Growing up, Paige Taylor thought it was normal to be hungry. When she was fed, she remembers chip sandwiches were a dinnertime staple.
‘I was denied food,’ the 23-year-old from Melbourne says of her childhood.
‘Some nights I wouldn’t be given dinner. When I went to friends’ houses and was offered food, I would gorge because I didn’t know when I would get any more.’
Painfully, food was only one of the ways in which she suffered throughout the years that her stepfather, who is now deceased, lived with Paige, her mother and brother.
‘I was hit, yelled at, dragged across tiles, put in my room every day, and not allowed to come out,’ she tells New Idea emotionally.
Too afraid to speak out, the family’s domestic violence came to an abrupt halt when police intervened.
‘One night the police were called and he couldn’t come near us any more,’ she explains.
While the decade-long physical intimidation and abuse ended for Paige at age 14, it was then that food began to take over her life in a different way.
Paige began eating more than she ever thought possible, to take away the anguish and depression she suffered.
She went on to meet her husband Daniel and when the couple were expecting their first child, the then 19-year-old was deemed a high risk as she was already well over 100kg.
Paige’s journey to motherhood only put further pressure on her mental health, and soon after her son Cooper was born, she was diagnosed with postnatal depression.
‘When he was born I didn’t cope well because I didn’t know what to do with a baby and I had no help,’ she recalls.
‘He would only sleep on me, and he cried so much, so I would stay on the couch all night and set up food all around me.
‘When he would sleep I would have a cry and just eat
because I felt like I was failing as a mother.’
That’s when her sugar addiction spiralled.
‘My husband was working afternoon shift a few months after I had Cooper, so I was alone at night time and didn’t have him there to cheer me up.
‘I would go out and buy a box of Sara Lee sticky date pudding, blocks of chocolate, and tubs of ice-cream and eat it all every night, and repeat the pattern every day without him knowing,’ Paige admits.
‘I would even go months without drinking water. I would have two-litre bottles of soft drink every day. It was insane.’
Paige had got so big that simple things became a struggle.
‘I couldn’t even bend over and tie my shoelaces,’ she says.
Having avoided the camera for a long time, it was a Mother’s Day gift last year of a photo shoot with Cooper, four, that snapped Paige out of her denial.
‘When I got the images back, I looked at them and cried for
45 minutes,’ she recalls.
‘I realised how big I’d gotten and that my son wanted to run around and I physically couldn’t run at all, I was too heavy.’
Then a friend recommended the low-carb, high-fat Keto program and Paige went ‘cold turkey’ soon after.
‘My body ached and I got the shakes for a few days while I was coming off the sugar,’ she says.
‘It feels like the flu, but I kept pushing and it soon went away.’
She admits she had to change almost every habit she had, but soon learnt to enjoy the new way of cooking and eating.
‘I had to teach myself to cook and meal plan,’ Paige explains.
‘I used to eat pasta packets where all I would add was milk and butter, and that was what I would make for dinner.
Now it’s meat with a creamy sauce, vegetables and chicken in pasta bakes, homemade pizza, quiche without crust.
But the mum hasn’t given up those precious chocolate hits. When I have a sugar craving, I’ll have a bit of 90 per cent dark chocolate or make Keto cheesecakes or muffins.’
Paige also says she has naturally adjusted to a 16-hour fast and eight-hour eating window.
‘Because I’m eating a high amount of fat and low amount of carbs, I’m not hungry until lunchtime and easily stick to two meals a day.’
Paige has lost 57kg – going from 130kg to 73kg in 12 months – without exercise.
‘I went to the gym for a few weeks but it didn’t fit into my lifestyle and Cooper missed me,’ she says. ‘I expected my weight to stall when I quit the gym but it sped up. All we’ve done is go to the park and play.’
Two months into her new way of eating, Paige also did away with the antidepressants she’d been dependent on for years on end, and has been drug free ever since.
‘I felt better. I was energised even without exercising. Carbs made me feel asleep and on Keto I’m alive,’ says the mum who inspires others through her Instagram profile, fat2fitketomum_ .
‘My son has noticed the change in me and he’s a lot happier because I can be so much more involved in his play, and my husband has lost 30kg on Keto too, so we’ve all benefited,’ Paige adds.
‘I’m so happy with how I look and most importantly, I’m giving my son the best life that I can so he won’t have to go through what I did with food.’