Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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The Skinny on Being Thin

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With the obesity epidemic we are facing in America, it is hard for some people to imagine being underweight. Many people who are thin, believe it or not, do not like to be called "skinny." Being labeled skinny can be just as offensive for someone who is thin as being called fat is to someone who is overweight. People who are underweight are viewed differently in our American society than people who are overweight. But don't assume that they are happy with their bodies or that they appreciate you telling them how "lucky" they are.

I have counseled many people on how to manage their weight, both overweight and underweight. I would much rather counsel someone who needs to lose 50 pounds than someone who is trying to gain 10. For someone who is underweight and is trying to gain weight, it is incredibly frustrating. You are probably thinking, "They can have some of my weight," but it is not that simple (and they don't appreciate you telling them that, either).

Weight gain is the opposite as weight loss, of course, and someone who wants to gain weight needs to eat more calories than they are taking in. In order for the weight to come on as muscle instead of fat, exercise is vital. Many underweight clients have told me that they just feel sick when faced with the notion of eating more calories because they feel like all they do is eat all day long. Exercise burns more calories, so balancing how much exercise to do with the right amount of calories for weight gain takes concentrated effort.

Be sensitive to all body shapes and sizes, and compliment someone on their achievements, not on their waistline.

Photo courtesy of istockphoto
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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