body activism

Five of the weirdest things dieting made me do...

**Trigger warning: Disordered eating, weight loss, diet culture**

As I move closer to eating intuitively and actually liking my body, it’s easy to forget just how much of my energy dieting and hating my body used to take up. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while and it’s felt a bit scary but I’m going to do it anyway. So, here are five of the weirdest things dieting made me do:

  1. Reading menus: That’s right, I used to spend hours of my time reading restaurant menus – usually in the early hours of the morning when I was hungry or beating myself up for the food I’d eaten the day before and would most definitely avoid tomorrow.  It didn’t matter whether they were local or on the other side of the world, those menus were a lifeline to me in place of eating actual food.

  2. Discounting slim friends: Having been bullied about my weight and body since my first year of primary school, I was highly suspicious of slim, conventionally attractive people. If a slim person showed an interest in befriending me, I always suspected an ulterior motive. Sadly, holding these beliefs caused me to miss out on a lot of friendships but thankfully no more!

  3. The joy of a vomiting & diarrhoea bug: For anyone who has suffered the misery of V&D bugs, I’m aware this sounds strange but stick with me. The immense joy I felt weighing myself after spending 24 hours with my head stuck down the toilet was unbeatable. I felt like I’d usurped the power of the diet gods and made it to weight loss heaven. Of course, this feeling never lasted long and I’d soon be hoping for the next bug.

  4. Avoiding people I’d not seen since I gained weight: I’ve never been the most extroverted person but I avoided gatherings like the plague when I’d gained weight since I’d last seen a particular person/group of friends. I imagine people found me incredibly flaky as I would cancel A LOT but I was terrified people would notice my larger body and comment, either to my face or afterwards. Conversely, on two occasions when I’d lost a lot of weight, I was the life and soul of the party, wanting everyone to see the “new, improved me”. This was incredibly short-lived and always led to more embarrassment when I had to meet those same people again.

  5. Clothing restrictions: I cannot possibly list all of the strict clothing rules I have imposed upon myself over the years. Some examples were: never wear trousers, always wear trousers, everything must be black – always, colour is your worst enemy, horizontal stripes are your worst enemy, never short sleeves – always long, you must wear leggings even in the middle of a heatwave, skinny jeans are not for you, any kind of swimwear is worse than certain death, high street shops do not want customers like you in their stores… I could go on but I’m sure you get the gist. And fuck Trinny and Susannah and their clothing rules!

Writing this has made me realise that there are so many more weird behaviours I developed during two decades of disordered eating. I’m sure I could blog endlessly about them but even more striking is the shocking fatphobia I internalised over many years of exposure to diet culture. Had fatphobia not been an issue for me, I could have visited those restaurants and eaten the food on those menus without guilt or shame, been friends with slim people without feeling suspicious, dreaded a v&d bug like everyone else, seen my friends/family whenever I wanted without worrying what they’d be thinking of me and worn whatever the hell I liked. That’s a fuck load of wasted time and energy. Just as well I’m doing all those things now then!