18 October 2011
This is the story of the Little Girl and the Diet.
When the Little Girl was nine years old her Mummy decided the Little Girl should go on her first diet.
The little girl wasn't obese, she wasn't having any medical problems, but she wasn't skinny either. The Little Girl heard 'puppy fat' being mentioned when her Mummy discussed her size with her friends. The Little Girl didn't want to be fat. Fat was bad. Fat was ugly. Boys didn't go out with fat girls. Fat people were lazy. The Little Girl hated the tent dresses that Mummy made her wear. Mummy said it was for the best, because they covered her up. She wanted to wear what the other girls were wearing, like t-shirts and skirts. A diet seemed like a good idea.
Mummy knew all about diets. Mummy was always on a diet. Mummy only ate lettuce and cottage cheese and Ryvitas. The Little Girl couldn't really understand why Mummy ate them. Mummy retched as she swallowed the cottage cheese she clearly detested. Mummy hated her thighs and her knees and her tummy. Mummy had nothing to wear. Mummy cleaned her teeth a lot to stop her wanting to eat.
Mummy made a chart for the back of the larder door. The Little Girl was allowed 1,000 calories per day. The Little Girl wasn't allowed to have 1,000 calories of chocolate as it would not fill her up. She was allowed 100 calories of milk per day (from the 1,000 calories). 100 calories of milk was about two inches in a cup. Every time the Little Girl had something to eat her Mummy consulted the Calorie Guide and wrote the food and the calories on the wall chart. At the end of the day the calories were added up to see if she had been a good girl.
The Little Girl was allowed to eat Ice Pops as these were only 10 calories. She was allowed to eat apples (40 calories for a small apple) and Weight Watchers bread (90 calories per slice). She drank tins of One-Cal lemonade. The Little Girl cleaned her teeth a lot. The Little Girl was always hungry. The Little Girl was hungry for weeks.
The year following the diet, Mummy out to work in the evenings. Daddy worked too, but at home. The Little Girl felt rather abandoned and she was bored. The Little Girl spent most evenings rummaging in the larder and the fridge. After her tea she would pilfer a chocolate biscuit or two, a Kit-Kat, a slice of cheese, a bowl of cornflakes, a jam sandwich, a spoonful of peanut butter, a spoonful of dry drinking chocolate powder and a 300 calorie drink of milk.
Very soon the Little Girl got fat. She became a yo-yo dieter. She followed a variety of diets. She lost weight each time, sometimes a lot of weight. Then she stopped following the diet and ate anything and everything again until she put the weight back on and a bit more on top. This pattern repeated for almost thirty years. At times of stress, loneliness or boredom she eats. It's her fall-back position. It's comfortable. It's what she does. For those few moments she stuffs her face, she doesn't think or feel. She goes into an emotional vacuum.
She hates herself for reaching for the biscuits every time an unwelcome emotion appears. She hates the way she looks. She hates all her clothes. She hides under tent dresses. She hates her thighs and her tummy. Her knees are okay though.
Now she knows why diets don't work. She has stopped dieting. She feels somewhat liberated. Now she eats normally and healthily, with her family. They usually have their five-a-day. No foods are forbidden or sinful, they eat everything in moderation.
She still binges, but never in front of her children. She is an expert in secret eating. She is trying to stop bingeing. She is a couple of stone below her top fighting weight. She weighs less than she did a year ago, without dieting.
She knows her mother was only doing her best. She also knows she will NOT pass her eating disorder onto her own children. She tries to look on the bright side.