Worried about being too fat for your wedding dress?

Ugly dressIt’s so easy to get caught up in a cycle of thinking: I’ve got to lose weight for my wedding/holiday/date, etc, and then feeling a rising sense of panic. No sooner than you have the thought, you start eating more than ever and this perpetuates the panic and everything spirals out of control. Your special day or a holiday becomes a nightmare as excitement is replaced by an increasing knot of stress and fear that blocks out everything else.

Even if you think you’re supposed to love your body and are all shouty and political about it in public, it’s easy to feel very different in private before a big occasion and these feelings can ruin what should be the best times of your life.

You’re supposed to be looking forward to your wedding – a time to share your love with friends and family and with each other, not worrying about what people think of you. On holiday, you’re supposed to relax on the beach with a book and have a swim and a few drinks and feel close and connected with your fellow holidaymakers, be they new friends or old, not trying to hide and wishing you could stay in your room.

Guess what? Bad body thoughts aren’t real, no matter what size you are. You don’t have to listen to them or feel any kind of emotional connection to them. I can help you to cut through the crap and get in touch with reality. I can help you to switch your focus to what’s really important and re-ignite the excitement and anticipation you should be feeling about your big event.

For a very short window, I’m coming out of ‘retirement’ and offering some help with body image issues specifically for those who are in a panic about a special occasion.

The sessions will be on Skype messenger (I use messenger because I find I’m most effective in writing as it allows me to think clearly) and are priced at £35 an hour. This is a highly discounted rate (usually £135) as I would like to use the sessions for research for a book in body image. Because this is only a temporary offer and my time is limited, I’m only able to book sessions for four people. All I ask in return for the discount is that you allow me to publish some of our conversation, anonymously if you wish, with full copy approval from you before publication.

The sessions are only for people who have a particular event, such as an up and coming holiday or wedding, that is triggering fear and worry because of negative feelings about appearance.

Here are some of the comments I’ve had from past clients:

“When I looked at an old photo of myself when I was so worried about my weight I could see that I looked sexy as hell! I have no idea why I was so paranoid about my weight. ” Jess

“Your work is so so important. If it can make such an affect on me (I was the type where I felt like I just couldn’t have the energy to go out anymore) what wonders it can do to others.” Sarah

“I just wanted to be able to look in the mirror in my dress on my wedding day or see my wedding pics and like what I see.  After talking to you, I went out, got my hair done, bought a red lippy and now I look like a vamp. I feel fabulous now and all my fears about my wedding are gone. Thank you so much.” Vicky

“I enjoyed my holiday with friends so much more. I’m so glad I spoke to you, Sue.” Cheyvonne

If you’re interested in the How To Love Your Body sessions, please contact me here, describing the occasion in question and, briefly, how you’re feeling.

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Fat fat fat is bad bad bad – or is it?

fat women

Quick! Call an ambulance! These women are about to die!

I bet you think that if you’re overweight you’re more likely to die and that being overweight is really really bad for you.

That’s because you read too many newspapers and watch too much telly and listen to too many TV star wannabes like Katie… whatever her name is – the obnoxious one off The Apprentice. If you are of the opinion that having any body fat is bad it’s just an indication that you soak it all up like some dumb sponge. No offense. I’m not suggesting you sit there dribbling with your tongue lolling out of your mouth letting all information download into your brain unquestioned. Well, I suppose I am. Because maybe minus the tongue and the dribbling (which is offensive and I apologise for it), that’s what you must be doing!

That being overweight or obese is bad for your health is not a proven fact, it is merely an assumption. There is no absolute scientific or medical evidence for it. For every trial that shows a link to obesity and overweight with illness or death there is a trial that says that obesity has no effect on health AND – check this out – there are also equal numbers of trials that show that obesity has a positive health benefit and that being overweight protects against illness and death!

Conversely, there are also trials that give evidence that being thin is linked to the highest death and illness rates.

You don’t hear about NHS spending on ‘skinny related diseases’ do you? Because diseases caused by anorexia are attributed to the actual cause, not one of the effects.

