6 Nigerian Women Talk About Their Unhealthy Relationship With Food

May 24, 2021

We all have a different relationship with food. While some have managed to eat and enjoy food in a healthy way, a lot are unable to. These six Nigerian women share with us their unhealthy relationship with food.

CONTENT WARNING: MIGHT BE TRIGGERING FOR PEOPLE WITH EATING DISORDERS OR PEOPLE WITH AN UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

Yasmin, 18

I used to suffer from body dysmorphia in mid-high school. I thought nothing looked good on me, so I didn’t wear dresses or skirts or whatever was clothing was considered fitted. Also, I consumed a lot of Korean entertainment at that time, and I just found myself wanting to look skinny. There was added pressure from my mum because she projects her “self-hate” and criticizes the tiniest increase in size. I started to eat less in SS3 and had mild gastritis. It felt like I was developing an ulcer.

After I graduated, I put on a good amount of weight because I wasn’t living at home. When I came home, the backlash from my mother was crazy. I started to eat only boiled groundnuts and zobo and dropped a lot of weight drastically. With that, I also lost my sense of appetite too. My relationship with food got so bad that when I was in University. I would eat once in 3 days, and now if I do eat I’m calculating how much to eat.

Mina, 19

I was diagnosed with anorexia at the age of nine. I didn’t shed my baby fat, and amongst all my siblings I was the fat and ugly one. My mum hated that. She constantly insulted me and bought me big clothes to hide my body. One day during dinner, she told me “if I were you, I would stop eating so as to lose weight”. So, I did. I stopped eating.

I didn’t eat anything apart from water and one coaster biscuit every day for 2 months. Then my mum started complimenting my new slim self. In order to get more validation, I stopped eating completely for close to a month. I only took water. One day while at school, I collapsed and landed in the hospital. I spent two years there, shuttling from the ER to the hospital bed and then a year in a psychiatric hospital.

When I got out, I started eating, but no matter how little I ate I added weight. So, the abuse from my mother got worse. It affected my self-esteem and a few years after the first diagnosis, I got rediagnosed with bulimia nervosa. Currently trying to make myself eat even though I hate eating, but it’s painful because people will not stop talking about my weight. I am trying my best.

Tope, 20

My relationship with food had always been emotional, right from when I was little. I associated certain foods with particular emotions so I could only eat them while I felt those emotions. A lot of food was associated with sadness, so I hardly ate. That, however, did not stop me from adding a lot of weight. Eventually when I became a teenager, I saw how the girls that were treated better were skinnier, so I tried to lose all of the weight. Food automatically became bad. I lost so much weight everyone kept complimenting how I looked, but I knew I was dying inside.

After fainting one day because I had not eaten for three days and was working out, my doctor advised me to change my eating habits. Then I started to eat, but it seemed like I could not stop. I ate when I was sad, angry, happy, in love, etc. I moved from one unhealthy relationship with food to another and I just wish I could eat like a normal person.

Florence, 21

My relationship with food and eating is very weird. I’m actually slightly irritated by the thought of food, but sometimes I eat ginormous portions and then I feel like I need laxatives. Not because I want to be thin, I just feel like I need it. There are times that I’ve eaten so much I had to throw up so i could be comfortable. Or I ate so much I couldn’t sleep. Right now, I’ve not eaten in about 4 days and I’m neither hungry nor do I feel the need to eat. One day, my dad said in passing that he can go days without eating, and he’s a picky eater so it’s probably genetic.

Janet, 25

My relationship with food is weird. When I graduated secondary school at the age of 13, I was the youngest and also the fattest. I had gotten assaulted the year before that, and I ate a lot while I was trying to recover from the trauma. The goal for me was to make myself as undesirable as possible, so I was 13 and I weighed 92kg. I got my official diagnosis five years ago.

When I got into university, I was suddenly around all these skinny people who fat-shamed me and so I overcompensated and stopped eating. I used to eat one plantain with fish in a week., then drink water for the remaining six days. This was my routine while also dealing with the stress of medical school.

I got an official diagnosis five years ago, and at this point, I have anorexia nervosa. I have a fear of gaining weight and an overwhelming desire to be thin. The prevailing thing about anorexia nervosa is that no matter how skinny we are, we always feel like we’re fat. Due to that thought, we take in very little so as to get to a specific weight we’ve put in our heads. For me, I used to want to weigh 30kg and it was not possible because I am 5’9.

When I came to the realisation that I was a child and nothing about what I did or said was gonna change what those men did to me, the self-image started changing. I also needed a lot of energy to run around the hospital so I tried to burn off the food I ate by walkign around the hospital. Then I had cancer and had to eat healthy to counteract the effects of the chemo. On most days now, I treat food as a drug. I don’t want to eat it, but I know I’ll fall sick and not be able to treat my patients without it, so I eat.

Chidinma, 20

Well, I’d say it’s been a very love-hate relationship. I love food generally and it makes me happy but at the same time, it also makes me really miserable. It feels good at the moment but afterwards, I always felt awful and I hated being full. That’s actually how I started purging, I hated feeling full, so I purged to reduce the guilt or kind of compensate for eating so much. If I don’t purge, I’d be miserable for a while and that usually triggers a binge or a fast.

Nowadays, I think it’s almost become some kind of weird addiction because I find myself actually going out of my way to binge, just so I could purge it all out. It’s like I kind of have some weird illusion of control over what goes into my body.

