Did the Diet Industry cause my Addiction to Food?

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I have reflected back over my life so many times during my 12.5 stones weight loss. I often wonder was there a cause of it?  

I know that ,my lack of self- worth and self- esteem was a trigger to binge on food but I could have been addicted to anything, so why food? 

When I look back at my childhood I had always associated food with love and feeling loved by others. Both My Mum and Paternal Grandmother were fabulous bakers and would often bake sweet treats as this was the way they showed their affection for people that they loved and cared about.  

I can admit to being a comfort eater as a child, however my Food Addiction escalated massively and I looked back at how and when that started? 

 

I developed physically at an early age and my periods started when I was only 11 years old. 

 As a result of this I developed curves and what I would describe as a hourglass figure, a woman’s body but only at age11. 

I hated myself  as I was different to my friends, I saw my curves as fat and was desperate to have a straighter figure like my friends. 

 One comment that always sticks in my mind was from a boy in the playground he said to me “you would be a pretty girl if you were not fat”. 

I started attending aerobics classes in the evening with a friend of my Mum’s the “hot topic” of discussion within that group of women was their weight 

 They would praise the latest woman who had lost weight and ask in awe, “how did you mange it?”  It was always answered with the latest diet craze.  

This gave me the idea that a diet was what I needed to do to be the same as all of my friends! 

 I would go home and talk and nag my poor Mum about joining a slimming group but she told me I was “too young” but eventually she gave in and aged 14 I joined one.. 

 My Mum accompanied me there and I stood on the scales I weighed 10 stone (I am 5 foot 6 inches tall) and only weigh 9 stone 6 pounds now and am a dress size 10) My figure is pretty much the same as it was then. 

I was so nervous and anxious standing on the scales and I cried at my weight I felt disgusting. 

 I remember thinking to my self that my Mum must be so embarrassed having such a fat daughter. 

So that was where and when my food restriction began, Every week I anxiously stood on the scales, and at  the group weight loss was celebrated and everyone who lost weight got a round of applause. 

Food was given the label of “good “ or “bad” and it warped my mind about what I should and shouldn’t be eating. 

 Everything that my Mum and Gran baked was classed as “bad” so therefore I was not “allowed” to eat it. 

It was the beginning of my secret bingeing, I would hide food in my bedroom from my Mum as I didn’t want her to know I was being “bad” , I had already told myself she was ashamed of me. 

I would use my pocket money to buy sweet food from the local shop and hide it away and binge a large amount and then hide the wrappers. 

 I stopped losing weight at my weekly weigh-ins and cried every time. I would lie to the group leader and say I did not eat anything “bad or off plan”. 

Mum said we were wasting money so we left the slimming group and went on to try something else. 

We tried meal replacement shakes, so aged 14 I was given only 3 milkshakes a day to drink and no food. 

 A lady would come to my house and weigh me once a week and the first week I managed to stick to the plan rigidly and lost 4 pounds. 

 I was so happy and saw myself as being “good”, the weighing lady said that she would have expected a bigger loss on the first week, that made me feel sad and deflated. 

So inevitably the binges came back with a vengeance. 

 I was starving by the end of a school day and would come home and binge on Jam and toast, cereal, biscuits, anything really but my “drug” of choice was always sweet food. 

I medicated myself and my lack of self-worth with food to numb the pain. Stuffing down painful emotions. 

 

Over the years I tried several more diets but needless to say any weight that I lost was always quickly regained and a bit more each time. 

 

I had a health scare aged 26 and that was my big wake up call that I really had to make drastic changes to my eating habits and lack of any exercise.. 

 I made small changes one at a time and guess what?  

No diet was involved! 

 I have spent many years researching nutrition, attending courses, working on reframing my thoughts about my low self-esteem. 

 I now work with others to help them as binge eating is associated with a lot of guilt and shame and usually kept hidden from our loved ones. 

 This isolates the person and is a lonely experience.. So I run a support group Step by Step with Sarah- Jane. 

So are you a binge eater?  Have you asked yourself this?, Was dieting the cause of it? 

Sarah deep in thought
Sarah Jane thinking she is overweight when she was young
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Julie Rimmer
Julie Rimmer
2 months ago

Great article, it’s so sad what the slimming industry does to people just to make money, not help people eat healthy

Sarah Jane Clark
Sarah Jane Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Julie Rimmer

Thank you Julie for your comments, I completely agree, slimming clubs are a massive money making machine with a failure rate of 97%, it makes me so sad.

