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Ursula - Interview 46

Age at interview: 54
Brief Outline: Ursula is the mother of 20 year old Hannah and says that Hannah has loved eating ever since she was a baby and she would eat as much as she could of the foods she was given. Her excessive eating hasn't changed in her twenty years.
Background: Ursula is a married mother of 2 children aged 18 and 20. Ethnic background: Caucasian.

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Ursula is the mother of 20 year old Hannah and says that Hannah has loved eating ever since she was a baby and she would eat as much as she could of the foods she was given. Her great need to eat hasn’t changed in her twenty years. Ursula describes the family diet as balance and healthy and said that no one is overweight on either side of the family.
 
When Hannah started school, Ursula remembers that Hannah was the tallest girl but also the widest as well. Finding clothes that would fit her was described by Ursula as a ‘nightmare’. Hannah was five but had the body of a ten year old and everything was too big for her.
 
When she was about eight or nine years old Ursula took Hannah to the doctors and the GP asked for a food diary. Ursula dully complied with it and after a week returned to see the GP. Ursula remembers that the GP simply couldn’t understand why Hannah was big because she was eating all the right foods. For Ursula, it wasn’t the quality of the diet but the excess of it that was making Hannah becoming overweight. But that was all the medical help she got. Hannah has never seen a dietician.
 
Ursula recalled several negative and painful events in Hannah’s life when she was a child, like Hannah’s been bullied at school and another when she was ridiculed by others during a swimming lesson. But Ursula also spoke of Hannah’s determination to join in and be like all the other kids. She did ballet and she absolute adored it but as she got older she became self conscious and wouldn’t exercise because others would stare at her in the gym.
 
Nowadays, Hannah is at university and loves it, has a good group of friends and a busy social life. Regarding lifestyle she has told Ursula that she walks a lot, has an exercise video and is trying to cut down her portion. Ursula says that Hannah knows that she overeats but until now all her attempts to diet have been unsuccessful lasting no more than a couple of days. But according to Ursula Hannah desperately wants to lose weight. Ursula says that Hannah is aware of the health problems caused by being overweight and the impact it has on one’s quality of life. Hannah lost some weight when she first moved away from home to university but put it back up again. Hannah knows that Ursula is not happy to see her being overweight.
 
Looking back, Ursula says she can identify things that she did that might have contributed to Hannah weight issues. For example, when Hannah was little, Ursula would give her food as a way of pacifying her.
 

Ursula's daughter has tried many diets but didn't stick to any of them for more than a couple of days.

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Ursula's daughter has tried many diets but didn't stick to any of them for more than a couple of days.

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Anyway then she decided to try diets. But she’d have, it, that didn’t work for her either because she’ll do it for about two days, and just say, “This food is ghastly, I just want to eat all things that I like”. So you know she’d be… eat half a fruit bowl and, and still go on and her lunch and what have you. 
 

And but now she’s twenty and I said to her the other day, “What are you doing for exercise?” She says, “Well I still do all my walking. I have a video and I’m just still trying to cut down on the food.” She said, “But I like my food and that’s all there is to it.” 

 

 
So she knows that she overeats. There was… on one occasion we went on holiday. It must’ve been about two years ago. And it was in Hong Kong we went and we were in one of the markets. And this woman actually made a comment about her and said, “Your daughter is so big, why don’t you have some of these soups, these are slimming soups?” So daughter was very receptive to that and we took the soups and she was fine. And she said they were nice. And we tried to get them when we were over here in England, but that didn’t happen. 
 
So she wants to slim down. She’s desperate to slim down. And she does try.
 
What sorts of things does she try?
 
Well, walking. She’s tried most diets. All the way from Slim fast, cabbage soup diet, starvation. And nothing lasts for more than two days [laughs].
 

Ursula’s daughter has tried all sorts of exercise including ballet which she loved but other people made her self-conscious.

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Ursula’s daughter has tried all sorts of exercise including ballet which she loved but other people made her self-conscious.

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She would go swimming. And then one day, they, she was just left as laughing stock when they were all told to get out of the swimming pool. And she was, she just couldn’t get out of the pool because she was just too big to lift herself up with her arms, just like all the other kids did you know. So it was just appalling. Absolutely appalling. Then we took her to ballet. She absolutely adored ballet. But then when the ballet teacher said, “Does she have a gland problem?” “No, she doesn’t, she just a big girl.” What more can you say?
 
And then she started taking exams, because although she is big, she could do the splits. Can you imagine that? She can do the splits. She’s very, very supple. And as a ballerina, she would’ve been wonderful. But the size of her was … she just looked odd against all the other little sylph-like fairies that were in their tutus. Anyway she went and she did the exams like all the others. And then one of the comments on the,   the certificate is when, that we … we don’t like … this is not the image that the Royal Ballet will want to see. And I just remember thinking, “How dare they make a comment about her size, surely it’s about her abilities to be able to dance”.
 
But there we go. As she got older, you know, gym became nightmare. She knew that she had to go to do the exercises but people were staring. She was self-conscious. She looked awful in those terrible tracksuits because it was a school uniform. Lack of exercise, vicious circle, it, you know it’s, it’s just … it’s self-explanatory really isn’t it?
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