Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Dieting a la Duck

I am for the most part happy with my body. After many years of being a bit overweight, these days I have a just-about healthy BMI and I can run and climb stairs without killing myself. From time to time I do regain a few pounds though (*cough* three stone during pregnancy *cough*), which makes me wince a bit when I look in the mirror, "shrinks" my clothes ("Did you put these trousers in the tumble dryer Drake? Seriously, did you?!"), makes running harder, messes up my cycle (stupid PCOS) and gives me inexplicable backache. I just don't feel good, so despite my feminist pretentions, I feel compelled to diet.

I like food. A lot. I do not like dieting. At all. My diets therefore go like this:

Thursday: RIGHT! Let's do this! One slice of toast for breakfast! Salad for lunch. Some seeds to keep my blood sugar balanced. Ooh, Sarah brought cakes in! It would be rude not to... Just one then. Oh. I've had three. How did that happen? Dinner can be something light. Except we only have a four cheese pizza... OK, I'll start again tomorrow.

Friday (7pm): Oh crap, I was supposed to be on a diet wasn't I? Tomorrow!

Saturday: We have people over. Diets don't work when you're cooking for others. Tomorrow.

Sunday: Why am I worrying? I'm not that overweight. I'm letting womankind down by even thinking about it. I should just make peace with my curves and get on with life.

Monday (7.30am): Argh! Can't get my work skirt on! How is this the only thing that's clean??? DEFINITELY dieting tomorrow!

Tuesday (11pm): Jesus, what a day. Hey, I didn't get time to eat much though!

Wednesday (11pm): Jesus, what a day. Surely that makes that entire packet of custard creams justified? Seriously, tomorrow is the day!

Thursday: RIGHT! Let's do this! Etc. Etc.

It feels so clichéd to admit I diet, and even more clichéd to admit I'm completely crap at it, but losing weight IS difficult. For the past three years I have either been pregnant or breastfeeding so I have been able to get away with eating a good few hundred calories more every day than I can now I've stopped being "milked". My appetite has definitely reduced, but eating is as much about habit as hunger and habits are hard to kick. I have to remember not to buy popcorn or nuts with my lunch (or eat Duckling's leftovers) and stop myself from having a slice of toast before bed. That's enough to keep my weight stable, but more has to go to actively lose it, and that's a considerable shock to the system. My brain seems to bypass the knowledge that I'm on a diet every time I'm faced with food. The "not necessary!" voice is replaced with one that says, "go ahead! It'll be fine. You can go for a run later!". Which of course I never do. All the while the narratives of "You need to be thin to be accepted" and "You need to be thin to be healthy and avoid burdening the NHS" and "You shouldn't need to be thin to be anything. Just be you." are circulating my head. They all have their truths, but also their dark sides, particularly when taken to extremes.

So I munch on, gaining a pound, losing a pound, and being generally irritated that society, body and ethos have me so conflicted. This is probably why I only ever actually lose weight when ill or stressed. Flu is definitely not the best way to get thin but at least it takes the decision to diet out of my hands. Just not a week before our holiday please - I'll take snot-free over "beach-ready body" any day.

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