*Obesity is a slur. It is used to health shame fat people regardless of activity, general health & diet and is assumed the person is stupid, lazy and has no willpower. It does not take into any consideration of the socioeconomics. Fat, whilst often used as an insult, is a neutral word and does not actually connote ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Before we get into this lets completey ignore the governement ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme in August which is not going to be all about making healthy choices…If I’m going to go to Pizza Express or Nandos for a half priced meal I won’t be ordering a salad, and if I do, I’ll be covering it in dressing. So running these two ‘schemes’ alongside each other is a load of crap. Here are my issues.
I’ve seen every bloody argument for and against this faphobic rethoric and it’s just a load of shit. I won’t deny I’m worried about catching covid (again?) risking being on a ventilator and dying because I am fat but as Rebelfit excellently said, it’s not fatness, it’s not weight that brings vulnerable, elderly and obese (obese is a slur – it is always meant to health shame fat people) people into the same at risk group. It is more likely to be poor(er) cardiovascular health. Improving your aerobic fitness is going to be the healthier option to weight loss.
Better Health – Lose 5lb to “save the NHS” is massively stimatising. It should be about movement.
Losing weight takes time and energy and effort and it’s hard. Diets fail 90% of the time and loosing 5lbs for a fat person isn’t going to make much difference. Do you know what will? Movement. Not saying starve yourself. Not stopping bofoff offers on chocolate. Not banning adverts. None of that will work BECAUSE PEOPLE WILL STILL BUY THESE THINGS WHEN THEY WANT THEM and people will order what they want to eat in a resturant regardless of calories – but they’ll probably feel shitty about it afterwards so let’s just drive more people into harmful hating themselves, eating disorders, guilt and stress, more anxiety based behaviours and not moving because they’re so afraid of being made fun of for being a fat person moving.
Why can’t the money go to families for free fruit and veg vouchers? Why can’t the money go to discounted swimming lessons or gym memberships instead of slimming clubs? Why is it ‘lose 5 pounds’ not ‘why not start moving for an extra 15 minutes a day’? Why can’t the money go to local authorities in schools to teach kids how to cook so they have the skills when they’re older? Or adult cooking classes? Or online cooking classes that can be done when someone is time poor? These schemes ignore the fact that poorer people, who are more likely to be fat people, or people that were poor growing up, may lack the money, time and skills to prepare freshly cooked food for every meal for their family.
Movement can benefit you almost instantly, weight loss will not. It takes months and years.
If you start moving more today, regardless of what you eat, in a week, month, years time you will feel stronger, fitter and healthier. You will have less pain. You will breathe better. You will feel better. Look at atheletes and rugby players who are clearly classed as Obese because of BMI and eat a shit load of calories a day…does anyone reckon they’re unfit? NO! Because they move every single day. They work out. They build muscle. They have nutritionists helping them know what to eat and when. They have the money and resources for healthier meals.
The issue is not weight, the issue is lack of movement. You do not have to be thin, or starve yourself to be healthy. You just have to move more often. Yes cooking from scratch, eating fruit and vegetables, eating a colourful plate, eating slower, having chocolate in moderation are all healthy choices but we are discounting the biggest thing and that is moving more. I’ve read the answer is for GP’s to prescribe bike rides and for some areas to get free bikes which is great for those that 1) can ride a bike (I can’t) 2) have a garden/shed to store bikes in (I don’t).
Slimming World don’t care about you, they just want your money and for you to keep coming back.
I don’t want to waste my time doing slimming world, eating food I can not stand, constantly being drained of energy from not eating enough, and being shamed for not losing weight weekly. I’d rather be encouraged to go swimming, which I absolutely love to do but struggle to afford it. We eat relatively well when we’re not eating in resturants or having takeaways. I love adding peppers and onions and fresh herbs to food to make them taste better. I love to cook. I like decent size meals. I don’t buy crisps & chocolate on a regular basis but I’m still fat from over 10 years of dieting and hating myself and binge eating. Now I’m undoing the damage from that.
My advice, don’t diet, just move more, let go of the guilt, stop calling foods ‘bad’ and ‘good and work on finding a meal plan that works for your needs and circumstances. This campaign is fat shaming and poor shaming. It won’t work except to drive people to get fatter in the long run. If you do have the time and don’t know how to cook then find some recipe books to try. Take a look at Jack Monroe’s book, which all started from a single parent trying to cook healthy meals using tins. It can be done, but we need the skills to do it, the appliances and the time.
The Better Health campaign is rife in classist views
Again we are facing not just an issue with fatness but an issue with class which is rife in this country and it frustrates me to no end. The government do not acknowledge people living in poverty and on the breadline. Let me outline for you. You have priveledge if:
- You own a fridge, cooker and other kitchen appliances that allow you to store and cook food
- You can regularly afford to top up/pay your gas and electric
- You have a choice of where/what time you can shop
- You can feed yourself and your family three meals a day, plus have stuff at home for snacks
- You work a 9-5 job with a secure salaried wage and know when pay day is
- You do not rely on foodboxes
- You know how to cook and prepare fresh food
- You have the time to cook meals every day
- You have access to your own kitchen
- You have/or are the partner that does this
Now I can tell you that I tick most of the above boxes right now but I haven’t always. I have had to rely on food boxes, I have had to share a kitchen with six other families. I have had to only have one draw in a freezer and one shelf in the fridge. I have lacked the time and skills. And if you think that there are families who don’t have access to some or all of the above then you, my friend, are blinded by your priveledge. Some of the families that don’t have all of the above will struggle with what you think is easy so please stop putting shame on them.
Some of these families might rely heavily on meal deals, takeaways, ready made food, microwave meals because they can’t/don’t have the facility to cook and a lot of these options are high fat, high sugar and highly processed. This, and an inability to move more regularly lead to gaining fat. It isn’t because they’re binge eating chocolate and crisps every occasion they can.
