Skinny Fat: Why thin does not equal healthy

Let’s go back to 2005. Brad and Jen broke our hearts with their split. Gwen Stefani taught us all how to spell “bananas”. Juicy Couture velour track suits were making a comeback.

This was also the year before I cut out fast food and soda. A sophomore in high school, I was 5’4” and 97lbs. I had always been thin, it’s in my genetics. So I never had to think about what I ate. I thought, “If I don’t gain weight after eating a Whopper Jr. every day, then I’ve got nothing to worry about.”


To be honest, I don’t really remember why I ditched fast food and soda, other than I knew they were bad for me. I don’t remember an aha-moment or a near death experience. I suppose I was subconsciously listening to my body.

After I started ignoring the call of the Burger King drive-thru and the fizz of a newly opened can of Sprite, I didn’t get any healthier. I was still eating quesadillas every day after school and steak for dinner, and then I’d wake up and have a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch with 2% milk. No, I was definitely not healthy.

It wasn’t until nearly 10 years later that I first heard the term “Skinny Fat”. This refers to people who appear thin but are actually unhealthy. They are at risk for diabetes, high cholesterol and poor blood circulation. These people likely have visceral fat stored around their organs. They tend to think, as I did, that being thin means they are healthy so they neglect physical activity and lack muscle mass.

I realized that I was skinny fat in 2012 when I looked at myself and saw that I didn’t have any muscle. I was thin, not toned. And on top of that, I felt just blah. At that time, I was eating a lot of cheese, yogurt and alfredo sauce. My stomach is aching just thinking about it.

It was around this time that I learned the difference between being thin and being healthy. Over time my definition of health has changed (and it still is) but I understand now that what you see on the outside isn’t always reflected on the inside.

The number on the scale is not a measurement of health.

Focusing solely on your outward physical appearance jeopardizes your internal health. We need to focus on being healthy rather than being thin.

Let’s get scientific for a minute. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), nearly 1 in 4 skinny people are pre-diabetic and metabolically obese (skinny fat). The visceral fat they store around their organs secretes hormones and hinders insulin’s ability to break down sugar. Diabetics who are skinny fat have nearly double the mortality rate of overweight and obese diabetics.

There needs to be a shift in our understanding of our body. It’s not necessarily how much food we eat, it’s what food we eat. 500 calories of McDonalds fries and 500 calories of fresh fruit are not equals.

True health starts with what you put in your body. The food you eat feeds your cells and, ultimately, makes you into the person you are; physically, mentally, emotionally. Yes, the food you eat not only impacts your physical appearance but also your cognition and mood.

By eating living foods, you’re feeding your body life. And by striving for health on the inside, the outward appearance we long for will follow suit naturally.

What’s your definition of health? Are you living it?


    1. Thank you! I agree. People look at someone who is thin and envies their body, but what’s going on under the skin? It would be an interesting world if we could not see anyone’s physical appearance. No one to compare ourselves to. All we would have is how we feel. Our health.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. “Alfredo sauce” made me chuckle. I used to live on Lean Cuisine fettuccine alfredo (with lots of cajun seasoning).

    Great post. I particularly love: “The food you eat feeds your cells and, ultimately, makes you into the person you are; physically, mentally, emotionally. Yes, the food you eat not only impacts your physical appearance but also your cognition and mood.”

    I wish more people understood that. They seem to grasp that pasta makes them sleepy or caffeine gives them (temporary) energy — but that’s it. If everyone went on a 30-day elimination diet, a lot of lives would change for the better.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a vegan I can eat a lot! I have days, where I eat raw only, other days a mix of both, raw and cooked and than I have days where I eat just junk/comfort food.
    When I think, I put a bit weight on, I do not starve myself, I just cut out my beloved almond butter and eat raw for a couple of days along with my daily exercise-
    all sorted.
    I don’t really need a scale, it is more important that I like, what I see in the mirror!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Thank you. The number on the scale is so arbitrary when it comes to how much people say they want to weigh. They just pick a number that sounds good. But none of it matters. Like you said, what matters is that you are happy with what you see in the mirror, and also that you feel good on the inside and love yourself.


  3. You are correct. If we eat the wrong food. We will pollute our body. I try to eat proper. I believe people think they are too busy to cook. I believe if we cooked daily. Our body and mind would be stronger and better. Using fresh food and eating more fruits and veggie. I like your site. Honest words upon the human favorite thing. Food.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I believe people think they are too busy to cook.” You are so right. But they don’t realize that stopping off for fast food or heating up a frozen dinner also takes time and they could make something fresh and delicious in that same amount of time!

      Thank you for the positive words and support.

      Liked by 1 person

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