Name a diet and I've done it. From the most common to the most obscure (cabbage diet, anyone?). I'd love to say that I'm left with the perfect figure. In reality, I have just wasted a lot of time and money and have created a very unhealthy relationship with food. My weight has yo-yoed over the last ten years. I've totally lost sight of what it means to eat 'normally'.
If someone asked me what an average day of food is for me, I would automatically ask if it's a diet day or a non-diet day. It seems I have lost my middle ground. To make matters worse, I seem to fall into the extremes of each option. I either don't eat enough or I eat far too much (this option is far too common for me, hence the need to lose weight!)
The almost ironic part is that I can tell you the calorie content of virtually any food. I can tell you which foods are high in protein, high in fat, whether it's a good fat or a bad fat, which foods have a low glycaemic index and which foods have great low carb replacements for the miserable low carb diets. So really, if I'm honest, my issue isn't that I don't know HOW to eat well, it's making the jump between knowing how to do it and actually doing it.
When I started Slimming World, I couldn't believe what I was hearing about not weighing or measuring free foods and speed foods. All I could think was, if I'm not weighing my pasta, how do I know I'm not eating too much pasta? Slimming World isn't about judging your food choices or portion sizes on the conventional norms of what is or isn't acceptable when dieting - Slimming World is about reprogramming your attitude with food, to ask 'What do I feel like eating? How hungry am I?' The answer to these questions determines how much food to prepare and eat.
This concept in itself was so alien to me that as recently as last week I was struggling with the 'full up feeling'. Not overstuffed with food, but satisfyingly full. In the past, when dieting, that feeling meant that I had failed my diet - no diet is so amazing that you can lose weight without feeling hungry, right?! A diet should feel like a punishment! I have lived with this concept for so long, that all too often I find myself full up and having that shameful sense of having failed my diet.
I have to fight with the urge to just eat all of the bad food I have been resisting, just because I feel full up and like I should give up as I have already failed. Written down, it looks ridiculous. However, it really has taken me six weeks of Slimming World groups to undo 10 years of wrong and ridiculous attitudes to food and realise that the above isn't true. It's a phrase we hear so often in group 'Slimming World isn't a diet, it's about having a healthy lifestyle' - if I'm honest, it always made me cringe a little bit because I was secretly thinking, well of course it's a diet - I can't eat untold amounts of chocolate so it must be a diet!
But something has clicked this week. This isn't another diet that I will do until I get to my target weight, only to stop dieting and gain the weight back again, (no doubt after treating myself to weeks of target weight celebrations). This is about doing what is best for my body and mind and setting a great example for my children. I always ensure that they eat healthily, but what good is that if they see me having such a dysfunctional relationship with food?
I am working hard this week, to maintain this new level of understanding. I'm doing Slimming World to be healthy and change my attitude to food. A positive side effect will be weight loss, but my target isn't solely weight loss. It's about finding something that I have slowly lost over the last ten years, it's about finding my 'normal' again - something that Slimming World can achieve like no other diet, for the simple fact that it isn't a diet. It's a guidebook to my new healthy lifestyle. (PS. You have my full permission to cringe at that last sentence, even though we all know it's true!)