Being bigger doesn’t mean being unhealthy

Something you might have heard is that the only way for big people to be healthy is to lose weight. Recently, a large amount of scientific evidence has suggested otherwise: it’s possible to be healthy at any size. That’s why we’ve gathered a few tips on how to deal with people in your life who might treat you poorly because of your body, and not let your own feelings about your body hold you back.

There’s nothing wrong with being bigger

Does this statement wrinkle your brain? Well, it’s not surprising. We receive the message that ‘bigger = bad’ loudly and clearly every day, whether it’s through the harmful messaging in the media, or through negative and misleading messaging from the diet industry.

Dieting doesn’t always equal weight loss

Only a tiny percentage of people who diet maintain their weight loss even if they maintain the diet. This is a problem, because weight cycling (repeatedly losing and regaining weight) can put serious strain on the body. Check out more info on dangerous dieting at the NEDC website.

You can’t figure out how healthy someone is by looking at them

It’s possible for someone to be bigger and healthy, just as it’s possible for someone to be thin and unhealthy. In the media, you might have read about health conditions which some have linked with obesity. But a number of studies have shown that those issues are best solved by getting into good habits. After all, good health is a result of our behaviours. Eating well, exercising and having a positive outlook is good for all of us, regardless of our size.

Quite simply, you deserve respect

You deserve respect and to be treated decently regardless of your body size, how healthy you are, or what kind of food you eat. Nobody deserves to be made to feel inferior because of who they are or how they look.

The thinking behind ‘health at every size’

‘Health at every size’ recognises that healthy living and personal wellbeing are what’s important, not weight control. The following are the keys to living a good, healthy life.

Accept other people’s bodies as well as your own

Recognise that we all come in different shapes and sizes, and that all people are inherently valuable regardless of the way they look. Once you stop criticising other people’s bodies, you’ll find it much easier to accept your own.

Don’t worry about your weight or clothing size

Appreciate the body you have, be thankful for everything it’s capable of, and feel excited by its potential. It’s much easier to take care of your wellbeing when you think about yourself positively.

Trust yourself

Some people believe that if they stop dieting and counting calories, they’ll snap and stuff their face with cake all day long. But our bodies are invested in keeping us alive; even if you did try to eat cake for every meal, after a day or two you’d have a hardcore craving for some vegetables.

  • Eat when you’re hungry.

  • Eat slowly, and really taste your food.

  • Stop eating when you start to feel full.

  • Keep food interesting by eating a variety of things.

  • Give new, healthy foods a chance.

Find a form of exercise that you enjoy

Just as controlling what you eat just to lose weight takes the fun out of eating, exercising out of obligation is a massive drag. Find an exercise that makes you feel good. Take your dog for a walk, ride your bike somewhere new or go out dancing. Pro tip: jump rope and games of bullrush never stop being fun!

Don’t let negativity hold you back

Here’s an unusual message: have fun, eat good food and be happy. That goes for everyone, big or small. When you think about it, it’s super weird that our physical appearance is held in such high regard when it’s so boring compared to all the things that make us awesome.

What can I do now?

  • Organise an outing with your friends to try a new type of food together.

  • Schedule into your week some types of exercise that you actually enjoy.

  • Check out ReachOut Forums - a supportive space to hear from other young people dealing with issues regarding their body image.