Dear Daisy: ‘I’m Sad And Stressed And Bored Of Dieting’

Dear Daisy: 'I’m Sad And Stressed And Bored Of Dieting'


by Contributor |
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Dear Daisy is our new agony aunt column, where Daisy Buchanan answers all of your big questions, from how to be more assertive to how to move on from sexual assault. Daisy's first job in journalism in her twenties was on the problems page at Bliss Magazine. This week she talks about the struggle to lose weight...

Dear Daisy,

I’ve been overweight almost my whole life. In 2011 I lost a LOT of weight, but in 2012 I became depressed and put it all back on again, and an extra stone and a half for good measure. I started losing weight about 18 months ago, but since then I’ve been stuck. I’ve been bouncing up and down by a stone, and in the past few months it’s just seemed like I’ve been completely unable to stick to a diet. I’ve tried different diets, exercising, classes, keeping food diaries, all sorts (apart from VLCDs like SlimFast) and I can’t stick to anything.

**The second I’m not actively trying to stick to a diet I gain a lot of weight very quickly. I wish I’d be able to just accept that and be happy with a fat body, but I can’t. I don’t even trust myself to eat healthily at this point as I feel like I can eat super healthily or binge and really punish myself, but nothing in between. **

I’ve got a big holiday in January and I’m going to feel like a beached whale on it. I’m sad and stressed and bored of dieting but also bored of not liking how I look. I honestly don’t know what’s best to do at this point. I just want to be healthy inside and out, with a positive relationship to food and my body, but I’ve done so badly with that in the past year I honestly don’t think I’ll be able to ever get there.


**Ginny **

Dear Ginny,

Thank you so much for writing about this. We constantly hear so many complicated, confusing messages about our bodies, and how we should feel about them. ‘Have a beach body! Treat yourself! Then go to Pilates! Also, you must LOVE your curves, because it’s “empowering”.’ Speaking as a woman with a fluctuating size, a love of food and a tendency to gain weight easily, I think the double edged phrase ‘love your curves’ needs to die a violent death - perhaps we could stick it in a Nutribullet and juice it down to nothing. It’s so brave and hard to say, out loud, in 2015 ‘I don’t love my body. This is not the body I want.’

It’s incredibly difficult to have a consistently healthy, positive relationship with food. I believe that we need to stop thinking of healthy eating as making pizza bases out of cauliflower, and start looking at it in connection with how it makes us feel. A delicious brownie isn’t a treat when you start feeling bad about eating it when your hands are still covered in chocolate crumbs - especially when your subconscious says the only way to deal with that pain is to eat another brownie. Equally, basing your sense of self worth on your ability to control what goes in your mouth isn’t a sustainable way to be. I’ve been on both paths, and it didn’t matter how fat or thin I felt - food was keeping me prisoner.

We have access to plenty of substances that have a similar toxic power. Drugs and alcohol can be addictive, bringing us powerful highs and crushing lows, and can impact our behaviour and the way we feel about ourselves in such an extreme way that many of us decide to cut them out of our lives entirely. However, we can’t do that with food. It has a constant presence in our lives and we need to work out a way to make peace with it.

Reading your letter makes me wish I could work magic. If I could wave a wand that gave you the body of your dreams, whatever that may be, and total calorific immunity from cake, crisps and chocolate, I would. Because you’ve tried, and struggled, and tried again, and you deserve it, whatever genetics and biology might think.

If someone were to decree that your favourite foods were suddenly calorie free, I wonder what you’d do. I suspect you’d have a few days giddily gorging, and then the urge would pass. If you could eat anything you wanted, whenever you wanted, you’d probably realise you didn’t want it nearly as much as you thought. The thing is, you can. And it’s up to you to decide how those foods will make you feel.

Keeping a food diary is a really smart step - but I think you should start keeping a food emotions diary. It can be a very simple and it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you. Just write down what you eat, and how you feel before, during and after eating it. Personally I’m a big fan of meditation because it helps me to step back from my feelings and analyse them. After using the Headspace meditation app, I found myself standing in front of the fridge eating Lotus Biskoff spread with a spoon and thinking ‘Why am I doing this? I’m not even really tasting it!’ It’s hard, but it’s helped me to save delicious food for happy times instead of using it to distract myself when I’m angry or sad.

We use words to describe our bodies when they’re actually about the way we feel as we inhabit them. Fat, thin, beautiful - when I feel pretty, I smile at strangers and walk as though I’m dancing to music only I can hear. When I feel fat, I might as well be wearing a coat made out of poo. Over the years, I’ve learned that I have an increasing amount of control over this. For me, exercise is the ultimate mood booster, not because it makes me slimmer but because the endorphins burn through my negative thoughts. Even a brisk 15 minute walk takes the edge off a day of self loathing. My breakthrough came when I stopped thinking ‘I must exercise, because I am so fat,’ and started saying ‘Exercise is good for my head, it makes me feel more sane when I think about my body.’

You could lose weight before your holiday. You know how to do it. But you’ll go out for dinner, eat delicious ice cream on the beach and come back feeling disappointed in yourself, regardless of any weight you gain or lose. So if you can, try to see it as a holiday for your head. Leave behind the part of you that’s cruel and critical - don’t let her sneak into your suitcase. Spend the trip eating whatever you fancy, whenever you fancy, always asking myself ‘Am I enjoying this? Does it make me feel good?’ and stop the very second that the answer to those questions isn’t an emphatic yes.

Have a wonderful holiday. I promise you’ll look gorgeous in every picture, and most importantly I really hope that you feel gorgeous too.

Lots of love,


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