I have been anti-diet for a few years now, prominently during a global pandemic where all coping mechanisms have had to be altered but I’ve also taken issue with the body positive movement which is something I also feel I don’t really belong to. As a result I haven’t gained weight as I was doing. I haven’t regularly weighed myself to try and keep track of the numbers but I know I haven’t done a huge amount to benefit my health either because mentally I just haven’t had the capability to do it.
Don’t get me wrong the diet industry destroys lives at the cost of billions of pounds and now seems to be trying to appease body positive and fat activists by calling itself ‘wellbeing’ industry. Trying to make it things it cares about your feelings and wants to encourage positive lifestyle changes when really it just wants you to buy its ready meals, pay its slimming club fees and use its apps. It doesn’t care. It hasn’t changed. It’s just rebranded. On the other end of this though I am seeing a lot more personal trainers of all different sizes talking about encouraging movement and trying to be more accessible to all body types, shapes and sizes – which is a great thing. I’m hearing people talk about healthy fat people in a different way, occasionally, although the message that you can be healthy and fat is still perplexing to some.
Obesity is not a health problem, it’s a class problem with people in poorer areas, from working class families unable to life as healthy lifestyle as someone that has the financial means to buy good, fresh food regularly and has the time to prepare nourishing meals whatever time of day. Delivery courier companies have made fast food more accessible to everyone and when you are feeling low, you don’t have the energy to cook, you can get pretty much whatever you want with a few taps on a screen. There are clear links between poorer households and weight problems, which are caused by a whole multitude of problems. I think after living in a time period of such high stress for the last few years everyone is talking about their covid weight gain. Not to mention we are coming up to Spring so social media is full of ‘get bikini body ready with my xyz product this summer’ advertisements which is just a load of bull – I’ll say it again for the people in the back – every body is a bikini body.
Despite knowing all this, despite wanting to be anti diet and wanting to accept my body and make health conscious choices which include nourishing food, joyous movement and doing things that actively reduce stress I still take issue with how I look and feel. I don’t feel happy with my body but being anti-diet makes me think how can I make changes. Not to mention the potentiality for having ADHD which has been linked to binge-eating disorder as its a way to gain a sugar rush or dopamine hit – food that tastes good brings me pleasure therefore I crave it because I need/want the dopamine. My relationship with food is awful. I go through times of binge eating to times of forgetting to eat. High stress levels prevent hunger cues going through to my brain which then stops me functioning properly and affect my mood in other ways. These are all things I know and recognise in myself.
Then comes the battle of feeling physically sick when I look at my body in the mirror. There are days when I think okay I’m not too fat, I’m not too unattractive, I’m not too big and then I glimpse myself in the mirror and automatically deflate internally when I realise how small my head looks compared to my shoulders. I’m very much an apple shape, small head and shapely limbs but a very round body. I can’t say I have curves because I don’t. I know for so many people the easy answer is to just eat less and move more but it’s not that simple when your relationship with food is so messed up, and when you want to get up and move but your executive dysfunction stops that from happening. I thing one thing I really struggle with is genuinely liking an alternative appearance when it comes to clothing and those websites only offering a size 18, maybe a 20 at a push. So I can’t even dress how I want right now to try and increase my body positivity because those sizes are too small for me.
These are things I want to actively work on because I know I feel good when I move more. I know I need to respect my body better by feeding it food that will nourish it. I know I don’t want to focus on numbers but I would really like to be in a position to buy clothing I actually like. I want to feel good about my body, I want to respect that I’ve carried two children into the world. I don’t have any health problems that are dramatically affecting me from making better decisions for myself. I also feel like I’m betraying everything about hating the diet industry by admitting I would like to fit into smaller sized clothing. Not to mention, on a somewhat related note, that researching about ADHD has lead to me thinking that a good way to help me be healthier is ready prepared food for the days I don’t have the energy to cook but this causes guilt in an eco-conscious way because it means more plastic, more waste and that in itself causes so much stress.
The problem here I think is the guilt. I feel guilty for not doing enough, for not fixing enough, for wasting too much, for being anti-diet but wanting to lose weight, for liking food too much…the list is really endless and guilt is for sure a huge problem here. And again, I wonder is this a neurodivergent thing because I feel things so strongly, over such insignificant things that the guilt puts a stumbling block in my path from doing anything at all. These are all things I need and want to work on. I hope with time I can learn to make healthier decisions for myself both for my body and my mental health because living each day in guilt is stressful and I don’t think I can cope with it much longer.