Get off the diet roller­coaster

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Contents -

Ispooned my al­lowance of cot­tage cheese out of the tub. This was my lunch for the fore­see­able fu­ture. Till my curves had gone. Till my boobs had shrunk to suit­able pro­por­tions. Till was slim. Aged 16, I was a size 12 – but that was the wrong shape for 1980s chic and, like the kids from Fame, right here was where I had to start pay­ing. In cot­tage cheese.

Look­ing back at pho­tos of my­self then – and also aged 26 and 36 – my over­whelm­ing emo­tion is one of sad­ness and sur­prise. My weight varies by three stone, but whether I’m a size 10 or a size 16, I’m al­ways the same Kate. Self­con­scious and round-cheeked with – as one boyfriend once told me – qual­ity hair. If only I could reach back through the decades to smash the cot­tage cheese and crisp­breads to smithereens, then per­haps I wouldn’t have wasted 30 years wor­ry­ing about what I put on my plate.

I had no prob­lem wear­ing a bikini as a child. I loved swim­ming and the first ques­tion when­ever we were going on hol­i­day would be, ‘Is there a pool?’ Mum would watch from the side, hid­den by a for­giv­ing smock. I knew she was self-con­scious about her body. Back then, it didn’t cross my mind I’d ever feel the same.

But when I was 10, I went through early pu­berty. The shock of it was in­tense – I had no one to talk to about the re­al­ity of pe­ri­ods and of hav­ing boobs while the other girls stayed flat-chested. Ashamed of my devel­op­ing body, the seeds were sown.

At se­condary school, I was stu­dious, hope­less at PE and in­vis­i­ble to boys. By the time I was do­ing my A lev­els,

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