You don’t see magazine articles with weight gain advice for the underweight, do you?  Imagine commercial clubs and magazines with before photos of skeletal anorexics, then after following the 5,000 calorie a day diet, after photos of a ‘normal weight’ person posing in brightly coloured outfits from a catalogue. Fattening World Magazine. Heavier Life.

You don’t get to hear much about the health benefits of being ‘over’ weight. Reporting research finding anything positive about fat is accompanied by disclaimers, caveats and every effort to minimize its significance

You, as a consumer who spends lots of money on trying to lose weight, are led by the nose towards those stories written from the results ‘proving’ that fat is bad, bad, bad.

None of this would matter if it weren’t for the fact that fat bashing, especially the way we’re brainwashing our kids into fat hatred, is creating generations of people who have lost control over what they eat (whether this is overeating or undereating). It’s making people with regular bodies feel irregular and wrong and that means they will try to change themselves, get caught up in diet thinking and end up with disordered eating that will drag them further away from what they were looking for.

People like this ridiculous car crash media personality Katie Hopkins (I Googled her to find out her name) aren’t just causing a stir but they are responsible for ruining lives and possibly killing people because every person made to feel ashamed of their body is dragged further into the self hatred that causes their disordered eating.

I hope she can live with herself . Fortunately for her, she probably can live with the consequences of her actions because she is too thick to understand what they are.

“Living is Easy with Eyes Closed.”  John Lennon

Thin is in – or is it?

Things have changed - or have they?

Things have changed – or have they?

We all know that ‘thin is in’. Through movies, TV, adverts, magazines, billboards and the conventional side of the Internet, the media presents us with images of a world where 99 per cent of women wear their skin as near to their skeleton as they can get. Thin is beautiful. And so it is!

The reality is that we are a planet teeming with life. We are animals. We come in a variety of shapes and sizes and, thankfully, we also come programmed with what is essentially an uncontrollable sexual and aesthetic preference. For the sake of clarity if we ignore that, for most of us, attraction isn’t entirely physical, thin is beautiful to a percentage of the human population. What you don’t usually hear is that fat is beautiful to an equal number of people. And another group appreciates all the sizes in between fat and thin.

What we find beautiful is subjective. The media is trying its best to make it objective (Why? Well, it makes a lot of money for a lot of businesses.)

The fact is, if you find fleshy men or women more attractive than the more slender type, there is actually not a thing you can do about it. You can pretend in order to fit in. You can try to persuade yourself that you don’t like the bigger look so that you can remain cool in your own eyes or through the eyes of your peers. Which is what a lot of people do. They deny it, again because of the media pressure to accept a received appreciation of beauty.

Just like if you’re gay and pretending to be straight, this will make you miserable. All efforts to live up to an image that is not mirrored with what you actually feel will create an unhappy life. Truth has an annoying way of foisting itself upon you.

Despite the overwhelming coercion to take on a received idea of beauty, there are still many people out there who are intelligent and awake enough to prevent themselves from being anaesthetised by it. Happy and whole, who don’t feel they have to fit in or be cool or live in denial about what they are attracted to. Thank God for the Internet and the technology that means that we have a future where all voices can be heard.

I am not saying that the compulsive overeating that causes the storage of fat on the body for some people is something any of us would want to live with – because it is actually a very painful way to live. But the pressure to be almost skeletal is one of the direct causes of compulsive overeating and other eating disorders.

Imagine how wonderful the world would become for all of us if everyone were truthful about what they find attractive. Imagine if movies and TV and magazines and adverts reflected reality. Look around you and wake up to the real world. Everyone is different. Everyone likes different.

Why passively receive a message that makes you unhappy when you can be free? There is nothing more exhilarating than thinking for yourself. Self reliance and self trust increase self esteem and this makes you happy. External dependency, trying to fit in and approval addiction decrease self esteem and will cause you nothing but misery and emptiness.

Low self esteem is closely linked to compulsive overeating. Think about that.



*First published in 2009



obese children put up for adoption

chubby face



Seriously. What do you think of this?

“The mother and father of seven children, six of whom are overweight, face the “unbearable” prospect of never seeing their four youngest again if authorities act on a threat to remove them.

