Do you feel guilty for being fat? Does it help?

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I wrote a jokey article a couple of weeks ago about the perils of fat people when it comes to summer… not only do we have to battle with our boobs in the heat, but we also have to sit alongside beautiful people with bodies to die for – read it here.

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Yes, the post was jokey but the response from my readers made me feel unexpectedly proud and I wanted to write another blog post based on it. The vast majority of responses were from people telling me their experiences of body-shame on the beach and how they’ve learned to cope with the feeling of guilt about being fat in a judgemental society.

This leads me to my first question – are you guilty about being fat? Do you feel guilty whenever you go to pick up a piece of cake? I know for sure that I do. I have two types of guilt – guilt for my own health and guilt from other peoples judgement. Guilt for my own health is usually (and annoyingly) pretty late to the party. Grabbing another piece of cake is a balance between willpower and short-term blissful happiness of feeling creamy sugary buttercream go into your mouth (mmmm buttercream), but guilt usually makes a late appearance. Late, but long-lasting unfortunately.

It’s the guilt from other peoples judgement which is the interesting one. I think, for me anyway, the main evidence of this is whether or not I secret eat. Guilt from other people wouldn’t exist if the other people weren’t there. If I got locked in a supermarket by myself overnight salad would not even enter my mind. However, it’s the looks from my friends/family whenever I go to eat a piece of cake which makes me feel incredibly guilty. It almost sometimes makes me feel that it’s not even worth it. However, where this becomes dangerous as it’s more often than not that I’ll find myself sticking my fingers into a jar of peanut butter when I get home.

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Second question – does the guilt help you? I’m undecided on this one. Guilt has evolved because it helped us in the past. The more guilty you felt for doing something wrong (and potentially harmful – i.e. eating a piece of cake), the less you did it and the more you survived. Makes perfect sense. However, we’re not living in a simple world any more with a couple of animals to kill for meat and a bush to grab berries from. We live in a complex society of thousands of yummy restaurants on our doorstep and a happy-to-judge society. Guilt, for me, can be a positive and a negative. The positive is that I know in myself that if i truly didn’t give a shit I would eat like there’s no tomorrow. The element of guilt, whilst sucky, actually keeps me from becoming super obese. However, the negative end of the spectrum makes me feel sad, and we all know what being sad does to my eating habits… Cream, cream city bitch.

I think feeling guilty is fine balance. You need a little bit there to keep you on track from not getting too fat, but you don’t want too much to feel constantly bad about yourself.

What do you think readers? I’d love to hear from you all 🙂

BJOD x

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4 thoughts on “Do you feel guilty for being fat? Does it help?

    surfandfitnessjourney said:
    June 21, 2014 at 10:59 am

    I think guilt is a bit of motivational-speech from our psyche. Where would we be without it? But don’t let that guilt ever take you over! Stay strong. Accept the guilt and tell it that you were allowed to enjoy yourself. There are plenty more days to eat clean. Don’t let it drag you down because Guilt is a demon waiting to crush your spirit.

    sokebe said:
    June 22, 2014 at 3:51 am

    As a person that has gained and lost a couple hundred pounds in my life, I can tell you that the motivation to lose weight and/or the desire to be healthy comes from within – no one can “guilt” you into being healthier. In fact, for all the people that looked at me and asked me if I “Really needed another cookie,” well, I gave them a big mental F*CK OFF and ate TWO cookies instead. Is that healthy? No. Is it mature? No. Is it totally understandable to any person that has ever wanted to lose five or more pounds? You bet. So, friends of people attempting to release the “thin, healthy us” inside, please DON’T think your shame talk helps the cause at all – it doesn’t.

    As far as feeling guilty about being overweight, well, as I shared above, I have been “plump” and I have been lean – I have never been just “regular.” I wish I could eat whatever I wanted and never worry about chubbing out, but I can’t. Was I ever really happy being “lean?” NOPE. What? No, because I was OBSESSED with food – portions and carbs and calories and sugars and proteins – it was maddening. It consumed me and turned me into a bitter, food-hating wreck. I’d rather be a little rounder and a LOT happier than 3% body fat warrior with an 18 BMI – miserable every moment I am alive.

      Eric said:
      July 6, 2014 at 3:27 am

      My experience is that trying to will your way to health through portion control is incredibly difficult and unsustainable. I would always eat until I felt satisfied. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with that. The standard diet today is so full of foods with concentrated fats, fats from oils, fats from animal products, refined carbohydrates that have much of the nutrition and all of the fiber removed. It is no wonder then that it takes 700 or even more calories to feel full on a meal. This was my downfall. I’d regularly go to a restaurant and consume over 1200 calories in a single meal.

      Our bodies aren’t broken, it is our food that is broken. If you eat whole foods from plant sources, you’re eating foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories. You can eat a heaping bowl of black bean soup, for example, and only consume around 300 calories. (http://www.amazon.com/Dr-McDougalls-Right-Foods-18-Ounce/dp/B0052P1XUY/) This is only possible if the food isn’t full of concentrated fats, oils and added sugars.

      Satiety is incredibly important and it comes from eating foods in adequate volume with adequate nutritional content. Trying to maintain a healthy weight on a standard diet is, for many, a Sisyphean task just as you describe.

    Eric said:
    July 6, 2014 at 3:17 am

    Looking back on things, I wish I had someone in my life who was healthy and willing to give me some straight talk about health when I was at my heaviest weight. I knew I was in poor health, but believe it or not, even at 370 pounds it is easy to be in denial about how unhealthy you really are. This is especially true when you’re surrounded by people who are only somewhat less unhealthy than you. Two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, after all. What looks normal to us is actually quite unhealthy.

    I was shocked to learn that heart attacks were the #1 killer in the country. When I started getting chest pains at 27 years old, I decided it was time to do something for my health. I’ve lost all of my excess weight and looking back on it, I did have lots of uncomfortable moments where I felt judged for being overweight. These weren’t helpful because they aren’t constructive, they don’t tell you anything about how to fix the problem, just that you are doing it wrong and therefore you are defective somehow.

    So judgment and shaming are destructive, but I think some honest, straight talk and constructive feedback can make all the difference. I know it did when I finally had a conversation with someone who had the information to help me get healthy.

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