Ever since I was a child, I have had a love-love relationship with food. I come from a Jewish family and anyone who is Jewish or knows anything about Judaism knows that every celebration involves food. Passover, the breaking of the Yom Kippur fast, and Purim, all are food-related holidays. Add birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and much of my life has been a tale of where I ate and when. I may not remember what exactly we were celebrating, but I’m often able to recall the meal that accompanied it.
My mother received her Master’s degree in nutrition so, unlike many of the people I have met since coming to the UK in the 70s when food was either roasted or fried, I have always understood the building blocks of nutrition. Unlike one particular boyfriend who once asked me after he had been told by his doctor to cut down on fat after a cancer diagnosis, ‘Is cheese fat?’ ‘Cheese,’ I replied, ‘is exactly the same as fat only spelled differently.’ Or a rather large intern that worked for me, who brought a large bag of cashews to work and a noodle salad, because she wanted to lose some weight before a beach holiday.
I know the difference between vitamins and minerals, a protein and a carbohydrate. I did not and have never eaten badly, I have simply eaten too much. As a result, I became a yo-yo dieter during my adolescence and I pretty much remained one until my fifties.
There was the time in my early teens where I was bulimic and ultra-slim which suited the Brutus, high-waisted jeans that were fashionable at the time. In my late teens, I frequented a diet doctor on Harley Street, where I could only eat citrus fruits and protein in between the weekly injections of who-knows-what. On one particularly memorable visit, Gary Glitter sat next to me in the reception.
When I met my husband, I recall his grandmother saying, ‘I’d hate to see her pregnant, she’ll be as big as a house,’ after a visit to meet his family in Toronto around 1989. There followed the gym going years when I became a frequent visitor at the sports centre. Eventually, I trained to be an aerobics instructor with YMCA Fitness Industry training after realising I could have led the classes that I attended.
After the birth of my first son, I went through my slim years mainly as a result of having a child that used my body as a dummy; I suspect he simply drank most of my fat. When my second son came along, I had become terribly unfit and out of shape following a lack of exercise, two caesareans and simply eating too much.
By then I had joined my husband helping to run his newly formed PR agency. I did a swap with a personal trainer – lessons in exchange for publicity and I continued to do that for over ten years during which time I became incredibly fit but no less obsessed with food.
Those who have struggled with an eating disorder will know that we fall into two primary camps – the overly controlling type who weigh everything they eat, count calories and maintain their svelte figure by being constantly in denial and those who simply binge. I suspect there are many other types too but basically it all boils into down to not being able to control one’s self when it comes to food.
Over the course of forty years, I had been on most diets – Atkinson, Keto, Scarsdale, the G-Plan. Some had worked for a brief period of time, usually until I’d gotten sick of excluding stuff that I enjoyed having and packed it in. Dieting simply reinforced everything that fed my need for control over food.
Menu planning, having to go out of my way to buy some specialist sweetener, cooking without using fat, it all added up to yet more obsessing about each meal and my unhealthy relationship with what I put in my mouth.
I’ve always joked that I’m best at publicising someone else’s products or services when I have very little experience of actually using it. The more I know, often the less I’m able to convince others of its merit particularly if I’m not 100% behind it. I can be incredibly persuasive when I believe whatever I’m being asked to sell is the real deal.
However, when a friend starting a new business, asked me to help her, I said yes. I wasn’t about to turn down the opportunity to work on a product that promised to release my brain’s grip on food forever. With the proviso that I could try the product out on myself. She gave me a promo code for a freebie, and told me to go away and listen to it daily for 12 weeks. It seemed too good to be true.
The audio, called Slimpod, was a nine-minute download. I am fortunate enough to fall asleep (but not remain so) very quickly and every night I turned it on as I crawled into bed, often asleep before the soothing voice of the commentator was over.
A cross between hypnosis, neuroscience and who-knows-what, I gradually found myself unable to finish the food on my plate, reducing the size of the portions I ate and rejecting anything on a restaurant menu that wasn’t super healthy. Even more remarkably, I stopped thinking about food. I no longer wondered when my next meal was about to take place and I began to eat when I was hungry, which turned out to be not very often. That was a revelation to me as I couldn’t recall a time in my life when what-my-next-meal-was-going-to-be didn’t dominate my thinking.
I stopped weighing myself, which was even more remarkable as I’d lived most of my adult life fixated by the scale in my bathroom and what it said on any particular day. All I knew was that my clothes started dropping off me until eventually my slim clothes (some of which I’d had for twenty years) started to fit again.
The change was gradual and unlike the other ways I had tried to lose weight, long-lasting. And the best part about it all – I still ate what I wanted. I didn’t deny myself food I knew was loaded with calories if it was tasty. If I wanted a pizza, I ordered one! I simply didn’t feel hungry for the rest of the day and as a result, I didn’t overeat.
For the first time in forever, I felt liberated from my food obsession. And, as a result, a big part of my brain that had been taken up with thoughts of food, was freed up to focus on my work, being creative, my friends. I’d always thought that I had a short attention span, which wasn’t true. Now that I wasn’t constantly thinking about food, I was able to concentrate for longer on other stuff; my overall productivity increased.
I won’t say it was all smooth sailing. During the pandemic, when my then-boyfriend Bob moved in with me and, as a result, I started cooking dinners which normally I wouldn’t have eaten preferring a bigger afternoon meal, I did pile on a few pounds. They went after he moved out and I was able to resume eating the way I had learned better suited my body. The other day I pulled on a pair of jeans I bought nearly 30 years ago to find they still fit. I’ve lost about 20 pounds over a two-year period.
Being freed from the scales and obsessing about what I’m going to eat – is the best gift in later life I could have asked for!
Details of Slimpod can be found here. Use the code AofA15 for 15% off Slimpod Gold (ONLY) until 27th October 2023.