Go figure. A nutritionist on why being too thin is never in

Every time you get tempted to go for a nip, a tuck, a peel or a suck, stop. Think again.

 |  Hello, Health  |  5-minute read |   30-05-2017
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France just made it illegal for too thin models to walk on the ramp. Models will need to provide a doctor's certificate showing that their body mass index is healthy (below 18 is considered unhealthy).

They had been deliberating on this since 2015 and finally it has taken the shape of a stringent law where the fine and jail punishment are both hefty.

They join Israel, Spain and Italy in doing so, and deserve kudos.

According to France's health ministry statement, the laws objective is to protect the health of a sector of the population particularly at risk - models, and also to tackle eating disorders as well as inaccessible levels of beauty.

According to some reports anorexia (an eating disorder with fixation with a thin figure and abnormal eating patterns) affects between 30,000 to 40,000 people in France, 90 per cent of whom are women.

women-tall_053017045707.jpgYou don't walk around on the road with a scale stuck on you. Photo: Tumblr

In India, the statistics for eating disorders are not that clear but one study published in 2013 found disturbed eating attitudes and behaviours in 26.67 per cent of adolescents girls (between 13 to 17 years). Now that's a huge number.

I am hoping this ban has a cascading effect worldwide, and particularly in India where we love to follow the West, even when common sense tells us to go the other way.

I am really hoping finally the world gets free from looking up to the toothpicks (brutally photoshopped) posing on fashion magazine covers, counting calories and fat grams obsessively is deemed déclassé, and eating food is no longer a vice. I am daydreaming about the days when hiding behind looser pants or liposuction are finally passé, and sensible curves make a comeback - the kind of honest roundness that a diet of dressing-free salads cannot deliver.

Also that people finally wake up to the fact that bean sticks are not cool (read not healthy), and want to look anorexic is not just a terrible mantra to follow, but can actually have serious detrimental effect on our health and quality of life.

Now all this is hopeful thinking (things don't really move that fast), but who knows. Because it's about time we woke up to the fact that hips are not supposed to be those pesky things on the sides of your hipbones, and life can cruise along spectacularly, in thickness and in health, without any need to gulp only Slim-Fast shakes, or worse staying without food for long durations.

First things first

Thin is not good. Being fit is. And there is a difference. And if it takes a law to get that accepted, so be it. It is important to understand the difference between slim and skinny. A healthy toned body is more important than a thin frazzled one.

When the motive for the weight loss is right and it is attempted within the right parameters, it always makes sense. Otherwise it is plain unhealthy, often even dangerous.

Chuck the jargon

I strongly believe that the terminology should be changed from weight loss to health gain. Probably then the off-centre perceptions would also undergo a change, and it won't be that easy to accost minds of susceptible teenagers, showing them dreams of belonging to "thin land".

love-your-body_03011_053017045744.jpgRemember you are a complete person - your confidence level, your personality, your attitude, your efficiency and not just your weight.

Quit chasing numbers

Right now we run after a number. I weighed 45kg ten years back, I must get to that weight or that model (caught it in a glossy, did ya?) weighs 50kg, I must try to get to that too.

Get real honey! Maybe she is 5'2" and you are 5'6". Maybe her body frame is different. Besides why do you need to be razor-thin? Her job demands it (not anymore though thankfully!) - you should in fact concentrate on being fit as a fiddle.

Wake up

You don't walk around on the road with a scale stuck on you. You walk around as yourself. So your weight is not as important as having a healthy toned body. Stick to a weight you feel comfortable in, a weight at which you feel at your optimal best.

Remember you are a complete person - your confidence level, your personality, your attitude, your efficiency and not just your weight.

Tell everybody

I want to be loved for my mind.

I want advice but not just that I should use skimmed milk instead of full fat.

And don't let your weight bar you from getting through any door, narrow or otherwise.

So every time you get tempted to go for a nip, a tuck, a peel or a suck, stop. Think again.

What's more important - health or a scrawny, unhealthy look, and a body saddled with infirmity (yes, that follows excessive weight loss fast enough).

Even celebs (more abroad then in India though) who were once painfully scrawny seem to be reclaiming their own healthy appetites. And that's a healthy trend. One that continues and gains ground I hope.

After all, health truly is wealth, to use the age old cliché.

Also read: Why it took me two decades to stop hating my body


Kavita Devgan Kavita Devgan @kavitadevgan

The writer is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don't Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico).

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