‘As long as you’re still a size 10, what does it matter?’

I remember those immortal words issuing from a girls mouth – not to me – no, no, no! I was still a size 12-14 in those days. Far away from achieving the size 10 status. 

I have always had a problem with food. My Mum has been on a diet for as long as I can remember.I was raised, from the breast on skimmed milk and sweeteners and being a product of the Rosemary Connelly era my Mum thought that fat, of any kind, was the work of the devil. Still does. Don’t even think about showing her an avocado!

That was the seventies for you. She was anorexic at 22. Over weight till 21. She told me there was no such thing as skimmed milk (the pinnacle of dieting progress according to my Mother) when she started trying to loose weight…so she’d carry round sachets of powdered skimmed milk in her purse. Those and her diet pills (read: amphetamines) of course. She wasn’t hospitalised but she likes to tell me they gave her an ultimatum. Eat or die. Basically. 

So that was my example. 

A healthy attitude to food wasn’t available, for as much as my Mother loves a diet she also loves to cook. She would always be making something sweet. Hence my insatiable sweet tooth. Food was used as a comfort. A reward for bad days and bumps in the road. I’m not saying other kids didn’t eat the same way, most of them were round at my house hoovering up my Mums latest homemade offering. She’s a classic feeder – unable to express herself, she shows love by feeding you, and that’s not a good thing when it becomes an obsession… 

When I was a teenager I spent much of my time worrying about being fat. Worry, worry, worry. Like a worn down stone I’d turn this thought over and over in my mind. I went to my first slimming club at 15 and then I spent the next twenty or so years battling the demons that I lived with every day. I’ve had therapy. Of course. Plenty of it. I’ve talked about why I eat. Which is why I can tell you all of the above…I was crap at sport and most other things except drawing and writing oddly. But I always knew that I could rely on food to cheer me up and to look forward too.

I’ve never been obese as such. I once said to my Godmother that, ‘I’m one step away from a fat person’ and she agreed. She’s honest like that – which is why I love her so fiercely. I’ve had to fight it all my life. Until recently,  when I finally feel like I’ve got a bit of a handle on it. I finally feel that I’ve got this monster if not under control then on some sort of leash. I no longer wake up every morning feeling desperate to eat as much ‘rubbish’, as my Mother would say, as I could. Instead I wake up now and think about healthy choices…and not, thank Christ, low fat rubbish – actual rubbish. But nutritious, balanced, healthy choices. Food has finally become fuel. I still enjoy food and love to eat but it’s not a frightening battle anymore. Unless there’s an open box of chocolates on the table at work. Then it’s back to the old cycle, eat and feel guilty, eat because you’re already guilty. I did say the monster was on a leash right?