Has The 'Love-Your-Body-At-Any-Size' Movement Gone Too Far?

by Rachel Redlaw

Why does it feel somehow taboo to just straight up say …

I LOVE food and cooking and eating and...

yeah, I seem to have done a bit too much of it!


And how about I stop pretending that I'm happy at this size?   That I'm not uncomfortable bending over when I change from trainers to work shoes (and breathing’s a bit difficult while I do it).  That we say I'm a size 16 but, I know that loose always looks better than tight, so actually now buy an 18.  That I'll just lose some weight first … and THEN I’ll tell people I'm on a ‘diet’.  That I'll stop being scared to step on the scales– but will lose a little weight before I do, so it’s not such a shock when I finally pluck up the courage.  That weirdly, I do this thing where I pretend I'm super-happy right now and would NEVER - what me? who loves food so much? – go on a diet.
 
Or is this, WAS this, just me? Or do you recognise any of this too?
 
It doesn’t even make any sense!
 
What does make sense is the fear. Of confronting it, the weight gain, the unhappiness with it, the fear that maybe it’s going to be too hard to lose.
 
In fact, how DO we lose it?
 
I never wanted to go on a ‘diet”.  They’re restrictive and boring and bland and aren’t what I like to eat. Or drink for that matter, I'm not giving up my glass of red.  And I know I’d never stick to a 'diet', so kinda … what’s the point?  Plus of course these days it’s all about loving yourself at any size … and we all know that it’s hard to lose weight now we’re getting a bit older.
 
HAH.  REALLY?  
 
Why are we telling ourselves these stories?  Why aren’t we CLAIMING the bodies we want? The LIVES we want?
 
So how about we stop hiding from the fact we’ve been putting on weight, very slowly, for years and years, because we love food, and family, and cooking, and socialising and having a good life.
 
'I’d feel much happier slimmer' – I remember feeling that way - 'right now I don’t feel comfortable in my own body, and that doesn’t feel good at all.  You know, I’m going to lose some weight.'
 
OWN IT, SAY IT, DO IT.
 
I’m 47 years old and over, oh, ten years or so, I slowly put on three stone – yep a whole 42 pounds.  And I became scared of doing anything about it. In fact, I think I sometimes ate MORE because I was so keen to keep up this charade that I wasn’t bothered by it and that my thing was loving cooking and food.
 
NOW I say – I also love feeling at home in my own skin, happy when I look in the mirror, able to run up stairs … oh, so many good things.
 
NEVER feel embarrassed about wanting to lose weight.  And you NEVER have to couch it, talk about it, in other terms that somehow don’t even mention weight!  In my opinion, the self-love love-your-body-at-any-size has gone so far it’s actually STOPPED us from saying we simply want to lose weight.
 
You can create the body you want to live in, in your 40’s .. and easily.  It’s about reframing and re-telling the stories we tell ourselves, and you know what, also going a bit easier on ourselves.  We choose a goal, in this instance a weight loss goal.  We are honest about it and we know what we have to do.  And we make choices to reach that goal.
 
But LIFE. Yep it’s still going on – you’re not living in some vacuum.  So sometimes when you say to yourself, do I want these crisps more than I want to lose weight? Well, yeah, right now I do.  I eat the crisps and I totally enjoy them.  Have I somehow ‘ruined’ a diet? Does this mean I might as well just eat crisps and nothing else FOREVER as I’ve totally ruined the whole thing?
 
Er, doesn't that actually sound a little bit mad to you?
 
It was a handful of crisps (ok, five handfuls but hey, same principle).
 
That’s all.
 
Move on.  Make another choice next time.
 
I created my own diet (The Tiniest Thai Diet) because I hated the idea of any of the diet programmes out there. I like cooking and eating food with a lot of flavour and I love Thai food. My own eating programme is based on some simple principles of reminding oneself that it’s not either cottage cheese and water, or chips and wine and nothing in between.  It’s just food.  Something to enjoy.  And it’s based on a few simple principles that I thought fitted with the general vision of an easy Thai-inspired way of eating.  Really when I say Thai-inspired I mean the whole of Asia … so it’s a way of eating that a pretty big part of the world eats as a natural way of eating.  Nothing faddish, or fashion.  I cannot express sometimes how happy I am to feel at one with my body again – more than that, I now have bigger goals and dreams than I’ve ever had in my adult life!
 
