Gorgeous and Full Fat

I finally got around to reading ‘Health at Every Size‘ yesterday. You know Hildawhen you have a book that you really know you want to read but you just never quite get around to it? HAES was one of mine.

Then I read the post I reblogged yesterday from Alexandra Roumbas Goldstein – and I knew I had to get on with it and read the damn book!

It made me angry, happy, determined and a whole misxture of other emotions. This is the science they don’t tell you when you’re being lectured about your weight at the doctors for the umpteenth time (and we all know you only went in for antibiotics for a throat infection). It’s liberating and it’s eye-opening.

Right from the start, Linda Bacon debunks the idea that dieting works. From the ways your body tries to resist weight loss – and it’s a crafty bugger – to the ways we’re misled by big business into eating foods that keep us fat, dieting, feeling shitty about ourselves and more. She even suggests that exercise isn’t the weight loss Holy Grail we’re led to believe. It might stop us GAINING weight and it’s undeniably a good thing to be as active as we can be, but it doesn’t make most of us skinny.

HAES also gives you a whole heap of figures contradicting the idea we’re all going to die young because we are a size 16 or more.

You’ll just have to read it for yourself if you want to get the full benefits. I think I’m going to have to read it again myself, especially the bits about how to stop dieting. There’s a lot in there that’s not entirely new to me – I have to thank Sue Thomason for introducing me to the idea that there might be a world beyond Slimming World in the first place. But for some reason the research, the science, the figures and the detail made it all feel real.

Women who followed the HAES advice were happier, no longer struggled with food issues (Amen to that) and improved their self esteem. But what about their health? Well there were no massive weight losses. The author says she lost a couple of stone but nothing major. But before you decide it’s not worth doing and search Amazon for 2013’s next diet best seller, read on. The women who followed the HAES programme had lower cholesterol and blood pressure and were more active than before they started the plan.

The control group of dieters lost a bit of weight – but gained it back.  Their activity levels, cholesterol and blood pressure all stayed the same or got worse, as did their depression levels. Half the dieters dropped out before the end of the study while only 8% of the women following the HAES plan gave up.

The dieters’ self esteem dropped. The HAES volunteers soared.

So no, they weren’t skinnier, but they were healthier and happier. And the dieters were neither skinnier, healthier OR happier. So it’s a no-brainer really.

Diets. Don’t. Work.

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to get to the point where you just give up on the idea of dieting. I mean really give up. But you know what, it’s well overdue for me. I’m tired of it. The relentless pressure and bullying, the stress of trying to lose weight and busting a gut (last year I managed to lose a stone…but put it all back on again). We all want to be happy and healthy, so what if there is a way to be both without being in the BMI chart ‘acceptable’ range? I’m willing to take that chance…







Filed under Food and diets, Lifestyle

12 responses to “Gorgeous and Full Fat

  1. Isn’t it the best? I was absolutely gobsmacked. Just simple things like how the word “overweight” is meaningless because there’s no such thing as a “normal” weight.

    • Abso-freaking-lutely. It’s everything Sue said but only with masses more science. And politics. I just thought ‘Wow’. The part about not putting things off until you’re slim because actually, you might NEVER be slim really hit a nerve, too. What if I’m not?

      • And the stuff about diabetes – how they include the figures of thin people in the total and blame the whole thing on obesity? Amazing.

      • …not to mention that diabetes might actually be an underlying condition in some people that CAUSES weight gain, rather than the diabetes being a result of it. *shakes head*

  2. Sam

    Diet is a man made definition to aim to exhurt a degree of control as to what falls into the realms of exceptability or not. The same way as relgion and law are part of a evolved culture to control, limit and teach right from wrong. The term diet is not really used in the correct tense as it really means your overall eating… Rather than being ON a diet! Promotion of healthy, controlled and propotioned diet is a good thing and if people eat within the limits that we are supposed to then this would vastly reduce the drain on the state and prolong happy and healthier exisitances! A size 18 person no matter how ‘fit’ they think they are carrying more pressure, weight and strain to their own bodies than that of a size 10 person. Eat less + excercise more = healthy diet

