Diet culture has taught us to fear normal and HEALTHY bodily functions, and this does not sit well with me.
Putting the science aside - when you stop and think about it logically, these daily experiences are simply our body looking out for us.
When our weight fluctuates, it’s our body maintaining a state of homeostasis (aka balance) to keep us alive;
When we are hungry, it’s our body ensuring we eat food so we can survive and function;
When our stomach expands after eating, it’s our body working hard to digest our food, to once again, keep us alive and well.
Your weight IS going to fluctuate. You will weigh something different in the morning, at night-time, and then the next day. You may weigh something different at the start of the week to the end, and throughout different times of the month. You weight is not a direct correlation of fat tissue. As in, there are MANY factors that influence your weight, with water and when you last went to the toilet being two of them.
Also, and importantly, weight does not = health. Getting rid of the scales is LIBERATING, because (in my professional opinion) you do not need to weight yourself every day. There are only a few situations related to specific disease states where this will be a good idea, (eg. monitoring fluid balance) – so if this is you, continue under the advice of your health care team. BUT if you are weighing yourself every day to track your weight, I’d love to ask you why? What is that number communicating to you? How is this helping and assisting your health? A number that fluctuates and that does not mean anything for your health.
It’s a little sad that this is something I have to clarify. But diet culture constantly talks about “how to suppress your hunger”, “how to curb your cravings”, and has made us believe that the feeling of hunger is in some way a “bad thing”.
The feeling of hunger is our body communicating to us that it needs fuel. Naturally, it’s why the feeling of hunger increases the longer we have gone without eating. It’s our body screaming at us that it wants and needs fuel. Your brain and all your organs need energy to function. Feeling hungry is your body working how it SHOULD BE. It’s looking after you. Caring for you! Doing its job. You do not need to fear hunger.
It is completely ‘normal’ for your stomach to expand after eating. Firstly, think about the food you have eaten, it has to go somewhere before it’s digested and absorbed! AND then, some of it may reach your gut bacteria where they will have a party, ferment away and produce gas - ie more expansion/bloating.
Also, unless our body perceives a stress (eg. we have anxiety or stress) our body prioritises this function – and what does this mean? It means blood rushes to this area and away from other parts of our body that it deems not as important at this time.
This is just a normal digestive process! And your body is doing exactly what it should be doing.
Importantly, there are OF COURSE times where there may be pain and discomfort due to things like intolerances, allergies, IBS and even food poising - so it is important to see a qualified professional if you are experiencing pain and discomfort. But generally, a simple expansion (“bloating”) of the stomach may just be your body doing its job and digesting the food you’ve just eaten, and you do not need to worry about it.
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written for you by
A university qualified Dietitian (MNutrDiet), Nutritionist (BSc ANutr.), PhD student, and former teacher from Sydney, Australia.
A generous portion of nutrition knowledge, tasty recipe ideas and some hilarious myth-busting