Skinny Aunt, Not-so-skinny Aunt

I have two aunts. One of them is so skinny that even asians call her skinny!
The other aunt is not-so-skinny. Specifically, she has a lot of visceral fat which means that the fat grows on the inside around her organs and her belly is hard to the touch on the outside.
Both of them have been this way their entire lives....but they eat the same foods!

How is it possible that these two people, of the same genetic makeup and access to foods, could have entirely different body types?

The main thing I want to share with you about their habits is how they order off of a menu at a fancy restaurant, respectively. But before that, I'll point out some clear differences in their habits:
  • Skinny Aunt loses her appetite when stressed - the idea of eating makes her feel sick. Fat Aunt gets hungry when she is stressed. She feels like she has to eat so that her anxiety doesn't get out of control.
  • Skinny Aunt only eats when she is hungry. Fat Aunt eats when she is hungry, sad, happy, stressed, angry, moody - you get the picture.
  • Skinny Aunt has no trouble going for long periods of time without eating. Fat Aunt has blood sugar drops so she's usually looking for food.
  • Skinny Aunt eats heartily when she does eat. Fat Aunt eats heartily and then snacks inbetween.

How come Skinny Aunt loses her appetite when stressed while Fat Aunt gets hungrier?

The answer to this question would be huge in the weightloss community, as I know first-hand that the hardest thing to do is change a habit when your body is telling you it's hungry.
I've done some nutritional research and while there isn't a clear reason why some people lose their appetite and others get hungry, I do want to share with you a viable explanation. For some people who are stressed, their bodies don't want them to eat because the body is trying to focus on "fight-or-flight" meaning, their blood and energy goes to their hands and feet so that they can take quick action. It'd be super hard to digest foods during this time, and the body knows that and communicates that.
On the other hand, for people who get hungry when they are stressed, a viable reason is that their body is searching for quick moments of mood elevation. Foods like sweets can raise your dopamine level which is the chemical in your brain that makes you feel happy (though, to note, it's a temporary high compared to serotonin which is a long term high). For people who crave foods when their stressed, sometimes they just want to have a moment of remembering what it feels like to feel good so that they can make it through the situation.

How they each order off of a menu.

Anyways, what I want to point out to you is the biggest difference between how my aunts order off of a menu at a fancy restaurant that has a 4-course, prefix menu (this means that you can select from several options what you want to have for an appetizer, 2 main dishes, and a dessert).
My skinny aunt will select meals that give a variety of flavors over the course of the meal. She starts choosing what she wants after she determines what she wants most on the entire menu. So, if she wants to have a cream pasta as her first main dish, she is likely to select a refreshing crunchy salad, a lighter main dish like fish, and a simple dessert like a pudding.
My Fat Aunt on the other hand will order what she likes most from each category, which means that they overall meal can become very heavy. She'll start off with the salad with a creamy dressing, the lasagna, the steak with potatoes, and then have the cheesecake.
Skinny Aunt plans her overall food experience. This leaves her satisfied as she had a little bit of very kind of flavor, and just full enough from the food volume.
Fat Aunt only picks what she wants the most in each moment. This leaves her feeling way too full and lethargic, but compelled to eat everything because they are all her favorites.
I find that what really helped me lose weight is focusing on getting a variety of flavors in each meal - or, a variety over the course of a day. It's hard to have cravings for sweets after lunch when you added something like sweet potato to your meal.
It's pretty common for many people to have foods that are only salty or sweet, and you can find yourself overeating because you want to keep going back and forth between the two (think salty popcorn and a soda in a movie theater -- so hard to stop, because each is a strong flavor opposite of each other!). Adding in other flavors like sour, bitter, and pungent can help reduce your urge to eat more for the sake of taste.
What about you? Do you choose dishes off of a menu based on the experience you want overall, or on the foods you want most in each course? Leave a comment!