Learning to eat again

GIVING up food for seven months was tough, but dieting reporter Rebecca Lefort found beginning to eat again even harder. She started binging on food.

By Tracey Sparling

GIVING up food for seven months was tough, but dieting reporter Rebecca Lefort found beginning to eat again even harder. She started binging on food.

Features editor TRACEY SPARLING who has been charting the highs and lows of Rebecca's remarkable journey concludes the story.

TO sit in front of a plate of dinner, with her knife and fork poised, was a moment Rebecca Lefort had been looking forward to for months.

For so long, a meal of any kind had seemed so far off, as she undertook an extreme diet which meant giving up food to lose seven stone in weight. But when that diet ended this month, her worst fears were confirmed - she discovered that learning how to eat again was not going be easy.

She went from her target weight of 11st 5lbs - having lost seven stone - to put on 11lbs in two weeks.

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With an honesty that she has maintained throughout her very public diet -she published her highs and lows in a blog at www.eveningstar.,co.uk - she admitted she failed at first.

“I'd been on such a high from being at my target weight, feeling so slim. When the time came to start eating again I came down to earth with a bump,” said the 23-year-old.

“It was awful really. When I was told I could start eating again I had all these great ideas, and I wanted to stick to the programme to reintroduce food gradually, because I liked being told what to do.”

“I went off the rails and ate anything I could get my hands on. I did eat bread, which I wasn't supposed to touch for months while my digestion started working again. I ate anything apart from the stuff that was healthy. I even had alcohol.

“I feel like I let everyone down and myself as well. A lot of people said this would happen and I've proved them right. I was so happy during the months when I wasn't eating, and as soon as I started eating again I was unhappy. I felt out of control.

“There was this voice inside my head which was so loud. Every day it said 'you can be good tomorrow' so I had this twisted logic that if I was going to cheat I might as well really cheat.”

Rebecca was in the process of moving house when she started eating again, and feared the stress might have been a factor. “I'm not making excuses,” she added: “but I think that played a part.”

It was only after a couple of weeks, that she managed to turn the downward spiral around, and get her binge eating under control.

She said. “I'd moved home and had calmed down a bit. I was less stressed so I felt less hungry - which just proves it was a mental thing and I wasn't physically hungry.”

Lighterlife, the medically-backed diet on which Rebecca had existed on nutrient packs and water, runs a follow-up programme to help reintroduce food after the diet ends. That includes weekly help from a counsellor.

Today her daily diet consists of lots of fruit, some nutrient packs, and enjoying an evening meal of fish or lamb chops with salad. She can't yet eat cooked vegetables, or carbohydrates and has invented little tactics to cope.

Fruit is one of the easiest foods for an out-of-practice digestive system to tackle, and Rebecca said: “I love fruit. I find it's really filling and takes a while to eat which is a good thing. I'm also trying out ways to make salads more exciting, and I write notes to myself to put on the fridge door, saying things like 'Taste life, not food'. When I want food I find something else to do to distract myself. I feel in control again. I've also invented an alternative voice to counter the evil voice in my head.

“Maybe my slip-up was always going to happen, and I've learned that food is not the answer to anything. I need to learn how to eat sensibly and as long as I can stay on track now I will be okay.”

While moving house she found an old pair of her trousers, which at size 24 were the biggest she ever owned. She laughed: “I just held them up and I couldn't believe it. When I wore them I never realised how big I was.”

Today she is a size 12-14, and said: “I do feel proud at what I've achieved.”

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The Evening Star brings you Rebecca's story but this diet is not endorsed by the paper.

May: Rebecca decides to change her life, and starts the Lighterlife diet where she can't eat any conventional food for 100 days.

June: She was having trouble eating the necessary four nutrient packs a day.

July: She start getting cravings for French bread with cheese; brie, cheddar, stilton but has lost three stone.

August: The diet is extended past 100 days. Rebecca feels great being thin(er) even though she's still technically obese. She has a 'planned lapse' and enjoys some food on holiday.

September: Rebecca speaks out about people being judged so much on their size.

October: She fit in to size 14 trousers for the first time. Exercise felt different now as she had lost six stones.

November: 27 weeks in, she addresses concerns that the diet is dangerous. Before starting, she has been advised that it was medically safe, and included counselling - but that it wasn't advisable to continue for more than 16 weeks.

December: Things have been getting a lot better. Rebecca says she will come up with other little ways of getting through this as she goes along. The upward spiral of weight gain has stopped, or paused at least.

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