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’s been in recovery for years.

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 🌷

Expert Insight: Losing Weight Naturally

“When you do start to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full after years of being on one scheme or another, you will most likely go down a size or several sizes.

Unless you have been eating drastically less than your body needs for years, your weight should stabilise at its natural set point, which will be lower than what you’ve achieved through dieting and bingeing”.

Susie Orbach, “On Eating”

When clients first seek help for their emotion-driven overeating issues, they often think if they can sort out their weight, everything else will be OK.

In this way, therapy can be seen as another weight-loss initiative.  There’s sometimes a sense of disappointment that we’re not focusing on weight during sessions and, as a result, some clients assume I’m anti-weight loss.

Continue reading “Expert Insight: Losing Weight Naturally”

Are You Committed to Your Destination?

I remember the day I wanted to give up.

I was at home.  It was a warm, bright morning and sunlight was streaming into the study.  I was heading towards the door but, as I passed my desk, something stopped me.

A simple thought.

“This is too hard”.

I’d worked so hard to understand my issues with food and myself but, despite my efforts, I couldn’t make enough sense of them to consistently affect my eating behaviour.  Although my bingeing had stopped, I was still eating when I knew I wasn’t hungry.  It felt like an impossible struggle with no way out.

Continue reading “Are You Committed to Your Destination?”

Food for Thought: Anything is Possible

“What you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon must inevitably come to pass” – Paul J. Meyer

It’s the adverbs that make this sentence so meaningful.

He could have said “what you imagine, desire, believe and act upon” but that doesn’t have the same power.  Instead, Meyer colours in the specifics – we must vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon.

It’s not enough to hope for the best, plod along, see what happens – we have to want it, believe it and make it happen.

Continue reading “Food for Thought: Anything is Possible”

Expert Insight: What We Really Lose When We Diet

“I started each new diet with burning enthusiasm – this was going to be the diet to beat all the others, this time I was really going to lose weight and keep it off forever.  I never did.  Every single diet ended with me regaining all the weight I had lost, plus a few pounds extra.  What I did lose, I had not intended to lose – I lost time, I lost energy, I lost me”.

Dr Cherie Martin, “Naturally Slim Without Dieting”

It breaks my heart when I see a young woman on Instagram hating herself for not being able to stick to her slimming club’s diet plan, dreading her next weigh-in and vowing to do better tomorrow.  What will tomorrow bring for her?  More of the same and, in all likelihood, a life-long messed-up relationship with food.

Perhaps you were once that young woman.

I was.

Continue reading “Expert Insight: What We Really Lose When We Diet”