For more stories of women and the things they do, please click here

Zikoko Donation Banner

Help Zikoko keep making the content you love

More than ever, people are turning to Zikoko for stories that matter and content they love. But still, we, like many media organisations, are feeling the financial heat of these times. If you find us valuable, please make a contribution to help keep Zikoko zikoko-ing.

Thank you for your support.

We are also cool with Crypto.

Donation Close
Zikoko Logo

Complete Your Commitment

Donation confirm

Your Contribution is confirmed! Amount

Itohan Esekheigbe

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

December 16, 2020

The subject of this week’s What She Said is Amaarae, a 26-year-old Afro-fusion musician. She talks about how her relationships shaped the person she is now, her newly-released album and what it’s like being managed by her mum. How would you define your music? Three words: confidence, fearlessness and freedom of expression. I had described […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

black woman in the gym
July 25, 2021

I spoke to four Nigerian women about what visiting the gym as a woman is like. Here’s what they had to say: Bibi, 22 I always have a pleasant experience at the gym but there was this day, my friends and I were on the mat and the instructor was helping us stretch our bodies. It […]

July 24, 2021

Puff puff is a popular African snack. It is basically fried dough. Some people love pepper in it, while some people don’t like it at all. Today, we’re going to teach you how to make puff puff. First, you get your ingredients: Flour (duh) Yeast Warm water Salt Sugar Cooking oil Now that you have […]

Sex Life
July 24, 2021

Whether you’ve been reading Zikoko Sex Life for two years or you’re reading it for the first time today, here are some stories you must enjoy at least twice. 1. Awakening My Bisexuality At 27 I remember when we were making out, it was so intense that I suddenly felt the urge to tell this […]

Recommended Quizzes

December 5, 2019

We already tried to guess how much you have in your account and your current net worth, and we think we did a pretty great job (keep any complaints to yourself). Now, we’re going to try and guess your monthly salary based on your relationship with money. Oya, take the quiz: 11 Timed Quizzes For […]

October 29, 2019

We are going to be attempting to guess when you’ll marry based on your favourite Nigerian foods. What does your fave swallow have to do with when you’ll tie the knot? Please, don’t ask complicated questions. This quiz is rigorous and accurate (don’t quote us), so just take it already. QUIZ: Why Do You Have […]

June 14, 2020

Have you ever been with someone so horrible that you swore to never date again? Yes? Well, do you know that one or more of your exes probably feels the same way about you? You never thought about that, huh? Thankfully, this quiz is here to let you know just how much of a hassle […]

More from Her

black woman in the gym
July 25, 2021

I spoke to four Nigerian women about what visiting the gym as a woman is like. Here’s what they had to say: Bibi, 22 I always have a pleasant experience at the gym but there was this day, my friends and I were on the mat and the instructor was helping us stretch our bodies. It […]

July 23, 2021

Romantic relationships bring different changes to our lives. Some welcome, some not. In this article, five Nigerian women talk about how their partners changed their lives.  Bisola, 23 I grew up in a conservative space but I always knew I wanted to explore certain things and with the help of my current partner, I am […]

black girl using her phone
July 22, 2021

There is a growing number of dating apps available to Nigerians living in Nigeria. In this article, three Nigerian women talk about using dating apps.  Dami, 27 I downloaded Bumble a few months ago. This is my first time using a dating app. I chose Bumble because my friend told me that the app is […]

July 22, 2021

Everyone has a story about their first time. In this article, eight Nigerian women talk about the first time they had penetrative sex. Nancy, 22 I didn’t bleed during my first time, probably because my boyfriend in secondary school used to finger me when we made out.  The first time a penis tried to go […]

what she said design with a woman in a hospital gown sitting down
July 21, 2021

The subject of today’s What She Said is a 23-year-old woman who had an ovarian drilling surgery. She talks about PCOS and how it affected her mental and physical health, how unhelpful the doctor who diagnosed her was, and needing an ovarian drilling.  Tell me something about your childhood. Okay, let’s talk about my first […]

Nigerian women celebrating Ileya.
July 20, 2021

Ileya, also called Eid-el Kabir or ram Sallah is a great time to connect with family and friends over juicy pieces of fried ram. As with other things, women have a specific experience of Ileya that is often missing from the conversation. In this article, eight Nigerian women talk about celebrating Ileya.  Farida, 26  I’ve […]

black girl sitting down and smiling
July 17, 2021

I was shocked to find out that after you turn 25, your body experiences a set of changes. They call it second puberty. Like the first one, it’s different for everyone. The changes could come at 30+ or there would be no changes at all. In my experience and that of those around me, here’s […]

Black bridesmaids in brown dresses surrounding a bride in white holding flowers
July 16, 2021

Everybody knows that Nigerian weddings are an experience. Aside from smoky jollof rice and the bride’s dress, one thing that keeps the wedding going is the bridesmaids — running from one corner to the other, making sure everyone is happy. In this article, three Nigerian women talk about being bridesmaids.  Labake, 30 My cousin asked […]

woman lying down holding her stomach
July 15, 2021

As told to Mariam Last month, in a conversation about womanhood, Bee told me she had her uterus taken out. Curious, I asked more questions and here’s what she told me: The doctor found the first cyst during a routine ultrasound. It was 2014, and I was 18 and pregnant. The doctors didn’t know what […]

woman looking sad in blue hospital dress
July 14, 2021

A pap smear is a test carried out on cells from the cervix. It is often done to check for cervical cancer. In this article, six Nigerian women talk about getting pap smears.  Jennifer, 32 I was 22 when I went for my first pap smear. I had been reading about it, so I knew […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X