Why shouldn't I be fitter, stronger, leaner, softer, loving myself now more than ever before?
 
Drop the stories, the ‘oh it’s going to be so hard now I’m older’, the ‘it always starts off easy and then it gets hard’, and do it. The ONLY hard bit is standing up and saying it:
 
I want to lose weight.

I will lose weight.
 
I am losing weight...And guess what, I’m doing so easily and enjoyably too.  Eating some of my very favourite foods, and in a way that honestly, friends and family who come for dinner, never even notice – a way I can keep eating for life.
 

RECIPE: sort of som tam (thai green papaya salad - without the papaya)

I am a self-confessed som tam FIEND.  I LOVE the stuff.  I love it all the time really, but I suppose I especially hanker after it when I've been eating too much rich food.  It's just got all my favourite spicy, sour, sharp, refreshing, gorgeous flavours going in in every single mouthful.  Have it with any mix of finely sliced veg that you think will work.  Experiment.  Have it on its own, have it with sticky rice, have it with steamed rice, have it with grilled fish or chicken, but do please just have it.

To make a nice big plateful:

  • 2 tbsps light brown sugar (measure it, don't just use an enormous serving spoon) or white if you don't have any brown, + 3 tbsps water
  • 1-2 birds eye chillies depending on how spicy you like things
  • 1 big or 2 smaller garlic cloves
  • approx.1 tbsp dried shrimp (optional but really makes a difference! Leftovers from packet can go in freezer) 
  • approx. 2 tbsps peanuts
  • In place of the green papaya: 1 carrot, 1 courgette and 1/2 a green pepper (you could also try red pepper or cucumber here too, but have a mix)
  • a handful of green beans
  • 6-8 tiny tomatoes, or just slice or quarter some regular size ones
  • 1.5 tbsps fish sauce
  • Half - 1 lime (to taste)

Method:

  1. Put the sugar and water in a small pan, bring to a simmer on the lowest possible heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Simmer for a minute then switch off and set aside to cool.
  2. Then prepare the other ingredients: peel the garlic; chop the peanuts; very finely slice or julienne the vegetables that are replacing the green papaya; and cut the green beans into approx 1 inch lengths. (NOTE: peel the veg and remove the seeds of cucumbers if using, and leave out the core of courgettes.)

  3. Put the sliced vegetables in cold water or add a few ice cubes to keep them fresh.

  4. Crush the chillies and garlic in a pestle and mortar -  you want them in small pieces but not a complete mush.  Add the dried shrimp and give them a bash too, then add the peanuts and just crush them a little more and completely mix in.

  5. Next drain the sliced vegetables and squeeze out as much water as possible (use a clean tea cloth or kitchen paper), or remove the ice cubes, and add the vegetables to the mortar (if you're mortar isn't big enough transfer everything to a bigger bowl). You just want everything to combine nicely now and mix together so go gently on the bashing and maybe use a spoon too to keep everything turning and make sure you've combined it all together. 

  6. Add the green beans, tomatoes, fish sauce, lime juice and the sugar syrup that has cooled in the pan and give it a bash again, crushing the tomatoes and breaking up the beans a little.  Use the spoon again to keep everything turning in the bowl or mortar.

  7. Taste and stir and add more lime if necessary. I normally do, I like it very spicy and quite sour.  Then turn out onto a plate or just into a serving bowl and top with some extra chopped peanuts.  Serve on its own or with chicken, or fish and/or rice. Any leftovers will keep in the fridge for a day, but it will also get spicier the longer it sits in the dressing - just to be warned! 

(original recipe can be found here along with lots of other delicious ones to try)

Rachel Redlaw

Rachel is a writer and the creator of The Tiniest Thai Diet and The Tiniest Thai Supperclub in London.  A lover of food her speciality is helping women over 40 lose weight whilst still indulging in delicious food and enjoying life.  

Website:  www.rachelredlaw.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/rachelredlaw