How I ended my toxic obsession with food..

I have lived most of my late 20’s being slightly overweight and almost all of my 30’s being obese. In the past two years I have shed almost 40 kgs of extra weight which is more than 40% of body weight I have carried for a long time. Most of my weight loss happened in 2021 through a structured regime and with an expert weight loss coach. No gymming or heavy exercises were involved in this regimented weight loss program, neither were my calories restricted. Someday, I will surely share what my program was like but today I broadly want to tell you that in the crux of it, it was all about changing my relationship with food.

For the longest time I had been living to eat, and not eating to live. It’s a funny saying that “foodies” love to say and I used to do the same. But today I want to open up about the toxic relationship I shared with food that continued for a long time.

At a difficult time, many years ago, I lost a lot of relationships instantly in life that I’d known as a child – my whole maternal and paternal family barring less than a handful of people, left my life. Uncles, aunts, cousins, all but few abandoned me. Dad wasn’t around anyway since he had passed on many years back. The relationships that I was left to count on were barely few weeks old. Work was stressful as I was growing faster in my career than my young age could handle, the expectations from a 25 year old me at a new home as an elder daughter in law were those that are from a 45 year old. Not many had seen my struggles so they didn’t care what my past or my trauma has been like or feels like, for no fault of theirs as their frame of reference couldn’t fathom what I had been through or the cushion I needed. My physical appearance had always been peculiar due to a skin condition and my metabolism was screwed. Back then, I didn’t give myself the option to say to anyone that I am not ok, that I am struggling. As a child I was taught that asking for help means you are weak! I had nowhere to hide, no one to reach for comfort and pampering. I had no friends who would be there for me, just kind acquaintances who helped if and when I asked them to.

I have always been a survivor. I instinctively turn to what will help me stay afloat and good tasting food for one reason or other was easily accessible and affordable in those days. This had come as a blessing after years of not getting tasty food either due to medical treatments or lack of money. After hours of smiling, being at my best behaviour, with no one to talk to about my real feelings, not even a proper ‘my’ home to go back to at the end of the day, or ‘parents house’ to go back to, I turned to food. I could ‘talk’ to good food. I could eat as much as I wanted and the food wouldn’t judge me or stare back at me for over eating it. I could eat whenever I wanted, as many times as I wanted.

Because my coping strategies were next to nil, I couldn’t be an alcoholic or a drug addict, and because my own consumption of food was the only thing in my life that I could control, I embraced food as the only thing I could hold on to. It kept me sane. I’d counterbalance meetings with tough stakeholders or toxic colleagues with a loaded cold coffee with chocolate. I’d soothe myself for the lack of friends or family with mutton biryani. I’d end a rough day at home with six chapatis and rice along with three bowls of rice and sabzi. I’d counter lack of sleep at night by reaching the fridge post midnight to gorge on gulabjamuns or half a can of condensed milk.

I am not berating my past self for doing that as survival is tricky business. Food and consuming it this was has genuinely kept me sane, away from mental breakdowns I just couldn’t afford and dare I say, kept me alive, away from dark thoughts of ending my life many a times.

Food thus became something my soul needed. My emotions became associated with it and that’s how I gave access of my feelings and sanity to food. A good portion of my favourite food could take away the worst of experiences and help me understand and think how to cope with what’s ahead. It could soothe my bruised heart or mind and prepare me for the next days’ grind. I didn’t care if someone told me I am hogging onto it because they didn’t see the reason for my ‘emotional eating’ . So I’d smile, listen to their concern and ridicule it in my mind.

The few years of doing that stunted my metabolism and started putting pressure on my vital organs. Fatty liver, high cholesterol and high sugar levels became normal and by the time I wanted to lose weight, my body became resistant. It got ‘addicted’ to sugar, wanting frequent meals, large portions and sugar rich foods. I’d get ‘hangry’ and despite heavy workouts and killing myself in gyms or on jogs in hot North Indian weather the scale wouldn’t budge. The heavy workouts would make me more tired and hungry and I’d lose it and gorge back into big meals in frustration eventually giving up on diets. I was looking at weight loss as a punishment and deprivation of food and being away from food was making me sad, upset and dejected. As if, someone is taking away the only good thing in my life. The only thing I can control, the only thing that doesnt judge me.

