I never intended to write this post. It’s horribly embarrassing and I cringe thinking about. I never talk about it and very few people who know me know about this (or if they do, the details), which is why I’m so reluctant. But there’s an important part 2 which in order to get to I need to talk about this first. Furthermore, in the interest of honesty and the integrity of my blog, I wanted to just ‘get it out there’.
I will quickly start off, however, by saying that the title is entirely accurate. I’m not the person I’m about to describe anymore and nor have I been for a a good long while. (I’m probably overdramatising this sorry, it’s just a really awkward thing for me to ‘discuss’).
In a nutshell this is going to be talking about my relationship with food. It’ll also talk about periods so if this isn’t your cup of tea I suggest you click the close button – I won’t be offended!
When I was at school I never had any issues with food or what I looked like. I played a lot of sport, walked to school and ate crap (ahh turkey twizzlers…). I was slim and healthy. When I went to college I took the bus, I stopped playing sport and still ate crap. I noticed that I had put on a bit of weight. My jeans felt a bit more snug. So I started cycling to college (about eight miles each way) and took a bit more care with what I was eating. I also began weighing myself.
Over a few weeks I noticed my weight was going down. It felt great! Suddenly my jeans fit again. But it quickly became a bit like a drug to see my weight dropping – it was so addictive. I stopped having the same meals as my parents and cooked my own ‘healthy’ meals. Snacks were no longer chocolate bars or crisps. I became more controlling over what I was eating and found myself getting worried if I lost that control. Going out for meals or going to friend’s houses became stressful as I couldn’t eat what I wanted to. I suddenly became fixated with what I was seeing on the scale and how my body was ‘streamlining’.
My period stopped. I panicked but told no one, but I went to the doctors. In my head it wasn’t because I’d lost weight – weight I didn’t need to lose – it was something else I was certain. I’ll never forget that doctor’s trip. She said “maybe you’re cycling a bit too much. Just eat a chocolate bar now and again.” And that was it. Looking back, I needed that doctor to say to me “You’re not healthy” and shake some sense into me. I needed her to say: your bone health is in danger, your future fertility is at risk, your body is in shock.
I was living in a sea of denial and the doctor’s lack of concern validated what I was doing. If she’s not worried, why should I be? Ultimately though it was no one’s fault or responsibility but my own. I remember seeing a friend that I hadn’t seen for a couple of years and she commented how much weight I’d lost. It wasn’t a compliment but I felt buoyed by it. Nothing anyone said, any concern they gave, helped. So perhaps any doctor advice wouldn’t have helped anyway.
Then something snapped. I stepped on the scales, looked at the number and thought “what the hell am I doing?”. I didn’t feel healthy, I didn’t look healthy. I was cold all the time, my skin and hair were lacklustre. I felt crap. Was I any happier at that weight than I had been the last time I got on the scales? No.What exactly was I trying to achieve?
I was never a dangerously low weight and I don’t believe I had an eating disorder, but I do believe I could have gotten myself into a really nasty position had I not woken up from whatever fantasy world I was living in. I was addicted to the weight-loss and thrived on the control I could have over something as simple as food.
I finally opened up to my parents. They were understandably relieved. I remember my sister saying to me that they were so worried about me going to university on my own and that no one seemed to be able to get through to me or talk to me about what was going on.
The summer before going to university my head was in the right place and I got back on track with being healthy and sensible again. I learnt how to cook with my dad so I would go to university with healthy, sustaining recipes. I started eating foods I had been avoiding.
Throughout the first few years of university gradually the weight went back on. I won’t lie, it was a tough process, especially during a time of such change and independence. The fear of suddenly putting weight on and feeling and looking fat was hard to overcome. But eventually the barriers came down, the control was lost and I started to love food rather than fear it. I realised that nothing bad would happen to me by losing that control. In fact, I started feeling miles better: I had more energy, my skin, hair, body all looked better. It did take time but my weight increased and my period started again. You can’t imagine how happy I was!
That was about ten years ago. I’m a vastly different person to that girl in the past. I adore food now. I look forward to every meal. I love trying new restaurants and eating with friends and family. I eat cake with abundance (as you well know). Food is not fuel to me, it is happiness and good times.
This is part 1, I have a part 2 to come to talk a bit more in detail of where I am today.
It was a growing process for me and only one that I could do on my own in my own head. If you’ve never been in that situation or similar then it’s tough to understand something seemingly pathetic and vain, but it does consume you and you do become blinkered. It becomes a mindset and you can’t seem to escape it. I’m obviously thankful I did.
I hope you don’t think I’ve been dishonest in my blog or that I’ve ‘covered’ things up. This is just not a particularly comfortable subject for me as I don’t feel like I have any affiliation with that girl who was so controlling with what she ate. I’m embarrassed how I let it spiral to the point it got to and it’s just not something I like to talk about. But it is important to talk about it and I’m not ashamed of how I’ve grown to be who I am today.
If you are going through something similar or worse and need some advice then email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), I’m happy to talk about it further there. Alternatively, Laura’s blog has so much fantastic information and support around this area. She’s brilliant.
If you’re comfortable to answer, have you ever had a difficult relationship with food?
Is food pleasure or fuel for you?
How has your eating habits changed from when you were younger?