The Difference Between Being Fat and Not Fat

I have never read a better description of the difference between being fat and not fat:

I had a gastric bypass and ate 750-1000 calories of liquid meal replacement a day. I had complications and couldn’t swallow food.  I lost over a hundred pounds.  I regained it over a number of years.  Once I lost weight and was normal, my life did change for the better.  It’s the only reason I had my child.  For the first and only time in my life it was easy to have people in my life.  People wanted to be around me.  I had boyfriends who treated me well for the first and only time in my life.  I got married.  All this happened very quickly and easily with no effort on my part.  Being fat is completely different.  I think the way people treat a fat person is similar to being disfigured or in a wheelchair with your legs cut off. In many instances it is better to be dead than to be this fat.

From an anonymous blogger who weighs about 280 pounds. She isn’t trying to sell anything, make a journalistic or academic point, appear to be this or that. The post goes on:

My daughter had a fat friend over for a sleep over the other day. It’s the second fat friend she’s ever had over.  The difference between these girls and the thinner girls is striking.  The fat girls are obsessed with food. They are more driven to eat, more interested in food, more hungry than the thinner girls.  The thin girls are interested in food far less. It’s not that they are better than the fat girls, they are simply less hungry.  My daughter first fat friend got up all through the night to raid our refrigerator.  This child acted as if she were starving.  She ate until she was literally ill and threw up on the sleeping bags.  Then later she peed on my daughter.  My daughter is fastidious and she was completely revolted.  That was the end of the friendship.

I came across this because she is trying the Shangri-La Diet.

21 Replies to “The Difference Between Being Fat and Not Fat”

  1. Sad story. The fact remains, however, that the incidence of obesity has risen dramatically over the past generation, which means that in the past people must have had more self-control. Or at least, that’s what it means based on this blogger’s statements about being “obsessed” with food; she’s put on all that weight despite the fact that it makes her feel “disfigured”. Why wasn’t the previous generation “obsessed”? Put this way it makes it seem that obesity is a moral failing – which it might be.

  2. “People must have had more self-control.” Must is too strong. That is one possibility. Others are plausible. I believe their set points were lower. It doesn’t take any self-control to lose weight if your set point goes down.

  3. studies have shown that fat people eat no more and expend no less energy on average than lean people. Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories suggests that fat people are effectively starving because nutritional energy is disproportionately consumed by the fat cells (because excess insulin signals fat to store more energy, not release it). Starving people are obviously prone to become obsessed with food. Note that the poster doesn’t say the lean girls “had more self control”, they just were not interested in more food.

    Taubes effectively blames the obesity “epidemic” on the low fat, insulinogenic diet recommended by the govt and most doctors since about 1980.

  4. Hard to see how one could get ‘poor self-control’ from that story; it’s exactly what the writer is taking pains to refute.

    And yes, Taubes takes apart the “poor self control” theory quite convincingly.

  5. I agree Seth. This idea that people are fat because they have no will power is very unhelpful. None of us have much will power when our body is telling us to do something. It doesn’t matter if your body is screaming out for coffee or alcohol or potato chips or pad thai. If your body wants it, you are going to eat it. What’s nice about SLD is that it circumvents this. I got a friend of mine to try SLD and the change amazed her. Even on the first day, her desire to eat her normal sweet treats was almost completely gone. It was easy for her to resist, because her body had little interest in it.

  6. You guys are pretty funny, you know? The two girls can’t stay away from the frig, and you see no lack of self-control? But wait, the bible of Taubes, 3:23 explains all: it’s low-fat diets that are to blame! “Studies” have shown that the fat eat no more and exercise no less than the slender? Who am I to believe, “studies” or my lying eyes?

    All around me, I see people eating constantly, between meals, between snacks even, raiding vending machines, turning themselves into blubber. And guess what, they’re not eating low-fat diets either, which is heresy against that Taubes bible. They’re cramming themselves full of every french fry, Oreo, and cheese curl in sight.

    As for the self-control issue, everyone has a hunger drive, just as they do a sex drive. I suppose y’all want to excuse rapists and adulterers; “I just couldn’t help myself! My drive is too strong!”

    Reminds me of the criminals described by Theodore Dalrymple, who say things like “The knife just went in”, absolving themselves of all responsibility. That’s how it is everywhere these days.

