A totally non crap way to help humans be healthier and happier

Something the health gurus don't say about the fatter to thinner thing

I think you’ll pretty much agree that it’s totally crap and unhelpful when thinner people think they should offer advice to their fatter friends on how to fix themselves up. yet thin people often do this. it’s not a cool thing people. or respectful. or even remotely helpful. and I feel I need to say something.

Dear thin people if you really want to be helpful please drop the judgements. and advice giving. totally. anyhow is it worse to be a fatter person or a bit mean-spirited. just asking.

I know what it feels like. I was that fatter person once. so it’s a bit personal. but also I’m a doctor and I meet lots of people with weight worries. and because there’s a cult of health about that can be a bit too prescriptive and judgy-judgy. and there’s way too much yoga like posing and exercise accessorising and food obsessing going on at the moment. you know what I’m talking about. have you noticed that many people are still unfit and a bit too fat despite all this. my theory is that mostly it’s clever marketing of more stuff to the thinner people. not real solutions for the fatter people.

Anyhow. there is a lot more to being thinner then the food you put in your mouth. or the clean eating thing. adding some ferments. or even eliminating that dangerous demon sugar. if it was as simple as eating less of this or doing that other thing everyone would be doing it and being thin. you know this is true. because most people aren’t that silly. and there’s a mount everest of information and advice pouring out the phone these days. and fatter people are actually as clever as thinner people. they can goggle. and read the stuff. and more often than not they are somewhat sweet and sensitive. maybe even a bit extra. which is a good thing. right. point is that the fat is their thing and their struggle. and maybe they probably have their reasons for it.

The first fact I want to say is that our body-mind is an integrated thing. totally. this is a concept that most of us agree with in principle. but forget about in action. these two are in it together. so to focus on one and not the other is to miss half the story. behind many symptoms of disease is a dear human person. with an inside world and an outside body. often when we are sick on the outside we are also are distressed in some way on the inside. most likely we are a sweet sensitive human being with an unmet human need. so it’s not just a diet advice need. which the cult of health is so often focused on.

The next fact thing I want to tell about is that most basic of needs. to feel safe. secure. loved enough. important enough. inside yourself. that sometimes our bodies do stuff because they got the message that this is how to make you feel safe or loved. so some of us are fatter as a protection thing. like some of us have been traumatized or bullied or made feel unworthy in some way at a young age. some of us were sexually abused or mistreated physically. some of us are sexually uncertain or afraid in some way. or in a life transition like menopause. some of us are hungry psychologically for something but we mixed it up with eating chocolate. and salty biscuits. or drinking too much alcohol. our fat is often a layer of safety. or something like that. it meets a need. or expresses the need. it’s actually sort of clever in an odd way don’t you think.

Whats more our bodies are working really hard to help us feel safe. to survive. they’re got all sorts of mechanisms and programmes that are going at it full pelt. it’s one of their jobs and they’re been doing it since that first day. the programme may over ride your calorie cutting or carbohydrate curbing.

Not so long ago in evolutionary terms we were programmed to feast when food was available to survive famine. we learnt to gobble up the sweet fruits because we only came across them occasionally. problem is now we have supermarkets and they fly food in from foreign lands and anything the recipe calls for is available all the time. we also loafed around chatting a lot of the time. but it was in between periods of intense hunting and gathering. and playing active sorts of games with each other. now we have cars and home delivery and gaming consoles and no need to get off the couch. we weren’t plagued by fatness and diabetes and needing to take metformin. we had no need for fit-bits and wellness apps and gyms memberships and restricted eating programmes.

The next fact thing is that stress affects all sorts of hormones. like it raises cortisol. which affects others hormones. like leptin. which is what thinner people probably have in buckets. when it’s working well leptin raises your metabolic rate and burns fat efficiently. those of you who are naturally thin are probably genetically gifted in this area. which may mean you don’t know shit about being in body with less of the stuff. or maybe you were stressed out by a really difficult childhood or trauma so your hormones were inactivated way back then. your programme was set to lay down fat. maybe you are chronically stressed by any number of things and no matter how little you eat the fat seems stuck on those problem spots. and that’s only one small part of the physical story.

