As a fat positive activist my goal, first and foremost, is to advocate body love for all shapes and sizes. Instead, doing this as a fat woman, I am often subjected to accusations of ‘glorifying obesity’.
Thank the Lord, then, for the widely reported study this week which found that obesity awareness may actually be causing people to overeat. The message is clear: put a laser focus on people’s bodies, talk about them constantly and frame their weight as a problem, and they will respond with stress activity. The widespread ‘awareness’ we’re all now supposed to have of our waistlines may actually be contributing to the so-called obesity crisis.
Many subscribe to the narrative that fat women and men simply cannot be happy with their bodies. So sure are these (mostly thin) people of their correctness that they believe those who declare love for their fat bodies are sad, deluded types who refuse to see the implications their size might have on their health. Nevertheless, it seems that we now have some solid evidence to support the idea that fat acceptance and body love are inherently linked to shaping a more healthy and positive lifestyle. The study, conducted by Eric Robinson of the Institute of Psychology at Liverpool University, shows that feelings of discrimination may be causing overweight people to comfort eat, therefore leading to weight gain. So perhaps – just perhaps – public humiliation isn’t the way to encourage healthy attitudes, after all.
As a fat woman, I can consciously recognise that being tagged with words such as ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ – words so often seen in conjunction with ‘laziness’ and ‘stupidity’, as well as spurious claims about putting the NHS under strain – affects a person’s food and exercise choices. When fat people are mocked and ridiculed – which they often are – when giving exercise a shot, or picking out a salad at the cafeteria, is it any surprise that we choose to hide away at home with snacks and the TV for company? ‘People with a heavier body weight have body image challenges,’ Robinson states, ‘…[these challenges] are not surprising given the way we talk about weight and fat and obesity as a society.’ Negativity begets negativity.
On the flipside of this, the results of Robinson’s study show that acceptance of one’s shape would contribute more positively to the health and lives of those with body sizes outside of the realms of perceived ‘normality’ and social acceptability. Fat acceptance does not encourage people to be unhealthy: fat acceptance gives people the opportunity to cast off those constant negative jibes. It offers a space where fat people are allowed to be comfortable with their bodies, and to work from there – whether that means maintaining the same shape or changing it.
The healthy eating trends of 2015
The healthy eating trends of 2015
1/10 Acai bowls are the new green juice
Who ever thought we’d have been ok with adding spinach to our smoothies? Yet even virtuous green juices started to get something of a bad rep, as the ‘juice fast’ backlash grew and it turned out that some shop-bought juices contained as much sugar as a can of fizzy drink. Bring on Acai bowls, the new darlings of Instagram. Like a gloopier smoothie, these are made with antioxidant-rich acai berries (they are hard to come by - search for powdered or dried berries or frozen puree), which are said to aid weight loss. Blend with frozen bananas, berries and a little nut milk and top with whatever you like - seeds, nuts, cacao nibs, goji berries. A picture-perfect purple powerhouse for breakfast.
Ella Grace Denton, www.weneedtolivemore.com
2/10 Bone broth is the new Miso soup
Remember back in the day when the word ‘broth’ would conjure up visions of Dickensian orphanages? Then miso came along, Gwyneth embraced it, and we all followed suit, lauding how filling and protein rich with little wonder broth was. We’ve come full circle now, as bone broth is back on the radar. The glowing-with-health Hemsley sisters seem to use bone broth in most of their recipes, and rave about its nutritional benefits. “Bone broth is a nourishing all rounder packed with vitamins, minerals, collagen and keratin which makes it amazing for skin – including the dreaded cellulite! The healthy fats in the broth help you to assimilate important vitamins including Vit D.” There you go, something to stew over...
Food Loves Writing, Flickr
3/10 Bee pollen is the new Manuka honey
Every health hipster has a jar of manuka honey on their shelves - if they can afford it that is, a jar can cost about £15. But many claim it is worth its weight in gold, due to its unique antibacterial properties. Traditionally it was used on wounds, but many also claim that it performs miracles combatting cholesterol, diabetes, cancer and digestive problems (although the science is limited). Now bee pollen is the latest ‘superfood’ out there - thought to ward off colds, limit food cravings, improve skin tone, ward off allergies like hay fever (although some caution that it may exacerbate them) and, of course, fight cancer. Again, the science behind these claims is dubious - but it certainly adds a nice sweetness to your morning porridge.
4/10 Kelp is the new kale
Last year saw the emergence of an unassuming green leaf that was previously barely used beyond cattle feed. Now, we have kale chips in Pret, kale juices, ‘massaged’ kale salads - it’s even on the menu in fine dining restaurants. Yawn. Introducing kelp. This seaweed is high in iodine, which is said to improve thyroid function and control metabolism. It is also thought to have anti-aging properties for skin and hair. Try it in salads or add to asian-style soups.