  7. Dennis,
    I’m guessing that you have no problem with your own body weight but that you have family or friends that do. There is something bad that happens to some people when they eat foods full of carbohydrates (as recommended by “everybody”) for too long. That feeding style causes lots of insulin to be excreted into the blood stream and as the Taubes’ bible says, it makes the stored fat invisible to the body’s food supply system. In fact it makes every cell in your body scream to be fed. It is impossible to resist eating constantly when all your cells are starving.
    I think the Shangri-La diet works wonders in two ways. It supplies lots of quality fat to feed the starving cells and it ‘tricks’ the weight regulation center to let go of excess fat.
    I’ve been there, I’ve wondered for years how I could be hungry not long after eating. When I quit eating carbs (mostly), and upped my fat intake, and crazy spiced my meals, the feeling of satiety after and between meals has been heaven. Even if I didn’t lose weight, I’d never go back to being fat+starving.
    I’m glad you’re metabolism is not broke. Please give others a break, it’s not will power! It’s the wrong information!

  8. These comments might as well be in response to Seth’s post “Can You Change Something If You Don’t Love It?” Love the victim and anything’s possible. (And in my mind, the anonymous blog writer seems to love the overweight girl who can’t stop eating, even if it forces her into exile after she can’t help but urinate on the writer’s own daughter.)

    But conflate the obese with rapists and adulterers and the conversation’s over. One is just shouting in one’s private echo chamber.

  9. Dennis,

    oreos, cheese curls, and french fries are 60-70% calories from carbs. These are not low-carb items. Sodas, gatorade etc are usually 100% calories from carbs.

    If lack of self-control causes people to become fat, and lack of self-control causes people to become rapists (because they don’t control their hunger/sex drives), then lack of self control would cause people to become fat rapists. I don’t think so.

  10. I wonder how many people who aren’t overweight or obese refrain from eating when they’re hungry? How many mind their diets carefully, such as severely limiting carbohydrates or sugar, when they’ve never been heavy?

    Or do people who have never been overweight or obese eat when they’re hungry, eat to satisfaction, then stop? Do they eat basically what they like and want?

    I have never been not overweight or not obese without severely restricting my food with constant discomfort, vigilance and considerable effort.

    I don’t think I lack self control more than average size people. I exercise considerable willpower in other areas of my life. For example, I stopped smoking over twenty years ago. I remember the effort was negligible in comparison to what it took to diet or even to maintain a low weight. I complete (write) entire books and I’ve noticed average size acquaintances have been unable to exercise the discipline to complete a book even when they strongly desire to do so.

    Do normal weight people really exercise constant self-control? I wonder.

  11. Seth, this was a great post. The link wouldn’t work for me, I wanted to read more, and I hope SLD works for her.

    But you couldn’t have asked for more, down to the comments by people who exhibit classic blindness to reality.

    Thanks again for your efforts to share SLD.

  12. Thanks, Stephen. The whole blog has become unavailable, I don’t know why. There are plenty of other good posts. It turns out the blogger is a well-known novelist. (I have no idea who.) Her books are so popular that she hears other people talking about them while she’s at the beauty parlor.

    Anonymous, I agree completely.

  13. It is indeed true that low weight people rarely exercise more self control than fat people, but this is beside the point.

    We all have passions of varying degrees, and if a passion controls a person, if it makes one eat until one is bloated or go violent on a regular basis, one shouldn’t look for excuses “hey, they do not have will power, they are just lucky”, but exercise self-control to do something that comes natural to other people — to control the passion.

    Life is not fair, is it?

  14. Aldarris, I’m sure you think you’re making a point, but you have not succeeded. I can’t for the life of me figure out what you’re trying to say.

  15. No one is making excuses. We want explanations, and methods of weight loss that actually work. Telling people to simply control their impulses when their impulses are that out of control doesn’t work. The key is to find ways to turn off the impulses to overeat, not to scold people because they are obsessed with food. When one changes the types of foods one eats (i.e. a low carb, ketogenic diet), or one uses a method like SLD which lowers your set point, the impulses to overeat subside. It makes it much easier to lose weight.

    When someone is so obsessed with food that they are waking up in the middle of the night to gorge themselves and eating until they are ill, it’s only rational to look for other explanations besides “will power”. There is something else going on here.

