My story with food began when I was 12. Like many teenagers I was concerned about my weight. I wasn’t actually overweight; I just didn’t like my body and thought I would be happier if I was slimmer. I found dieting quite easy. It was easy to control my calories and my will was strong enough to overcome any temptation. Dieting gave me a high and I loved it. I felt in control, more powerful and much more confident. People respected me and I loved the attention I received being thin and successful at losing weight. It seemed that dieting was the answer to all my prayers.
When dieting entered my life, unfortunately, its sinister cousin, binging, came along too. My binges were like a cyclone spiraling through my life, breaking through my thin layer of control, releasing my ravenous emotional depths and bringing destruction to the false confidence, power and love that dieting brought me. I soon was caught in a cycle of dieting and binging. My dieting became more extreme; I wouldn’t eat for days and used diet pills even when I wasn’t dieting. Dieting took up a good amount of my time, either thinking about losing weight, how much weight I’d lost, how fast I could lose weight and how good I felt when I was losing weight. My weight cycled up and down. In the beginning I was dieting to loose 6 kg, but as my binging worsened this soon blew out to 14 kgs (30 lbs). I lost and regained weight so many times; be well in excess of a total of 100 kgs (220 lbs).
At 22 I graduated from university and moved away from home. By this time the will to diet and exercise was really wearing thin and as a result I was not so thin. At this stage I decided to get help for my weight. I signed up with a weight loss clinic. I found it hard to stick to the diet they recommended. It was such a big jump to change all of my diet at once and many of the foods recommended I didn’t like. After reaching my target weight I went back to foods that tasted good to me and put on all the weight I’d lost plus more. I tried another weight program, then another, then another, and then another, all with the same result. But the benefit from these frustrated attempts was that I started to suspect that diets do not work and began to look deeper into what was really going on.
At 23 I joined Overeaters Anonymous and began counseling, rebirthing and healing sessions. I heard story after story similar to my own confirming my suspicions about dieting. Whilst it was easy to realize that dieting doesn’t work, it was quite another thing to give it up. Dieting meant a lot more to me than just losing weight. It was how I coped with life. With dieting there was always the promise in just a few weeks that everything would be better. I could binge to my hearts content without having to worry about the consequences of gaining weight. Without dieting I could no longer get high from sliming and the feelings that were suppressed by my eating patterns started to surface. My dieting was a 12 year olds attempt to escape the negative and critical environment I had been exposed to, a desperate attempt to stop, ever being criticized again. My desire to be thin hid such a deep longing for love and respect. My binging hid the intensity of self-loathing, guilt at my imperfection, and self-destruction I felt. It soothed away uncomfortable feelings and distracted me with obsessive thoughts about my weight. Though this time was emotionally arduous, I gave up dieting and never went on another diet again.
The unfortunate consequence of not dieting was that I became overweight. I found it uncomfortable with my size but was determined not to diet even if it meant resigning myself to being over weight for the rest of my life. By the time I was thirty I had developed a plethora of other health complaints including irritable bowel syndrome, food sensitivities, bloating, bad breath, constipation, dry skin, dull complexion, depression, PMS, back pain and low energy. I went to different doctors and specialists but nothing seemed to work for me. So I became interested in health and began experimenting with different ways of eating. I started to remove processed foods, to eat more cleansing foods and to exercise. I became aware of the physiological side of my relationship to food and started to pay attention to what happened to my body after eating certain ways. I gradually lost weight but I was still plagued by strong cravings for junk foods and my other health complaints persisted. My irritable bowel and low energy were becoming so bad that they were interfering with my ability to work. Not knowing where to turn I prayed for help.
I met Anand in a dance class. Anand already had 4 years experience with a diet high in raw foods by the time I met him. He had an abundance of energy, a healthy complexion and a well muscled physique – not at all the kind of picture I had of someone who ate lots of living foods. Having failed with so many diets I was quite sceptical about my ability to be satisfied with a lifestyle high in living foods, but with so many health concerns I was willing to give it a try. It wasn’t an easy path. My patterns with food ran deep and my will had been broken by my failed dieting attempts. My cravings for deep fried salty foods were very strong and I felt I was really missing out on something great.
I was fortunate to have Anand’s guidance and support through the first 12 months. He taught me the language of my body’s signals, to trust in my sensitivity, encouraged me when I wanted to turn back and was a glowing example of what was possible for me if I stayed on this path. After 3 months my energy returned and I no longer needed to sleep after lunch. After 9 months my food sensitivities and temperamental bowel cleared up. This meant that I could bring so many wonderful flavours back into my diet such as chilli, garlic, ginger, tomato, lemon, and tamari. And after 12 months I noticed that I was no longer enjoying the heavy meals like I used to. Almost without me noticing it, my body began to desire life giving foods and when faced with choosing between my old and new selections my palate, of its accord, started leading me towards health. My skin took on a radiant glow and my eyes became radiant. At 37 years of age, after 25 years of struggle with my body, my weight stabilised in a healthy range, my obsession with diet and food stopped and my relationship with food became the one I had always dreamed about!