A couple of weeks ago I wrote the post ‘Body Shamers can kiss my (squidgy) butt!‘ which had a huge response from readers saying they felt exactly the same way. Thank you to those who took time to read and reply with very honest feelings of their own on such a personal subject. Low self-esteem, eating disorders, psychological effects, feelings of shame and weight loss obsession were just a few of the issues that were mentioned in response.
While I have thankfully never experienced a serious eating disorder, the rest I can very much identify with. Year after year of beating yourself up about the size of one’s arse will do that I guess! As I mentioned in the body shamers post, I never really set out to broach that subject, it just sort of happened in response to a couple of articles I had read that day.
I am so glad I did.
The response has reinforced my realisation that is it all such utter bo**ocks. Here we all are, going about our day, being made to feel a bit rubbish about ourselves for no good reason. It’s made me completely reevaluate my view on the idea of the perfect body and consider how my attempts to attain anything near it over the years achieved nothing more than a warped relationship with food and an inability to think for myself. My own little personal Epiphany, sadly it’s taken me (almost) 37 years to reach this point but better late than never!
It’s New Year’s Eve 1992, I’m writing my resolutions in my diary (aged 12), I wanted to be skinnier. The reason I still remember is because I even made up my own little mantra: “It’ll be a skinnier me in ’93” – catchy huh? So I know that for at least 25 years I have had a negative body image. I was never a chubby child, in fact growing up I remember my Mother getting ‘tonics’ to try to build me up such was my lack of interest in food at the time. (I once hid a bottle in the back of my Uncle’s car, who wondered what the ever increasing stench was as the Summer wore on!) It wasn’t until my ‘tweens’ (11-13) that I started to seek solace in food. Hormones I suppose played a big part in it; the horror when your body starts to transform completely without your consent. Boys who were once mere irritants suddenly become strangely appealing. Emotions! OMG the feeling that someone has crawled inside your brain and changed the default setting to ‘Tearful, Angry Mess’ is no fun for anyone! Praise-be, then for the ice-cream shop across the road.
I’m a total sugar monster so it didn’t take me long to realise that the answer to all my problems lay at the bottom of an ice-cream tub. Rocky Road, Honeycomb, Rum & Raisin made it all better. (Ironically I lived above my parents restaurant so I had a chef in my actual home, but with no interest in savoury food, never ordered anything other than chicken and gravy!!)
I wasn’t blessed with the metabolism that many of my teenage friends seemed to have, wolfing down chips with no visible effect on the size of their thighs. We moved from a small town in the country to Belfast city and to an all girls school mainly full of, how can I put it, ah yes, total bitc*es. Joy. With zero interest in sports and a whole heap of home cooked meals my weight soon crept up. The odd Mars bar for pudding may have had something to do with it but I didn’t care, well I did care, I just wanted that Mars bar reeeeeaaalllly badly.
Around this point I got wind of a sure-fire way to lose a stone in like, a week! The British Heart Foundation Diet (here we go…). I looked it up for the link so you can see how bonkers it was. Anyway, I lasted a day before I was back on the spag bol/ Mars bar diet. Hmmm…this was going to be trickier than I thought. My weight did manage to settle at around Size 10 in my late teens, obviously still a HEIFER in my eyes but I was at college, had friends, a boyfriend, a Saturday job so all pretty standard stuff at that age.
I left home for University in Wales where a diet of 50% flapjacks 50% beer did me no favours whatsoever. I was far too busy
perving over the rugby team studying to even think about cooking something remotely healthy. A job in the fashion industry in London (body conscious central) followed, where my new diet of vodka and menthols would have whipped me into supermodel shape in no time, had it not been for this thing me and pic’n’mix had going on on the side.
It was here that I met Himself and finally left my beloved but body-bonkers London as we set off up the M1 to much less bonkers Bedfordshire. I joined a pub company where I was part of the Food & Drinks purchasing team and worked on menu development so as you can probably guess this role involved quite a lot of eating/drinking. Well, those samples weren’t going to test themselves were they??! (This is turning into a CV of dieting disasters!) During this time (since leaving home) I tried a ridiculous amount of diets, I can’t even remember them all. Slimming World (is it a red day or a green day, how many syns??), Atkins (SO.MUCH.MEAT), Low Carb (kill me), Low GI (just plain weird), high fibre (PARP!) and calorie counting, months and months of calorie counting. This was pre-MyFitnessPal where you had to go out and buy actual books with the calorie content of foods listed. I got pretty addicted to this and for years since it has been my go-to way to ‘keep in check’ if my weight started creeping up.
More recently I found myself spending a small fortune on cacao powder, chia seeds, baobab, maca, coconut oil, coconut flour and a bag of supergreens so rancid they went in the bin at first taste! Anything other than trust myself to just use my brain and eat sensibly right? Surely I can eat as many homemade flapjacks as I like if they are made from 1kg nuts, 2 tubs of cashew nut butter and a gallon of agave syrup BECAUSE THEY ARE ALKALINE and therefore good for me – ok? Muppet.
Up until as recently as Saturday a protein smoothie (Nutribullet, natch) has been breakfast most mornings for about the past 6 months. Although this is a healthy combination of protein powder, blueberries, oats and spinach the problem is it tastes SO good and it’s probably not great to get my sweet tooth over excited that early in the day. And you know what? Sometimes I just want a great big bowl of Cornflakes, with fat milk! I’ve been a diet/food industry’s dream my entire life, searching for a way to achieve the perfect body without actually having to take responsibility for my own food choices.
I’d say 25 years is more than enough of this carry on. I’ve counted calories, weighed meals, eliminated food groups, drank green tea (bleurgh!), fasted and drained my bank account in Wholefoods for the last time! Pinkie promise.
To be honest, this scares me a little. How mad is that? The idea of having no rules, no limitations, no guidelines or gurus to refer to feels makes me feel a bit anxious. This may sound completely ridunkulous but I’m going to ACTUALLY THINK FOR MYSELF, I know, radical. Apple or Kit-Kat? I know this one. Entire tub of Haagen Dazs? Possibly not in one sitting. See? I got this. Gold star please!
Today I even ordered tea instead of latte.
FUN FACT! There are currently 77,169 results for ‘Diets & Healthy Eating’ books on Amazon, there may even be one or two in there I’ve never read!