I endured my first diet at the age of ten after being told by a school nurse that I needed to lose weight. I must mention at this point that I was 5ft 7 inches and weighed a not unreasonable ten stone- however, the governments pathetic means of testing fitness go on age and not height. It was from this point that I began my obsession with weight, size, eating and counting calories. Twenty years later and I think I can safely say that my obsession with food is an unhealthy one.
I was brought up believing that there was 'good' and 'bad' food, that 'being good' meant that you stuck to your calorie allowance and 'being bad' equates in personal diet failure which would follow a pattern of binging on all food in sight, then spending a day starving to kick start your new week of dieting. As you can imagine, the more I tried, the more I failed and my bad days would turn into bad weeks, my kick starting escalated to more and more extreme methods of making up for the excess calories consumed. My weight rocketed up, then down, then up, then down- creating all sorts of health problems for me meanwhile, IBS, acid reflux, anaemia, amenorrhoea, skin breakouts and intolerances. As I finally reached my dream weight in 2012 I read the number on the scales- instantly believing that everything had changed- I had made it! I'd finally done it, I was skinny, I was slim, I could feel my bones and everything was rosie. Except, it wasn't.
Over the years I've tried every kind of diet going. I've counted fat as well as calories, I've eaten nothing but weetabix, I've tried Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Cabbage soup, 3 days of saltine crackers- I've starved myself with water fasts, I've popped water retention tablets like Smarties- all in the pursuit of a magic number on the scales. I reached that number and nothing changed, yes I could see my hips bones, yes I could fit into smaller clothes but the old mentality of binge, purge, binge, purge stayed with me. My new obsession began with making rules to maintain this perfect weight, here's a few
a) No wheat, gluten, dairy, grains or sugar,
b) No eating after 5pm.
c) No eating before 12pm.
d) 20% protein, 80% vegetables
e) Working out every day for an hour.
f) Fruit restricted to 2 pieces a day.
g) No caffeine
As you will be able to decipher, I am food obsessed. I have spent the last twenty years training my brain to eat like this- that one treat means disaster and that eating the wrong things should be punishable by extra workouts, fasting or purging. Seriously, as I ask my other half to remove the scales from our home, I wonder whether it is all worth it? What must it be like to live a life which doesn't wrack you with guilt every time you have a slice of toast or in which you can enjoy one biscuit without eating the whole packet?
Currently, I am a healthy weight- I eat wholesome healthy foods and I exercise a lot. Yet, this is not good enough. I am still desperate to maintain a weight- which for my height and body type is rather unrealistic but there it is- my unhealthy eating habits have become all consuming. It is hard to admit everything I've written today, it is a struggle. I would wish anybody who is reading this, who has struggles of their own to know that you are not alone. I've removed all weighing tools from my household and am repeating that mantra that a number will not make me happy. A number will not make me happy. A number does not make me happy. I am more than a number. A number is not beauty. A number is not who I am. A number does not define me.
It's taken me twenty years to get like this, I know things won't change overnight but with small steps I hope I can begin to normalise my relationship with food as well as my self-confidence as I try to accept who I am and be thankful. Step One- is eating three regular meals a day. Easy peasy, right?