My Fat Doesn't Have Feelings; Does Yours?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
We have all said the magic phrase, "I feel fat" at one time or another. While it may be a common saying, does it accurately describe what we are feeling? What exactly does fat feel like? If fat doesn't have a feeling, what exactly are we feeling? Looking deeper at this question might help you decide the best course of action to take to feel something different.

Being bloated is a possible cause of feeling fat. It is a feeling of discomfort in the abdominal area that may also include gas and cramping. Gas and bloating can be the result of a variety of sources. Food intolerance or food allergy is a common cause. As intestinal bacteria feast on food sugars, they produce gas. There are six foods that are thought to be the most gas producing broccoli, cabbage, beans, raw apples, milk and raisins. If you are experiencing gas and bloating issues, take note of your meals and snacks to see if those issues come shortly after consuming one or more of the big six and then adjust your diet accordingly.

Water or fluid retention is another frequent reason people can feel fat. Premenstrual water retention is a common but temporary problem that many women experience at one time or another. It is possible to retain five to six pounds of water especially in the abdomen and breast areas of the body. Since the menstrual cycle is controlled by the endocrine system, if you have medical conditions that are endocrine in nature, you may be more prone to monthly water retention issues and temporary weight gain. Edema is the accumulation of water in atypical places throughout the body especially under the skin. People with medical conditions such as hypertension, cardiac (heart), hepatic (liver), or renal (kidney) disease all frequently deal with issues of edema. They rely on diet modifications and a variety of medications to keep things under control. If you have a medical condition that is susceptible to variations in sodium concentrations, water retention from a high sodium intake is likely. When you find you are feeling fat, look at the previous day's intake and take note of the high sodium choices to see if fluid retention could be the cause. Making wise choices the following day and drinking plenty of water will soon get things back on track.

Eating too much at one time and being overfull is another cause of feeling fat. Eating large portion sizes is the most obvious reason. Consuming a large number of high fiber foods or a high fat meal are also possible causes as well. Pain and discomfort are possible especially if your full stomach creates pressure on the pyloric sphincter at the top of the stomach. If you experience this type of full feeling, evaluate your portion sizes, meal timing, and meal composition. Aim for smaller meals and snacks eaten more frequently so that you are not over extending the stomach at any one time. Also, determine if you are including too many high fiber foods or high fat foods. A high fat or high fiber diet can result in a slower rate of digestion that can leave you feeling fuller, longer. Look at how much fluid you consumed with your meal or snack when you are feeling overfull. Too much fluid with food can cause temporary stomach distention. Try saving your fluids for between meals and limiting fluids with meals to reduce this problem.

I would dare say feelings of guilt are most likely what feels fat. Guilt for eating too much, guilt for eating the wrong thing, guilt for giving in to temptation, and a host of any other feelings of guilt related to food. The feelings do not come before you eat because if they did, you most likely would have made different choices. Emotions frequently cause havoc with our food and snack decisions. Once we have emotionally made choices, it is easy to slip into the feelings of guilt and suddenly you are in a cycle that can cause you to say why even bother any more. Here is one word of truth. You CAN stop feeling guilty and turn that feeling into an action plan. Admit you gave in to temptation, took a larger portion than you intended, did not realize the calorie content of the item you selected or whatever is your reality. Own the choice or the lack of a choice. Decide what you will do the next time you are in the same situation. Say goodbye to feelings of guilt in favor of feelings of empowerment. Turn those feelings of fat into feelings of strength that you realized the problem, own the choice or lack of choice and have an action plan for the next time. Enjoy feeling empowered and how thin that feels.

Feeling fat can lead to a whole host of negative feelings and actions that can sabotage our weight loss efforts. It is important to decide where the feeling originates so you know the best course of action to elevate it in the future. The next time you are ready to utter that magic phrase, think about what you are really feeling. Determine what changes you will make to reduce the chances of the feeling returning. Once you have created a plan, move on, leaving the feeling behind you. This prevents the negative self-talk that can follow. It eliminates those feelings from festering and leading to a downward spiral of negative thoughts and feelings that lead you to giving up on your goals.

Do you say the magic phrase often? Are you able to identify what you are really feeling? What action steps will you take the next time you feel this way to allow you to feel empowered instead?

