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Listen to Your Body

By Julia

My obsession with food, unlike a lot of women’s experiences, didn’t start when I was a teenager…it started in my 30’s. I was always pretty active, and then one day I broke my foot while playing sports.

It was a complicated injury that required surgery and healed very slowly. And it was quite painful. Little did I know how much this injury would affect my whole life.

I started to put on weight. But it wasn’t just because of inactivity. The fact that I was home more, and kind of down, made me want to eat, and eat, and eat. Chips were suddenly my best friend. And I discovered how much television I had been missing. And so on.

They say that the only way to improve your health and weight is not through dieting, but through a lifestyle change. I had always heard that, but never realized it also worked in reverse! In fact, my lifestyle had changed from that of an active, healthy person to a sedentary one.

And with this change also came a new found obsession with junk food. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved junk food. In moderation. I guess this injury really brought it to my attention. I had too much time to kill. My clothes were not fitting, I didn’t feel well and I was not happy. That made me just want more ice cream and french fries.

I never realised before how addictive food could be, and how strong a link it can have to your emotions. I had always heard people talk this way, but I just thought they were making it up. But it’s true!

The more I sat at home and gained weight, the more depressed I got. I was getting headaches and my muscles ached. I was tired. My asthma, the condition that had not bothered me in years, was making a comeback. I had to do something.

I tried to diet, to limit my calories, but it always backfired. By the end of the day I was so hungry I wanted to eat everything in sight. I continued to put on more weight and continued to feel terrible physically. And a bit like a failure.

A breakthrough came when I went to see my doctor. He told me a nutritionist was available through the office for consultations. I almost didn’t go, because I thought I already knew about food. Just eat less of the junk, right?

I was wrong. Going to see the nutritionist was the best thing I have done. I learned that it wasn’t just what I was eating, but when, and how much. And why.

I learned that too many refined foods can actually make your body ache and feel sluggish. I learned that the more fibre a food has, the fewer cravings I might get. I learned that it’s important to eat a protein with every meal, and to be mindful about what I was eating. To pay attention and treat my hunger differently than my boredom!

It’s a couple months later and I am starting to slowly become active again. My weight isn’t down to quite what it was before, but it’s almost there. The best thing is how good I feel. I realise now that I never knew what healthy eating was. Even when I was slimmer, I never felt this well. It’s like, for the first time, I am paying attention to my body. It just took an injury to slow down long enough to listen!

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  • Women's College Hospital