Claire Richards talks about being a Slave To Food on Sky Living

by Gerard McGarry
Claire Richards - Slave To Food

Claire tackles her yo-yo dieting head on

We’ve all watched Claire Richards’ weight fluctuate in the glossy mags over the last few years, even since her much-publicised My Big Fat Wedding show. Tonight, she tackled the issue head-on in a follow-up show, Slave To Food.

Taking the form of a fly on the wall documentary, Slave To Food follows Claire as she tries to slim down for another magazine photoshoot while alternately investigating the ’causes’ of her yo-yo dieting and obsession with food.

However, if you are overweight and counting on Claire to show you the way to effectively lose weight, you’ve come to the wrong place. It turns out she’s as clueless as the rest of us.

Seriously: despite having had access to a personal trainer and successfully lost weight, Claire still takes to the Internet looking for faddy solutions. She’s filmed putting a charcoal mix on her food to “absorb the bad stuff” in it. And then she visits a hypnotist to make her feel permanently full, thus not wanting to eat so much. And then she tucks into a massive ice-cream desert.

I have a problem with the approach Claire’s taking in this documentary – she’s ‘researching’ in all the wrong places. Perhaps I’m being harsh here, but the programme clearly shows she has a problem with self-control. Not only is she choosing all the wrong foods, but she’s eating massive amounts of them. She’s also finding regular excuses not to indulge in exercise.

It’s uncomfortable to watch Claire in the middle of a car park, pigging out on a McDonalds. Likewise, I was shouting at the telly when she was ordering a takeaway with the intention of peppering it with charcoal.

The thing is, Claire represents a lot of women out there. Okay, no-one’s paying you to lose 5 stone for a magazine photoshoot, but you can relate to the bikini crisis on holiday, or the need to slim down for your wedding. And Claire’s husband – what a wag! – doesn’t help by wisecracking about everything to do with her weight loss.

Next week’s episode sees Claire considering liposuction. Does anyone else get the impression that Slave To Food is going to be a pointless journey through fad diets and temporary fixes until the epiphany hits: that to keep the weight off, you need to make a lifestyle commitment to eating healthy foods (in reasonable-sized portions) and getting regular exercise?

On a positive side – I’ve chatted to Claire on Twitter and she’s immensely friendly and approachable. I think it’s awful to have to read the type of online insults she faced. Because of this, Slave To Food isn’t some grand narcissistic adventure in that way – Claire suffers from terrible body image issues as well as the self-discipline to build a healthy diet and stick to it. We all know loads of women who have the same fixations. What I would like to see is sustainable weight loss being tackled directly, rather than these ill-fated dalliances with short-term fixes and silly charcoal diets.