What’s the Cost of Comparing Ourselves to Others?

“In 1995, TV was first introduced to Fiji showing many imported US shows.
In 1998, only 3 years later, 11.9% of the teenage girls were hanging over
the toilet bowl with bulimia, a previously unknown behaviour”. 

– Susie Orbach, “Fat is a Feminist Issue”

I haven’t forgotten this shocking fact since I first read it many, many years ago.

Until teenage girls in Fiji started to compare their bodies with women on American television, the eating disorder bulimia nervosa didn’t exist in their country. As the unfavourable comparisons began, so did the mental health condition.

We live in a world where we’re invited to compare ourselves to others almost constantly.

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What Can Lockdown Teach Us About Binge Eating?

I want to start by expressing my heartfelt gratitude to all the medical professionals (both frontline and behind the scenes) currently working, at great personal risk, to care for the sick. I’d also like to thank all those carrying out essential services – collecting our rubbish, stacking the shelves, delivering our orders – for their hard work and dedication at such a difficult time.

Thank you. All of you.

The rest of us are playing our part by staying at home in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease. And it seems that some of us are struggling with the lockdown, while others are enjoying it.

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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:

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Can You Forgive Yourself?

I saw a quote the other day that stopped me in my tracks:

“When you keep criticizing your kids, they don’t stop loving you, they stop loving themselves”.

Its stark simplicity hit me hard.

It’s absolutely true. If children are criticised relentlessly, they don’t start hating their parents, they start hating themselves.

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Gentle Reminder: Trust Yourself

Self-trust. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?

Actually, if you’ve experienced a lifetime of self-doubt, it’s more like difficult difficult lemon difficult.

It can be hard to connect to that quiet, assured, trustworthy voice within you.

But it’s there.

You may struggle to hear it, but it’s there.

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Expert Insight: Questions of Identity

“In my work with women who experience despair and conflict in their relation to food, I have found that in the first hour they talk about eating.  By the second or third hour they tell me they feel confused and do not know what to do with their lives.  They have little sense of who they are or what they believe.  They are lost, empty, restless, confused and dissatisfied.  They are struggling with all the questions of identity their mothers also faced”.

Kim Chernin, “The Hungry Self”

In many ways, little has changed since Kim Chernin’s book was first published over 30 years ago.

In my work with clients with overeating issues today, I’d say the majority are struggling with questions of identity.  They also feel lost, empty, restless, confused and dissatisfied.  If food is an escape, it’s the discomfort of these feelings they’re often attempting to escape from.

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