Tag Archives: skinny

The Shocking Risks of Being Skinny

As a culture, we fall into a pattern of focusing on the dangers of being overweight. Supplement companies and exercise brands play on heartstrings as they dangle images of lean, fit individuals in trendy fitness apparel racing down the street or pleasantly sipping a shake. Many people (women AND men) quest after that “fit” look and think the skinnier, the better. But this is a delusion. There are some major pitfalls of being really skinny, both for people who have achieved this through diet and exercise and for people who are naturally slender.

 

 

When a woman’s BMI is less than 18.5 she is at a heightened risk for numerous ailments and chronic conditions…we’re even talking death. Skinny isn’t always healthy! So think again the next time you’re feeling envy monsters growling and baring their teeth inside you when your super skinny friend constantly eats junk food or skips the gym “without consequence.” I’m telling you, there’s more to the story underneath. It will eventually show up.

Oh – another kind-of-crazy note is that those friends of yours who can eat a ton and never exercise (while staying rail thin) might have a genetic deviation from the general population that makes it harder for them to absorb nutrients. In other words, they’re eating a ton and their body isn’t gleaning the stuff it needs from all that food, putting them in a position of greater susceptibility to internal health problems. Suddenly, those friends aren’t as enviable. Am I right?

 

Here are the top (very serious) risks of being too thin:

 

Osteoporosis

Low-calorie diets are associated with bone loss because of a lack of nutrients to support estrogen. When estrogen takes a major dive, bones can become brittle and experience density loss. Also, if someone is on a low-calorie diet because of the desire to be skinny then they’re less likely to be incorporating healthy weight training out of the misplaced fear of being “bulky.” Weight training can help prevent some bone less plus it won’t make women bulky.

 

 

Fertility

Women at a low BMI are more prone to amenorrhea or irregular cycles which means they’re either not ovulating regularly or may have trouble with their uterine lining. Additionally, they may be more likely to experience miscarriage. Science Daily says, “Women who have a low body mass index before they become pregnant are 72 percent more likely to suffer a miscarriage in the first three months of pregnancy, but can reduce their risk significantly by taking supplements and eating fresh fruit and vegetables.”

This is pretty upsetting stuff. As a woman who has one child and in the process of trying for a second has suffered a miscarriage, I wouldn’t wish this loss on anyone. It’s extremely devastating even though the vast majority of cases of early pregnancy loss are for reasons that can’t be identified. One doctor explains, “The majority of the time miscarriage is a random, isolated event and we can’t pinpoint a cause.” That said, if you know that you have a risk factor while TTC (including low BMI, an immunologic disorder, uterine or cervix abnormalities, current smoker and/or PCOS, to name a few), it’s worth speaking to a health professional about how you can help your body and reduce your risks.

If you think fertility at a low BMI is only a female challenge then you’re mistaken – men with low BMIs are 22x more likely to have a sexual dysfuntion than their healthy-weight peers. Eeerr…you can read here about more of those details.

 

Anemia

When someone isn’t consuming enough nutrients they become more susceptible to anemia, a condition of red blood cell and/or hemoglobin deficiency. When the red blood cells don’t have enough iron, B-12 and folate to do their thing (i.e., support oxygen transport throughout the body and carbon dioxide transport to the lungs), a person’s entire body suffers. For obvious reasons. Anemia is marked by low energy and fatigue and routinely goes hand in hand with amenhorrea. Making sure your body is getting REAL nutrition is key no matter what weight you are.

 

Lowered Immune System

A lack of nutrients due to low-calorie diets and/or inadequate absorption means that a person is more likely to become immune compromised. A steady, strong supply of nutrients helps support gut health and immune function. People with lowered immune systems are more likely to contract seasonal viruses and bacteria and may also be at a heightened risk for serious illnesses such as cancer.

