There exists a myth that all people in larger bodies are this way because they eat too much.
While it is possible that this is why some people are in larger bodies, it is simply not true for all people who are fat (I use fat in a neutral way to simply describe a body size).
To be perfectly clear, it is no one’s business why someone is the body size they are. But the problem with this myth is that it assumes 1. Body size can be permanently changed for most people (it can’t) and 2. No matter how much a fat person eats, it’s always too much.
That is why insanely restrictive diets exist: if someone was simply overeating, they’d just have to stop, not restrict, to lose weight. But simply eating in a balanced, normal way has not been shown to produce weight loss.
The majority of my clients have restricted much more than they have overeaten in their lives. They dieted for years and their restriction shocks even me, myself a former dieter. How little they ate, how much they cut out – it is truly shocking. Based on their histories, most were never overeaters to begin with.
Perhaps now they have overeating problems but this is not what is causing their weight gain.
What caused their weight loss on diets was not the absence of overeating, but the absence of enough food. What has inevitably contributed to their weight regain over the years is the weight loss (because this is the body’s way of saving itself from future “famines” aka diets).
Many started out at what the BMI considers “normal weight” but through many diet attempts and weight cycles, they have stair-stepped their weight up beyond their original set point range. This, and not overeating, is more likely why they are now at a higher weight. Their overeating now is simply a reaction to not enough food.
There can be many reasons for weight variance including illness, restriction, overeating and nature, with genetics probably playing the biggest role. Regardless of the reason for someone’s weight, we need to stop trying to make that the thing we change. Trying to permanently change larger people into smaller people isn’t working and is leaving them with serious eating problems.
Myths like these are dangerous and uphold diet culture, and make no one healthier or happier in the long run.
Welcome to food freedom! Dare to Not Diet LLC is owned by Glenys Oyston, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Therapist and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. It's time to feel good about eating, your body, and your health.