Anyone who knows me knows my relationship with food. The only time that I don’t really pig out is when I am happy. When I am happy, I am too happy to eat. My world is full of sunshine and I forget to eat. But when I’m sad…People say that when they are sad, they don’t eat. Not me. When I am sad is when I medicate with food. I blame my family. I blame my mum, I blame Maami my grandmother, I blame my aunties. Especially my aunt Toyin. Whenever she came visiting, she would come with biscuits, chocolates, all sorts of orisirisi medemede. My grandma, Maami was a caterer and she made the most delicious foods. Maami was the best grandmother ever. And one way she showed us love was by feeding us. Then, we were brought up to not waste food. So, even when I was sated, I would still continue to eat. I blame everyone. And I blame myself too.
When I was a toddler, my family sensed this love of food that I would go on to have and they composed a Yoruba poem for me. I think it was my Aunt, Mrs Yinka Folawiyo who composed it. But anyway, this is the poem that they used to sing for me.
Omo rere ti’n jeyan – ( the good child that eats pounded yam)
T’o ba jeyan, a’a mu’ko – (after eating pounded yam, she drinks pap)
T’o ba mu’ko, a’a mu’yan (After drinking pap, she then sucks on the breast).
I loved this song ehn! I really did. And I would dance to it. This is where my weight issues started. The nickname my family gave me was Michelin. You know how the Michelin man has rolls of tyres around, him? I had roles of fat around me. I have always been fat. Even when I was a size 12 in Uni, I was fat. Because my mates were size 8 and 10 at the most. When I was coming to the UK, I thought it would be easy to lose weight because of the availability of low fat, low sugar alternatives which were not readily available in Nigeria. Boy was I wrong! These low fat low calorie alternatives are easily available. But then, so also are the normal high fat high calorie normal foods. I toyed with anorexia, but I did not have the discipline to follow it up. I toyed with Bulimia, but that ingrained teaching of not wasting food makes me want to not waste even my own sick. Yeah. That is how bad I was.
My sister, Yemisi on the other hand, is more disciplined about her food intake. Which is surprising because we have the same upbringing. Yemisi was going to the gym at Liverpool Road Apapa before it became funky to work out. She was just 16 then. Religiously, she would go to the gym in the evening and she would have only fruits for breakfast, a light lunch and a light dinner. I remember once, Yemisi tried to stop me from finishing all the food on my plate even as it was obvious that I was sated. I told her I could not waste food. That there were starving children in Somalia. She then asked me a question that I could not answer. Not because it was a rhetorical question, but because the question made me think deep and hold a mirror to myself. She asked me if my finishing the food on my plate stops children in Somalia from starving. Hmmm. She taught me how to dish my food in Tobi’s baby sized bowls. She taught me how to quickly sqirm washing up liquid on food on my plate once I was sated so that I would not be tempted to finish everything. But still, I did not lose weight as what I then did was to go back for seconds. And possibly thirds.
My sister Bukola is another one who defies logic. We have the same upbringing too. The same upbringing that gives you a messed up relationship with food. But she is very weight conscious. Eats like a bird. In tiny portions. Writing this, I am now realising that though we have the same upbringing, my sisters differ from me in one way or the other. My sister, the baby one, Dupe only speaks English and is very ‘sprispri’ while we, the other sisters are hardcore Yoruba speaking peeps. She is very Ajebota. Funmilayo, is the one that is as at home in a lagbolagbo party as she is in a high end dinner party. She is the only one of us sisters that can roll on the lagbolagbo level. I, personally hate lagbo lagbo parties. I get bored easily in them.
I try exercising but don’t commit to it. I registered so many times at various gyms but only go for a few weeks and then continue wasting money on membership as I delude myself that if I continue paying, I will get to go. The only times I have committed to going to the gym were the times when I had great aerobics teacher. At the gym at Shephard’s Bush, I would go all the way from Ealing where I lived then. They had a great Aerobics teacher and his classes were always packed! And another time when there was great aerobics teacher was at gym at Woolwich. I would go from Thamesmead where I lived then. But the ONLY time I have been fanatic about going to the gym, not because of any instructor, was when I did my first charity run for Cancer Research UK. I.WAS. DETERMINED! I loved working out so much that any day I did not go, I would feel restless (or reckless as someone called it). But after the race, I thought I would reward myself by taking a few days off the gym. And I have not gone back since then. I am an exercise DVD junkie. Taebo? Check. Insanity? Check. Ministry of sound dance? Check. And those are the ones that I can remember. They are there gathering dust in the basement. So many others have ended in the bin or given to others as gifts. I have some amazing friends who have tried without success to get me to use these DVDs. Amaka first introduced me to Taebo some 15 years ago. She still swears by him. Sola swears by Insanity and she once tried to get me to her gym. I paid the membership fee and did not return. Yanmo does not do DVDs but is very very strict with her calorie intake. These friends have tried to motivate me. But when it comes to food, I’m hard to motivate. Please motivate me about anything. But not food. I will have to get there on my own. Some months ago, I decided to change my eating patterns. And I have lost 15kg in the past few months. This is what prompted me to change.