  16. Aldarris’s point is perfectly clear: psychological impulses and drives vary tremendously between persons, and we don’t excuse those who let their impulses get away from them by saying that they couldn’t help themselves. Or rather, we do excuse them now, which was partly my original point. In the old days, the obese were much rarer and more stigmatized socially, and I submit that there’s a connection, just like there’s a connection between the increase in illegitimate births and lack of stigma.

    As for people “gorging themselves until they are ill”, it’s not hard to imagine that that little girl’s parents are exercising any discipline at all over what she eats. So aside from a bad diet or even a psychological disorder, lack of standards and discipline is part of the problem.

    At my workplace, lots of people eat all day at their desks, and then wonder why they’re overweight. That’s a lack of discipline. You’re not supposed to eat all day long.

  17. Dennis, I guess you mean “are not exercising any discipline.” I read it the opposite: The little girl’s parents are exercising so much discipline that when freed from that discipline she goes too far. In terms of her setpoint, she really is starving.

  18. Dennis and Seth-
    This has been an enlightening experience, reading these opinions. I am obese, but not ashamed, as if I have some horrible disfigurement, simply because I will not allow it. To some degree, I was that little girl in the blog. I grew up thin, and I believe my natural set point is lower. I am losing weigh tnow by not eating meat and limiting my portion sizes. My mother kept a close eye on my food intake, and commented on anything I ate that she thought was inappropriate. We weren’t allowed sugared anything. When I went to other children’s homes, I tended to over-eat, because it was available. I didn’t do it to a large degree, like the little girl did, because I was afriad my mom would find out. Seth, I agree with your assessment. The little girl probably ate like that because it was some of the only freedom she ever got.
    Dennis, I know you feel attacked. What you see in your environment is the truth to you…people over eat and then wonder why they are fat. Well duh!I would feel the same way you do! What you are not looking at however, is WHY they do is too easy to say that it is because they don’t have will power. ( Kindof a B.F.Skinner approach- the behaviorist approach to psychology) THe reasons why people over eat,and are overweight are as complicated and varied as the people themselves. Trying to find a simple answer is understandable, and to some degree, true. But it’s not ALL of the truth. Lack of willpower is not all of why someone eats too much, just the outer behavior that you see. For example, after having such a restricted eating environment at home, when I left for college, I didn’t binge drink or binge sleep around ( I was thin and very pretty, I could have) I ate. It was like all at once there wasn’t a nag at my shoulder all the time, so I could eat what I wanted. My decision making had been returned to me! It was my own form of rebellion. Since then, I have realized that my reactions to my emotional state, or stimuli for outside myself are things that can provoke the need to eat. YES, I fight it. YES I am aware of what I eat and am constantly trying to control it and make the right decisons. But until you have been in an obese person’s shoes, regardless of what you see everyday, please don’t judge us. Obviously, you are not struggling with your weight, and never have. Otherwise, you would have more understanding and compassion. Thank you though, for being brave and saying what you think. It helps others to be able to voice their opinions and sort out how they feel. You helped me!

  19. I think there is partial truth to what Dennis was saying, but it’s not the whole picture. I went to China for two weeks, and eat a vegetarian diet. As such I didn’t touch the “westernized” meat foods offered over there and eat much like the average Chinese person does. (plain rice with cabbage and other fairly plain vegetables and light sauces.)
    What was really interesting to me only a few days into this diet, was that my body was not hungry at all for large amounts of time until right up to the moment I was about to eat (going to restaurant etc). Once I arrived at the place we would have lunch, I would be famished and eat – and then be good again for hours. Whereas in the USA I always feel hungry, and always driven to snack. It made me aware of how powerful our culture is on our health in general. I think it is largely that in our need to keep a fast lifestyle going, we’ve given power to corporations to make our foods, and they have produced foods that are chemically designed to make cravings.
    In out culture everyone is eating this food – and everyone is wondering “why am I so fat” when everyone else is eating this – but it’s only when you go to a completely different culture will you see that in fact everyone doesn’t eat like we eat.
    Anyways I’m not saying that we are not responsible for choosing what we eat like Dennis asserts – but at the same time you can’t deny the forces that have encouraged our problems.

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