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Instead of saying "I feel fat", just sing that melody to "I feel Pretty" and change the words to "I feel lumpy, and grumpy and bumpy all over...."
(sorry, you'll need to copy and paste, since links are not supported in comments.) Report
such great insights... i can't even get myself to utter the magic words anymore for fear that someone who hears will respond, "you are fat!" but this is so empowering. thanks for this blog. =) Report
Wow, such a good article. I've tried to stop myself from saying I feel fat and instead address the real issue. I feel tired, mad, depressed, etc.
However, I do not believe the majority of people who say I feel fat, say it to insult obese persons. How each person views themselves is completely dependent on that individual person's body image. I've lost over 100lbs yet I still struggle not to see the "fat" girl I used to be. It's caused just as many issues because now I'm struggling to gain weight (I'm 105lbs now at 5'4) but I still have days when in exasperation I "feel fat". It's not a mockery of someone who weighs more than me, it's a negative expression about how I feel about my body in that moment. What would be insulting if I were to say I feel fatter than you.
And also, obesity is a choice. Yes there are genetic factors that might cause you to gain weight easily and have difficulty gaining weight but if you actually look at your relationship with food and your exercise regime, you may realize that you are not doing everything possible to maintain a healthy weight. I will have to spend the rest of my life working hard to maintain a healthy weight and it isn't fair that my little brother can eat oreos and stay skinny but life isn't fair! And I'm willing to work to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It's hard work both physically and emotionally but if you're willing to committ, losing weight can be done healthily. Report
Wow! This is such a good article for me to read. I often "feel fat" even though I'm in the normal weight range. After reading this, it prompts me to realize I "feel fat" really means other things for me. Sometimes hormonal, sometimes skewed body image and sometimes I just mean "I feel insecure."

A previous poster implied people with no weight problems say this and it's offensive to people who really struggle with their weight. I can say, for me anyway, there is no intention of that in my mind. I just have a bad self-image and I don't look the way I would like to...yet. Probably the result of the barrage of impossible standards presented by air-brushed photos and too-slim models today. I'm really bad at comparing myself to others and there will always be someone who is thinner, fitter and more toned than me. I think even thin and fit people can "feel fat" because it has more to do with the way we perceive ourselves rather than actual physical traits. Report
Well, mine is probably a bit on the weird side. I carry my extra weight so that most people gutss my extra pounds being much lower. I spend several hours each day walking around doing animal care. The pedometer (when I can keep it from resetting) shows that I generally cover about 2 miles.

I have a disability and have been blocked from working in my my field. I have chonic stress, anxiety and depression problems that I can not tolerate the medications for...and then there is fibromyalgia. Which of course I can't tolerate the meds for. It can be pretty bad when all of the meds cause problems worse than than the original problem. I just have to get though the bad spots. I am very conscouis of it then how much the extra "baggage" increases the discomfort. Particularly since my primary complaint area is all of the joints (there are lots) in my feet and I need to get out there and do my rounds every day. Most of the time I am fine. Aware of some chronic discomfort, but able to ignore it and get things done without too much problem.

I never had marked extra weight problem until I became considered disabled after a serious injury. I had gotten through the hospitalization and the early in-facility rehab program and then got stuck in the system. It was easier to try to get me shifted to someone else and then give up because I didn't fit easily into their system. Report
I can totally relate to this , when I have been so busy doing other things and "forget" to eat breakfast then I eat more later in the day and in the evening before bed. I get that bloated fat feeling. But its a bad habit I need to work on fixing. 28 days to change a habit ,, hmmmm. Report
funny that i never really "feel fat", per se, but i can see it plain as day and i know the pressure that excess weight is putting on my body--that's about it. but its getting better! Report
I think your title was very confusing. I was very curious. Report
I must say the title of the article confuses me a little. How does "feeling fat" in any way imply that the fat has emotions?

I have on occasion said the phrase, but for me it has nothing to do with the reasons in the blog. Just means that I am noticing my extra fat and it is annoying me more than usual. *shrug* Report
This weekend, I went to my usual summer vacation spot. Although there weren't a lot of people running around in bikinis to compare myself to (always a bad idea anyway), I felt fatter there than I had at home at my departure or upon my return.

It wasn't just an optical illusion because there were different mirrors in my sleeping quarters. I felt like I was carrying around more weight than I had felt at home.