    • Sam, I haven’t been a size 10 since I was in my early teens and my mum certainly didn’t let me eat junk food or feed me rubbish. I gained weight for the first time when I was at my fittest, on my feet all day every day, and walking everywhere. I went on my first diet and have been gaining weight every since. Our bodies are designed to gain weight but aren’t very good at losing it, and if you read the book you would understand that. As for putting ‘fit’ in inverted commas, that insinuates you don’t believe anyone over size ten can be fit. Size really doesn’t matter. I don’t claim to be mega fit but there are plenty of big people who can run marathons, cycle for miles… Don’t believe what the media tells you about all fat people being lazy and greedy. It’s crap.

      • Sam

        I think your response is factually inaccurate to try to underline your point when you say “Our bodies are disigned to gain weight…” NOT TRUE.

        Our bodies were designed to store energy, So, even if you are overweight, your body is very attuned to what has been ‘normal’ for an extended time period, and to prevent any possibility of being in a state of starvation, your body has many mechanisms that trigger it to hold on to whatever body weight you’re at. These stretch to Yo-yo dieting or emotional issues that cause chemcial changes where by your body goes into protection mode. This is proven scientific fact! If people are happy being big and accept it then fine, but its not beyond the realms of change if a long term commited approach is implimented.

        The key to fight this is regulate portion control, eating well-balanced meals. The less you weigh, the less calories you need to maintain your weight. Once you’ve stopped ‘dieting,’ you can’t go back to eating the same amount of food that you were accustomed (which is why people say ‘Dieting’ doesn’t work). If you cut your calories to 1200 a day and lose 20 pounds, your new body might only need 1200 calories to maintain your new weight. Lighter bodies have less mass and cells and therefore require less energy to maintain those living tissues and cells. Your body has 2 food memories – what your body needs and what your brain remebers it likes, in most cases often contridict.

        By creating a deficit between calories in and calories out this will aid to allign your body to the operate even more effectivly. Im not ‘beleving’ the media as you cynically put just basing my response on 20 years experience and a BA Hons in Food and Nutrition!

      • You’re entitled to your opinion and I respect that, but although you base that opinion on what you have been taught, I base mine on 25 years experience of trying to reduce my body size through willpower. Yes, it works at first but then the gargantuan effort necessary to cut my intake down and increase my activity enough to lose anything becomes unsustainable.

        Research does show that leptin,one of the hormones that controls appetite, plus all the other mechanisms our body uses to stop us overeating, get seriously screwed when we constantly override them with willpower. They stop being as good at telling us when we’ve had enough. Some people also naturally produce less of it. I can never under why people will readily accept that some people can eat as much as they like, of all the wrong things, yet never gain weight, and it’s ‘Just a lucky metabolism’ but if someone finds it impossible to lose weight its because they are lazy and greedy.

        Commercial diets have a tiny long term success rate, but people still blame their lack of willpower rather than the diet when they fail again. If you read ‘health at any size’ and saw the huge amount of mostly unreported research into food restriction, weight, metabolism, and also the life expectancy of obese and overweight people versus normal, you might see where I’m coming from. I’m not basing my opinion on just one book, either there are plenty of studies and books on the subject.

        People who followed the HAES programme, stopped dieting and hating themselves didn’t lose a lot of weight. But they stopped being obsessed with food, started looking after themselves and voluntarily exercising for pleasure. They became less depressed and all the usual health markers improved. The dieting control group, the half of women who stuck it out, anyway, also lost very little weight, but their health and state of mind deteriorated.

        I would rather be fatter, fit, healthy and happy than
        starve myself to keep society happy.

  3. I have a dear friend who runs 2-3 miles a day plus works out in a gym power lifting. She’s fat and fit and healthy and happy. The societal demands that a woman be skinny but a man can be “robust” are bogus. 🙂

  4. I’m all for anything that encourages acceptance and love of our bodies no matter what size. I think that physical health starts with mental health. When you’re all good up in the noggin’ then your body reflects that.

  5. Pingback: Break the Diet Cycle | Gorgeously Full Fat

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