After spending half his life on a diet, Claude, 47 years old, now has a calmer relationship with food. Here’s the story of his journey, between mono-diets and overeating.
“It was New Year’s Eve,” says Claude, with a confident look. “We were having dinner at a restaurant with my husband, there were mirrors everywhere,” recalls the 47-year-old executive secretary. “At one point in the evening, I saw my reflection and there … it was a shock. It was as if I saw myself for the first time,” says this ex-obsessive of diets who, at the time, weighs 115 kg for 1.70 meters.
“It happened to me to swallow only an apple a day during three months”.
Claude avoided mirrors for a long time. As a chubby little girl raised in a family of sportsmen, she came into conflict with food very early on. “I remember my grandmother who thought I was ‘a bit chubby’, my mother who would give my older brother half a baguette spread with Nutella for snack time while I was only allowed a slice. I remember the frustration and the sneaky nibbles,” she says. At 18, Claude left her region to pursue her studies in Troyes before moving to Paris. In six months, the young woman, who weighed 65 kilos at the time, gained 30 more. “I ate all the time, any way I could. The city was like a huge supermarket. When I came home, on the platform of the station, my parents did not recognize me.”
From then on, Claude went on a series of diets. Apart from Dukan, “all of them”, in particular the mono diets based on fruits, vegetables or even yoghurts. “It happened to me to swallow only an apple a day during three months”. And to explain: “I believed for a long time that to lose weight, you had to stop eating. I always had this example in front of me: my mother – who still today forbids herself starchy foods – was close to anorexia at one time. My grandmother did not like to eat.”
“The yoyo effect is not a myth.”
Every time she sheds a few pounds, Claude systematically puts them back on, or even doubles them. “The yoyo effect is not a myth. If I lost five kilos I would gain ten”, she says. “I deprived myself of so many things, over such long periods, that as soon as I reached my goal on the scale I would throw myself on the food without taking any pleasure.” To the point of derailing her metabolism. Obsessed with her weight variations to the nearest gram, Claude, when she is not weighing herself – up to five times a day, even at night – controls everything she eats. “My husband, who loves to cook, has sometimes been very tired of this situation,” she admits. Intimate relationships suffer. “At the time, I never looked at myself and, in fact, I couldn’t stand him looking at me. Yet he was always patient, he knew me with my extra pounds, he loved me anyway.”
Three years ago, following the famous “New Year’s click”, Claude immersed himself in the books of Gérard Apfeldorfer, psychiatrist, and Jean-Philippe Zermati, nutritionist. “For the first time, I discovered another way of approaching the relationship with food, one that relieved my guilt”. She then made an appointment with the Parisian nutritionist Ariane Grumbach, discovered through her blog L’art de manger. She explains: “The Internet allowed me to realize that I was not alone and, above all, that there were alternatives to diets.” Worn out by years of deprivation, Claude was at the “end of her rope” at the time. “When I first met Ariane, I told her, “It’s a matter of life and death!”
No longer associate food with punishment or reward
From then on, it was a bit of a revolution on her plate: “No more food was forbidden to me. Of course, it was very destabilizing at first, but little by little, I learned to reconnect with my body.” Where once Claude could swallow thirty pancakes in one sitting, today she is content to enjoy two “with pleasure.” “Before, I would stuff myself because I knew full well I was going to drift away.” Even vegetables, long associated with “a punishment” now find favor in her eyes. Even vegetables, long associated with “a punishment”, now find favor in her eyes. Better still, “I find myself craving them!” she notes, also explaining that she no longer fears eating a plate of pasta or a slice of pizza in the same day.
With this method, the weight loss is less spectacular – between her new balanced diet and the gym where she goes three times a week, Claude has lost 30 kilos in three years, or a little less than a kilo per month – but it is sustainable. “Today, I can say that I have rediscovered the instinct to eat, without associating food with a punishment or a reward. Above all, I understood that to lose weight effectively, I had to eat!”