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My Relationship With Body Image and Why I Started Zen Ramen

My Relationship With Body Image and Why I Started Zen Ramen

 Let me properly introduce myself. I am the founder of Zen Ramen and I started this business as a passion project to spread the message of positive body image and how Zen Ramen Nude Noodles have helped me achieve this.

I recently had my first daughter in late 2017 and it made me reflect on the world I’m bringing her into. A world where a woman’s body image is defined by size 0 supermodels, picture perfect Instagram influencers toned (or photoshopped) to perfection and celebrities and WAGs who magically obtain six packs within a month of giving birth. 
Instead I want her to live in a world where women celebrate the power and strength of their bodies and their miraculous ability to grow and sustain life. A world where beauty is defined by all different shapes, sizes and ethnicities. A world where her wit, intellect and achievements are valued far above her physical appearance. 

But this world currently doesn’t exist, and it is up to everyone to collectively stand up and shatter the illusion of physical perfection that women are held to. The ‘last 5 kilos” that we all want to lose are the invisible shackles that stop us from pursuing our dreams and living our purpose. Instead we spend our time obsessed with diets and restricting what we eat, collectively ploughing billions of dollars into the weight loss / diet industry each year.

The birth of my daughter made me think back to my earlier years in university when I had a bout of anxiety which manifested into an unhealthy relationship with food. I was your typical Asian nerd in high school, ensconced in the pursuit of academic excellence. I went to an all girls private school, but didn’t sit with the popular girls. My friends were all nerds, we blissfully discussed Harry Potter books at lunchtime and did extra Algebra after school. I didn’t know any boys and nor was I interested, I just wanted to get over 99 on my HSC.

This blissful bubble devoid of exposure to poor body image (social media didn’t really exist in 2002) was burst when I started university. Suddenly I was surrounded by new stimuli... and boys. The girls I hung out with didn’t want to analyse the latest sci-fi fantasy novel, they wanted to go clubbing and pick up boys. The unknown world of attracting and interacting with the opposite sex made me turn to mass media to seek guidance on what makes a female “attractive”. It told me it was size 0 Victoria Secret models, not loud spoken socially awkward ethnic girls who loved to read. I started to examine my own body in that light, I pinched bits of loose flesh on my body. My anxiety around loss of control in a new social environment manifested into an obsession to lose weight on an already naturally ‘skinny fat’ body. I tried to restrict what I ate but it never lasted and I would then inhale as much food as I could lay my hands on. This almost resulted in a full blown eating disorder. It took 6 months of going to a counsellor to reverse these behaviours and whilst it was nipped in the bud pretty early, I still feel this will forever leave a traumatic scar on my psyche and expose me to being ‘triggered’ in the future.

I started my side hustle Zen Ramen as a protest against restrictive eating behaviours, because eating in abundance and without guilt was the tool that helped me recover. By no means is it the underlying cure to poor body image, it’s merely a band aid to help in the healing process. Zen Ramen Nude Noodles are shirataki Noodles from Japan and has been eaten in Asia for hundreds of years, it is made from a root vegetable not a carbohydrate so is extremely low in calories (only 28 calories per serve), which means you can pretty much eat as much as you want without gaining weight. My mum brought them for me from overseas and I ate this when I was recovering as I knew I wouldn’t need to restrict my intake and they were the perfect base for delicious pasta dishes, stirfries or noodle soups. I continue to eat them today as a lighter substitute to pasta / noodles. Eventually as I tackled the underlying emotional issues I was able to recover fully.

This brings me back to today. I just had a baby, I’m carrying an extra 10 kilos. I didn’t know that women tend to look 3 months pregnant for up to 6 weeks after giving birth as the uterus contracts back. But people don’t want to see that in glossy magazines, people want to see “how Mrs WAG got her pre baby body in 30 days” because it makes for dramatic transformation photos. I don’t plan on having a 6 pack next month but I will be eating my noodles more frequently along with an overall healthy diet and regular exercise to get back to a comfortable weight for my body. I will not obsess about my body but instead celebrate my body for what it just went through to create the most perfect, amazing little human I’ve ever met.

1 comment

Feb 23, 2018 • Posted by Claudia

This is such an incredible story and so well written. Good on you for achieving what you have and setting up this great little business! I’m looking forward to receiving and trialling my fix of these Zen Ramen Noodles soon. :)

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