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.
“Although disappointment feels awful, it can provide you with a wealth of valuable information about yourself and your world. Its purpose is to keep you moving toward what’s beneficial and away from what’s going to come back and bite you. It’s meant to teach you how to make realistic, well-informed choices by recognizing the delicate balance between what you have power over and what you don’t. Examining disappointment with an open mind will help you distinguish between being foolhardy, childish or demanding, and courageous, generous and willing to take appropriate risks. In short, it’s there to help you get the good things you deserve.”
Karen R. Koenig, “The Food & Feelings Workbook”
“Examining disappointment with an open mind” is the phrase that jumps out at me in this quote. We’re often so busy trying to escape disappointment we don’t stop to think that it might have something to teach us.
Uh-oh, it’s January.
The time of year when, even if you’ve been doing really well normalising your relationship with food, you can suddenly find yourself bingeing again.
Why? Because in January it’s impossible to escape the barrage of adverts for slimming clubs, weight-reduction schemes and meal replacement products. Social media is abuzz with the latest celebrity eating plans, while endless newspaper and magazine articles try to convince us of the new wonder diet “that really works”.
Trying to heal your relationship with food can feel like a mammoth undertaking, especially if it’s been dysfunctional for as long as you can remember.
I try to keep it simple.
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?”
Feelings. Yuck. Murky things that make us feel really uncomfortable.
To people with overeating issues, feelings are about as welcome as a porcupine at a nudist colony.
Our natural inclination is to run from our emotions, to avoid them like the plague. They’re so unsettling and uncertain. And we don’t like uncertainty. We like to be in control and know what to expect.