“Three girls aged 11, five and one, and a boy aged five, are to be put up for adoption or “fostered without contact” because their parents failed to help them slim down.”

I’m really interested, but also a little afraid, to hear what readers think.

You can probably work out my opinion if you read my blog. I think it’s illegal because the actions of Dundee Social Services are based in appearance prejudice. No matter how you look at the situation, science tells us you can’t judge a person’s health by their size, shape or weight. Thin people overeat and are at risk of so called obesity related disease and many fat people no longer overeat and they take regular exercise.

If a person has become what we call obese by eating too much and not doing enough exercise (and the psycho/bio/social causes of this are not as clear cut as the public think), when they do begin acting in healthful ways, stopping overeating and exercising regularly, they rarely lose more than 10 per cent of their weight. In fact, only 2 per cent of people do lose weight in the long term. But they do eradicate the risk of so called obesity related disease.

These are very well established medical and scientfic facts, so how can Dundee Social Services be acting morally or legally in their treatment of this family?


Today’s obesity study funded by pharmaceuticals industry

drugsOK, here’s another bit of valuable information about today’s obesity ‘news’. Today the UK’s Press, TV and radio went into a frenzy reporting the first paper in The Lancet Obesity Series describing the global initiators of the obesity epidemic according to a study by Professor Boyd Swinburn and Dr Gary Sacks from the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Obesity at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia.

Professor Boyd Swinburn is the Chair of the International Obesity Task Force and Dr Gary Sacks is also a member.

The International Obesity Task Force plays a key role in determining policy for the World Health Organization. The International Obesity Task force is funded by the pharmaceuticals industry – part of the global weight loss industry said to be worth US$586.3 Billion by 2014.

I wonder if this study that has had everyone in a fat hatred frenzy today will make anyone any money? Hmmm.

Obesity rates cause hat sales to plummet

Headless obese 1

Oh my goodness! There’s so much for me to talk about today that I don’t know

headless obese 2 where to start. First thing is that obese people seem to have no heads. There are pictures everywhere today of headless obese people. In fact, I can’t find one of a fat person who has a head.

If any journalists are reading, the Rudd Center offers a set of media guidelines and a free image gallery to aid journalists, photo editors, bloggers, advertisers and other influencers in the creation and delivery of fair, unbiased coverage of obesity and weight-related topics on television, in print and online. These comprehensive resources can be found online at www.yaleruddcenter.org.

Health news you can trust or one for the toilet?

Bulimia Barbie

I read today’s health news about ‘obesity prevention’ starting to have a positive impact with surprise. In all the years since I’ve been researching into this stuff I’ve never found any evidence that the way we’re dealing with the so-called ‘obesity epidemic’ (which is an overeating epidemic, not obesity) has had anything but a negative effect. I’ve known without doubt that all of our obesity prevention methods are digging us deeper into the hole we’re trying to get out of. All my beliefs, theories and five years of helping people has been influenced by this, so when I saw the headline:

Positive Impact of Growing Public Awareness of Obesity Epidemic Found

My heart started to speed up. I’ll admit this was a mixture of  hope (because if it were true it would be fantastic) and fear (because I’d have to go right back to the beginning and start everything again from scractch and re-think my whole career). But I also had a feeling of doubt because of the evidence that’s already been around for a long time that the opposite is true – evidence that is like an avalanche of trials and studies.

This trial states that: “Increasing public awareness of the childhood obesity epidemic may be contributing to evidence of overall reductions in body mass index (BMI), a measure of obesity in children, according to the results of a nationwide study.”

The report doesn’t say how many schools were involved, just that they were nationwide. Basically they divided schools into two groups. Group 1 carried on without change. Group 2 implemented the usual ‘obesity intervention’ of ‘changes in their nutritional and physical education programs’.

The results of the study were surprising to the researchers because both schools had a reduction in ‘obesity’ levels, very similar reductions in BMI. The BMI decreased by more than 4% for both groups of students from the start of 6th grade to the end of 8th grade.

The title of this report suggests that the trial itself is revealing the positive impact but it’s just showing that wherever kids are they’re going to be influenced by the weight loss/diet message, regardless of whether it’s part of their actual in-school education. And let’s have a closer look at a possible explanation this 4% decrease in BMI in these kids.

