Season’s Eatings: The Buffet Tour

A friend is having a Christmas get-together. The house is decorated, the tree is trimmed and in the middle of the room a table groans under the weight of an impressive buffet.

There’s everything you could imagine: sausage rolls, veggie vol-au-vents, smoked salmon pinwheels, stuffed peppers, bread, salads and olives, not to mention those little cheesy ball things you just can’t resist (apparently this buffet is from 1974).

In the kitchen, an array of cakes and puddings is waiting to be brought out once the savoury course is finished.

What do you do?

What most of us do is pick up a plate when invited to by the host, start at one end of the table and take a bit of everything until we reach the other end. By the time we’ve finished, there’s a dome of food on our plate big enough to rival St Paul’s Cathedral.

Then we plough our way through it and feel stuffed and uncomfortable.

Instead, I’d like to invite you to consider a Buffet Tour.

Walk around the table and survey all the food on offer. Before putting anything on your plate, relax and take the time to investigate what appeals to you. What looks good? Are there particular dishes that “sing” to you? If you need to go around a few times to be sure, that’s OK, there’s no rush – there’s plenty of time for sightseeing.

Don’t judge your choices. Give yourself full permission to have what you really want. Forget good or bad, healthy or unhealthy. If you bypass the salad in favour of the sausage rolls – fine. If you’re all about the cheesy ball things – also fine. If you decide you don’t want anything savoury and would prefer just to have pudding. Guess what? Absolutely fine.

Narrow it down to the foods you truly want and ignore everything else on the table. Enjoy the sense of freedom this gives you. Having carefully considered what you’d like, start putting it on your plate.

Check in with your hunger. As you make your selection ask yourself how hungry you are. Seriously hungry or just a bit peckish? Try to take the amount of food that fits with your hunger. If you’re not sure, start small (remember you can always go back for more if you want to).

As you eat, slow down and stay present. Are you enjoying what you’ve chosen? It’s OK to discard anything you’re not enjoying. Is there something you’re particularly relishing that you might want some more of? Above all, enjoy it.

Be honest with yourself. Do those little cheesy balls taste as amazing as you remember? Or is it just because you’ve always considered them “contraband” that you thought you liked them so much?

Pay attention to any signal from your body that you’ve had enough. Has the taste changed since you started eating? Are you beginning to feel full? Are you not enjoying the food as much as you were earlier? If so, maybe it’s time to stop eating.

When you stop, remind yourself you can have more later, or you could maybe take some home (depending on how well you know the host). Crucially, this kind of food is never off limits, so there’s no need to have it all now.

It’s OK to give yourself exactly what you want. Actually, in the process of making peace with food, it’s essential.

Scarcity sparks overeating.

If you feel you’re not usually allowed these sorts of foods, you’re going to make the most of any opportunity to have them and eat like there’s no tomorrow.

Deprivation drives bingeing.

The opposite of deprivation is full permission and the more you give yourself full permission to eat exactly what you want, the calmer your relationship with food becomes and the more discerning you become about what you eat.

That’s how you stop bingeing and start working with yourself and your body.

Food is to be enjoyed, especially at any kind of celebration. You can’t enjoy it if you’re denying yourself what you really want, giving yourself a hard time for your choices or overeating because you feel you’ve got to make the most of it.

So if you’re faced with a buffet this Christmas, I highly recommend a Buffet Tour. There are only 3 stops – freedom, enjoyment and satisfaction.

Season’s Greetings: A Letter to You

You’ll notice things are a little different on the blog this month. The usual features are being replaced with a series of festive-themed posts to help you through the holiday season.

And before the festivities really begin to ramp up, why not stop and take a breather?

Think about how the past 12 months have been for you and consider what you want next year.

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Gentle Reminder: It’s Not Your Fault

It’s so easy to beat yourself up when you binge. Especially if you begin to suffer health complications as a result of increased weight.

“It’s my fault”, you say. “I’ve brought this on myself”.

Except you haven’t.

Rather than a sign of weakness or a lack of willpower, binge eating is an attempted solution to a problem.

No, that’s not “making excuses” or any of the other bullshit spouted by those who lack empathy and understanding.

It’s the truth.

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Expert Insight: Seeing the Funny Side of Our Mistakes

“One way to encourage clients to accept themselves is to remind them that it is human to err and make mistakes. This will enable them to see themselves as human and learn to replace self-judgement with humility and laughter, rather than being crippled by shame. When clients are able to laugh rather than become embarrassed by awkward situations, they are able to redefine their experience and maintain social bonds. In this way, good-natured humour and laughter has a positive effect in disrupting the cycle of shame (Scheff 1990). Moreover, shared laughter is quintessentially human and a powerful tool for connecting to others.”

– Christiane Sanderson, “Counselling Skills for Working with Shame”

I once heard of a woman who was at a wedding when she spotted that another guest had her skirt hitched into her knickers.

Continue reading “Expert Insight: Seeing the Funny Side of Our Mistakes”

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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Food for Thought: The Rush to Forgiveness

“Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on.” – Alice Miller

“I forgive them”. This is what victims of crime sometimes say when they’re interviewed on the news days, or even hours, after some terrible violation has been committed against them. Perhaps they were brutally attacked. Perhaps someone they love was murdered.

“I forgive the people who did this to me”, they say.

I always feel a sense of concern when I hear this.

Their forgiveness seems so immediate.  It makes me wonder what happened to their feelings.

Continue reading “Food for Thought: The Rush to Forgiveness”

Who Do You Trust?

I was horse mad as a child.

I was born and raised in Australia until the age of nine and, along with a modest collection of pony books and stickers, I had an imaginary horse I kept tethered in our backyard. Truth be told I had about fifteen imaginary horses – all with their own names – but that’s another story.

More than anything, I wanted to ride a real horse.

When I was about eight, I came across a brochure for a kids’ activity camp. I can’t remember how but it immediately caught my eye because there on the front cover was a photo of children smiling as they rode horses through the countryside.

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