To know exactly where my food issue started is a bit tricky as it was so early on I can’t remember. However, I have so many memories from childhood where food was the problem, the solution, the remedy, the medicine, the comforter, the hater, the silent shadow that never left my side! Being a twin I was formula fed for ease and we always had to wait for the other one to be fed which meant being left to scream. We were fed high sugar, wheat based cereals from the tender age of 4mths to fill the stomach longer and to keep feeds to a minimum. This caused me no end of gut health problems as a child which still exist today if I don’t take care of myself but also became part of my food issue. I was one of 5 children growing up with a single mum who had little money and less patience. Disappointed in her own life ours was made to be equally challenging and I grew up with no confidence, self-esteem, self-love or self-belief. I was fed to be quiet, fed to be kept happy and fed to be made better then belittled and shamed about needing food. I have middle-child syndrome whereby I always strived to make people around me happier than I am, be the person they need me to be and what they wanted me to be and had no idea how to make myself happy! Not the best recipe for success – yes food related pun intended!
When I look back at pictures of myself as a child I see a normal healthy looking child. My mum cooked big dinners purely as there were so many of us but this was only once or twice a week and other nights we were loving the Findus Crispy Pancakes and tinned sausages in beans! We ate cottage pies a lot – I still have a pathological hate for that meal – and lots and lots of cheap white bread, eggs and potatoes, not forgetting (dear god the thought of this!) Brains Faggots. As we got into our teens more processed stuff was available cheaply and less family cooked meals as my mum was too busy.
I got my first job when I was 13 (by lying to the owner of the hotel about my age!!) and I worked 3 hours a night after school and every weekend morning for 5 hours cleaning and chamber maid duties. It was hard but it was fun and oh the joy of having my own money. I would head straight for the supermarket and choose my favourite foods and sweets and chocolate and revel in my independence. I occasionally bought books and clothes but mostly food!!! I still never really gained weight but I was never a petite frame like I longed to be and again followed the pattern of self-soothing through food. I was obsessed with my weight and it was the one thing my siblings used against me, even my twin who was the same shape and size as me although a bit shorter, would call me obese if she really wanted to upset me.
Life carried on the same and my gut health problems worsened with my diet but was never treated or helped, it was an issue I had to live with and I was often taunted for it. No wonder really after all I’d eaten that simply made the problem worse. Food education was way behind in the 70’s and 80’s and yet mum know what was healthy, she knew salad and veg were better than chips and bread but 5 kids – enough said!
We experienced much grief and loss in our childhood which took many years of therapy and support as an adult to heal and come to terms with. We lost our dad who abandoned us all for a new wife and a new family, our step dad who inconveniently died not long after joining us, our close family friend who was like a mother to me, our sister who was killed in a car crash and shook our lives in a way nothing ever had. Death and loss was such a big part of my life and food was my comforter and go to over-the-counter remedy for all ills and my weight would go up and down and with it my self-loathing and self-hate as my life felt so out of control.
By the time I was in my twenties I was working full time and doing part time work in pubs and bars to pay for my car. It opened up a new world for me and it was time to have fun!! However, with no safe emotional foundations to rely upon my judgement was warped badly. I remember the day when I had been so busy I had missed lunch. I snacked a lot anyway so wasn’t ever that hungry at meal times but on this particular day I had eaten nothing and got home late and I sat at the table and challenged myself to go to bed without eating. The power over myself was intoxicating and I did it and felt so strong and full of a self-control that I’d never had before. This moment was epic as it triggered years of anorexia, binge eating and bulimia. After 2 decades nearly of unconscious over eating and uncontrolled eating here I was being controlled and not eating, at last, thank the gods, Kate has found her way through the wilderness!! Oh, if only!!!