NOTE: People can also overeat but still have poor nutrient density in their diets – so lowered immune function isn’t just a consequence for people who are too skinny. This applies to everyone making poor dietary choices. Our bodies need fresh, nutritious, quality foods to thrive!

 

 

Heart Disease & Diabetes

Kind of surprising that the risk for heart disease and diabetes is high for really skinny people in addition to obese individuals, right? The tricky thing about being thin is that it can give people a false sense of confidence in their health, especially in cases where they’re not taking care of themselves through a healthy lifestyle. Some skinny people may assume they’re healthy thanks to their weight and continue to eat unhealthy foods, skip medical checkups and opt out of the gym. All of this can make for a silent, raging storm under the surface.

Also, there’s a genetic variant that causes some lean people to store more fat directly around their organs, giving them the appearance of being healthy while hiding their heightened risk for heart and organ issues:

“A new study hints that being lean doesn’t get you entirely off the health hook either. In a genetic analysis involving more than 75,000 people, an international group of scientists led by Ruth Loos at the Medical Research Council in the U.K. found that lean people with a specific genetic variant were at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease despite their lower body fat.”

 

As you can see, being too skinny can carry some risks with it. What’s important is that we’re tuned into our internal health instead of relying on our external health as the only indicator of what’s going on in our bodies. Our weight is only a piece of the puzzle. Only a fraction of what makes us truly healthy.

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

 

Advertisements

Skinny Girls Who Eat Junk

You’re not alone if you’ve ever wondered how other girls can get away with eating junk, while also retaining a slim waistline. I’ve had dozens of women complain to me that their friends can seemingly nosh on cheeseburgers and fries, down a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, or indulge in the bread basket on girls night out, without putting on a single pound. It’s time to solve the mystery! Here are a few ways that these girls-we-love-to-envy keep their weight in check.

Skinny Girls

1) They are burning calories through activity 

I can easily recall my super skinny days, back in high school, when I could chow down nachos, eat two plates of pasta, and a big bowl of Breyer’s chocolate ice cream every night, but this was only thanks to playing sports all year round. I was exercising for several hours every single day, and I was still growing. Could I get away with this now? No. Can I still get away with indulging here and there? Yes, because I exercise and practice portion control when eating. Good news, you can too!

It’s the same, simple answer we keep returning to: Calories Consumed = Calories Burned, for weight control.

2) This may just be a snapshot of their diet, not the way that they routinely eat

As I mentioned above, no one…and I mean no one, can get away with eating junky foods 24/7 that are calorie laden and fattening. Over time, it results in weight gain. If your skinny friend isn’t gaining weight, then she must be exercising portion control at other, less social and less visible, times of the day. She may be vocal in social settings, saying how she loves eating chips or hot dogs all the time, but she’s probably just being theatrical, or perhaps she’s trying to justify her indulgence out loud. It’s probably not meant to shame you or make you question your own weight and eating habits. Laugh it off and stick to the choices you want to make for yourself. If we tell teens to avoid peer pressure about drugs and alcohol, then certainly we can exercise a little self-control about food in social settings, right?!

3) They don’t beat themselves up for eating what they want

I have coached lots of women to stop self-shaming when they eat foods they desire. It’s one of the most important things that I help with women with, and many of them tell me that being easier, not harder, on themselves has helped them manage their health for the first time in years. Ironically, emotional reactions to food, and feelings of shame, often lead to MORE eating, not less.

An article from MyFitnessPal’s Hello Healthy blog states that “we usually end up getting mad at ourselves for overeating. This sets us up for a vicious cycle of stuffing feelings with food (and thus not dealing with them), possible weight gain or excessive exercise and self-recrimination … until the cycle starts all over again. How frustrating!”

So, if you have a late-night of eating the whole bag of popcorn, when you intended to only scoop out two handfuls, move on from it. Tell yourself that tomorrow is a new day and that you have the power to make good choices each with each and every meal and snack.