5/10 Matcha is the new green tea
Yes, yes, yes, green tea, weightloss, yadda yadda yadda, boosts metabolism, etc etc. For 2015, though, it’s not about just any old green tea - this is matcha green tea. Made from finely milled high-grade matcha leaves, which are grown in the shade, matcha boasts 130 times more anti-oxidants than your bog standard green tea and is supposed to boost energy levels, lower stress, improve your mood and aid metabolism. It can be consumed as a regular tea, added to steamed milk for a matcha latte or even used to add a pleasant green shade and flavour to ice-cream.
6/10 Whole 30 is the new Paleo diet
Thought you were a culinary champ with your caveman-style eating plan? Well, think again, paleo is for wimps! Ok, not quite, but while people on the paleo plan cut out grains, legumes, sugar and processed foods, there is an increasing trend to paleo-fy your treats, with almond-flour pancakes, banana bread and a lot of brownies. The Whole 30 plan is a purer, stricter version of Paleo and really takes you back to basics when it comes to eating natural foods. The 30-day plan bans scales as well as sugar and alcohol, so that you can concentrate on nourishment rather than weight.
7/10 Fermenting is the new sprouting
Just when we thought we were ahead of the game by starting to sprout our own seeds and with sprouted flours creeping on to the market, the health set had to kick it up a notch. Now it’s all about making your own kombucha (fermented tea), sauerkraut or kimchi (both kinds of pickled cabbage). Fermented foods are said to aid digestion thanks to the creation of enzymes and probiotics in the process. Plus they tend to be high in B-vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids. Think of it as the new jam-making, and break out those mason jars.
8/10 Banana flour is the new coconut flour
Coconut flour was one of the coolest baking ingredients of the year, beloved by Paleo fans. Its highly absorbent qualities mean you only need a tiny bit for baking, keeping your creations low carb but resulting in the odd dry-crumbly-mess baking fail. Banana flour is the next flour to experiment with. Made from green bananas (and no, not banana-flavoured), it is gluten free and light in texture, so ideal for baking. High in resistant starch, which is effective against colon cancer, obesity, and diabetes, it is already being lauded for its nutritional benefits in Africa and South America, and will surely start to become much more visible on health-food shop shelves in the near future.
9/10 Bulletproof coffee is the new soy latte
Nowadays it is possible to walk into almost any cafe and order a soy latte without being eyeballed as a lunatic by the person behind the counter. But would you have the guts to request a stick of butter in your morning brew? Well, some coffee shops are offering exactly that. Bulletproof coffee is a paleo-friendly invention which involves a black coffee with a dollop of coconut oil or butter. Bleurgh. But advocates say it gives you more slow-release energy, sharpens your brain and helps you to focus - and even that it is delicious. Now the theory has been expanded into a whole ‘Bulletproof’ diet plan, rich in fat. Who wants to bet on when Starbucks will give it a shot?
10/10 Tiger nuts are the new almonds
2014 was a good year for almonds. Gym-goers and raw foodists alike carried around a stash for healthy, protein-rich snacking, almond-milk lattes were quaffed, and almond flour featured in so many paleo and gluten-free treats. Now tiger nuts, or ‘earth almonds’ (yes, really), are about to vie for snacking superiority. Tiger nuts are not nuts, but the tubers of the sedge plant. Originally a key food source for Paleolithic Indians, they have until recently been used as animal feed or a side dish in South America, Africa and the Middle East, or in Hispanic companies made into a sweet, milky drink called horchata. But now the hipsters have got their hands on it, drying, roasting and flavouring with the likes of sweet chilli for an on-the-go snack. High in healthy fats, protein and natural sugar, it is rich in energy content, and thought to help prevent heart disease and improve circulation.
As Robinson’s study states, when comfort is found and a positive relationship is established with one’s body, fear of judgement dissipates and fat people are more likely to ignore the learned societal discrimination against them. Once they are liberated from this prejudice, they are much more prepared and able to make subconscious inroads into exploring a more positive relationship with their bodies. This naturally leads to a positive interest in healthy habits.
In a world of airbrushed Instagram photos, magazines packed with diets and websites chockablock with ‘thinspiration’, there is only so much we can do in the fat acceptance movement to help people to push back. But with studies such as Robinson’s suggesting that there are serious, tangible benefits to fat people beginning a positive conversation with their bodies, the tide seems to be turning in our favour. We’ve long been saying that fat acceptance is a movement that’s positive for the body and the mind. Now that science has started to back us up, perhaps those who say we’re encouraging unhealthy lifestyles will stop dominating the narrative.Reuse content