A-Z

Christine

Age at interview: 53
Brief Outline:

Christine started gaining weight in early adulthood. She had complications with diabetes in pregnancy, but was determined to manage this through diet. Since then, Christine’s weight has fluctuated, and is particularly influenced by her mental health. Christine hopes to lose weight in the future to improve her self-esteem.

Background:

Christine is 53 and is an electrical testing engineer. She is married with 3 children, and is white British.

More about me...

Christine was a healthy weight as a child, but started to gain weight in early adulthood. She had her first baby, born prematurely, in her late 20s. Four years later, when pregnant with her second son, Christine was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and had to inject insulin. After the delivery, Christine was told that she would be diabetic for life, although it was later questioned whether she had been correctly diagnosed. In her third pregnancy, Christine was told again she would be diabetic, but was determined to manage this through diet, “I was so obsessive about sugar and carbs…I didn’t eat anything...  I didn’t put an ounce of weight on in pregnancy”. Christine gave birth to a healthy child, although she has since been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which is “well controlled”. However, Christine’s weight has fluctuated over the years. She currently hopes to lose 3 stone to “improve my self-confidence and to feel better in myself”.

Christine attributes her weight changes to several factors, including an underactive thyroid, menopause, and her mental health. Christine lives with several anxiety disorders, and has taken antidepressants for around 25 years. Whilst she can maintain weight loss easier when she isn’t on antidepressants, there comes a point where she “can’t function” without them. However, antidepressants encourage certain eating habits, “you’re calmer, you’re happier, so you’re just shoveling everything in”. Christine describes the impact of depression on weight as a “vicious circle”, “if you’re depressed you lose weight, I lose weight because I’m not on any antidepressants. As soon as you go on them, you’re a lot happier mentally but then you pile the weight on, so you can’t win”. Christine plans to reduce her dose of antidepressants in the hope this will aid her weight loss.

Christine generally has a good diet. She buys local produce and plenty of fresh food. However, Christine finds that in the evenings she has “no will power”, “I’m fine all day but come late at night, I go to the fridge, I want cheese. I’ll eat ice cream at eleven o’clock at night”. To manage her weight, Christine plans to join a weight management group. In the past, she has found that the first three days of dieting is the hardest, “It’s like almost coming off, food is like almost coming off a drug”. Nonetheless, she has the support of friends who also go there, and likes their policy of eating “normal food” without having to weigh portions. However, Christine has started researching the ingredients in foods, and is concerned by diets which advocate using sugar replacements such as aspartame, “I have real issues with aspartame because it’s a carcinogenic and I think it’s all right saying, “You’re all on Slimming World, you’re all dieting because you’re overweight.” But if you’re pumping your body’s full of chemicals, like aspartame, I’d rather have the sugar, you know, on the occasions when I drink that which is not every day”.

Christine has not received advice on managing her weight from healthcare professionals, but is confident her doctor would raise any serious health concerns she had. Generally, Christine feels that doctors “haven’t got the time or the resources” to deal with weight issues. She suggests that there should be a specialist with knowledge on a range of weight management strategies who could signpost individuals to services that suits their needs. Christine would also like advice from healthcare professionals on whether it is safe to take herbal weight loss products, as she wonders if they could “kick start” her diet. However, Christine feels weight loss is a “very personal thing”, and needs to be largely self-motivated. She encourages others to deal with their weight issues early on, “get back on your eating healthy because after three pounds, it’s just a slippery road and you can go right down to stones overweight”.

 

Christine feels that she is caught in a vicious circle: when on antidepressants she puts on weight and off medication she loses weight but feels miserable.

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Can you pinpoint the times in which you have gained weight?

When I’m stressed and anxious.

Okay.

It’s been in relation to depression.

And tell me about these sort of evening kind of trips to the freezer.

Yeah, well, all it is I get too tired. So, say anytime at night, sometimes I go to bed early, like I nine o’clock and I just watch TV in bed and I’d fall asleep quite happily. But sometimes if I stay up I’ll think, ‘Oh, I’ll just have some ice cream and I’ll just watch tele,’ and I’m comfortable and I’m happy and I’m relaxed but I’m just eating for the sake of it and I cannot physically stop myself doing it.

But the problem is with depression, it’s a vicious circle with your eating because if you’re depressed you lose weight, I lose weight because I’m not on any antidepressants. As soon as you go on them, you’re a lot happier mentally but then you pile the weight on, so you can’t win. You’re either depressed to the point of suicide or you’re on antidepressants and pile the weight on. You know, this is why we’re trying to cut the dose of it down to the minimal. It’s only a very small dose anyway. It’s the tiniest dose you can have, but if I can cut it down it might trigger something that, that makes you able to motivate and able to focus and, and lose weight.
 

 

The promotion of aspartame-containing products put Christine off going to Slimming World.

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But what I’ve started doing and it’s a really important point this about food and intakes, I’m drinking that now which is full Coca-Cola and the reason I’m doing it is because I know it has high sugar, but that diet coke has aspartame and I have real issues with aspartame because it’s a carcinogenic and I think it’s all right saying, “You’re all on Slimming World, you’re all dieting because you’re overweight.” But if you’re pumping your body’s full of chemicals, like aspartame, I’d rather have the sugar, you know, on the occasions when I drink that which is not every day. We don’t have a bottle in every day. On the occasion we drink it, we’re now drinking full sugar.

Because it’s like Vimto, we have normal Vimto. We don’t have reduced because it’s all got aspartame and you can taste it. It’s a carcinogenic and I refuse to just pump the body full of chemicals. I’m very funny about having tablets and things. I don’t like taking tablets, you know, so, because I’ve never smoked, never taken drugs or anything, so I’m a bit particular and aspartame is a big issue and I think that if people are trying to push everyone to lose weight and do it by having low fat yoghurt, Muller yoghurts, drinks, diet drinks etc, they need to look at it because all you’re doing is you’re killing people with cancer because you’re filling them with that stuff. You’re better saying to them, “Have reduced sugar or less sugar or even natural sugar in fruit than having all these chemicals.” You know, I think that’s a very important thing to look into because people think they’re doing right by having diet coke, but they’re not, they’re not. It’s all false and I won’t go to Slimming World to start filling up with you know, with aspartame. I’m not doing it, so.
 

 

Christine says “you’ve got to be in the right frame of mind”. She thinks it’s a good idea to join a weight management group and seek advice from your doctor.

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Well, you’ve got to be in the right frame of mind. When you’re in the right frame of mind it is a good idea to join a group, Slimming World, Weight Watchers. Get advice from your doctor. See how much overweight you are and write things down. Write a daily diary of what you eat and drink every day to see what you’re actually taking in, and maybe have a goal or a focus, you know, something like an event coming up that you need to lose weight for or something you want to buy, some clothes or something and that sort of thing. But it’s just a very personal thing really. Nothing works the same for everybody. It’s all individual.

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