Have a look at this study, also in the news:

Children as Young as Ten Vomit to Lose Weight, With Highest Rates in Boys

This study was carried out in Taiwan on 120 schools. Thirteen per cent of the 8,673 girls and 7,043 boys who took part in the research admitted they made themselves sick to lose weight.

Interestingly this report says that a study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published in 2010, found that 4% of students had vomited or taken laxatives in the last 30 days to lose or stop gaining weight.


The report went on to quote the Dr conducting the trial: “Our study found that children as young as ten were aware of the importance of weight control, but used vomiting to control their weight” concludes Dr Liou. “This reinforces the need for public health campaigns that stress the negative impact that vomiting can have on their health and encourage them to tackle any weight issues in a healthy and responsible way.”

It’s tackling ‘weight issues’ in what society believes is a healthy and responsible way that is making sure that the kids are making themselves vomit in the first place!

This doctor goes on to say: “The findings also suggest that self-induced vomiting might serve as an early marker for the development of obesity and/or other eating and weight-related problems.”

Yes. Interfere with kids’ natural food regulation systems (in the brain) by making them look outside themselves for instructions about what and how much to eat and you get kids who feel like they are unable to control food – they react in one of two ways – take absolute control (bulimia/anorexia) or give up and lose control (overeaters).

Or they start off over controlling build stress through the feeling of food scarcity, spark up a stress response occurs that causes a functional re-wiring in the brain. This re-wiring impair the endocannabinoids’ ability to regulate food intake and could contribute to enhanced food drive and they become compulsive overeaters many of which will become obese.

Basically this is a long-winded explanation of why the first study about the positive impact of our obsession with thinness and dieting is utter rubbish.

Can stopping your kids eating sweets make them obese?

sweetsnew study from researchers at Louisiana State University suggests that kids who eat sweets are less likely to be obese than kids who avoid eating them.

Well, this is how the reports are telling the tale. I prefer to say: “A new study from researchers at Louisiana State University suggests that kids who feel free to eat sweets are less likely to overeat in general.” I say this because eating habits, not body fat, are what we’re really talking about here.

The study, which followed 11,000 kids ages 2 to 18 over five years, found that the kids who ate sweets were 22 percent less likely to have eating patterns that led them to gain weight. The difference was more dramatic among teens, where those who ate sweets were 26 per cent less likely to overeat than those who didn’t indulge.

Besides being less likely to overeat, the sweet-eating kids also had lower levels of C-reactive protein in their blood, indicating a reduced chance of inflammation in the body, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.

This study along with many others suggesting restricting access to particular foods increases rather than decreases preference. (*1) Just like forcing a child to eat a food will decrease the liking for that food so trying to over control your child’s urges to eat sweets (or any type of food) will mean they’re more likely to eat even more of them when you’re not there.

Now I’m not suggesting you should start pumping your kids full of Curly Wurlys, all I’m asking you to think about is how restricting any type of food at a time when natural eating regulation and self reliance should be becoming established might disrupt your child’s ability to control eating.

Evidence suggests that children do prefer sweet and salty tastes but they naturally respond to high energy foods and even hough intake at individual meals is erratic, if left to their own choices, 24-hour energy intake is relatively well regulated. (*2)

This could make all the difference and how you deal with your child’s food regulation right from birth will make a difference to whether he or she grows up with or without disordered eating patterns leading to conditions ranging from anorexia to binge eating disorder.

Research shows that by making foods unavailable they become more attractive. A good illustration of why the sweet eating kids might be better able to regulate their food was displayed in the BBC programme The Truth About Food a couple of years ago. The BBC took a classroom of four and five year olds and examined their reaction to restricted treats over a week.

They used two foods that all the children were nonplussed about – they tested them with a range of dried fruit snacks and mangos and raisins and the kids, predictably, were equally indifferent to the snacks. So every day, at snack time, they put the two bowls of snacks side by side and told the children that on the first whistle they had 15 minutes of unrestricted access to the mango. At the second whistle they had only five minutes of snack time to eat the raisins.

