Harper's Bazaar March 2016 - Page 189

BOOKS NO D I E T F O R B I G G I R L S IMAGE COURTESY HARRY TANIELYAN; GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING Serial dieter and NYC-based writer Kelsey Miller breaks the rules of food with intuitive eating—the anti-diet where nothing’s off limits AT 29, I HAD HIT ROCK BOTTOM. It was a chilly morning in October 2013, and I was in the middle of a Spartan Warrior bootcamp in the East Hamptons.Within minutes of a run through the woods, I collapsed. It was the end of the road, and I knew I had to find a new one. Decades of deprivation had finally caught up with me, and something had to change. So began the Anti-Diet Project, and the challenge of eating well. I developed a disordered outlook towards what I ate as soon as I was conscious of having a body, and the impact of food on it. I needed someone else to tell me how to eat, what was socially acceptable. My first official We imbue food with all diet was at age 11, when I had the opportunity to these powers, but forget be signed by a talent agent and they wanted me that ultimately it’s there to lose weight. It included yogurt, chicken breast, green beans... not much else, really. And when to nourish and satisfy that failed, I moved on to the next, and the next. us, not to make us I have tried Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, better people. There’s CalorieKing, the blood type diet—anything with a name. Or I worked with nutritionists who imbue food with all these powers, but forget no morality in subscribed to a diet ethos, and it internalised quite that ultimately it’s there to nourish and satisfy unnecessary restriction. quickly. The more diets I tried, the more rules I us, not to make us better people. There’s no had. Even my workouts were inconsistent and morality in unnecessary restriction. damaging—I would exercise to the point of injury with long periods What I eat now depends on the season and what I’m feeling. I of nothing at all. The culture around me had set a standard for a won’t force myself to eat a certain way, but I may think that, wait body that I could not achieve, though I was adamant to try. a minute, I had no vegetables today so let me get some greens and When I finally decided to break the cycle and eat intuitively, I’ll feel better. My fridge is stocked with winter vegetables like it was exciting but certainly nerve-wracking. I brought back purple cabbage these days, ingredients for smoothies, and I always the foods I had banned, and with that came a phase of eating keep a lot of eggs—I’m an egg person. But I also have marzipan bread and potatoes with cookies and ice cream. I don’t beat myself for overeating and abandon. I knew it was a don’t associate punishment and reward with food. And it works. response to the years I had I enjoy going to the gym before work, but don’t feel bad if I miss gone without, and within a a workout—I just try to walk more instead. It’s rational fitness few weeks the magic waned. and intuitive eating. My body got the message When you’re on a diet, it’s linear—you can see the numbers that they won’t be taken on the scale go down—but when you’re eating like a normal away from it. The biggest person, it’s not that simple. I still have emotional reactions to the takeaway from the antiword ‘fat’, and being confident, having self-esteem, and saying, diet: Food neutrality. There’s ‘Oh, I look good today’ are all still conscious decisions I make no good or bad. Birthday every day. Social media doesn’t help much either. Between food cake may be junk food, porn and acai bowls, it fetishises food in a way that I don’t think but there’s value to it is healthy for anyone. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s better emotionally. And if I eat a every day. Now, I might just get a cookie and eat it guilt-free. n Kelsey Miller’s debut book, Big Girl: How I Gave Up Dieting & salad, it’s no different from Got A Life, is out now. choosing a hamburger. We As told to Esha Mahajan 189