I think every girl, either my age, or younger, or older has been struck by the feeling that they aren’t skinny enough living in this age of Instagram and social media. Every girl, from as young as the age of 11 has been conscious about their body and their weight.
Today I listened to a podcast titled “Saying Goodbye to Diets” from Girl’s Guide to the Galaxy. The podcast is is by Caggie Dunlop (ex MIC star) and an American entrepreneur coach Jennifer Jaden. They’re committed to talking about all things girl in this age of social media, opening up a space where they can use their influential platform to give advice. This episode that I’m basing my blog around today is their second episode, and it’s all about dieting.
I feel like I really needed this episode and to hear the things they were talking about due to my own relationship with food. I think it was Caggie to mention it, but she said something along the lines of once you’ve began a troubling relationship with food then it always lives with you, no matter how much weight you gain or lose (because unhealthy relationships also include overeating and abusing your body that way), you’re fighting a constant battle with your mind.
I have never been diagnosed with an eating disorder, (and can I just mention I’m currently stuffing my face with a bar of chocolate that I purposely bought to keep for my trip to Nepal in three weeks, you’ll see the relevance of this comment if you listen to the podcast- yes I am eating the whole 120g), but I have taken laxatives, I have used detox teas, I have done 60 minutes of flat out cardio at the gym on an empty stomach, I have eaten just broccoli and chicken for dinner, whilst consuming a solid 5 cups of green tea per day.
I started watching what I was eating when I was around 13; nothing too strenuous, I just wasn’t one of those kids who would buy sweets at lunch time, which in retrospect is a good thing. I was raised in a household with no fizzy drinks, sweets or chocolate; I was fed fruit and veg and only allowed one packet of crisps and one chocolate biscuit a day. I was inherently conscious of what “goodness” I was putting into my body.
I kept this idea of feeding my body “goodness” when I began my more serious diet watching when I was 16. I had just gotten out of a long term relationship with my first proper boyfriend and I had gone from a comfy size 8-10 to a solid 12 due to the amount of dominos pizza and chocolate fudge cake I consumed in those comfy days. We’ve all been there, newly single and about to chase after that revenge bod. So I went from eating cereal for breakfast (healthy cereal such as bran flakes) to just two scrambled eggs in the microwave. I cut out bread, potatoes and pasta, all starchy carbs that yes contribute to weight gain or that cushy jelly belly, but also food that makes you feel full and satisfied and happy. Instead of having a sandwich in school for lunch (which would have been brown bread) I would eat boiled veg, usually broccoli or cauliflower (people I went to school with would remember me stinking out the sixth form area with this lols) and either pieces of plain dry fried chicken, or pieces of ham. Yes, slices of han and broccoli was a nutritious meal for me as I began this “clean eating” trend that was circulating social media at the time.
I didn’t really understand the whole concept of clean eating, I thought it just meant no carbs and no chocolate. And so the weight dropped off me. And I loved it. I was a size 8 for the following year (and I’m not that type of size 8 girl who’s naturally that way, I had to eat less than 1000 calories a day to maintain my body.) I didn’t work out at all as I found that I could maintain my weight from diet alone and I abused the quote “70% of the body is made in the kitchen, 30% is gym”. I just used a dumbbell to do about 3 sets of 12 squats and dead lifts a day, maintaining that skinny booty.
But yeah, I ended up going from this. (Not remotely overweight but with a terrible taste in Primark bikinis and knock off Lacoste towels from Turkey.)
And looking at that second photo you wouldn’t think I under- ate would you? You wouldn’t look at that and be concerned for my wellbeing? When realistically, I took and then posted that photo after suffering from a 2 day sickness bug. This may be TMI but I literally could not get off the toilet and had to have a bucket to accommodate the other end it was coming out of too. Then this bikini arrived in the post and I was super excited about how flat and toned my tummy looked from all the wrenching I had been doing. And I know many girls would be the same, I myself continue to joke that I could do with a stomach bug to lose some extra lbs, but I hate that ideology entirely, and I hate that my mind has programmed itself to think that way.
Anyway, I soon gained weight again (queue another long term relationship) and once again found myself reaching for those size 12 jeans. But this time around it was different, because I was still living with that skinny girl. She was in my wardrobe, and she reminded me how much weight I had gained every morning. I reached for my favourite pair of trousers, didn’t fit, so I’d go and make myself a cheese sandwich, at 1am in the morning (something a person with my metabolism absolutely can’t do, and let’s be honest, no one NEEDS to eat at 1AM -unless your leaving Revs early and pass Subway.) I ate compulsively. I had moved out for uni so I was cooking for myself, something I really can’t do, I still to this day could not tell you what an average meal in uni was to me because it was never normal. I lived off fish finger sandwiches and beans on toast. I wasn’t giving my body the goodness that it needed.
So fast forward to that eventful breakup and I was ready to get my Khloe K on more than ever, but this time, I wasn’t as desperate to be that size 8 anymore, and quite frankly, I was ready to sarcrifice my tits to some broccoli anymore.
What happened was, I grew up. I finally got to a place in my life where I felt I no longer needed to compete with other skinny and beautiful women, because I instead began to respect my mind. I LOVE food, and that’s probably one of the reasons why my relationship with it is so unhealthy. I have always indulged in chocolate and cake and other sweet treats.
And I have always found it hard to control it. Eating disorders exist on a spectrum, and it is hard to define what is a normal diet as we are constantly being told what actually is good or bad for us. But the one thing most dieting experts and nutritionists have failed to draw attention to in the past is what is good for our mind. I’m so grateful we are moving towards a body positivity that is inclusive of all shapes and sizes, that is entirely health conscious and not shape conscious.
We are often misled by a persons appearance on the state of their health. Take me for example, I’m a size 10, sometimes slip into a size 8, (size 12 in H&M because they have issues with that) and I would appear fit and healthy. In retrospect, I often struggle to eat more than one piece of fruit or veg a day. I’m currently vegetarian but eat no veggies, I have been replacing my craving for chicken with cake. But, I’m not torturing myself for it like I used to. I know now that diet should be entirely about health and not about the way your body looks, and that’s one thing nutritionist Jessica Sepel talks about in this podcast. When it comes to meal times, chose your food based on what’s it’s going to do for you, the energy it will provide you to get you through the day. And eat that cake, eat that piece of chocolate, but as she says, don’t binge (as binging is also an ED), because the rest of that bar will be there for you tomorrow.
I mainly wanted to write this so everyone will go and listen to the podcast and kind of rethink their relationship with food because I know that when I was under-eating I wasn’t concerned for my health because I thought I didn’t look skinny enough to have concern, I didn’t appear annorexic (I’m not saying my experience is anything near that of someone with a diagnosed ED), so I thought I was healthy, when in retrospect I was not, both body and mind. Eat ur veggies 🍏🍎🍐🍊🍋🍌🍉🍇🍓🍈🍒🍑🍍🥝🥑🌽🥕🥒🍆🍅🌶🥔🍠 (promise I will try and eat mine)
From me and my pasta belly x