By

Jennifer Low is a Registered Dietitian, with an MSc in Nutrition and a degree in Psychology. Clinically she specialises in disordered eating, bariatric surgery and IBS.

The claim that you can be ‘fat but fit’ has been turned on its head – or has it? Our dietitian looks at this controversial issue.

Until now, it was thought that if you were overweight or obese but had normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, you could still be healthy. This claim, however, has been called into question by experts at the European Congress on Obesity, in Portugal. They claim that being both overweight and healthy is a myth.

However, the jury on this turnaround is still out. That’s because the claim is yet to be peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal – so cannot be taken as fact.

What we do know is that complications such as type 2 diabetes and raised bad cholesterol are not the only potential health issues connected to being overweight and obese.

Mobility and joint problems, gallstones, depression, anxiety, osteoarthritis, some cancers, liver and kidney disease, and complications during pregnancy are all known problems that are associated with being overweight.

However, there is a compelling argument that, while these facts are all true, as a nation, we also need to stop fat shaming – most people do not want to be overweight or obese. It is a multifaceted condition, influenced not only by what we eat, but also by our DNA, psychology and even our gut bacteria. It is far more complex than just telling people to ‘eat less’. Perhaps if people did not feel so judged and ashamed of their size, they would be able to rebalance their relationship with food and take on the challenge of reducing their weight? The government, food manufacturers and shops all need to play their part in helping to reduce obesity – by reducing portion sizes and cutting back on unhealthy meals and the easy access to unhealthy snacks.

Use these tips to rebalance your relationship with food

Eat mindfully. Try not to eat on-the-go, in front of the TV, or at your desk.

Stop feeling guilty. It’s OK to eat a healthy balanced diet 80% of the time – you are allowed the occasional ‘treat’.

Non-food rewards. Break the childhood habit of sweet treats and swap for flowers, a movie, a new nail polish etc.

Avoid overeating after exercising. Very often we consume more calories than we burn during a workout session. Try having a banana and a glass of milk, or a slice of toast with cashew butter, within 30 minutes of finishing exercise, so you don’t overeat at your next mealtime.

Think nutrient-rich. Think more about what individual foods contain that can help your body and mind – that way you will end up making better choices.