Helen kruger
Helen kruger
2 months ago

Great to read because as a food addict you think you’re alone and noone else would ever do the same. It’s so tricky to re frame your thoughts that food isn’t bad or good but to make choices to have a healthier life x

Sarah Jane Clark
Sarah Jane Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Helen kruger

Thank you so much for your comments Helen, there is so much shame around Food addiction and there should not be!! The ingredients in Processed Foods are engineered to be highly addictive, Food addiction is at an all time high yet the government is not talking about it.
I am determined to break the shame around it and educate and support others as I know how isolating it can be xx

Amii Wilde
Amii Wilde
2 months ago

The slimming industry is there to make money. It’s not in their interests to help emotional eaters or yo yo dieters as they are their bread and butter. They measure success on how many people reach goal not how many have kept it off, so yo yo dieters who reach goal several times then put it back on are not counted as 1 success in total but as 1 success EACH time they get to goal. The food they sell has additives that are known to be addictive and cause cravings, ie sweeteners

Sarah Jane Clark
Sarah Jane Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Amii Wilde

Hi Amii
Thank you so much for your comments, I completely agree!
Sarah Jane

Blu
Blu
2 months ago

SO glad the Sarah-Jayne has written another article. The first one really connected with me, and has helped me look into WHY I’m choosing to ‘cope’with food, when before I ignored it and continued bad habits.
Its so refreshing to read.
Please can we have more items from her?

Sarah Jane Clark
Sarah Jane Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Blu

Thank you so much for your comments, the only time I was successful in permanent weight loss was when I started focusing on my emotional connection to food, there are so many people who are too ashamed to talk about it. I want to break the stigma surrounding Food Addiction.

Sadie
Sadie
2 months ago

Great article Sarah, thanks for sharing, there are many of us that have been made to feel low worth through diet clubs, although not intentional it is how it can leave you and then the spiral starts!

Last edited 2 months ago by Sadie
Sarah Jane Clark
Sarah Jane Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Sadie

Thank you so much for your comments and sharing your experience Sadie

Sam
Sam
2 months ago

An honest and well written article. I know myself I’ve fallen in to the slimming club cycle. Lose a few lb then ‘treat’ myself for being ‘good’ and this is something that doesn’t get addressed at slimming clubs, why people use food as their crutch.

Sarah Jane Clark
Sarah Jane Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Sam

Totally agree Sam, my approach to successful permanent weight loss is unique, “it has nothing to do with how you look, but everything to do with how you feel ” Thank you so much for your comments x

Paul Flounders
Paul Flounders
2 months ago

Amazing article really shows how the industry works

Sarah Jane Clark
Sarah Jane Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul Flounders

Thank you Paul it makes me sad they make billions pounds profit each year and have a 97% failure rate

Judit Nadas
Judit Nadas
2 months ago

Dieting and the pressure of being slim was my absolute downfall.
Learning to accept myself and ‘just eat normal’ was the key to my success.
I still have to be ‘strict’ with myself every now and then but I ‘catch the weight’ before it gets out of hand.
My biggest luck is that I Love exercising ‍♀️

Sarah Jane Clark
Sarah Jane Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Judit Nadas

Thank you so much for your comments Judit, I completely resonate with you on all of your comments, I have a pair of jeans that I use as my gauge!! X

Jo P
Jo P
2 months ago

A fab article Sarah Jane. So honest and highlights the pitfalls and failures of a multi billion pound diet industry. It’s not in their interest for it to work long term. Thank you for sharing x

Sarah Jane Clark
Sarah Jane Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Jo P

Thank you so much Jo , I completely agree with you it makes me sad. Thank you so much for your comments xx

Beverley Siddle
Beverley Siddle
2 months ago

Love your honesty and openness Sarah. The false hope, poor messaging and lack of support the diet industry provides to individual people is creating so much unhappiness. The only ones it is helping are those making money from it.

Sarah Jane Clark
Sarah Jane Clark
2 months ago

Thank you so much Bev, yes it is so toxic and does damage to our thought patterns about food. Going on a diet just made me as a Food Addict even more obsessed about food! It was constantly on my mind. I really want to break the shame around Food addiction.

Nikki Knights
Nikki Knights
2 months ago

It’s frightening when you see it laid out in black and white like this- can you look into the NHS and the diet advice they give? The diet industry has a lot to answer for but they are there biggest promotor.

Sarah Jane Clark
Sarah Jane Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Nikki Knights

Really good point well made Nikki, I think fundementally it’s the lack of acknowledgement that Food is an addictive substance within the NHS. They provide outdated advice on nutrition, so sad

Cathi Lillington
Cathi Lillington
2 months ago

Interesting read which really made me think about all the times, Iv been on a diet!!
Now it’s all about life style changes and feeling good about yourself.
Thank you for sharing Sarah.

Sarah Jane Clark
Sarah Jane Clark
2 months ago

Thank you Cathi , I find it so sad that people keep going back to try again and again, speaking as someone who is a Food addict they made me even more obsessed with food!!

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