Diet Breakers was set up in 1992 with the aim of freeing women from the tyranny of dieting. Last Saturday it celebrated International No Diet Day. Rebecca Herissone, 23 and a PhD student, is a Diet Breaker. Cherrill Hicks talked to her.
Diet Breakers was set up in 1992 with the aim of freeing women from the tyranny of dieting. Last Saturday it celebrated International No Diet Day. Rebecca Herissone, 23 and a PhD student, is a Diet Breaker. Cherrill Hicks talked to her.

Height: 5ft 1in

Weight: Varies between 9st and 9st 7lb

Food consumption: Three meals a day plus snacks

Food favourites: Pasta, tomatoes, chocolate

Exercise: Cycling 1-2 miles daily

Why she stopped dieting: I first started to dabble with dieting at the age of eight, and at 16 I just stopped eating. I was plump, not fat. As a result I became anorexic, losing four stone over 18 months. Later I developed bulimia: by the time I was19 I had not eaten a meal in four years. I overdosed several times and had psychiatric counselling.

The realisation of what I was doing to myself came when I was 21, literally overnight. It was the night before Christmas Eve and I had been taken into a psychiatric ward and the people I saw there made me frightened.

I realised that I had a choice, it was up to me, and that I had more to give to life than being obsessed with food. All the problems with food, with not eating socially, with being afraid of chocolates and cakes, disappeared overnight.

Pros: It is so liberating. I love cooking food, I love going out to eat with friends - my social life is much better. I love experimenting with new flavours and tastes, having a bit of what I fancy.

I now do all the normal things around food because I am no longer afraid of losing control. It's wonderful being able to go round Sainsbury's and not worry that I'd come home with foods I should not have. I'm also able to store foods in the house without worrying. At the moment I have a kilo of chocolate downstairs, given to me as a joke. I occasionally nibble at a chunk but I'm no longer afraid I'll eat the whole lot.

I also have more energy for other things. When you're dieting you spend so much time thinking about food, avoiding food situations.

Cons: I can't think of any. I suppose the tough thing is to feel all right about my body when we are bombarded with images that you must be a certain size. But I'm short and round and that's the way it is.

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