But Fruit IS Cheaper…Let’s Unpack That Poverty Shaming Statement
Also, I keep seeing the argument that fresh fruit/veg is cheaper and I want to break that down because, in the long term, it isn’t and I saw an excellent analogy by a counciler dad on facebook which I will loosely paraphrase.
A bag of apples is, say £1, for four apples. That’s pretty cheap or the same as a multipacket of crisps. The bag of apples will be a snack for four people, or one person 4 times in a week. But one apple isn’t filling, and one apple isn’t enough fruit and veg a day, let alone a week. We are told that to be healthy we need 5-7 portions of different coloured fruit and veg every day. So lets add strawberries for £2, a bunch of bananas for £1, a packet of spinach for £2, some cauliflower for £2 and a pack of peppers for £2. Including the apples, thats £10, for a family of four and is what you need per day. So adding that up becomes £70 a week just on fresh fruit and vegetables. Thats no rice, no pasta, no herbs, no stock cupboard ingredients, no lentils, no potatoes, and the most expensive thing, no meat. That’s no snacks, no bread, no packed lunch ingredients (well maybe one) no drinks. So lets add that in.
Lets add some chicken for £5, a pack of mince for £4, ham for £2, cheese for £2, milk for the week £2, two loaves of bread for £2, some juice for £1, pasta for £1, Rice for £1, a bag of potatoes for £2, some cereal for £2 and some yoghurts for £1. Thats another £25 and for a family of 4 thats maybe three meals and lunches a week. So it’s not enough for a weeks worth of meals, so you’ll likely have to double this and add extra to bulk out the meals with things like lentils, extra veg, beans, pulses etc. It’s easy then to arrive at something like £150 a week for food shopping for a family of four. That quickly transfers to £600 on food in a month.
Now I know what you’re thinking, why not shop somewhere cheaper. Aldi and Lidl are cheap. Yep, youre right, they are. But if a single, non driving parent doesn’t have one local, has no family to drive them to/from and can only carry so much by herself on the bus then that’s going to be a lot of trips back and fourth, resulting in more money spent on transport.
You could be thinking why don’t they just shop for the reduced meat that goes on sale every night in certain supermarkets – again, I hear you, this is an excellent way to save money, but if you’re working shifts, a single parent or not able to drive to/from a supermarket at this time then you’re going to miss out. All these sweeping statements are fine if you’re a single person or you have help with any caring responsibilities but they simply do not work for everyone. It’s complex and it isn’t one size fits all. You can’t just tell someone to do better if they do not have the resources to do better, or differently.
So a family might have to resort to buying all frozen food which is cheap and easy to prepare, providing they have an oven and the electricity/gas to use it. HFHS processed meals which lead to an increase in fatness are cheap, but will give every member of the family a hot meal each day.
The TL:DR version – to afford all nutrition food for a family of four you need to live close to a budget supermarket and be able to get there in time for the cheap fruit and veg boxes which are usually in working hours. And know and have the time to shop in the reduced section. And have transport if your closest shop is a small newsagents that doesn’t cover all your meal making needs/where the costs are spiked.
How To Improve Poverty Stricken Families Health & Wellbeing
This is what I think the government should do to help families on the breadline instead of funding repair a bike and diet club schemes.
- Multi supermarket free fruit and vegetables vouchers
- Reduced gym/swim/fitness memberships
- Subsidised swimming lessons for children under 11
- Free school meals for primary school children
- Resources to get proper cooking lessons back in school for kids, including the ingredients needed
- Making healthy food more accessible
- Getting rid of zero hour contracts and giving job security back to people
If you are reading this and genuinely want to improve your health then I would really recommend reading more about anti diet culture, such as Health at Every Size which is a brilliant book full of recommendations, scientific studies and how diets don’t work. Improving your mental health, wellbeing and appreciating your body regardless of size will help. It’s also important to consider fat liberation movements. Rebelfit is another excellent place for information and non bias, non discrimatory fitness programmes which have lots of like minded people of all different shapes, sizes and abilities that want to move more and get healthier. Health and weight are two very seperate things. Sofie Hagen, a fat comedien who I love to follow on Instagram, is another great resource for this and has a pretty amazing book too.
Body Positivity isn’t about being fat, lazy and loving your body
No one in the fat liberation or body positive movement says this is only for fat people to be fat and lazy. I have never seen that anywhere. I have seen nothing but encouragement for fat people existing and taking up the spaces they deserve to have. I have seen a call for joyous movement, for yoga, for swimming for weight lifting and I have seen people genuinely love and appreciate their fat bodies. If it’s about health, then shouldn’t it be about all health?
- Improving mental health by focusing on positive self talk
- Moving more to improve cardio health
- Eating foods that you enjoy and eating a range of foods that sustain you
- Recovering from eating disorders which include binge eating and disordered eating
- Taking the time for self care to improve your relationship with food and your body
- Having therapy where you can exist as a fat person not to be told “if you just tried to lose weight”
Do you think we haven’t tried?
Also, I want to add as a final point this comment that “you can’t be fat and healthy.” In my experience this comes from a place of shame or disgust. It’s frustrating because, for women, it absolutely comes from a place that women are here to be objectified and sexualised and that comment comes from a place where men* (usually) don’t want to fuck a fatty. Because obviously, we fatties are so desperate because no one could possibly ever want us sexually in any way ever…and the fact that there are people that put divorce reasons as ‘she/he/they put on weight after we got married’ like a big fuck you to that. Fatness is not the problem, thinness should not be the goal. Ever. Make the goal to move more, to get strong, to be healthy but stop making it about weight loss.