Friday, 28 December 2012

Tackling a food obsession

Hi. My name's Rachel, and I seem to be a bit obsessed with food. I want to make one thing very clear from the start: I know I’m not fat. Got that? Good. I’ve ummed and ahhed for a long time about whether to post this blog or not, and it’s quite personal, so please be nice, OK? Not that many people talk about this kind of stuff.

For anyone who doesn’t know me, let me catch you up quickly: By my mid-teens, I’d got a bit chubby. By my late-teens, I’d successfully slimmed down (which you can read about here), purely by healthy eating and exercise – I never skipped a meal or cut out carbs or anything drastic like that. Then at one point, I decided I was actually a little thinner than I wanted to be (yes, really), so I let myself put on a bit of weight and all was great in the world. I was slim, and – I’m not going to lie – really happy with my figure, which gave me a real sense of confidence.

Then I went to uni. Classic error in the quest to remain slim. By the end of my fresher year, I’d put on a little weight. Obvs. ('Freshers 15' anyone?) ‘No big problem’, I thought to myself, ‘Now I’m home I can get everything back on track’. But by the end of the summer holidays I’d put on yet more weight. Oops. ‘Oh, well now I’m going back to uni, and as I’ll be cooking for myself this year, I’m sure I can curb this weight gain’. Only I didn’t. I’ve come back home for Christmas bigger still, but this time I didn’t even try to tell myself I won’t gain weight this holiday, because it’s Christmas, after all. *pauses to think whilst munching a Quality Street*

It was pretty depressing a few weeks ago when I tried to put on a dress I hadn’t worn for a few months, only to find it no longer fits. We've all been there though, haven't we? I know it’s not all about what the scales say, but I went on the Wii Fit for the first time in a few months the other day, and it told me I’ve gained 11 lbs. Not ideal. This was pre-Christmas feasting too.

The scary thing is that time and time again I’ve told myself ‘This is it. C’mon Rachel, get it under control’ and yet I haven’t. I know I’m not fat or overweight at all, but I don’t want to keep gaining weight. Not only is it unhealthy, but I worked so damn hard to slim down in the first place that I don’t want it all to have been for nothing (if for a couple of years being slim). Quite frankly, I have no bloody idea how I lost the weight at all a few years ago. Oh, to have the metabolism of a 17 year old again, eh?

Part of the problem, I think, is my thrifty mindset. Damn you, student lifestyle. I have it drilled into my brain that if food is free, I mustn’t say no. So whenever I’m offered anything, I take it. (Please, never take me to a buffet. They are fatal.) Mostly, I tend to eat pretty healthy meals, but then I’ll graze, snack and binge on chocolates and sugary treats. Curse you, sweet tooth.

Here’s another factor: because I’m not actually overweight and I used to be slim, most people are all too keen to feed me up. If I’m in a group, they will nearly always encourage me to keep eating, and shove the bag of Maltesers under my nose, even when they know we’d all feel better if we didn’t eat our 100th one. But quite frankly it really annoys me when people are like this (encouraging others to do what’s not best for them), and I think they just do it to feel better about themselves for eating/not going to the gym/procrastinating with an essay.

In most areas of my life, I’m really proactive and I take control. If there’s something I don’t like, I’ll set my mind to it and sort it out. I’ve always hated people (OK, hated is a bit of a strong word) who moan about something – often their figures – and then don’t do anything about it, even when  (as Paddy McGuinness would say) the power is in their hands. Now I’m one of those people.

There are people who will be reading this thinking ‘Why do you even care? God, it’s not a big deal! Why obsess so much about what you look like?’ But the fact of the matter is that being in good shape and healthy is important. Not only that, it’s about feeling good in yourself. It’s not for men or to try and get a boyfriend, it’s for myself. And I think every woman (and man for that matter) should have control over their bodies. Quite frankly, if I can’t be in the shape I want to be in aged 20, what hope is there for the rest of my life? Older people always say that it’s so much harder to lose weight when you’re old.

I’m not going to deprive myself of anything (after all, this is basically a blog about cake half the time!), but I think the trick is to eat in moderation and develop some willpower again. We’ve still got all sorts of yummy Christmas goodies in the house, Quality Street everywhere, and big family parties coming up over the festive season, so obviously I’m not going to miss out on such yumminess, I just need to be sensible. For example, maybe I should try to have three chocolates a day instead of six. Easier said than done though... *tries oh-so-hard not to reach for the Quality Street tin again*

At this time of year, a lot of us try to make these healthy resolutions. We need to show food who’s boss. It’s not like I don’t know a lot about nutrition, fitness and how to lose weight. I just need to put it into practice again. But it’s bloody hard, isn't it?

Word on the street is that willpower is like a muscle – the more you use it, the easier it becomes to resist further. From my experience, I’d say that sounds about right. I just need to start building up that muscle again, which is the hardest bit.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s good to enjoy delicious food, but it’s not right to obsess. We need to find the balance. All I really want is to have a healthy relationship with both food and my body, and I know I’m the only one who can take control, make the change and do it.

Hopefully there are other people out there who can relate to all this, as I’ve kind of laid myself bare. Tomorrow I’m going to buy my annual post-Christmas copy of Zest magazine for some healthy inspiration, probably eat some Stollen/Pfefferkuchen/chocolate flapjacks, but hopefully not too many, and try to remember what will make me happiest in the long run. LET'S TAKE CONTROL AND BE HEALTHY AND HAPPY, YEAH!?


  1. Firstly, massive kudos for writing this post - it is so hard to talk about these things let alone write them on a public site. I think you've done it in a great way too. I have exactly the same problem - give me a stash of sweets and chocolates and I will plough through them even if I'm not vaguely hungry (four boxes of chocolates in two days... eating every foil wrapped morsel from the tree...) and this year I'm taking action! I completely agree about finding the right balance and it is tough but I'm sure we will both get there!

    1. Hi Claire,
      Thank you so much for your kind words! It's really nice to hear some support and understanding, so I appreciate it a lot.
      YES! Let's both be the best we can be! Good luck :)

  2. Rachel, I've only just read this, but it's fantastic. You're right, it's not about weight or appearance, it's about having 'control over your body'. That's the issue. No one wants to feel helpless and lethargic when it comes to their shape or their energy levels. I think we've got ourselves into a bit of a rut recently, in that women no longer like to encourage other women to lose weight or stay in shape. I think it's a real shame, because if we were to encourage each other (in a healthy, sensible way) then we'd probably all achieve our fitness goals in the blink of an eye. GREAT POST.

    1. Thanks so much, Ellie. I completely agree with you. It's all about feeling your best, because then it's so much easier to get on with every other aspect of life. Let's at least you and I be the encouragers - go exercise! Thanks for your lovely comment and for reading :)


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