This time last Christmas, Claire Barratt was more than 10 stone heavier. She explains how she’s broken out of the bubble of secret eating and moved away from using food for comfort.
I was 24 when I went through a huge period of change. My husband got a job in Spain and we moved out there with our newborn daughter. We thought it was going to be an amazing fresh start for us, but for me at least, the grass was not greener.
I found myself stuck in a strange house in a country where I didn’t even speak the language. I spent all my time at home with the baby, while my husband worked long hours.
Up until this point, I’d always had a fairly normal relationship with food, but I started eating to block out the negative emotions I was feeling. After a few years, we had our second daughter and my weight continued to soar. I was classified as obese and I even had to take insulin for gestational diabetes during my pregnancy. It should have been a warning sign, but I chose to ignore it.
Shortly after our daughter was born, we moved back to the UK because my mum was very ill. I was back around family and friends, but my weight continued to climb. I felt like I had enough problems, without adding a diet into the mix. When mum passed away, my weight hit new heights.
We decided to stay in the UK and I took a job caring for Alzheimer’s patients. Part of the role was encouraging patients to eat, so we would take them out for meals. I would eat a big pub lunch and then go home and have another meal, like I hadn’t eaten. I knew I had a problem, but I blocked it out.
By last Christmas I was working in a school. I saw a photo of myself at the Christmas party and realised that I absolutely had to do something about my weight. I’d finally reached my turning point.
I signed up to a very low calorie diet, combined with counselling to help me understand why I overate. I thought I’d give it a week and see how I got on. I never looked back.
The diet worked wonders, but it was the counselling that was really key to my success. For the first time in my life I was facing up to the reality of my problem with food and tackling it head-on. My counselling group offered me a level of support that I’ve never experienced before.
Of course I have good and bad days, but the knowledge I’ve gained about myself makes me confident that I can maintain my weight loss.