They watched the children day by day as the mango fell out of favour and the kids began craving raisins. To begin with the children snacked voraciously on the mango but were more excited when it was raisin time. By the end of the week there was a stampede to reach the forbidden fruit, and the mango was looking less and less attractive.

The same kids who were indifferent to both snacks at the beginning of the week couldn’t get enough of the raisins by the end.

So, by restricting snacks and sweets you may have the adverse effect of making your children desire them even more and this craving or desire that is then mixed with guilt and shame, usually connected to body weight, is the first stage into the child losing inborn natural food regulation and the start of a life of compulsive overeating or undereating.


Eating too much? Counselling for the brain works best

There’s a ‘news’ story out today that says overeating counselling (they call it ‘obesity counselling’ but that’s just prejudice) should focus on neurobehavioural processes – the ways the brain controls eating behaviour in response to biological and environmental factors – instead of personal choice and willpower


I’ve been teaching this to Food Philosophy clients since 2005.

I mean – I’m not a scientist, I’m a life coach and journalist.

I have a question:

Why can I have known this for at least six years and many specialists and scientists have only just worked it out?

I’m clever, but I’m not that clever!

Who benefits from the media obsession with obesity?

moneyI’m writing a feature for the magazine about fat. Not that Beautiful magazine is all about that, it’s not. In Beautiful magazine we cover a diverse range of subjects including celebrities, food, reviews, fashion and beauty to name a few. But you know our policy is to only show models size 12 and over and to ban diet advice etc etc. So the way we view size and body image is my thing. I’ve been a body image coach for five years so it’s what I write/think about most. I’m compelled to write and speak out about it.

I know a lot about why people eat too much or too little and I know about the role that weight plays in the problem of food regulation. I understand what’s going on in the mind of an overeater because I am one and an undereater because I’ve been there too, but also because I’ve spent 20 years reading obsessively about it and five years talking to hundreds and hundreds of women about their thoughts and feelings on food, eating and body image.

It’s my specialist subject and I’m a writer so I do write about it a lot.

I read about it a lot too and I’ve known that with the way the media is in fat hatred frenzy I’ve always got plenty to read. I just didn’t realise how much! A couple of days ago I set a Google alert with the word ‘obesity’. Google alerts just let you know the daily news on any subject of your choosing. So if you type in the word ‘goldfish’, you’ll get a list of all the news that contains the word ‘goldfish’ delivered to you in an email every 24 hours. I’ve got quite a few subjects of interest Google Alerted but none have delivered like the one for obesity.

Today’s obesity alert has delivered the following news:

Bicycle charity joins fight against childhood obesity

Moms Talk: Is There a Link Between Childhood Obesity and Exposure to Food Ads?

Fast food outlets face ban in drive to tackle child obesity

Obesity and pregnancy guidelines stir debate

Obesity Raises Risk for Early Death in Nonsmoking Women

US Military Fights Battle of the Bulge

US study on cutting rates of Pacific childhood obesity

Fat Tissue Provides Clues to Treat Obesity-related Diseases

Meat, potatoes cause obesity?

How Do Food Prices Affect Childhood Obesity?

It’s like this every day. There’s no other subject that delivers like this one. And because I know a great deal about the subject I can also see that much of the news on obesity is twisted and misunderstood. A lot of people make a lot of money from propaganda about obesity and it has consequences. Let’s just take one of these headlines at random and look at it closely to see how twisted it is and who loses out and who benefits.

Obesity Raises Risk for Early Death in Nonsmoking Women.

Actually, I can’t. I’ll have to come back to this because it is so stupid and so dangerous and full of misinformation and half truths that it’s making me too angry to write. It’s not too far-fetched to say that if this ‘news’ report stops just one person giving up smoking or drives a non-smoker to take up cigarettes because they think it will help them to lose weight, it could be directly to blame if that person dies of a smoking related disease. More than one person will give up their plans to stop smoking after reading this so the likelihood is that the report will be responsible for more than one death.

If you smoke because of this irresponsible journalism, you won’t lose weight, you’ll just become a smoker of the same weight you are now. Think about who benefits from this ‘news’. Here’s a clue, it’s not you.