Early last year, the soles of my feet started hurting slightly whenever I woke up, either to go to the loo or waking up for the day. It would take a few minutes before the pain would go. It got progressively worse and there was a particular day, it was so bad that I could not walk. I had to crawl around for about an hour before the searing pain subsided. And so it was that on some days, I would be able to hobble around for about half an hour and on some days, I would only be able to crawl for about 30 minutes. I was convinced that I was developing diabetes. JOPA had also mentioned some years ago on one of his holidays to the UK that I went to the loo too often during the night. I kid you not when I tell you that I would go to the loo no less than 6 times between when I go to bed and when I wake up. JOPA had told me to get tested for diabetes but I was so scared of being confirmed as being diabetic that I did not go. He once asked me why I thought I was fat. I told him it was because I love food. He said he was glad that I was not one of those people who deceive themselves by claiming that they ate very little. My dad’s friends used to kid him that he ate like a poor man. At meetings and parties, he would only have one piece of meat, some veg and eba or rice. Dazol. His friends on the other hand, would be piling up their plates in the way that rich men ate in those days in Nigeria,
Fast forward to some years after JOPA told me to get tested for Diabetes and I was developing this pain in the morning that practically paralysed me for about 30 minutes every morning. With much apprehension and after procrastinating for weeks, I booked a test at my local ASDA as they do free diabetes testing. I went for the diabetes test and I was told that I did not have diabetes and was also not pre diabetic. I decided to do a manual diary of what happened around the times I got the searing paralysing pains. It became obvious that the nights that I had a lot of sugar intake in the form of cakes, the soles of my feet would wake up in searing pain. So, I decided to change my eating habit. My aburo, Folake sent me some Chinese herbal tablets from Dubai. I lost 10kg in the few weeks that I took the tablets. I have stopped taking the tablets and have lost a further 5kg.
I have changed my relationship with food now. I now throw food away when I am sated. I also throw food away if I am not enjoying the taste. I have not pigged out on cakes and what nots in a long while. No, actually, I lied. A few days ago, Lawyerman told me about 2 female relatives that have been mightily messed up by their husbands and I was so so sad that I bought a pack of Gu cheesecake and finished the two jars in the pack within minutes. I was that distressed. The stories were that sad.
I am determined not to make the same mistake with Tobi. I do not force Tobi to finish his food on his plate. When he is sated, he is sated. I do not force Tobi to eat 3 square meals a day. He eats when he is hungry. Lawyerman keeps complaining that Tobi is too skinny. Lawyerman is from the old school. You eat your three square meals. You finish your food. You do not waste your food. Some weeks ago, he tried to give Tobi a playful punch and his knuckle hit bones. Lol. Tobi is lean. So, Lawyerman ordered him to go downstairs to eat something. But the boy was not hungry. He had eaten pasta. Tobi told Lawyerman he was not hungry but Lawyerman insisted that he should go and have two slices of buttered bread. Tobi tried to appeal to me because he knows I don’t force him to eat but I also can’t interfere in Father and son kwanta. Go and eat buttered bread as your father said. Later on, he did payback for Lawyerman though. By farting under the duvet when Lawyerman wanted to give him a ‘by force’ cuddle. Lawyerman is no better when it comes to food. The good thing with his eating habit is that he does not do sweet stuff like I do. Portion control is what he can’t control. Which is funny because his mum, eats very sparingly and very healthily. Lawyerman is strange like that. He will only eat fried meat at home but mummy does not do fry-fry and when we go to hers, her food is not fry-fry at all. And he eats it lovingly. But back at home, he is king of the palace. Fry the meat.
So, now, I am about 15kg lighter, I am still not as slim as I want to be. I have still got Fibroids that are the size of a 6-month pregnancy from what my consultants have said. And that has got to be part of the reason I weigh so much. Certainly, that is why my tummy is soooo big. But I am learning to change my relationship with food. Yesterday, I bought some blueberry muffins and the first bite I took felt dry. Muffins are supposed to be moist but this one was dry. I promptly put the muffin back and threw the whole pack of four away. The old Bunmi would have forced herself to eat it all because there are starving children in Somalia. If I must be fat, I have to enjoy the ride. No point getting fat on dry muffins.