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.

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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 🌷

What Calorie Labelling does to People with Binge Eating Disorder

Trigger warning: description of binge eating.

A few nights ago, I went out for dinner for the first time since lockdown lifted here in the UK.

After months of being stuck at home, I sat in the restaurant with a big grin on my face, soaking up the atmosphere.

I was quite hungry but, as usual, took my time exploring the menu. Like a buzzard circling its prey, I was on the lookout for the dish that would truly satisfy me.

I knew I’d found it when I got that familiar “eureka” moment. Something in me said “that’s it!”. Instinctively, I knew it was exactly what I felt like eating and that I’d enjoy it.

I made my choice without judgement – either of the food or of myself.

Continue reading “What Calorie Labelling does to People with Binge Eating Disorder”

What’s Missing from the Conversation about Eating Disorders?

When you hear the term ‘eating disorder’, what comes to mind?

Is it anorexia?

Or maybe bulimia?

It’s not surprising.

When someone asks me what I do and I explain I’m a psychotherapist who works with clients with eating disorders, they usually tell me about someone they know who’s experienced anorexia.

While it’s a really good thing that awareness around anorexia and bulimia has increased significantly over the years, there’s yet to be the same level of awareness about binge eating disorder or OSFED.

In case you don’t know, OSFED stands for “other specified feeding or eating disorder”.

Continue reading “What’s Missing from the Conversation about Eating Disorders?”

Mental Health and Weight Loss Ads

I was recently asked to contribute to an article on the mental health impact of weight loss advertising for Metro.

You can read the article here, but I also wanted to share with you the questions I was asked and the answers I gave.

Continue reading “Mental Health and Weight Loss Ads”

Summer Rewind: Why Do We Need To Let Other People Own Their Feelings?

This post from 2018 explores why we often take responsibility for other people’s feelings, and the subsequent impact on us and our eating behaviour.

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You’re about to send an email and you’re re-reading it for the tenth time to make absolutely sure there’s nothing in it that could be misconstrued and cause offence.   Then you check it another ten times after you’ve sent it – just in case…

You bump into a friend in the street.  As you walk away, you replay the conversation over and over in your head trying to work out if you said anything “wrong”.  You’re still rerunning the conversation in your head as you lie in bed that night…

A work colleague seems a bit off with you.  You instantly rack your brain to recall your most recent interactions with them.  You spend the day desperately trying to work out what you did to upset them so you can apologise and make things right…

Sound familiar?

Continue reading “Summer Rewind: Why Do We Need To Let Other People Own Their Feelings?”

Summer Rewind: What’s The Big Deal About Exercise?

 

Here’s another post from the archives, this time exploring how it’s possible to find the same autonomy with movement, as it is with food. Hard to believe, I know, but true.

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“I’m just one of those people who hates exercise”. That’s what I used to say. And I believed it. Man, did I hate exercise. I felt angry (and guilty and ashamed) at the mention of the word and, I have to confess, I’m worried some of you may stop reading this post for the very same reason, but I hope not.

In the past, if a slim person said to me “I’m just going to the gym” I’d think “why the hell are you doing that? You’re already thin! You don’t need to go to the gym”. It was my assumption you only exercised to lose weight. It didn’t occur to me that people might exercise because they enjoyed it.

After all, what was enjoyable about exercise? Nothing. All that pain and sweating and discomfort. It felt like punishment.

Continue reading “Summer Rewind: What’s The Big Deal About Exercise?”