How to Cope with Calorie Labelling

Those of us with binge eating issues spend an awful lot of time in our heads – even someone like me who recovered years ago.

The combination of our inherent nature and our experiences means we’re inclined to rumination.

We’re also often disconnected from our bodies.

Abuse, trauma, body shaming – they all leave us afraid to inhabit our bodies. We struggle to find a sense of safety within. For respite, we detach and seek comfort in food.

An essential element of recovery from overeating disorders is taking time to heal from our experiences and to connect with our bodies, perhaps for the first time. It’s one of the ways we begin to develop trust in ourselves.

To do that, we need to get out of heads and into our bodies, which is not easy to do after years of dysfunction. Countless attempts at following someone else’s instructions about how to eat have made our relationship with food confusing and our relationship with our bodies complicated.

We need to stop any outside interference, learn to listen to ourselves and keep it simple.

That’s why the UK’s Government’s introduction of calorie labelling on restaurant menus is so unhelpful.It’s yet another thing that risks disrupting that bond with our bodies and propelling us back into our heads.

But it doesn’t have to.

We can choose to ignore calorie labelling.

Just as we choose to ignore all the other diet culture rules and regulations that are so very, very unhelpful.

Because anything that takes us away from listening to our bodies isn’t beneficial. When we lose that connection, we can’t hear the information they’re trying to give us and we need that information to find our personal autonomy with food. How else do we genuinely know when we’re hungry, what would satisfy us and when we’ve had enough?

So when it comes to calorie labelling on menus…

  • Don’t look. Ignore.
  • Maintain your boundary and protect your process.
  • Reject anything that isn’t useful to your recovery.
  • Remember – you’re in charge of your eating, no one else.
  • Trust in yourself and your body.

“To connect with our bodies is to learn to trust ourselves, and from that comes power”.  – Mirka Knaster

If it’s difficult for you to feel and understand what’s going on inside your body (if you have issues with the interoceptive sense) then this way of eating may not be right for you. It may be useful to explore putting structure into your eating, based on your preferences, rather than eating “intuitively”.

For a longer post on the hazards of calorie labelling, read “What Calorie Labelling does to People with Binge Eating Disorder”.

©️ Julie de Rohan 2022.


Well, hello!

I’m back from sabbatical and would love to report that the writing project I’ve been working on is all done and dusted. But I can’t (things rarely work out the way we plan, do they?). It’s still ongoing but as least it continues to move forward, and for that I’m grateful.

I hope you’re all doing OK. These are difficult times for sure.

I hope you’re finding a way to be gentle and caring with yourselves now more than ever – you’re worth looking after.

Julie 🌷

26 thoughts on “How to Cope with Calorie Labelling

  1. How lovely to see a post from you, Julie! I hope you’re well in these odd times. I can tell you that we’ve had the silly calorie counts on menus here for many years now and they lose their power quickly, becoming just part of the scenery. I won’t deny it was hard for me when they first appeared, but I had to check just now that we even still have them, because I wasn’t sure (we do). Your advice is spot on: ignore them, put your own structures in place. Trust your brain to stop seeing them over time and laugh at them if you need to. Random nonsense numbers, that’s all they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Karen. I think anyone struggling with the introduction of calorie-labelling on menus will be heartened to read that over time you just stop seeing them. “Random nonsense numbers” – absolutely! I’m doing well, thanks, how are you?

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      1. I’m doing great – I’m semi-retired now and it’s bliss – but the pandemic’s wreaked havoc on my kids’ lives, so it’s hard to celebrate (too much … 😄). Take care!

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  2. I do a restaurant blog which is all about my love of food, but I actually eat very healthy. Monday through Friday that is. I also workout 5 days a week. On weekends I take off, hit restaurants and eat whatever I want. The absolute LAST thing I’d want to see on a menu are calories listed! They should make it optional. You should be able to request a regular menu, or one with the calories listed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree – why not have it as an option for people who really want to know the calories in each meal, rather than inflict it on everyone? That would protect people with eating disorders. It’s really good to hear your thoughts on this and I love reading your blog (am super envious about all the great restaurants you go to!).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So glad you see you back here. I’ve missed your writing. Let us know when your writing project is finished so I can check it out. (Writing can be such an up and down experience!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s such a lovely thing to say, thank you. Ah, the writing process – at times such a joy, at other times such maddening struggle! Hope you’re doing OK and all is well with you?


      1. Some good and some bad. Doing the best I can do Julie. I have some family flying in today so it’ll be a wonderful Easter.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and advice!.. hope you had a wonderful time with your adventures and life was all that you wished for it to be!!.. hope you have the mostest Happy Easter filled with happiness!.. 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May your day be touched
    by a bit of Irish luck,
    Brightened by a song
    in your heart,
    And warmed by the smiles
    of people you love.
    (Irish Saying)

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