Tomorrow, I turn 42 years old. And, at 42 years old I think it's time to admit something that I've
been ashamed to admit my whole life. I am an addict. I don't smoke, do drugs or gamble. I don't take unnecessary risks and I try to be the best person I can be, but I have an addiction that I cannot escape from because I need this to survive, we all do. My addiction, is food.
3 years ago I was diagnosed with NAFLD, or Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease to give it it's full name. Basically I have a build up of fat in my liver due to years of abusing my body with food. I like to call it fat cow syndrome. It's a common thing and many people get it, especially pregnant women. In it's early stages it's completely reversible by losing weight, but if it's not tackled and more weight is gained it can result, as the years pass by, in liver failure and liver cancer. I was diagnosed in stage 2.
Since that diagnoses I lost weight and the constant dull ache in my right side started to ease, but after going through a period of high stress the dull ache returned and I knew the weight was piling on again. A recent trip to the doctor gave me a result of high blood sugar and a telling off that I was on the road to diabetes. To quote the doc "If you were ten years older we could be looking at a heart attack or stroke". Shit.
The thing is, I've always struggled with my weight and as a teenager was told I have
Polycystic Ovaries (cysts on my ovaries for those not in the know!), which would always make losing weight hard. It also makes gaining weight hard for some people - ask Victoria Beckham, she got 'em!
But I've never considered myself obese. Overweight yes, but obese no. I did gymnastics as a kid and attended dance classes my whole childhood. I went through 3 years of intense training at drama school including high physical exercise, and I relished every second. I never have been the kind of big girl who does nothing. I like to do everything.
But now I'm at a stage, at age almost 42, that my weight and my addiction is badly affecting my health. My ankles and legs hurt, my joints are seizing up and the tiredness overtakes me sometimes. The problem is, I LOVE FOOD! I love trying new foods, I love dinner with friends, I love a regular Sunday roast, I love big casseroles in the winter and big healthy salads in the summer. When you're a big person, people automatically assume you must eat tons of chocolate and drinks gallons of coke. But actually that's not really my problem. Yes I like chocolate but I've always been able to take it or leave it. I don't like crisps and I'm not a fan of full fat coke, but I love my carbs! Pasta, bread, potatoes, nothing beats a comfort carb!
Except maybe snuggling up with my good friends Ben and Jerry. Ice cream, big, big weakness!
So since the 'path to diabetes' diagnoses I am attempting to cut out all added sugar in my diet. The first few weeks were fine and I found adapting to a low sugar diet pretty easy as I wasn't miles away from it to begin with. But again, I appear to have rolled off the wagon and this last two weeks I have eaten Nando's three times, Wagamama once and gorged on sugary treats.
It's my addiction and I don't know where else to turn.
I've done Weight Watchers, Slimming World, countless exercise videos by retired soap stars. I had personal trainers and nutritionalists. I've been told I'm not big enough for surgery but am too big to have too low a calorie diet. I've been told I'd be so much prettier if I lost weight which doesn't help when you've never considered yourself attractive anyway. I've been shouted at on the street to watch the pavement doesn't crack when I walk on it, told that no man would ever want me cause I was too fat and ugly (laughs on them, had tons of the buggers!) and even been told I can't expect to look as attractive as thin girls.
Every person, man or woman, big or small, has their insecurities and their emotional breakdowns and I'm no different. I cry in changing rooms because none of the clothes will fit me and then to make myself feel better, I eat. All. the. wrong. things. I make excuses when my friends or family show concern, or worse talk them down like they don't understand anything about my life. My doctor made me realise I was a food addict and I honestly do not know how I have never seen this before. But unlike drugs or drink or nicotine, you can't go cold turkey with food (mmm turkey!). You need food to survive.
So where do I go from here?
I'll climb back on the wagon and do my best not to roll off again. I'll throw out the bad food in my cupboards, again. I'll go to the grocery store and stock up on fresh veg, lean meat and plenty of water, again. I'll power walk my way around my village every couple of nights when its dark so no-one sees me, again. And I'll do my best to ignore the rising fear that I'll fail again. I've always prided myself on my strength of character and my strong resolve to win through bad times, but I can't help but feel this is one challenge that will eventually overcome me.