“Get back to a better you.”
“Lead your best life.”
“Look and feel good from the inside out.”
These are the type of cliches that are often thrown around dieting. Maybe they’re true for some, though I highly doubt it, no one mentions that living your best life may include being stuck in your bed all day.
That was the reality from Brigid Delaney, journalist and author of Wellmania, when she paid thousands of dollars for a diet where she didn’t eat.
Living her best life, which included only drinking tea and water, meant not being able to socialise with friends.
Living her best life meant being too tired to even leave her house.
Living her best life meant being too self-conscious to speak to anyone.
That was the uncomfortable truth of dieting for Brigid that no one warned about. Extreme hunger: yes. Extreme weight loss: yes. Social reclusion and isolation: no.
Here is a snippet of Mia Freedman’s interview with Brigid. (Post continues after audio.)
Brigid: The hardest part isn’t the hunger, which is really hard, but it’s the lack of purpose. When you take away meals, you take away a whole part of life that is really essential, and that’s socialising around food.
Most of what I organised with friends was organised around meals. So, even though I was dieting for a couple of week, but I felt very lonely at that time. It was hard seeing my friends because it’s very uncomfortable when you’re not eating and everyone is ordering these big meals. People feel self-conscious so I didn’t really leave the house for a couple of weeks.
Mia: When you did leave the house, I read in your book, that you sometimes licked people’s food?
Brigid: I used to eat my house mates’ food when she wasn’t looking. I would quickly eat it and spit it in the bin, just so I could have that sensation in my mouth. I would lick the juices from pans. I remember emailing my mum about it and she said I shouldn’t like the juices from being because I’ll burn my tongue.
One day, I had a very important business meeting halfway through the fast and I couldn't avoid it. But, the woman wanted to meet me in a cafe and she ordered breakfast and didn't know I was fasting. At one point, she turned around and the reptilian animal took over my body and brain and I reached across the table, grabbed her breakfast and shot it in my mouth.
She turned around and there were bits of her food dropping over my chin. When you don't eat things, things go weird.
Mia: Did you start to obsess about food? Did you start to like look at pictures of food and walk past looking at people in restaurants?
Listen to Mia Freedman's full interview with Brigid, right here. (Post continues after audio.)
Mia: What was the hardest part of the diet?
Brigid: I was like a sad puppy dog that is wanting to be picked up from the animal shelter.
I once followed this guy down Bondi Road and he was carrying a box of pizza, the smell was just so intense and I didn't know what I was doing.
I also became obsessed with Gwyneth Paltrow and her cookbook, It's All Good. I spent a lot of time in bed just lying in bed looking at these pictures of Gwyneth, this amazing food, and then dream about what I would eat.
If you found this article interesting, we have plenty more for you here:
- Yoga in the morning, cocaine at night: Welcome to the ‘wellness’ paradox.
- Explainer: The ‘lose 10kg’ diet that has a two-month waiting list.
- When it comes to the ‘wellness cult’, Gwyneth Paltrow is not the problem.
You can buy Brigid Delaney's book, Wellmania, at Booktopia, here.