October 16, 2023

Slim vs. Overweight Eating Habits

I completely forgot how I wound up in the Reddit rabbit hole today (that's how it usually goes--I might google a quick question, read a response on Reddit, then a couple of hours later, forget what I even googled, haha), but I saw a question on the subreddit r/NoStupidQuestions and I found it SUPER interesting. As the name describes, r/NoStupidQuestions is a place to ask questions that you are genuinely curious about--and no question is "too stupid" to ask.

This one was regarding weight and the habits of slim versus overweight eating habits, and I spent more time than I care to admit reading the responses. They were so diverse and and it was a really great read. Here is the question:

You can find the thread here on Reddit.

If it's too hard to read, here is what it says:

"Are slim people lying about how much they eat or are they just blessed with a good metabolism? For a lot of my life I've been overweight, in the last few years I've lost weight but I'm definitely not slim, I'd say possibly midsize. I eat healthy and stay in suggested calories but really struggle to get to a slim weight. Are slim people lying about how much they eat and it's an unspoken rule to eat a smaller amount or are they just blessed with a great metabolism?"

There are over 7,000 comments at the time I'm writing this, so it's way too much to read them all, but I did read a lot of them. It seems the majority of people tend to believe that slim people eat less food altogether and overweight people eat more than they think they do. Not that they are necessarily lying to themselves, but that they just don't realize how much they're actually consuming.

I've been tracking my weight for so long, and I tracked calories on and off for the better part of two decades, so I'm very in tune with how my body reacts to my diet. I have *always* lost weight when cutting back on calories/food, and gained weight when eating more. My weight is super predictable based on how much I've been eating (meaning calories, not volume), so I certainly can't fool myself. But I think it's probably a trap that a lot of people fall into--thinking that they are eating a lot less calories than they actually are.

Some people in the thread suggested watching the British show called Secret Eaters. It features people who believe that they just can't lose weight, despite trying "everything". The show's producers have people follow them around and tally up what they're actually eating, and it's *very* eye-opening to them to see just how many calories they eat. I only watched one episode of it, but it did a good job of answering this Reddit question. (Obviously it doesn't apply to all slim or overweight people; the whole thread is speaking in general terms.)

What I found most interesting about the thread is when people talked about their own eating habits. Some people considered four Oreos to be "too much" and said after that they would be sick. Others said how they can eat a whole sleeve of Oreos and feel like it wasn't too much because they didn't eat the entire package. And yet others said that they would maybe eat two or three and then feel bad about it later because they didn't need it.

The thing that stuck out the most to me was a discussion about how some slim people can "eat whatever they want and not gain weight". Someone stated that when a slim person tells an overweight person that they can eat whatever they want and not gain weight, the overweight person may assume that the two are eating the same foods. However, the slim person may not enjoy Oreos, chips, candy, or whatever other high-calorie foods the overweight person may be imagining.

I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense! If a thin friend told me, "I can eat anything I want and not gain weight" or "I can eat as much as I want and not gain weight" I would have assumed that they were probably blessed with a high metabolism. In reality, it could be that they eat until they don't want anymore (and maybe that's what I would consider to be a small amount) or that they just prefer foods that happen to be lower in calories and they don't want junk food. So, they're actually eating "whatever they want" as well as "as much as they want"--they just have different wants than I would. Hopefully that makes sense!

There are so many various responses to the thread--I suggested checking it out if you're interested. It helps put into perspective the diets of "slim" versus "overweight" people, and I learned a quite a bit about how people think in regards to their diet! (Here is a link to the post)


  1. When I was in a recover program that suggested weighing and measuring food, it amazed me how many calories were in simple things I loved like peanut butter! Seriously eye opening. Thanks for sharing this perspective about "eat as much as I want" and "eat whatever I want." If what I want is an entire jar of peanut butter and what a slim person wants is a salad, we're on different wavelengths.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I never thought of it that way either - their food desires and portions are different but they're eating whatever they want and as much - it's just healthy and not a lot. Thank you for reminding me that sometimes we think we're eating good and not realizing just how many calories are in the food we're consuming. Great post!

  3. Secret Eaters was a great show. They always found the extra stuff the people not losing weight eat. Sometimes it was take away, sometimes eating in the car after going to a shop, sometimes sugary or alcoholic drinks. All the calories added up so even if someone eats the same as someone else at work if they eat completely different things at home that's why one in slimmer than the other. We all lie to ourselves - I'll just do do that tomorrow!

  4. Checked out "Secret Eaters" - and it's exactly what I expected. People grossly underestimating what they eat and/or flat out lying/forgetting about consumption. Kind of a neat show because they show people what they really do and then help them get on track by eating better/less.


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)

Featured Posts

Blog Archive