The reason, I think, is because our bodies carry habitual memory with them. When I walked up the same mountain that I had last year, I was literally carrying around more weight, and I could feel it. I felt fat the whole weekend, despite there being no difference in the scale between Thursday and Saturday.

The other part of that feeling was emotional--I could more easily remember what it was like to walk around last summer and could more easily compare how I felt than to how I feel now.

The article and comments have helped me to remember that although I feel fat (and I am, indeed, overweight), I shouldn't give up on my goals. Too often I respond to immediate emotional cues and if I feel fat I think that I deserve to feel fat and that I will never be any other way but fat.

The problem is the self-punishment that gets tied up with the feeling of being overweight; I promise myself that at least for the rest of today my feeling fat will not become a blank check to eat whatever I want. Report
Great article! Report
I feel fat when I have overeaten, or gained weight rapidly. I can feel the skin on my ankles stretching.... Report
I will dare to say that when I use the phrase "I'm feeling fat today" it is usually because I didn't eat as well as I should have, missed or slacked on my exercise and then tried on my "skinny" clothes. Not at all a good combination for getting my self esteem up and can sometimes lead to even more destructive behavior. So now it is time to take back control and accept that changes to my lifestyle will take time and I will be a success. Report
I totally identified with this blog! I often "feel fat" and I think my issue has a lot to do with the emotional and guilty eating. Just last night (after a really healthy day) I grabbed a box of cereal (finished the one serving that was in there) and went on to another box, just eating handful after handful. I had given up and told myself I had already blown it, so why not? Of course this morning I got on the scale and it wasn't a number i wanted to see. First thought of the day? I FEEL FAT. Thanks for a great article....I will think of it next time I reach for food when I am not hungry. Report
When I say that I feel fat it means that I feel as though I've been stuffed into clothes that are a size too small. My pants feel like they are cutting me in half, my shirt is snug, it's hard to zip my jacket, and just the act of sitting down feels like some sort of torture.

I don't feel fat as long as I can zip my jeans, sit down, and still breathe. Report
I think "I feel fat" is when I'm bloated and it seems I have that feeling more than my friends. I suspect too much of drinking tea and yogurt, haha. Anyhow, most of home cooking has onions, shalot and garlic for ingridients so those might cause the bloated effect, huhu. Report
negative thoughts cramp motivation - I love the word "empowerment" and also WILL and WILL POWER.
This blog was an excellent reminder not to focus on the negative but to take that next small step you can - if you keep going, the destination is achievable. It's the journey that counts. Report
No, I have never said I feel fat. I don't really let the scale dictate my feelings either. It's just a tool for me to know if I am eating properly. If I don't eat properly then the scale will show a weight increase. If I am eating properly, then I am remaining the same or possibly even losing weight. Although I want to lose more, quicker, I am just happy to be maintaining. Report
This was a very good blog. I believe you touched on the fat feelings we all have. thank you for the validation Report
I have medical problems and often feel fat. Bloating etc. Thank a very good article Report
I must be one of the rare people who never uses that phrase. Even when I was fat I felt "sluggish, tired, or unfit." The term "fat" was alien to me because I spent my childhood being very skinny and most of my adulthood being slim. I was only overweight for about 10 years out of my 54 years. I managed to hide the fat and nobody ever called me fat. Maybe if they had I would have done something about it sooner. Now I am maintaining and intend to stay that way. Woo hoo! Report
Many years ago when I took the psychiatric nursing program, I remember we had to learn to be very clear about the difference between thoughts and feelings, and to describe feelings accurately. I agree when somebody says "I feel fat" this is shorthand for many other feelings - disappointment, guilt, despair, hopelessness come to mind but other people may feel quite differently. Thanks for the article - food for thought! (Definitely a low-cal food) Report
I've read through some of the comments, (not all). My comment is simply this, my fat doesn't have feelings but I definitely have feelings about my fat. Report
Yup! This one caught my eye cuz thats right where i'm at right now!! And like a couple of people have said , It's as though I'm in downward spiral so why bother tring to do better. AND sometimes it seem like the more I try to do something about it, the wose i get! Report
I can't remember a time when I have not felt "fat" even when I was maintaining a normal healthy weight. Growing up my sisters were both teeny skinny people who liked to introduce me as their "big" sister. This article helped me see that this early label has been haunting me. Hmm. Time for some serious reconsideration of my genuine body image. Thanks. Report
good artcile thank you Report
I do say "I feel fat", mostly because I am fat, my body doesn't look like I want it to look, thus the term, I feel fat........good article. Report
Excellent Blog.