When I met my coach and started my fitness journey last year, the first thing that changed was my relationship with food. The self coaching that I gave to myself to stop looking at food as a channel, outlet or means of solving for emotions was perhaps one of the most important things to happen in years to me. As I educated myself more and more on how excess food is poison and the damage sugar in many forms does to the body, the importance of consuming only what is needed kept becoming clearer.

Today I look at food as medicine and I have no shame in admitting that. I understand what good taste is and indulge in it once in a while, but with a clear knowledge that it is all but an indulgence. The taste of most of the food gets perceived as good because of the sugar content in it (fructose, lactose, maltose etc) and the more food is consumed for taste than need, it ends up harming the body than doing it much good.

Today I understand food must be eaten to survive, thrive and to have energy to think clearly, physically work and have a healthy body. Not eating food or fasting is as important as eating if not more and restraint has a role to play as well in keeping the body healthy.

The reason I opened up about my long toxic relationship with food is to make aware that addiction comes in many forms. Too much of anything is addiction, not just alcohol or drugs or smoking. Too much food, music, phone, whatever be that you link to your brains reward system can become an addiction.

Food is not the solution. Food is barely food. It has a place in life to help get us energy that we need for survival. If you had an addiction to food or cant live without certain food groups, or stress eat or do emotional eating, talk to a coach or a friend who can help you talk through this, solve for this.

There’s a world of health benefits on the other side of food addiction. You can enjoy your occasional meal, and yet live a healthy and fit life physically and emotionally. Just give yourself a chance.


I lost 30+ kilos in 2021, and gained these five insights

In January of 2021, I found magic which helped me lose 36 kilos or almost 80 pounds of extra body weight in 10 months. My journey still continues as I am on the last mile. In this year I have lost almost 40% of the body weight I was carrying last year. Along with that I have lost prediabetes, high cholestrol levels, high uric acid, high levels of hypothyroidism etc too. My weight loss journey started with a Rheumatoid Arthritis scare as I carry an Autoimmune disorder from the age of 7. It didnt start with the intention of looking a certain way, but to really take any long or short term risks a bit farther away from my present.

There are always few things that are bound to happen on a life altering journey and they did with me to. The sense of achievement and the beautiful looks, compliments and encouragement I got along the way was beautiful. But equally here are five insights that I didnt expect or anticipate but experienced on my journey that I am sharing with you.

February 2021

Sadly, your weight has a bigger impact on your image than you think it does

I have always been confident in my skin and have been lucky to have a partner & family who have loved me fully and devotedly whatever my shape or size or appearance has been like. But I was amazed at how much it matters to the world how you look as my transformation happened. There were people who came and said they revered or even feared (!!) me when I was heavier but now find me less intimidating. Go figure! There’s more men in public spaces who think they can get away with inappropriate touching than before which I of course fight back with equal force. There are people who’d come and tell me they thought I was “really fat” and now I look “much better”. There are people who told me how it’s a shame I have lost my curves and the glow on my face to become a flat chested ugly woman (quite literally, no exaggeration). My learning? 1) Everyone will never like how you look so be happy in your own skin 2) Love your body the way you are. The world is out there to judge you and those who truly love, will love you anyway 3) Lose or gain weight for the right reasons. Not to look a certain way because there is no perfect look.

September 2021

Weight loss is equated to being more sincere, hard working and health conscious. WTF?!

