I know that, at any given time, a gazillion women are on some sort of diet. I get why. We all want to feel the best in our skins. We want to be seen and be healthy.
But I am, for a huge change in my life, going on the "anti-diet" diet. No more dieting for me right now. No clean eating. No Banting. No calorie-counting. I am going on the "no guilt around food" diet.
Don't get me wrong, diets can and do work. Both strict clean eating and Banting worked for me. I think Banting is healthier long term, but I am no doctor, so who am I to say? And if these diets work for you, that's fantastic. I really mean that.
BUT for me, what I found was this: my mind is a sneaky thing and started to control EVERY bite of food that I wanted to put into my mouth. So all day long, I'd be thinking about food. Food thoughts have dominated my mind and my thinking for the past...six years? Around the time I joined the gym and got serious about doing my first ever competition (bikini comp) I have thought about food constantly. It's not healthy and I still find myself doing it out of habit. It's really hard to break.
Before I fell pregnant, I was a normal weight, and didn't give food too much thought, other than to not overeat. Simple. Like every woman, I was "watching my figure", but not hectically.
During pregnancy I allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted within reason. I gained weight. I was happy to gain it. It was the one time in my life when I just felt free to eat and it was lovely!
Breastfeeding helped me lose weight, and thereafter I made the fatal mistake of joining the gym and following an eating plan. And competing. I say "fatal" because that's when my eating became super strict and super controlled. And I had to do it for my competition, sure, but the problem is that the mental side-effects have lasted and are still with me. It didn't help that I did another two competitions in quick succession, and then, last year, another one. That last competition was my last one. I will NOT ever be stepping on stage again.
The reason is for my mind's sake. I am a bit of a control-freak at times, and dieting and training for competition is something that I went banana's with. It's all about control, all the time. I have a really hard time letting go of control. I guess a lot of us do, but for me, with this, it's been bad.
It's only now that I am seeing how bad I was, now that I have been introduced to the world of "body-positivity." When I read the awesome book "What No One Tells Fat Girls" by Jes Baker, it blew my mind! Here was a very fat girl, and she wasn't interested in dieting or exercising to lose weight. FUCK! "Is that even possible?" I thought. "Am I even ALLOWED to not care about my weight?"
The resounding answer, of course, is YES! You DON'T HAVE to worry or care about your weight. Society makes us THINK we have to. And the latest craze or wave of thinking is that being overweight is "unhealthy". I hear so many women say "I don't want to be skinny, just healthy". And I hear them, I do. I get it. But we need to be very careful with bandying words like "healthy" around because it is also possible to be healthy at a heavier weight. Just saying. In times past, there were advertisements for women encouraging them to GAIN weight.
The real truth is this: healthy people can be both fat or skinny. Unhealthy people can be both fat or skinny. That really is the truth peeps! I get it now.
So your health is one thing. Your weight is another.
What I need to do for myself now, is to free my mind from the GUILT around food. For too many years now I have labelled food "good" and "bad" or "healthy" and "unhealthy" or "clean food" and "cheat food". And then I have felt HEAPS of guilt for eating the bad, unhealthy or cheat food. And I have found that it's the guilt that really makes me binge, it's the guilt and bad feelings that cause the intense cravings, and the guilt that makes me eat so fast I don't stop to breathe and enjoy.
The guilt is what keeps these insane food thoughts looping around my head all day long.
Yes, you might say it's "easy" for me to talk as I don't have weight to lose. You might be right. I might very well feel differently if I were 20kg's heavier. But, I have read other body-positive women's accounts, and the feeling behind it all is the same.
Which is this: NO MORE GUILT AROUND FOOD. Choose to eat the things you want to, but please don't beat yourself up with guilt.
At least, that's what I am trying to do for myself now. Let's see how I got.