At a Christmas party, two guests are standing by the buffet. One has their plate piled high with food. The other has cleverly taken a Buffet Tour and has selected only the food they really wanted. The first guest is eating very quickly, the other is taking their time and savouring their selection.
“Boundaries are the lines we draw that mark off our autonomy and that of other people, that protect our privacy and that of others. Boundaries allow for intimate connection without dissolving or losing one’s sense of self.”
– Amy Bloom
I love this definition of boundaries by Amy Bloom – psychotherapist, author, screenwriter and probably my new shero.
Boundaries make it safe for us to engage with others, without compromising our independence. They separate us from each other, while at the same time allowing us to be close. Rather than a barrier to relationship, boundaries give us the means to connect authentically.
But what if we don’t know where they are?
I can practically feel the groaning and eye rolling.
In preparation for writing this blog post I did a bit of research. I googled some exercise slogans. What I found ranged from the ridiculous – “squat till you puke” (eww) – to the downright offensive, which I won’t repeat here. (Guys, seriously?).
Many of the so-called “motivational and inspirational” quotes I found conveyed the message that to have the body you’re “supposed” to have, you must punish it into submission.
No wonder the ‘e’ word has such a bad rep.
Some food has a higher nutritional content than other food. Some food is produced more ethically than other food. Neither of these facts can be disputed.
What is up for debate is how helpful it is for you psychologically and emotionally to label food as “good” or “bad”, “healthy” or “unhealthy”.
If you consider one food more off-limits or “naughty” than another, which one are you most likely to reach for when you’ve had a bad day? Or when you need a pick-me-up? Or when you want to treat yourself?
Put it another way: we don’t binge on broccoli.
“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.
“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”
– C. JoyBell C.
I started turning to food when I was around 12 years-old. My emotional attachment to it had begun before that but I was about 12 when I started to binge, in secret, to the point that I felt sick. As a result, I began to put on weight.
It’s my experience that people with emotion-driven overeating issues don’t like being told what to do.
Maybe a work colleague asks “should you really be eating that?”
Maybe your partner is putting pressure on you to lose weight.
Maybe a “well-meaning” friend is always suggesting a new fad diet.
Maybe your parent says “don’t you think you’ve had enough?”