First published in The Globe and Mail. Reprinted with permission.
I’ve always been a curvy girl. Even in youth, I had more in common with Sophia than Twiggy, and towards the end of the last decade, I was definitely in the Marilyn class. But lately, there has been a slight shifting of the curves…a lower European drop, so to speak. The crisis came last January, when the sweet little store Clerkette asked me when I was ‘due’. For the record, I was done long ago.
It was obvious: this couldn’t go on. This former beach babe was on track to becoming a beach ball. Badly needed was a swift revision of the current eating strategy, which involved stuffing in as much as possible in order to avoid the famine that might just come in the next seven hundred years or so.
First, I tried Weight Watchers. Nice people and sound advice, but all the ‘counting’ had me thinking about food every hour. I fetished over fruitcake. I don’t even like fruitcake. This was not for me.
In desperation, I turned to television. Prepackaged food plans are all the rage on cable: “Look at me! I’m a Grandmother, and love prancing around in a bikini again…” Hey, that annoying person could be me, back in a size 2! I was a size 2 in grade four. There had to be a sensible way of eating for life, that didn’t involve wacky obsessions.
Which got me thinking… thin people are thin because of how they eat. And if I watched them carefully and copied them religiously, surely I would be thin in time, too?
Brilliant, I thought! Piece of cake, I thought! Why do all my idioms involve food?
I went in search of a role model. Dianne came to mind, a tall blonde colleague, willowy slim. She once told me that she hadn’t had butter in over 15 years. I remembered a conversation we had during a conference. It was one-thirty, lunchtime had come and gone, and I was ravenous. Leather portfolios were starting to look tasty.
“Are you hungry?” Dianne said. “I’m starving. Do you want to go down and get a bowl of soup? I could really do with a bowl of soup.”
We went down to the cafeteria. I had a chicken salad sandwich with mayo and fries. Dianne had a bowl of clear chicken soup with 4 soda crackers.
"Oh, that was good,” she said. “I’m stuffed.” And she didn’t eat anything more until dinner at seven, when she had a large salad with no dressing.
Soup is the answer, no question. I shall have a bowl of soup every day for lunch and not eat anything else until dinner. I shall be as slim as Dianne, eventually. Who needs crackers?
7 a.m.: I hate breakfast in the early morning. Dianne never eats breakfast. Coffee with milk (yuck) instead of cream and out the door.
10 a.m.: In a meeting. Will she ever shut up? Somebody pass the muffins. They’re pigs at that end of the table – pigs! Oh yeah – I can’t have one. I’m being good.
12 noon: Soup! I’m having soup and it’s really good. Salty. Chickeny. It’s gone. That was quick. I’m feeling righteous. This can work, I think.
1 p.m.: Ate the 4 crackers that came with the soup.
2 p.m.: Went searching for gum, breath mints, anything.
3 p.m.: Snuck somebody’s Diet Coke from the fridge.
4 p.m.: Screamed at my staff for talking.
5 p.m.: Sobbed quietly in the washroom.
6 p.m.: Raced home, setting new record. Chewed all five pieces of sugarless gum left in the package, while shifting gears.
7 p.m.: Ate salad of spinach, romaine, tomato, 1 egg, 1-ounce low-fat cheese, no dressing, while family munched leftover lasagna and trifle.
8 p.m.: Yelled at the kids for talking.
9 p.m.: Looked for snack. Surely thin people have a snack before bed? All that Easter chocolate hanging around. What would a thin person eat? Probably just one piece, and it would be dark chocolate for sure. I broke off a small piece of bunny and swilled it down with skim milk.
2 a.m.: Dreamt about food. Glorious food. Roast beef with Yorkshire, macaroni and cheese, cocktail parties with canapé. Dianne was stuffing her face with Brie.
4 a.m.: Got up and ate the rest of the chocolate bunny.
I’ve learned two things from my day of eating like a thin person.
- I will never be tall and blonde and thin.
- When you’re starving, toothpaste can be a food group.
Tomorrow is a new day and I am trying a new approach: eat like two thin people.
Melodie Campbell writes funny books. The Goddaughter's Revenge is now available at Chapters, Barnes&Noble and Amazon.