I don't often use the phrase "I feel fat"...but I realize that I look to the numbers often. The numbers on the scale, the sizes of the clothes (which logically I know are totally random).

I'm trying to learn how to avoid the negativity...and slowly, painfully I will learn...

I feel fat because ummm.... I AM fat! I feel the fat rolls going over my pants, I feel the fat on my stomach pushing against my breasts when I sit down, I feel the fat on my body bounce around when I exercise, yeah, I feel fat and it isn't because I'm just bloated! Report
Thanks for the good article and many thoughtful comments. I don't think I've ever felt fat or even verbalized that phrase; but many times when doing excersies (like yoga bends etc.) I've actually felt my body fat and not been very pleased. I'm glad to say that at this point in my life I am doing something about this situation. Thanks again. Report
I really liked this article. I also liked reading all the comments. Between the two I learned alot. thanks Report
I feel fat right now! But, I am premenstrual and retaining fluid. I had no idea we could retain 5 to 6 pounds of fluid! That news actually makes me feel a bit better since my weigh in yesterday.... But, I also feel fat when I feel depressed and out of control. When things are happening that make me sad and frustrated I feel fat. Often I do find that feeling fat just gives me an excuse to be more out of control and eat what I want since I"m so fat anyhow.... Report
I think the phrase "I feel fat" is a mask for what we are really thinking such as I feel like a failure, I feel unlovable, I feel insecure, etc. If we think about what we really mean when we think "I feel fat" it might be a first step in dealing with those hidden feelings we don't want to face. To me, "I feel fat" means I have regrets about eating too much or not getting my exercise in, so if I deal with those two issues, I may still weight the same or close to it, but I don't "feel fat" any longer. Report
Fat does not have feelings, but in the bodywork world (I'm a Licensed Massage Therapist) we say: 'The issues are in the tissues' which means sometimes people experience emotional release during or after massage. The emotions can be negative or positive. Losing weight can be like dropping a shield, for some people it can be emotionally challenging. Emotional eating maintains the status quo; acknowledging the emotional component and facing the 'issues' can be difficult, but ultimately rewarding! Spark on! Report
I don't think saying "I feel fat" when a person is obviously NOT fat is intentionally insulting or hurtful to anyone else. They are feeling insecure about themselves, as are all human beings prone to do, and in need of reassurance. Maybe not the best way to get it, granted, but certainly not intending to be hurtful to a group of people of whom they know nothing about, that group being the obese.

They are most possibly speaking comparatively. Think about it...when you look in a magazine, those photos of models and movie-stars are not only daunting to those of us that have an obvious weight issue, but they are setting a rather high standard for women in general to which to compare themselves. Seriously, who WOULDN'T be feeling oversized and unattractive compared to the airbrushed and nutritionally-starved women in those pictures?? My 18-year-old daughter thinks she's fat, for heaven's 145 lbs!! She's 5'6" and comparing herself to her friends, all of whom refuse to eat. She says it's the only way she can get a boyfriend. I keep trying to show her healthy images of men AND women who aren't as thin as bicycle frames and she keeps telling me "they aren't real, my friends are real and they all wear size 2 and 3 clothes. I am SO fat, Mom!"

We get hooked into what we're supposed to look like according to media hype. If you want to lay the blame at the feet of any institution for the way society works, lay it at the feet of those that would control how you think.

