Ruth Tansey is a Nutritional Therapist, Well-Being Coach, Colonic Hydrotherapist and Yoga teacher. Having recovered from debilitating IBS, Ruth opened her first clinic in 2011, created a franchise and is dedicated to helping others recover from digestive ailments.
I wish I’d always been healthy and had a healthy relationship with food, but the truth is I haven’t. I had multiple health problems, poor energy, poor digestive health and a whole host of debilitating symptoms. Looking back at my childhood I remember being sick a lot. I seemed to readily pick up sickness bugs and recall vomiting a lot and having time off school from a young age.
On one particular day when I was off school poorly, curled up on the sofa with a duvet. I happened to watch a programme on animal slaughter. I was nine years old, and can still remember that poor cow’s face, the fear it felt as it was about to go to slaughter. It made me sick to my stomach. And from that day on, I stopped eating meat. Vegetarian food was hard to come by back then. This was 1983, after all. So my diet growing up wasn’t great. I basically lived off pasta with tomato sauce, pizza, chips and omelette. By the age of 12, I was passing out a lot. My dad whisked me off to the doctors, and thankfully the advice given was to eat lentils and beans. I am so truly grateful for this insight. A different doctor could have given my dad very different advice.
Around the age of 12, my mum’s best friend died, and we took in her daughter, who was a few years older than me. Growing up, I was somewhat nervous around her. Some of the things she said and did, didn’t sit well with me and caused some distress. Her stay with us was a tough time for all concerned. Because of this, I spent a lot of time at my best friend’s house. I worried about my parents and the effect everything was having on them equally, finding it increasingly difficult to cope with myself.
Growing up I had lots of antibiotics for various infections, and by the time I’d reached age 12, I’d developed asthma. Despite getting frequent chest infections, I started smoking. It was such a daft thing to do, but experimenting seemed to be part of my personality. Recreational drugs followed on from that around the time I went to college.
I struggled with an eating disorder from around the age of 12. Looking back there were lots of things going on in my life that I wasn’t happy with which undoubtedly led me to use food as a control mechanism. I was a really sensitive child who was struggling with her identity. I didn’t like myself at all. Many of you who have suffered or are suffering may be able to relate to this. It all started because of the need to be liked. My best friend at the time was a lot smaller than me and carried a little weight, she was by no means fat but her mother would make comments about ‘what a lovely figure’ I had, this obviously upset my friend. My friend had a stocky frame, where I was long and thin. I’d never really been interested in food one way or the other. Well other than deciding to become a vegetarian at age 9. Which was completely for ethical reasons. Food was just something you ate at breakfast, lunch and tea and other than that I had no other relationship with it. But that was all to change.
I knew my friend didn’t like the fact I was slim, I can see now this was because of the comments her mum made. I didn’t make this connection at the time. Although I do remember feeling embarrassed by her remarks. I was 12. I didn’t have a figure. I was a child, and wanted to remain that way. High school for me was daunting. I was scared of boys and wanted to hide away. I’d had my long hair cut into a boyish crop and was very particular as to the school uniform I would wear. I didn’t want to look nice, I wanted to disappear. I still don’t really understand why, other than being shy.
So in order to please my friend I started using my dinner money to buy tuck shop snacks, we both did. She wanted me to get ‘fat’ like her. So I did, I put on some weight, felt disgusting, but nothing changed. Except for this, I developed a terrible sweet tooth. I felt addicted. If I even had a small amount of sugar, intense cravings would arise. I was still slim, just not as slim, and I didn’t like the feeling. I believe initially I didn’t like the feeling eating all those chocolate bars was having on my body. I know now it was my body trying to tell me to stop. So I did. I started bringing in packed lunches. I would bring in a quarter of a sandwich and pretend I’d eaten the rest before lunch. For many days I’d eat very little, then I’d be out of control with hunger and binge eat on anything I could get my hands on, usually chocolate or sugary things. Once I started, I couldn’t stop, I’d eat until I felt sick, then dash off to the bathroom to throw it all up. This cycle repeated for many years.
My weight increased as I could never throw up the amount of food I’d eaten. My mum would make comments on me having a big bum. She had no idea what was going on, otherwise I know she wouldn’t have said anything. I tried to get on top of it, but I was in such a habit of binge eating, that it consumed me. I’d swear each time, that’s it, this is the last binge, then it would happen again. It’s ironic to think that my eating disorder was part of my attempt to control things, yet I’d completely lost control. I would flit between starvation, binge eating and purging. I’d sit on the bathroom floor and just cry uncontrollably after a purge. What was wrong with me, why am I doing this to myself. I hated how I felt, I hated what I was doing, but I couldn’t stop.
It wasn’t until I met my now ex partner, at the age of 21 that things started to change. He was the first person I’d been able to open up to. I remember going out on one of our first dates and ordering a salad. He said he’d never go out for dinner with me again if that was all I was going to eat. I wanted to ‘please’ him so I confessed my issue with food and we worked through it. It didn’t change overnight, but there were fewer episodes of bingeing and purging. I still looked at calories and fat in everything. Food still scares me. I didn’t want to get fat. I didn’t want to feel the way it made me feel when I ate too much. Bloated, angry and disgusted with myself.
I can remember my very last purge. I hadn’t purged for over a year, then we went on holiday and on the last night we ordered the biggest pizza ever. This was the second time, maybe even the third time we’d eaten this huge pizza that holiday, and for some reason this final time triggered a purge. Perhaps I felt like I’d overeaten a lot on holiday and this was the final straw. So I purged, and straight after told myself very firmly ‘that was it’ Never again. And I knew I meant it. I had control now, I’d developed a good relationship with food. I wasn’t about to let all that go just because of one relapse.
So if you are looking for a nutritionist in Stockport or near that area, Ruth Tansey is one of the best nutritionists to reach out. You can visit her in the Inner Health Clinic – Transform Your Gut or you can call 07712 620909 for an appointment.