My twin hated me for being skinny, my mum body shamed me – again, (oh the frickin irony!), called upon her church to help me (let’s just not go there!!!), spoke to my bosses and a doctor and yet I had never felt so damn good. Until I got so weak from lack of food I passed out at work and got taken to hospital. Yeah, good one Kate! Not to be deterred from my power trip though I lied to them all and carried on regardless. Eat, Vom, Starve, Repeat! A recipe for disaster (yes, I know, the pun again – what can I say, it’s part of me!). I got many physical complaints, the gut issue worsened, the need for laxatives was ridiculous and yet I loved my skinny self so much. Lots of male attention was amazing – although as a messed up, religion indoctrinated bundle of fear that too was a scary place – lots of alcohol fueled fun was everywhere and Kate, the party girl was in midst of it all. I was known as the social hand grenade. Pull her pin, throw her in, make every party go with a bang! Happy days!!!
I think I just got bored of being laxative dependent, tired from no food or crappy food and unable to eat in front of other people as I had developed such a fear of food. I fell in love with the wrong types and never knew what or who to love, trust, adore! I hit a wall in my mid-twenties but met a very kind man who was older than me but supported me and allowed me to be me, messed up and all! This saved me from a life of fear and began my journey into alternatives. I discovered Reiki which had helped my friend recover from chemotherapy much better and prolonged her life way past what doctors had told her it would. This led me to Kinesiology which ultimately changed my life. I was an alcohol free, caffeine free, dairy free, wheat free walking bundle of health! My emotional health was improving and I was finally healing holistically.
Later on this path I married someone else and had two children who were my reason to live and breathe and not a single poisonous food would enter their bodies. They were so pure and clean and so was I to a certain extent. I still overate but at least it was really good food I was eating! No processed foods, no microwaved meals, home cooked and baked loveliness. It wasn’t enough though. I was still sugar reliant and finding alternatives was very creative of me but I still had gut health issues and this reminded me of the past and the past was horrible and – yep, more work to do!
I struggled on feeling like I knew the answer and yet not being able to apply it. I would exercise all the time, I even ran the London Marathon but my emotions would always drag me back to sugar or wheat or fatty foods. It was a constant battle. I never considered myself an addict. I still don’t. I have an all or nothing approach to life which doesn’t always serve me well but I’m either on it or off it. Black and white approach doesn’t work well either. Lots of counselling and therapy to clear my past issues has helped and still does but I’ve realised that my overwhelming lack of spiritual (not religious!), emotional, self-nourishment and self-love has always been missing, forever. My parents did the best they could with the limited resources they had too. I am forever grateful I have my own little gene pool that allowed me to step out of the vicious circle and look for something more and the path I have followed is so clear from my mid-twenties to now I can timeline it blindfolded. I am now on a path of self-nourishment and working towards putting in to my whole self all the hugely important foundations that were missing. Self-esteem, self-confidence, self-belief, self-LOVE! I love myself, very much, I rarely express any hurtful or hateful comments to my poor injured body, mind or soul. I still eat erratically but mostly, 80% of the time I am a wheat free, sugar free, plant eating vegan who juices vegetables and actually drinks them. OMG! I exercise when I can around my 3 children (blessed to have had one more baby!) and I love my life! I have made many decisions in the past from an unsafe footing but I have so much to be thankful for, not least the lessons I learned that make me a better mother, tribeswoman, therapist, friend and fully signed up member of this world we currently occupy!
Clean eating heals my soul, my body, my heart. It is at the forefront of my brain all the time and when I deviate from that path my gut issues return, my moods swing, my heart feels heavy and it’s like I’m back where I was. When I eat clean my soul sings, my body thanks me, my heart is full and my moods are always stable and happy. It’s not just that we are what we eat and that we eat to live. We are more than just our bodies and we need to love each part of who we are and with that we can be whole. Knowing how to return to wholeness through food is massive, its huge, it repairs us on a cellular level which supports our entire system which then supports our emotional and spiritual selves. It is the reason we are alive – food – if we eat shit, we feel shit – being able to join IEWIN is a natural progression for me; it’s like it was always going to happen and although I’m not fixed completely (who is?) it is a joy to be able to share my path with others who can say “I get that – that’s how I feel too”. And for every woman who overcomes just a small part of her pain that leads her to eat unhealthily, is an empowered and stronger woman. And who doesn’t want that? Big loves. Kate xxxx