Busting Food Myths with Nicole Senior

Myth: Fat people are unhealthy.

Nicole Senior

Fact: You can be ‘fit and fat’. No matter what your weight, you can improve your health and reduce your risk of disease by being physically active and eating a healthy diet.
Last month we heard from Professor Steven Blair about his research showing even obese people can be healthy provided they are physically active. Describing himself as ‘short, fat and bald’ but physically fit made me laugh endearingly but also added ‘weight’ to his argument: he is a man who literally ‘walks the walk!’ You can be healthy at any size provided you are physically active but what you eat also matters.

Did you know heavier people have lower risk of osteoporosis? Being heavier puts more pressure on your bones and your body toughens them up to take it – especially if you are physically active: chalk one up for the fatties! Being thin actually increases your risk of osteoporosis for the same reason, but exercising regularly and eating enough calcium rich foods can even up the score. When it comes to bones, exercise and food are important for everyone.

Think about Morgan Spurlock in the film ‘Supersize me’ who overate (one time to the point of throwing up) every day for a month on fatty burgers, fries and shakes. Even though he was not obese at the end, his blood test results read like the ‘wreck of the Hesperus’ because he had overdosed on ‘sometimes foods’ full of saturated fat and low in fibre. Both fat and thin people can eat badly and have high cholesterol levels, and equally anyone can achieve normal cholesterol levels by eating a cholesterol-lowering diet with the right balance of fats; that is, mostly unsaturated fats from oils, spreads, nuts, seeds and fish, along with plenty of fibre from vegetables, fruits and wholegrains.

Fat people can have normal blood pressure as well provided they eat little salt and enough vegetables, fruits, wholegrains and low fat dairy foods (and exercise). Overweight people can also have healthy blood glucose levels and protect against type 2 diabetes by enjoying a balanced diet low in saturated fat, high in fibre, and including low GI foods and being physically active.

What we eat matters at any size. We all need to set nutrition and fitness goals that are realistic and right for us. We can’t all do 2 hours a day in the gym, and there’s no shame in that. We also need to put nutrition and health as a priority over the obsessive quest for ‘the body beautiful’. Happiness, contentment and wellbeing are more than what size clothing we wear. It’s unfortunate that bigger people attract such negative perceptions because this can lead to low self esteem and poor eating habits; why take care of yourself with good food if you think you’re unworthy?

Good self-acceptance is important for engaging in healthy behaviours. It’s like my mother always said, ‘It’s what inside that counts’ and this applies to the food we eat as well as a kind heart.

For more great information and delicious recipes for staying healthy on the inside, check out Nicole’s website at eattobeatcholesterol.com.au.