But, maybe your friend isn’t getting away with as much as you think…

“Smoke and Mirrors”

Although some girls enjoy their greasy and sugary foods without immediate weight gain, there may still be health consequences to their actions. They may not be getting all the essential nutrients that their bodies need. For example, if “Kelly” tends to eat instant oatmeal and a banana in the morning, a turkey wrap and chips at lunch, and a small dish of pasta at night, she is probably not getting enough protein in her diet.

Although Kelly’s portions are modest, allowing her to remain slim, she may have brittle hair and nails because of the missing protein. This, combined with a lack of fruits and vegetables, may also cause Kelly to have skin problems (skin that lacks luster, breakouts, is aging quickly, etc.). Additionally, if she isn’t getting all of the essential vitamins and minerals that her body craves, then Kelly may not have good energy throughout the day.

In short, what’s happening on the outside of our bodies (i.e., how we look) is not always reflective of what’s happening on the inside…

So, is it okay to eat junk or is “clean eating” the best practice for weight control?

what to eat

It depends. It’s important to figure out what is going to work best for you. While clean eating, i.e., focusing on a natural diet full of fruits, veggies, and lean proteins, is definitely a step towards a healthy lifestyle, WebMD explains that certain diet protocols for clean eating, like The Eat-Clean Diet, are “so structured, restrictive, and unrealistic” that they “may be difficult to follow long term.”

WebMD further suggests that any diet plan that is based more on opinion, than on scientific evidence, must be taken with a grain of salt. Although people love to share their personal triumphs, we should all be wary of professionals who base their dietary recommendations solely on their own experiences. We’re all a little different physically and emotionally, and that changes how we eat and what we want to eat.

If you feel like you’re only eating healthy because you “should” be, then you’re in a deprivation mentality, missing out on the experience of pleasureful eating. When kept in check, pleasureful eating can be a part of a healthy eating plan.

Once you’ve recognized that there is not a “good” or “bad” food persay, you can start to break the chains of a dieting mentality. As I alluded to in my Detox Diets: Do They Work? post, “including foods considered unhealthful in a healthful eating plan can foster satisfaction to ensure a healthful eating pattern over the long haul.”

Here is one defintion of normal eating provided by Human Kinetics:

“…being able to eat when you are hungry and continue eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it – not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to use some moderate constraint in your food selection to get the right food, but not being so restrictive that you miss out on pleasureable foods. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad, or bored; or just because it feels good.”

Note: This is different from chronic emotional eating.

We’ll discuss that another day. 

This perspective implies that eating mostly nutrient dense foods will be helpful for your body, and that there is room to eat “forbidden foods” for pleasure here and there. An ice cream on a Friday night won’t spoil your waistline. Enjoying your favorite bubbly on a date night doesn’t mean you’ve ruined a healthful eating streak. If we stop fearing foods, we may just find that we don’t crave them as often, and we can start enjoying them in moderation alongside a balanced eating plan.

So, eat clean all the time if it works for you. If it doesn’t, don’t shame yourself. Just try to balance your intake of indulgent foods, and find ways to eat mindfully at every meal. The greens that once tasted bitter or repulsive can and will taste better once you take the time to think of ways to prep them to fit your palate. And, well…chocolate cake will always manage to taste amazing.

it's okay to indulge at times

 

Me + Lava Cake = Love

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz logo 2

 

 

References:

Hudnall, M., & Kratina, K. (2005, January 1). Disordered Eating in Active and Sedentary Individuals.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/17/bad-hair-nails-diet-foods_n_2964618.html

https://blog.myfitnesspal.com/how-to-break-free-of-emotional-overeating/?utm_source=mfp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly20150330&mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRokuKvPZKXonjHpfsX66%2B0tUK6%2FlMI%2F0ER3fOvrPUfGjI4DTsVlI%2BSLDwEYGJlv6SgFSrTFMblm0LgLXhM%3D

http://www.webmd.com/diet/eat-clean-diet-review?page=3