Last night I watched a film called ‘To the bone’. It was about young people struggling with anorexia. Firstly the film reminded me to go easy on myself, and secondly, I started wondering when food became a contention for me.
Growing up my Mum always cooked our meals. We almost never had anything resembling take out and going out for dinner was a massive treat. My brother had been deemed hyperactive, so my Mum scratch cooked everything to avoid additives. We ate well. My packed lunch for school was pretty much a cheese sandwich and a chocolate bar every day (with the occasional satsuma that I would take for an outing outside the house before bringing it home again, slightly more squidgy than before). I was always a thin child but ate goodly amounts. I rode my bike, swam and danced regularly, so I guess that helped to keep me toned, but then around aged twenty-two, I started to get bigger.
Maybe it was because I left home, or because I became lactose intolerant, or was low, or didn’t exercise as much. There are so many contributing factors that establishing a singular cause is pretty much impossible. I know from going through phases of reduced eating as an adult has been directly linked to my level of stress. Even now I occasionally fantasise about doing this again, as I know that it is utterly the quickest way to lose weight (but it is muscle weight.. and this I am keen to hang on to!), but I also know that it is no longer an option. I want my daughter to have a healthy relationship with food, and watching a parent pick at meals or not eat them at all is the quickest way to encourage problems. If a parent doesn’t think that they are worth feeding, worth being taken care of, then why should the child think any differently? So although I wouldn’t use this route again, I do find it frustrating that I can’t seem to achieve any consistency with my weight.
I have never engaged with any particular dietary plan. I don’t calorie count, portion control or weigh (or shake) anything. To me, this feels laborious and is treating the symptom, never the cause. It also makes food for me, feel boring. I understand what a good diet is, understand how food breaks down (recent revelation, I now view the white and tasty carbs as sugar). I also know that exercise should be consistent and that good health has very little to do with weight. So from here I have two distinct questions, firstly, why am I so transfixed by the idea of being thin and two, why is putting into practice what I know so incredibly hard?
The irony of this, is I am actually entirely good with how I look but feel the social weight of ‘thin’. And with regards to my motivation, for some things (like blogging) I have incredible resilience and grit. So I think that for me, weight is to do more with how I think I should look compared to how I actually want to look, and health is something that I need to aspire to.
Map Point. Where in my life am I looking for the approval of others?