Jayne McAllister

Travel Wellness Expert and Author


Why I Started Dieting

This is painful for me.  But relatively speaking it’s no more painful than years of self-destruction, punishment, and deprivation.  And if I don’t write about it then I’m being utterly hypocritical.  I’m here to help yo-yo dieters and binge eaters jump off the dieting roller-coaster because I’ve been there.  So if I don’t talk about my experiences and continue to only post fabulous, healthy recipes, then I’m not being true to myself and I can never be true to you.  So, this blog will alternate between the steps I took to love myself and food in the best of ways, and wickedly delicious recipes that are at the core of my happy, healthy eating plan.

“How long have you been dieting?” I ask clients.  For most, it’s at least ten years.  Take me as an example.  I’m 49 years old and I went on a diet for the first time when I was 20.  I have clients who aren’t as old as the many years I’ve been dieting.  Why 20?  It’s a bit of a blur but I recall my first two years in college as being a rush of early 80’s feminism.  We weren’t supposed to worry about how we looked, we were allowed to have hairy legs and hairy armpits (never did quite subscribe to that one) and it was completely verboten to step on the scale.  People were supposed to love us for who we were.

Fat Is A Feminist Issue” was published and we discussed it in our women’s group.  “Wait a minute”, we said.  “It’s still a diet book”.  Whilst we rallied against the depiction of women in advertisements, the thin pretty girls got all the dates.  One by one, the members of the women’s group began to shrink their dress size.  I remember sitting with our leader, S.T., one evening when a fellow ungraduate popped her head in and asked, “Aren’t you coming to count your calories with me?”

And here we were at Cambridge, part of the world’s academic elite, but as vulnerable and as impressionable as two-year olds glued to the Disney Channel.

So off I went to live in Africa, as one does, in a Muslim country where, out of respect for my host country,  I tried to draw as little attention as possible to my shape.  The flip side was that fun and games were always available in the expat community.  While my frequentation thereof was limited (I was there to learn colloquial Arabic and preferred to socialize within the Arab community), every now and again, a girl just needed a cheese sandwich and to catch up on the news from home.  The Club had a swimming pool and I wasn’t exactly in a location where I could go out jogging or walking so it was a welcome chance to exercise.  That meant a bikini.  No big deal until a male club member came up to me and said, “You know, you’re so young and you’ve already lost your “line” (Europe-speak for “figure”).  It’s a real shame.” 

If that happened today, he would still be feeling the pain of making that statement, but I was still watching the Disney Channel and getting mixed messages.  So, for the first time in my life, I thought that I was FAT.

To be continued…