When you think about what fat people eat, what comes to mind? Do you envision a woman eating a huge stack of pancakes and bacon for breakfast every morning, a triple cheeseburger with fries for lunch, beige, creamy, veggie-less casseroles for dinner, and washing it all down with liters of Mountain Dew? Do you have visions of a guy eating a sack of fast-food tacos for an after-dinner snack? Maybe you imagine dozens of donuts, tons of deep-fried meats and absolutely nothing fresh or nutrient-dense in sight.
On the contrary, you might imagine that fat people are always on a diet. Maybe you think of steamed spinach and egg whites for breakfast, a dressing-free salad for lunch, boiled chicken for dinner, and no eating at all after 6 pm.
Most people probably realize that neither of these food-related extremes apply to the vast majority of people in large bodies.
Still, if you’re not fat you might have thoughts like, “What the hell does she eat to get that big?” It might seem to you that becoming fat must take a great deal of reckless binging.
Those kinds of judgmental thoughts about what fat people eat are not entirely your fault. They are the result of diet culture — the social system we all live in that glorifies thinness and the pursuit of thinness, and aims to convince us that fat bodies are always, without exception, unacceptable as they are.
In order to give our readers some idea of what fat people actually eat, ten self-identified fat people agreed to lay out what fat people eat on a typical day when they are not celebrating a special occasion or actively dieting for weight loss.
Here are their answers.
I rarely eat breakfast during the week if I’m at home.
“I don’t drink coffee or tea either, so most mornings, I just fill my tumbler with tons of ice and water and drink that all morning. If I have a rare early appointment, I might grab an everything bagel at our local favorite place or a pink drink from Starbucks. On the weekends, I make my family a big breakfast at least once. There’s always bacon, eggs, biscuits or pancakes, fruit and OJ.
“At lunch, I almost always eat leftovers from dinner. If I’m productively working and the baby is napping, my oldest will sometimes ask to play restaurant and deliver me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with chips or fruit and refill my tumbler. He’s so sweet.
“Dinner can be almost anything. I love to cook! It almost always includes meat, starch and veggies. This week we made homemade cavatelli with broccolini, sesame noodles with chicken and cabbage, shepherd’s pie, grilled chicken thighs with asparagus and mushrooms, and sausage and lentil soup.
“My favorite summer snack is watermelon. We keep some in the fridge most of the summer, and I eat it every single night that we have it. My favorite dessert is brownies, but I’m also a big ice cream fan. If we eat out, I’m going to vote for sushi every time.” — Katie Cloyd, Work-From-Home Mom of Three (and writer of this article.)
My typical day starts with coffee at 6:30 am.
“Around noon, I usually eat a sandwich with some iced tea. Most nights for dinner my fiancé and I eat a veggie-heavy meal. Our current favorites are spinach salad with chicken or fish with a cold quinoa and roasted veggie quinoa salad. After dinner, I eat fruit salad with pineapple, grapes, melon and berries or a scoop of sugar-free ice cream. At 9:30 every night I have a Gatorade zero. — Jeanne S., Personal Chef and Restaurateur
Breakfast is usually a cup of tea.
“I wake up later — usually around 8 — and I am not hungry until lunch! I use a meal kit delivery service called Home Chef, so lunch is usually leftovers from dinner. This can vary — pasta, quesadillas, tostadas, etc. Dinner is usually a Home Chef meal, but more dinner related, like pork chops with potatoes and broccoli, or chicken and veggies.” — Alex Stewart, Chicago-Area Influencer, Podcast Host and Food and Wine Enthusiast
Breakfast is a bowl of cereal and a yogurt with a glass of fruit juice.
“Mid-morning snack is an apple or a banana. Lunch is normally a whole-meal sandwich, so mayo, slice of cheese, meat, lettuce and tomatoes with a piece of fruit and a glass of fruit juice.
“Dinner is maybe a bowl of pasta (plus meat…chicken or Bolognese style) and a side salad, and another glass of fruit juice. Dessert may be fruit or a yoghurt pot. If I get hungry through the day, always a piece of fruit. I generally drink water or squash through the day. I don’t drink tea or coffee at all, or anything fizzy or sugary.” — Jamie S., UK-based Dad and self-described “big guy”
On the weekdays, my breakfast is two cups of coffee (minimum) iced, with a little sugar-free creamer.
“At lunch, since I work for a restaurant group, I usually eat one of our salads or turn it into a wrap… and have more coffee. Dinner last night was zucchini rolls, filled with ricotta and ground turkey over roasted tomatoes. I usually eat some kind of protein and roasted veggies. (Carbs at night make me sick.) For dessert, Outshine’s Coconut Fruit Bars are my current obsession.
“On the weekends, my breakfast is still just coffee. If I meet a friend or two for brunch, I love eggs benedict or something savory with a couple of drinks. For a snack, give me a great charcuterie board, and for dinner, you’ll find me sharing different appetizers with friends at a restaurant with a couple bottles of wine.” — Nicci Nunez, Podcast Host and Brand Manager for a Restaurant Group
I skip breakfast a lot.
