Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Clare Richards - Slave To Food

I watched a documentary this week called Clare Richards - Slave to food
Some of you will know Clare as the lead singer from the pop group Steps which was around from 1997 - 2001

Since the band split up Clare has become infamous for a very different reason
Her weight
While in Steps, Clare maintained a very slim size 8 figure
But after the break up of the band Clare gained 4 stone

Desperately unhappy in her own skin, Clare vowed to lose the weight and participated in a magazine shoot to show off her new size 12 figure

Since then, Clare has lost and gained the same 25kilos over and over again
And the media was there every step of the way to document her journey

I think Slave to food was made 2 or 3 years ago
It was a fly on the wall documentary showing first hand her battle with the bulge
Clare admitted that while in Steps, she survived on little more than one meal a day
She said that she bigger than the other two girls in the group and felt huge pressure to remain thin
Once the band split Clare turned to food to help her cope

I thought the documentary was quite good
Clare was very honest about her struggles
She was aware that her battle with her weight had overshadowed any of her singing work and she hated that
She confessed to having low self esteem and said she was an addict
Some people turn to drink and drugs
Clare turned to food

I could identify with Clare a lot
I think that we are on opposite sides of the same spectrum
She said that she feels out of control when it comes to food
I feel the exact same
If I didn't purge I would surely be the same size as her
I swing between anorexia and bulimia
There is no inbetween
No middle ground
I do believe that it is possible to be addicted to food
For me, food can be an escape
For those few moments that I am munching through a bowl of pasta, I am in heaven
All I'm thinking is how good this food tastes
It's a high
A temporary high
As I am still chewing the last mouthful, I am already on my way to the bathroom
It's just completely out of the question that I would keep this food down
The full feeling and the anxiety is just too much to bear
Purging itself is addictive
The relief
The instant gratification
The feeling of being empty
And so I do it again and again and again........

A question that struck me while watching this show is when does an unhealthy relationship with food become an eating disorder
Yes, Clare's relationship with food was definitely negative and unhealthy
But I think it's safe to say that she doesn't have an eating disorder
So what's the difference between her and me?
I think the same question can be posed to a drug user
When does drug taking turn in to drug addiction?
I can only speak for myself
With my own drug using, I knew it was turning in to addiction when it began to take over my life
When it effected every area of my life from work to health to relationships
And the negative consequences began to outweigh the positives
It's the same with my ed
My relationship with food started to turn in to an ed when my life began to revolve around it
When it took up every waking moment
Every thought in my head
It became the only thing of any importance in my life
Nothing else mattered

A lot of people have food issues
Heck, nearly every woman I know has a complicated relationship with food
But most people manage it
They maintain normality in their lives
They hold down jobs
Have healthy relationships
My ed is all consuming
I think about it all day
That's when it becomes dangerous

So many women struggle with food and weight and body image
Clare is no different
Towards the end of the documentary Clare was starting to gain control of her life
It's something that she will have to watch probably for the rest of her life
It's the same for someone living with an ed
It's an ongoing battle
But I imagine that it's worth it
What's the alternative?
Certain misery and not much more

When do you think a persons relationship with food turns in to an eating disorder?


  1. I think you answered your own question quite well. I think a person develops an eating disorder when their whole life starts to be ruled by food and numbers. My eating disorder became strong when I started watching ever morsel of food I ate and started weighing myself everyday instead of once a month. I know that I am always going to have an eating disorder, but we can choose not to let the calories run our lives. Sending you lots of love.

  2. I think it definitely becomes a problem when it negatively impacts other aspects of your life, when it becomes your whole life. Obviously someone can have disordered eating behaviors but not necessarily have an eating disorder. My boring black-and-white logic says it crosses the line and becomes an ED when you fit a diagnostic criteria (whether it's AN, BN, BED, OSFED, UFED, whatever), though I'm open to discussion on that one.
    Drugs turned into an addiction very early for me. Within a couple of months I was smoking everyday, all day, breaking down and unable to function if I couldn't. None of my friends were like that, and I knew it wasn't good. I know addiction to weed can be a debatable topic, but I have no doubt I am addicted.
    Sending lots of love and hugs to you dear Ruby. Thinking of you xx

  3. I'd say it becomes one when it takes over your life, infects everything you do and becomes your main coping strategy.

  4. You know the Latin proverb 'quod me nutrit me destruit' - I take that to be more about addiction and mental illness with EDs and think it's a way of defining them - what nourishes me destroys me - when what you rely on to survive the day is at the same time killing you mentally or physically. Love you xxx


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