Let me be clear. I have been trying to lose weight for years now. I had given up sugars many years back and also have been eating limited portion size. I have been running and weight training too but things didnt work out for me until I found the right guidance for my body and hormones. People have been complimenting me for “finally” paying attention to my health, not being lazy anymore, not being a glutton and it has just made me sad about how people who struggle with weight are perceived to be lazy, gluttons and many other things while they may just be struggling with underlying issues that have led to weight gain. Many people’s weight gain interestingly is related to stress, trauma, lack of time for self care, slow metabolism that fights weight loss and their situation is the exact opposite of being laid back. As a society, we need to stop judging people without knowing their full reality anyway.But specially related to generally accepted medical advice and fitness advice, there needs to be more awareness and encouragement around self care, mindfulness and being healthy than on weight and body image.

Photo by cottonbro on

Everyone is a critic/expert of your fitness program and will have an opinion on it

India is a country of self proclaimed experts on every topic. And most of the well meaning people who I have met on my journey who have been impressed with my results were also great “experts and critics” of why my fitness program isnt a)sustainable b)good for health in long term c)authentic and proven d)safe etc! How a diet or exercise routine that they know of, is more meaningful while I continue on the path of doom. And rather than defending it, I have let people express their opinion and nodded to their request to me to not continue with my fitness regime any longer all the way. I have realised, when something is too tough or overwhelming for most people, they tend to discount it. Those who wanted my results have signed up for it and benefitted as well. Between the few people who picked and seriously pursued the program from me, they’ve collectively lost 20+ kgs in the past few months as well. Lesson learnt – dont discuss everything about your fitness program with everyone. Generously help and guide those who genuinely need guidance – don’t hold back. Dont defend yourself and your path to those who critique it. They are talking to you with time on their hand with nothing to lose while you lose your sanity in a meaningless argument.

Photo by Lisa on

You will disappoint people you love on the journey more than once. And that’s okay!

When you have a different path in terms of what you eat, when you eat and how you eat; it is going to impact your relationships. With family, friends and colleagues. You will be cajoled, blackmailed, threatened and shamed into eating what you shouldn’t because eating is a social activity in humans. My mom and mother in law were sad that I wouldnt ask them for making my favorite dishes anymore or have just one roti or poori at lunch. My partner would feel disappointed that our dates didnt happen at our usual hangouts/food joints and it left me heartbroken too until we discovered new ways to date and spend time. My colleagues and friends would make jokes on what and how little I eat. My son would be exasperated and ask me ‘mama, when will you stop eating salads! why do keep walking all the time!” My family would hate it that when everyone sat together to chat, I put on my shoes to go for a walk. The three magic words that worked for me were patience, stoicism, compassion. I had to be firm in my decision and help those I love manage their emotions around the change I was making in my life. As results started coming through and I remained focused some leaned in. Others didnt but they also learnt I have changed. And that is alright. If a relationship in your life breaks down (unlikely though) because you want to care for yourself, then it wasnt meant to be – it was just looking for a reason to end anyway.

Photo by Pixabay on

You are not your weight, dress size or looks

When on a fitness journey, your body starts to look more like a socially accepted image of what fit is, its easy to lose focus. The compliments on how you look beautiful, hot, sexy etc when you havent received them for a while can sway you if you get flattered easily. But it’s important to remember it’s just people’s opinion. Based on what media tells them beautiful is, fit is. Fitness is holistic – its how your body feels whatver its weight, its your mental and emotional health, its your spiritual and social health, its your financial health. And how “Fit” you are is not as important as how “Happy and Grateful” you are. Do not lose focus on your gifts – whether you like to sing, paint, write, travel, blog, read or whatver else. As you excitedly look for new clothes and want to beautify your body, just remember it’s merely a body. It will die. Either it will rot in the ground or burn in ashes in the end. I know this is morbid but we all are mortals. There is more to life than merely obsessing on looks. Your transformation is as temporary as anything else around you. Don’t let it make your spirit and personality shallower or less richer. Retain kindness and keep learning more of what you like.

Photo by Yogendra Singh on

Change is never easy. And it throws curved balls one’s way that make the journey insightful. I hope you found my account interesting and amusing. I would love to know your opinion or thoughts on this. I will write more about this interesting year and my journey of fitness when inspiration strikes. After all, this is only the beginning