Food, arghhh! It’s complicated isn’t it? I love food, I really do. Even at my most vulnerable, as a restrictive anorexic, I loved food. I loved watching people enjoy food. ButI loved chips and chocolate. My mother’s ongoing sabotage of my love of greens, probably helped to keep me alive.
Mama always kept treats in our pantry. It smelled delicious, like a deli. And it was. Treats included chips and chocolate. I caved time and time again gorging and then self-flagellating. It gets better right?
I’m nearly sixty, fatter than I’ve ever been. Most people who know me say that I look good for a woman my age. That qualifier immediately knocks me off my perch. I eat normally now, a bit too normally.
For much of my adult life, I hooked into the healthy eating thing, kidding myself that it was healthy. My mother died of a combination of grief and cardiac disease. Life broke her heart and she barricaded her once slender frame behind a generous layer of adipose.
I vowed I wouldn’t do that to myself. I’d be healthy. I knew more. I wouldn’t make those mistakes, so I restricted my arch-enemy fat, in the guise of cholesterol. I bought the Pritikin book and began to safe guard my future.
The rigour I applied to my exercise during the adolescent years changed hats; salt, fats and to a lesser extent sugar became scapegoats for my disordered thinking. Then I had three children, and fought to keep my body in shape. In the eighties the expectation to be slender and beautiful ran nearly in the background.
I bought the rhetoric and ate well, did hundreds of sit ups, ran and walked. It worked. I salvaged my body from the ravages of motherhood. I cringe writing these words but that’s how I saw it.
Things changed and with the advent of early menopause my breasts grew. The fried eggs on toast (C cup) grew and grew. D cup, double DD … I’d also gradually gained weight 5-7 kg. It crept up on me about the time when I began to fit into a size ten. I’d been an eleven at my smallest. Sizes had gone weird in the shops. I tried to pretend the tags told the truth.
Social media fed me a diet of confusion, expectations and warped truths.
Everyone seemed to have a diet, a miracle. Images of the perfect woman had changed, the waif replaced by the ultra fit woman in Lycra supporting a six-pack. This relentless undercurrent of non-acceptance threatened the fragile peace I’d made between my body image and food.
I felt the familiar tug from my ED days and vowed to tackle this at the roots.
At times I’d succumbed to:
- Binges: peanut butter mainly
- Sugar addiction: I tried to give up sugar, well I bought the book and read most of it
- Late night snacks: did I mention peanut butter?
- Dieting: well healthy eating with the odd fast thrown in
- Skipping meals: I have to eat, don’t skip meals unless I fast which is a different thing, right?
- Irregular eating: not really irregular in the strict sense of the word but smaller portions
So I’m raising a gamut of things and how they have played out for me . I don’t consider myself anorexic but I do have to work to keep the past small, not always but enough. This could easily become a feminist rant, but I want to talk about these things because I believe they keep many of us hostage.
I believe we need to acknowledge what we hold true for ourselves and consider the effect of unguarded words on those around us. Kindly leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you need help with an eating disorder, contact:
- Eating Disorders Victoria 1300 550 236
- The Butterfly Foundation 1800 33 4673
- National Eating Disorders Collaboration 1800 33 4673
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800