I love food. Like, I REALLY love it. I love the experience of eating all kinds of foods – the smells and aromas, the different tastes of the sweet, salty, and spicy, and the amazing textures – from smooth and silky to foods so incredibly crunchy that you worry about your teeth shattering. I could probably count on one hand the few foods I dislike. I mean, I even enjoy aeroplane and hospital food, for fuck’s sake.
If I think about it, I lovingly put it down to my parents (Aussie Mum and Lebanese Dad, for those playing at home). As a kid, when presented with a plate of unfamiliar food, my mum always said “if you don’t like it, you can spit it out – but just try it”. I’m ever-grateful for her being so awesome, for this approach to food has led me to some amazing culinary discoveries during my life – from things like sushi (including raw chicken sashimi in Japan) to a Lebanese dish called Kibbeh Nayyeh (which is basically raw lamb mince, served with olive oil, mint and raw onions). And if the opportunity comes to try frog’s legs, I’ll probably give them a go, too (clearly not a vegetarian over here, but this girl also loves her some tofu and vegan food too!)
As lovely as it is, this beautiful approach to fearlessly trying new foods doesn’t mean I don’t have issues with food, or the body that consumes it. Far fucking from it, actually. I’ve struggled with it pretty much all my life.
I was a fat kid. I think I was maybe the second fattest kid in my year at primary school. But I was still popular and in the ‘cool group’, and while I don’t really remember any bullying about my weight from my school friends (or maybe I have just forgotten and let it go), I was bullied by my brother. I suppose he was just doing what brothers do (being a dick), but it fucked with me – a lot. There were other elements of my childhood that caused some trauma as well, and I think I ate my feelings a lot. Which possibly contributed to being the second fattest kid in school and more merciless taunting from my brother.
I’ve always had a good appetite, and the innate ability to eat a lot, and at any time. For some of us, having a great appetite and loving all the foods might mean that our bodies are bigger than the societal idea of perfection. And I used to really hate that. It wasn’t fair. I hated that my hip bones didn’t stick out (although I got to a point briefly in my mid-20s where if I was laying down, they did), and my thighs were perpetually rubbing together and wearing out my jeans.
In my early to mid-twenties, when I was in the public eye, I felt like I had to starve myself and count every single calorie that went into my mouth. But I loved food. So bulimia and binge eating, and taking laxatives was more my style. I was secretly so envious of those girls that could just not eat, and I berated myself through flowing tears too often that I didn’t have the willpower to not eat anything, for even just one day. I couldn’t even do 24 hours without food. I was such a failure. So I ate to commiserate, and make myself feel simultaneously better and worse about it all…. All because as a female musician, my appearance and weight were of more value and importance than my musical talent (but that’s fodder for a whole other blog).
I got divorced a couple of years ago, and for a couple of years around that time, I really leant into food, for the comfort and distraction it brought me. I ate a lot of Cheese ‘n’ Bacon Balls and frozen dinners – for around 18 months straight. But fear not, dear reader – that was still not enough to make me never want to eat them again. Don’t be silly – I love food, remember? Needless to say, my size grew. I hated it, but I was really sad about the end of my marriage, so I couldn’t really stop myself, nor did I want to.
For the next year or so I lived on my own, and had a really weird love/hate relationship with food. I still loved food, and when I would go out with friends, I loved eating all the magnificent and delicious meals. But at home, my fridge and pantry was often very bare. Like, bachelor-in-his-early-twenties bare. Mustard-and-a-moldy-block-of-cheese-bare. I often forgot to eat, or ignored my hunger. I wasn’t trying to lose weight or anything, I just wasn’t interested in food in the same way while I was at home. I’m still trying to figure out if I’m just lazy and/or if I just don’t like cooking. Also, cooking a delicious and fancy meal for one person still seems like far too much effort. I’m trying really hard to change this mentality. As my amazing partner has pointed out a couple of times to me – “You deserve the delicious foods all the time!”
So here’s the nice little segue into how I’m going on a little (MASSIVE) journey of discovery about my relationship with food, and my relationship with my body…. Thanks to said amazing partner, I’m learning that there’s an entirely different way of looking at things when it comes to food, eating, and my body. *Does a double-take, mouth gaping, like I’ve just seen a magic trick*
I’m learning about intuitive eating and body positivity. It’s terrifying, electrifying, liberating and mind blowing. And boy, I’m learning a lot.
I’m learning that if I’m hungry I can eat, and stop eating if I’m full. CRAZY, RIGHT??? I don’t have to wait till the big hand hits a particular number on the clock till I’m ‘allowed’ to eat, and I don’t have to eat ‘breakfast food’ only in the morning. WHO FUCKING KNEW?! I don’t think my parents ever had to utter ‘You can’t leave the table till you’ve finished what’s on your plate’, but now I understand that dinner is finished when I say it is. Which means I’m becoming more aware of how my body is feeling in terms of hunger and fullness. I’m learning to be aware of it, and listen to it – and not ignore it and silence it, like I’ve always done.
I’m learning a lot. I have a lot more to learn. I know that a part of it also has nothing to do with food. It’s about my mind and my soul, not my soft belly or wobbly arms, or thighs that are the perfect width for holding a big, purring cat.
I want to share my journey with you, as I’m pretty sure as a woman, there’s one or two things you can relate to about how I feel, or have felt, around food and living in a body that feels like it will never be good enough. Whether it be the idea that because you’re not a size ‘skinny’ you aren’t good enough, beautiful enough, or worthy enough. Or you feel you can’t eat the delicious food because you shop in the plus size department. Or you feel that if you didn’t do two hours in the gym you don’t deserve the cheesecake. Or you’ve never done the gym because you don’t want to be the wobbliest one in there. Or you’ll never find true love because fat girls aren’t lovable. Or any of the ridiculously overbearing voices in our heads telling us we’re not worthy. Because trust me, my love, we are. We are so fucking worthy. And I want to remind you of that. I want to remind you till we all know it as truth.
I’m ready for this. But I’m also pretty terrified. It’s a bit daunting to unlearn everything you thought was truth. But I do know that it will be worth it. Over the last 3 years I’ve done a lot of personal development work around self-worth, and I’m at the point where I see so many beautiful, amazing women who are hurting and sad, and I want them to feel as good as I do. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying I’m completely unaffected from the decades of societal brainwashing, or impervious to feeling a bit bummed if my jeans feel tighter (that is no doubt due in part to our current #isolife situation happening), but I’ve learned enough to be able to navigate around being a woman with a whole lot more ease that I ever have in my 41 years. And a lot of that meant unlearning a lot of shit I thought was truth.
So as I continue to unlearn, I’m going to share with you. In the hopes that some bits and pieces (if not all of them) will help in some way too, until you wake up one morning and smile, knowing you’re fucking perfect, just as you are.