“When I do eat, it is generally muffin pan omelets with egg, broccoli, cheese, and maybe bacon or sausage. For lunch, I try to eat leftovers from whatever dinner was the night before. Otherwise, I will have a turkey or tuna sandwich, sometimes with bread, sometimes rolled in a tortilla, sometimes in a lettuce wrap with chips on the side.
“For dinner, we eat a lot of pasta. I buy whole grain or fiber enriched. I also do a lot of meals I can make in the pressure cooker. For example, something with shredded chicken, whole chicken with rice and veggies, meat loaf. We rotate in pork chops and tacos, and on Fridays we do pizza. I would say I eat convenience foods or take out at one lunch a week and one dinner a week.” — Kay D., Mother of 5
On a typical day, I try to practice Intuitive Eating (eating when my body needs/wants nutrition.)
“Usually this looks like nothing but water until noon. I’m just not hungry yet. Around noon, I have a salad with ham, turkey, and cheese for lunch (With Italian dressing of course! It’s my one and only favorite!) Dinner is normally some type of chicken and vegetable or a burger. My favorite snack currently is Rice Krispie treats and popsicles, but I throw in an apple, watermelon, or pomegranate seeds as well. — Dr. Katelyn Baker, Doctor of Clinical Psychology, openly in ED Recovery
As an elite athlete, training 2-3 hours a day, 4-5 days a week, nutrition is critical to both training and recovery for powerlifting.
“I work with an Olympic level nutrition company that sets my nutrition guidelines for each phase of training, matching the amount/duration/type of training for that phase. When I started powerlifting, I was barely eating 1400 calories a day which was way below my maintenance needs for my metabolic rate. Over the last three years, I have slowly worked with my nutritionist to get myself eating appropriately for the amount of training I do, and completely changed my relationship to food, finally eating enough and with way less stress.
“On a typical day, breakfast could be coffee with half and half, plain Greek yogurt with two scoops of protein powder and collagen powder, strawberries and granola. For my first snack, two hardboiled eggs, blueberries, and espresso with half and half. At lunch, I’d eat a sandwich, made with wheat bread, turkey or chicken and cheese, a protein Shake (Iconic Protein brand usually), a small salad with balsamic, and some tortilla chips and guacamole.
“My second snack could be tuna or salmon on crackers, a fresh veggie (cucumber, bell pepper, etc) and a piece of chocolate. Before my workout, I might have a piece of wheat toast with peanut butter.
“For my intraworkout nutrition, I have a protein shake. At dinner, chicken stir fry with brown rice, grilled chicken thigh or breast, yumm sauce, broccoli, carrots and peas. I follow that up with a KIND Frozen Treat Bar. Before bed, I drink flax milk with a scoop of casein protein powder.” — Christina Malone, World-Class Powerlifter
I don’t have a “typical day.”
“I like to mix it up. People think they know what fat people eat, but unless they think we eat exactly like everyone else, they’re wrong. Today, I had a bagel for breakfast with a cup of coffee. I use French Vanilla International Delight in my coffee every morning. I had a sub sandwich for lunch, but a lot of days I just crunch on a few pickles. I drink water all day long. I might have a soda with a meal if I feel like it. Tonight’s dinner was a Caesar salad with chicken, but last night I had ramen. My favorite snack is bell peppers cut into strips and baby carrots dipped in blue cheese dressing with a dash of Frank’s Red Hot. I’m not really a sweets person. I rarely have dessert.” — Jennifer W., Bank Manager and Mom
I typically have my coffee first (two shots of espresso with whole milk over ice) and then sip it for about an hour to let my body wake up.
“For breakfast, I will have 2-3 of my farm fresh eggs (thanks to my chickens!) scrambled with salt and pepper and a parmesan bagel with butter. This sticks with me, and is a go-to for me.
“For a midday snack, I will have a big, big bowl of cereal. Special K with almonds! It’s a comfort food and always hits the spot between breakfast and lunch. Lunch is typically leftovers from my fridge or something easy, like salmon poke from Costco over sticky rice.
“On Tuesday night, we ALWAYS do Taco Tuesdays! This takes the form of either baked tacos or big burrito bowls with all the fixings, rice, turkey meat, lettuce, cheese, and crushed tortilla chips.
“My current sweet obsession is brown sugar boba bars. It’s like a boba tea in an ice cream form! I eat this when I am with my family at night, and we are watching a show together.
“I also try to drink 3 big water bottles of water all day to help with my energy and to keep me hydrated. I may have the occasional Coke Zero when my family has cocktails because I don’t drink.” — Mary Fran Donnelly, Teacher and TikTok Creator
Are you surprised by these answers?
Do some of them stand out as more believable than others because they confirm your biases? Instead of choosing to cling tightly to your preconceived notions, maybe it’s time to admit that you can’t tell what fat people eat just by looking at them, bodies come in many sizes, and the stereotypes you believe about what fat people eat are rooted in diet culture bullshit, and are almost certainly wrong for most of us.