My point is that any dietary advice or intervention ideas will be probably ineffective. long-term. pure will power generally only works for the short term. we all know that. from experience. remember the grapefruit diet. worked a treat first few weeks. then it got tedious. then the fat found a way to come back.

So till the need to feel safe is addressed. deeply. and to be not too stressed out. which may mean really significant lifestyle changes. and may I point the way of mindfulness. the diet advice won’t change much. you may also need to let your body know that the stress is in the past. and sometimes that is a few years of therapy. sometimes fatter people are not sitting around doing nothing. they are doing really hard emotional work.

Because to change long-term you need to be able to love yourself. and your own body. as it is. right now. in the present time. not later when its thinner. and definitely not in that I’m looking good in my colour coordinated active wear and the oversized prada sunnies doing my exercise way. but really truly deeply. as you actually are. and when I say deeply I mean at a cellular level.

It’s actually a hard thing for most of us to love our imperfect bodies. especially these days with those smooth instagram images. when others around are disapproving. or only complimenting a particular way of looking. even being older and presumably a bit wiser isn’t a protection. now you have to look younger for your age at every age. and no muffins bits please madame. and preferably a tight this and that as well. like it’s impossible to look average good anymore. be an ordinary sort of healthy. everything is so polarised. even appearance and health. and both overvalued and constantly critiqued at the same time.

All this is to say you can’t care deeply for a body you don’t love. so you can’t wait to be thin to love your body. to decide you’ll love yourself when your body is thinner or firmer or this and that. I’ll go so far as to say you start thinning the moment you start loving the fatter you. then the programming inside starts to change. because it’s safe to be thinner. your cells know you are ok. and can survive. the stress is over. the fat can leave. for good.

Then the other stuff becomes easier. more doable. because your body wants to be healthy. it can do what is needed. with the mind on board. of course it’s healthy to cut out the addictions and all the other not good stuff. to eat organic vegetables and feed our gut biome. to fast sometimes. even to get into daily green things. and to move your body. to enjoy your body. with a dose of genuine self-love that’s not so hard either.

So one last fact thing. it turns out that warm caring connections are the thing that is the very best for our health and longevity. way more so than our weight and pulse rate and daily green smoothie consumption. there is a thing called social integration which trumps all the other stuff. I reckon it’s a measure of the safety thing. you can goggle a ted talk on it if you want.

Dear thinner people if you genuinely want your fatter friends to be healthy and live longer here’s what helps. loving them warmly and compassionately. as they are. it’s good for them. but also for you. you get to be healthier just by doing that. it’s a win win thing. no judgment needed.


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4 thoughts on “A totally non crap way to help humans be healthier and happier

  1. Bernadette, I absolutely love this post! I recently joined a gym and was offered a free analysis of my body fat and a food coaching session. I’d been enjoying the gym for a few weeks and was already seeing changes and feeling happy, but I took them up on the offer, mostly out of curiosity. The body fat analysis person pretty much told me I was in terrible shape and had to act fast. (So not true, but I stayed awake all that night worrying that I was going to die soon.) The food coach took no notice of my story of the past few years (perimenopause, extreme stress, unstable employment, impermanent home) and told me to drink green smoothies with fake protein powder in them (I’d rather eat real vegetables and real dairy products). She also told me to do high-intensity exercise even though I told her that reducing stress has been my focus for the last year. The point when she really lost me was when she said to drink instant coffee instead of the good stuff. Also, she looked very fit but was SO HUMOURLESS!
    So I agree with you: love yourself, be kind to yourself, reduce your stress, practise mindfulness and change your life as much as you need to.
    Thanks so much for writing this post.

    • Real self-care is slow and deep and starts with heart. I hope you find the way to love yourself that works for you and your body. And is fun and sensual and life affirming! Thank you so much for sharing your story.