Gentle Reminder: Paying Attention to Pleasure

“I hate food.”

“I wish I didn’t have to eat.”

These are some of the things new clients say when we start working together.

Years of dieting and dysfunction with food have left them desperate about what to eat. Food has become the enemy and, understandably, they feel it would be simpler if they just didn’t have to eat at all.

Meals are often such a minefield that eating has no pleasure.

One of the best things about normalising your relationship with food is you get to enjoy eating again (or perhaps for the first time). As you learn to give yourself absolute permission to have exactly what you want, the sense of deprivation that contributes to binge eating begins to fade away.

As you understand and respect your hunger and preferences, the secret binges naturally come to an end and, instead, you learn to savour what you eat. Food is no longer scarce or forbidden so you’re less inclined to turn to it to soothe yourself.

Rather than eating how someone else says you should, you find your autonomy and eat in a way that’s truly enjoyable for you. Without stress. Without guilt.

Then food becomes what it should be – a pleasure.

Fellow blogger Chris from CP, Papagni Pages left a really interesting comment on one of my recent posts on exactly this topic – he talks about how he works with his feelings to make sure food remains a pleasure for him. In case you missed it, you can click here to read it.

There should be many things in life that bring you pleasure and there’s no reason why food shouldn’t be one of them. For more on the importance of pleasure, you can read this 2018 post “What’s Your Pleasure?”.

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This post wraps up this month’s theme of “self-soothing”. By happy coincidence, my blogging chum Karen Lowry published a thought-provoking post recently on the difference between self-care and self-soothing – you can read it here.

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I’m aware I haven’t put any additional questions on the News page yet for this month’s eatonomy group session. I promise I’ll do that this week!

 

Expert Insight: Soothing with Words and Compassion, not Substances

“The fundamental problem is that if we have not been appropriately soothed and have not had carers who have sufficiently helped us to manage our feelings, we are likely to have great difficulty managing them as we grow up and in adult life*. We badly need the skills of emotional regulation because otherwise we are at the mercy of our feelings… 

Many people, of whom you may be one, self-soothe not with words and compassion but with substances and activities. The compulsive exerciser is making himself feel better by his exertion; the drug addict or problem drinker is using substances to escape from feelings he can’t manage; the person with disordered eating is using her preoccupation with food, weight, shape and size to deal with feelings that she doesn’t know how to manage in any other way.”

– Julie Buckroyd, “Understanding Your Eating”

Continue reading “Expert Insight: Soothing with Words and Compassion, not Substances”

How Do You Soothe Yourself Without Food?

Back in my binge eating days, I’d often hear a soothing little voice in my ear.

If I was having a tough day at work, the voice would whisper: “it’s OK, pick up some food on your way home”. Like co-conspirators, the little voice and I would plan the binge I’d have later.

Planning was part of the bingeing ritual and looking forward to it helped me get through the day. I’d feel excited as I imagined all the food I was going to eat. All those “bad” and “naughty” things I felt I wasn’t allowed because I was firmly entrenched in the diet mentality.

But the little voice gave me permission. After all, it told me I was having a difficult day and food would make me feel better.

Continue reading “How Do You Soothe Yourself Without Food?”

Food for Thought: Finding the Sanctuary Within You

“Within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” – Hermann Hesse

If we’re so used to experiencing inner turmoil rather than inner peace, it’s hard to believe there might be a calm place within where we can find refuge.

A major reason for binge eating is to gain relief from the chaos inside.

We turn to food to quiet our fretting minds and soothe our jangled nerves. Eating offers us a time out from feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

But it’s only ever a temporary vacation from our troubles. And what follows – physical discomfort and self-loathing on an epic scale – ensures the holiday wasn’t enjoyable.

Food can never give us the peace we crave.

Continue reading “Food for Thought: Finding the Sanctuary Within You”

Gentle Reminder: Dreamers Who Do

When I meet clients for the first time, I usually end the assessment by asking how they’d like their relationship with food to be.

“Just normal” is the almost universal response.

They then explain they don’t want to think about food all the time, they just want to eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’ve had enough. They don’t want to binge or overeat. They don’t want to obsess about food from the second they wake up until their frazzled heads hit the pillow at night.

It’s a lovely goal.

It’s an achievable goal.

Continue reading “Gentle Reminder: Dreamers Who Do”

Expert Insight: Looking the Wrong Way

“Body image is quite independent of physical appearance. Someone with high self-esteem tends to view her body favourably, regardless of how she actually looks.  

The weak connection between body image and physical appearance means that changing your looks won’t guarantee a lasting improvement in self-esteem…you need to get past your appearance and focus on your other personal strengths as well.”

– Rita Freedman, “Bodylove”.

It may come as a surprise that body image really has nothing to do with how you look.

Continue reading “Expert Insight: Looking the Wrong Way”

What’s the Downside of Daydreaming?

As you elegantly step out of the limousine onto the red carpet, cheers instantly erupt from the waiting crowd. You reward them with a dazzling smile while the night sky lights up with hundreds of flashes from paparazzi cameras.

In one perfectly manicured hand you hold the new diamond-encrusted phone Apple designed especially for you. In the other, you clutch the Oscar you won the night before for Best Adapted Screenplay of your own best-selling novel (your legendary acceptance speech was both hilarious and moving, by the way).

Your phone rings. It’s Adele. What? She wants to duet with you on her new album? Well, how could you refuse? You’re not sure how you’ll squeeze it in, what with addressing the United Nations, the fitting for your new Marvel superhero costume, and collecting your Nobel Prize in Stockholm. But sure, Adele, anything for you. Suddenly, you hear a loud voice say:

Continue reading “What’s the Downside of Daydreaming?”