My two cents' worth. Report
Reading this, I realise that I've rarely ever used the phrase "I feel fat." I may say something like "Ugh! I'm huge!" or some such thing, but I've never made it a common thing to say that I feel fat. If I don't feel good about myself, I have other phrases that I used to use a lot more than I do now. If I'm bloated, I'll say it straight out - depending on who's around. Report
I "feel fat" when I am doing stretchs or yoga and my fat rolls get in the way of my full range of motion. I guess I could be saying, "I'm feeling my fat". Report
great blog. However, I have gone beyond saying "feeling fat" to "looking fat"!
With the help of Sparkpeople, I am saying that less and less. Report
Great blog! Another time that I "feel fat" is looking at images of other women in magazines ~ pictures of celebrities or models can eat away at my positive feelings about myself if I let them. I know comparison is a trap for me, so it helps to reassure myself that my value and self-worth are based upon more than the way I look, that these women have careers that require them to look a specific way that is generally not achievable for most of us, and those pictures I'm looking out are probably heavily Photoshopped to begin with! Report
I tend to say this when I am trying to fit into clothing that used to be comfortable and now no longer is due to weight gained. I am more likely to say that I look fat, usually when catching a glimpse of myself in a store window or mirror. Report
I've NEVER said that phrase and I hate hearing it. It's insensitive. It is something a person struggling with obesity would never say! Every single time I have ever heard it, it has come out of the mouth of someone who weighs far LESS than me.
Fat is not an emotion; for most sufferers it is a chronic health condition that, left untreated, can become debilitating or deadly.
The words "I feel fat" make a mockery of the physical and emotional pain felt by obese people (who can't will it away or snap out of it). If you feel bloated, full, lethargic, unmotivated, depressed, or down on yourself, say so; and use more accurate words to describe how you're feeling. Report
In spite of the fact that I've taken off the weight and am not considered obese anymore, some days... "I feel fat". I've spent so many years being teased about my weight that it seems strange when someone says,"you've never been fat, you don't know what it feels like". On the contrary, I do know what it feels like. I still have days when those little voices in my head make me wonder whether or not I should lose more weight. Maybe I should be thinner.

I try not to listen to those negative voices in my head that tell me I could do better. I've never been in better health. I don't need to lose more weight. So, why do the little voices start making negative comment ? I guess that while I may be thin, I still think I'm that fat girl from years ago.

My self esteem is improving. The longer I keep the weight off, the quieter the voices get.

stressed out does not mean I have to beat up on myself with negative speak.

Thanks for indentifying this for me Report
I've said that phrase many times for all these reasons! This blog was very insightful for me, and now instead of letting that "feeling" get me down, I can think differently and choose to pin-point the real cause of the feeling and make choices to avoid it in the future. Thanks! Report
Sometimes when I feel fat it has to do with food and sodium intake. MANY times when I feel fat, it has to do with body image and self-esteem. I have had an "I am fat" mentality since I was a SKINNY kid. Don't know where it came from. So here's to not feeling fat, physically AND mentally/emotionally! Report
I am trying to say (and even think) words and phrases like this much less often, because I believe that language has power. Saying "I feel fat" sends the wrong message to the universe and to the cells in my own body. It's like "inviting" more fat to come in and stay a while. Not good. If I even find myself thinking that way, I try to remember to stop and think of a way to turn the thought or feeling around into a positive affirmation, which I then repeat aloud to myself or write about in my blog. "I feel fat" becomes "I feel strong and capable and I am grateful for all the wonderful things my body can do. I am becoming more slim and confident every moment." Report
Great article!

I found that I, like Spark Member SnowMentality, "I "feel fat" whenever I feel insecure and out of control in my life. When I feel overwhelmed, like I can't live up to expectations, like I'm doing a bad job of things -- then I'm hyper-aware and hyper-critical of my body, and mentally call myself "fat, fat, fat." Poking at my hips and stomach, grabbing handfuls of fat and skin at my ribs and waist and thighs, frowning at my body parts in the mirror, and wishing I could just make them disappear."

The words of my dear Mom come to mind-"you need to be more gentle with yourself"...Its taken a while but when I don't accomplish all the goals I wanted within a certian time frame, I am not as hard on myself and as a result, I am happier.

What has or has not happened is in the past, gone. I can only look at a better tomorrow!

Great blog! I use the feel fat phrase for all of the above. And if I eat clean and within moderate portions, I do not have or say "feel fat". Hmmm.... Report
I find it somehow sarcastically humorous that, when I went to get my spark points for reading this article, a pop-up ad came up for "bean-o". Sure, kick me when I'm down. I just got done reading the article and feeling fat and checking off every paragraph as a definitive description of my yesterday. Hmmmph. Report
I felt fat and very uncomfortable last night after eating and was able to realise that my stomach contents were being squished by poor posture both while I ate and after. I had been sitting forward to eat on the couch instead of sitting upright at the table.
I sometimes also feel fat when I am being down on myself. It's easier not to be so down on myself in that way when I know that I am doing something about my problem and that things are changing. That feeling is very demotivating for me so it's good to be able to replace it with a more positive attitude. Report
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