Below is a letter I wrote to the editor of Running Times magazine in response to their December issue. You can find the editor's note this is in response to by clicking here.
As a dedicated Running Times reader, marathoner, and registered dietitian specializing in the treatment of eating disorders and body image issues, I must say I really appreciated the thoughtfulness of your editor's note in the December issue. The reluctance you described about publishing the article on weight is wise. Disordered eating is rampant among distance runners, and the symptoms are often glorified and normalized. Low hormone levels (from inadequate intake and loss of body fat) and decreased of bone density leading to stress fractures, osteopenia, and eventually osteoporosis are often touted as badges of honor. This gets compounded by the common increase in performance that runners often see with weight loss which positively reinforces these behaviors. It's only a few short steps from here to a full-blown eating disorder.
Our relationship with food is so complicated. We were born with the ability to eat intuitively and trust our body to tell us what it needs. Somewhere along the way we learn to disobey those signals. Children appreciate and celebrate their bodies, valuing the body's function over it's appearance. As adults we far too often criticize and try to force our bodies to fit into the narrow confines of society's expectations, which are even narrower for runners.
Kudos to your for honoring your body and choosing not to obsess about weighing yourself or counting calories. This obsession takes many people down a miserable and dangerous road. Running gives us the gift of connecting with our bodies in a unique way. Hang on to this innocence and simplicity!