I don’t have a tag for dieting on my blog, all the posts about dieting and my relationship with food go under physical health. I wonder whether I should create a separate tag for that to make it look like it’s important?
If you read my blog regularly you may know that I was overweight most of my life and since I can remember. I have lactose intolerance that was not picked up when I was a child and my main symptom after drinking regular milk are massive stomach cramps that feel like hunger pangs and only eating can relieve them. I was brought up on a farm where we had milky cow and due to shortage of food during communism we had milk all the time. It’s actually surprising now, when I think about it that I was only approximately 10kg (1 and half a stone) overweight with the amount of bread and potatoes I could sometimes eat.
However, there must be something more going on here as giving up on lactose (I can still have some yoghurt or cheese) didn’t get rid of my problem long term. I had periods in my life when I was slim and felt fantastic but they never lasted long and – another neurotypical stereotype – I was told by people that it didn’t last because I was starving myself. But I really wasn’t!
It got worse the last couple of years. There’s so much body positivity in the UK and it makes me wonder what British public really thinks about it because the attitude that I see is ‘you can be as fat as you want to as long as you don’t eat anything’. I feel judged a lot for what and how much I eat, and guess what, that makes me eat even more.
In Poland, if you visit your auntie for her birthday, you can easily have five slices of cake and no one would care. If anything, people will be happy that you enjoyed the food. And it’s me saying, someone who used to be overweight most of my life – I never felt judged for what or how much I ate when I was in Poland. In the UK it seems constant. I only worked out quite recently that when people offer me food I’m supposed to refuse. Why they offer it then? To test if I’m not greedy? But I am greedy, I really am! I love food, that’s why. That doesn’t mean I can’t buy my own. It only means shop is a couple of minutes of walk away and I can’t go there right now so I take what I’m being offered.
At the same time, when I try to diet, I’m being judged too. And mostly by the people who are overweight or obese. They are best to dish out dieting advice while at the same time telling you, you shouldn’t really be doing that. Just eat ‘healthily’ and exercise and the weight will disappear. And anyway, you shouldn’t be denying yourself what you want because that creates obsessions. So basically, if I’m offered food by somebody when I’m not on a diet, I should refuse but when I’m trying to lose weight I should eat whatever I f***ing want?
In Poland, when you start talking dieting around overweight people they keep quiet. And I really respect them for that now.
Oh, I forgot to add that I also frequently feel judged for eating Polish as well as British food. I suppose Polish because it then looks like I didn’t adjust to living in this country and British because it looks like I forgot about my heritage. Eating Indian or Chinese seemed to be ok so far.
I’m now considering whether I should go back to intermittent fasting. I used to do it for a year and it really worked well for me. I didn’t eat for 24h once a week (sometimes twice although I found this difficult). I gradually lost weight on it and, what is surprising, I quickly started eating less on days when I was eating (you would expect the opposite to happen, wouldn’t you?). At the time I worked in a care home in Reading where we had meals on shifts so I just fasted on my days off. I lived in a shared house at the time where kitchen was always in a terrible mess so that really worked for me as it took the trouble of cooking away. Things changed when I moved to Swindon, to my own flat with a modern kitchen. I wanted to cook my favourite meals on my days off and tried to fast at work. And guess what? The same people who judged me for what and how much I ate, would still prepare food for me for mealtimes, even if I asked them not to do that. I would find out that fasting is not good for me and I may pass out! I needed to eat something! They were really concerned. And I ended up eating it because I was worried that if I just throw all the food to the bin, I’d be judged for that.
So possibly intermittent fasting didn’t work because I wasn’t assertive enough? I know there are others ways of fasting, where I could just skip one meal at a time but I tried it and it didn’t give me the benefit of eating less on other meals. I think longer fasting improved my ability to assess if I am really hungry or I just want something, which I find very difficult to do when I eat regular meals every day. And possibly it trained me in my ability to say no to food? Anyway, for that year when I was doing it it really worked for me. So possibly I should go back to it?
But then British public will judge me, won’t they? Oh well… possibly British public should really learn how to keep their opinions to themselves. It’s really strange that even though those opinions are not expressed explicitly, I, an autistic person can still pick up on them. So next time, please, keep your eyes on your own plate.