Diets don’t work for me. I have been on and off them for nearly thirty years. It’s time for change. Not just for me but for my daughters. I don’t want to pass my disordered eating habits on to them. Yes, I said disordered. No, I don’t have an eating disorder, but yes, my behaviour around food is disordered.
It goes something like this…
- Go on a strict, fad diet where I restrict myself to the point of starvation. I experience fatigue, grumpiness, headaches and a general feeling of emptiness. I obsess over counting calories, fat grams or macros. I prepare different meals for myself compared to the rest of my family. I weigh myself daily, hell sometimes more than once. The number I see greatly affects my mood and wellbeing for the rest of the day/week/month/year.
- I fall off the strict diet and binge like there is no tomorrow. I eat all the forbidden food I have been craving to the point of feeling sick, stuffed and bloated. I am full of self loathing and guilt. I hate myself for my lack of willpower. This in turn greatly affects my self esteem. ‘Why can’t I just stick to it? I’m such a failure. I hate being fat. I’ll never be skinny and so I’ll never be happy.’
- I decide to go back on the same, or a different new diet. I know a period of restriction is coming so I go into last supper mode and eat everything in sight – ‘I’ll start tomorrow. This time this is it! I can’t wait to get back into those size 10 TopShop white skinny jeans that I have been hopefully holding onto since my pre-kid late twenties.’
Repeat steps 1-3 for thirty years.
Why do we do it to ourselves? I say NO MORE!
But rejecting diet culture is so hard. Especially at this time of year when we are bombarded with spam emails, Instagram adverts and TV programmes all telling us we need to lose weight.
So ok, I’m slightly overweight according to that BMI chart thingy that was created in the 1830’s which does not take bone density, muscle mass or any other modern day factors into consideration.
But guess what?
I’m actually pretty healthy. I’m physically fit. I run marathons, practice yoga and I go to the gym twice a week. I get plenty of sleep and I’m pretty stress free. I don’t drink, smoke, or take drugs (anymore). I have a pretty healthy mind. I eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet full of fresh fruit, vegetables, proteins, carbs and sometimes – shock horror – sugar. Because guess what? Chocolate is good for the soul!
And anyway, these days I actually kind of like my body. My husband likes my body. My kids and my friends like my body. Hell, some of these people actually think I’m beautiful. I love my eyes, my freckles, my hair, my hands and my legs are pretty lush.
I’m more than just my physical self. I am my humour, intelligence, thoughtfulness, kindness and generosity. I am a warm motherly hug when the kids snuggle in under the duvet on a Saturday morning. I am a soft caring voice when a friend tells me they’re sad. I am a brain full of technicolour stories that make people laugh.
I am mother to my daughters and they are mini mes. I am my mother, grandmother, father and my grandfather. I am adventure and wonder. I am deep meaningful questions and I am searching for answers. I am ‘whoop whoops’ and throwing shapes on the dance floor. I am soft kisses. I am playfulness, creativity and fun. I am my thirst for learning and my need to challenge hypocrisy (sometimes even my own).
My body is actually amazing.
My legs can run for miles and my back is perfect for giggly piggybacks up the stairs. My fingers can soothe bumps and bruises, cook yummy dinners and make delicious sandwiches. My bare hands once tore through glass and metal to rescue my children from a crashed campervan. Those hands made me their hero that day, their – ‘Super Mum’. They did not say – ‘Please do not rescue us because you are classed as mildly overweight on the BMI chart Mummy’ – did they?
My eyes see beauty where others may just see fat. I see bright rainbows and I see light. I see glasses half full. My nose loves the smell of the ocean. It loves that lovely, musky man smell when I snuggle up to my husband’s neck, ground coffee in the morning and fresh earth after the rain. My ears love to listen to the sound of water, the beat of uplifting, soul touching music and my children’s laughter (the best sound in the world). My tongue can taste sweet ripe fruit, vanilla ice cream on a sunny day and Hoisin duck pancakes on a Friday evening. I can feel the softness of skin or the cold patch under the pillow on a hot summer’s night.
I feel joy when I tuck into birthday cake. I feel deep sadness when someone judges, or body shames others or me for being ‘fat’. I feel anger when the food police tell me that I shouldn’t eat that because it’s ‘bad’ for me.
My body is a miracle.
I have grown two healthy babies in my womb and I have fed them both from my breast. I have nurtured them and loved them with every fibre of my being. I am strong. I am resilient. I am compassionate. I am – ‘the best mummy in the world.’
I am not my BMI or my dress size or a number on the scales. I’m an imperfect human who accepts that there is no such thing as perfection. I am my scars, my lumps and my bumps. I am my mistakes and my regrets. I am my occasional anxiety and my sometimes blue moods.
I will not diet or lose weight to conform to a society that depicts beauty to be a certain weight or size. I will not be body shamed or made to feel my happiness or success depends on a number. I will reject diet culture and all that it stands for, not only for me but also for my daughters and for all beautiful human beings everywhere.
Amen, hallelujah and – pass me the cake!
New year, new me? I quite like me just as I am thank you.
If you too are fed up of dieting check out the intuitive eating movement. These are some good places to start…
Intuitive Eating by Elyse Resch & Evolyn Tribole
Just Eat It by Laura Thomas
Don’t salt my game – Laura Thomas
Food Psych – Chritsy Harrison
London Centre for Intuitive Eating
Dr Joshua Wolrich