do every once in a while: sit down > close the eyes > breathe > ask my mind: “how are you?”  > wait, and listen to its response…..what’s the feeling?what emotion is there? Our body cannot make decisions for our minds. 

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