“What diet are you on today?” my friend Fran often asks me. There’s no malice in her voice and she certainly isn’t mocking me. It’s just that she knows me well, s he’s genuinely interested in how I’ve decided to “change my life” today.
I often answer her with stubborn determination. In fact as I recall our hundreds of conversations I’m slightly embarrassed as to the gusto with which I reply “I’m not eating sugar” or “I’m only eating whole foods”, “no dairy”, “only soup”, “nothing after 4pm”, “eat fit food”, “weight watchers”.
I’ve tried them all. And I weigh more now than I have ever weighed before.
I’m not going to blame that on yo-yo dieting because for that to be the problem you’d actually have to stick to the diet, lose some weight and then stack it on again. I don’t stick to the diet much. Only while lying in bed the night before thinking how it’s going to be different this time.
It’s not even like it’s hard to stick to, I don’t know really, I haven’t given it enough time. It’s not that I get hungry and have to eat something that I’m not allowed. I’ve never not eaten for long enough to know real hunger. Or any hunger.
I know that it’s all about emotional eating. I know this as I inhale yet another tablespoon of nutella without thinking, I know this as I dip biscuits in teas in a stress induced frenzy or when my sadness is only placated with so much food that I can no longer think rationally. I know it as I sit down and eat with friends because that’s the way we catch up – over food. And I know that in reality all this eating makes me feel worse than before.
Every time I see a photo of myself I am reminded of what all this eating is doing to me, every time I am uncomfortable in my clothes or I don’t even fit into them I am reminded of how this incessant eating is taking its toll.
And it doesn’t help to see “real women” like Lena Dunham in Girls revealing her less than perfect body because even though it’s a lot closer to mine than any other person I see on TV or in magazines I don’t think she looks good. I know it’s almost blasphemous to say that but it’s my truth.
I don’t blame the media or magazines, the ads or Hollywood because I know too many women in real life who are skinny and toned and maintain the bodies we see in the media and even if they believe we are being moulded by the images we see, they still appear to look like them. We can’t even blame photoshop because they are there in flesh and blood. Real life reminders that thin bodies look better than fat ones, that smooth skin looks better than the mottled skin that has had to stretch over lumps of cellulite and fat.
Right now I feel fat. I am fatter than I have ever been. My clothes don’t fit me and I feel hideous every time I step into the shower or change my clothes. How am I dealing with it?
I’m not really – the noises in my head are very loud and they are saying Mars Bar louder than you can imagine.
I have tried the exercise route and sometimes I even manage a run in the morning, I have literally consumed hundreds of books and articles on overcoming emotional eating and while I furiously recommend them to other people they just don’t work for me. For those minutes that I am stuffing my face with food I neither want nor need I forget all that stuff.
I listen intently when people talk about some new fandangled diet or gimmick that assures weight loss but I know that the only thing that works is eating less. And I think about that while hoeing through a packet of chips.
Maybe putting it out there will help. Maybe tomorrow I wont justify every morsel of food I eat with some kind of ridiculous excuse, maybe I wont try to punish myself by eating food that I am not even thinking about. Maybe I’ll have the will power and strength to eat only food that nurtures my body and my mind.
But in reality – I’ll probably eat just as much and maybe more. *
If you’ve sat through this whole blog I probably owe you $150 for therapy – but thank you for listening.
* I have just made Mars Bar slices which I will blog tomorrow thus proving that I really can’t stop being obsessed with food