You’re sitting in a café having coffee with a friend. Every few minutes you surreptitiously tug at your top so it doesn’t cling to the contour of your stomach.
You receive an invitation to your school reunion. You’d love to go but feel you can’t because you’ve put on weight and you worry about what people will think.
You regularly scan your body in a full-length mirror, thinking “God, look at my thighs/belly/insert other body part here”. When you’ve examined all your “defects”, you mutter a conclusive “ugh” before walking away from your reflection in disgust.
Continue reading “Why Should We Be Ashamed of Our Bodies?”
“There is deep wisdom within our very flesh, if only we can come to our senses and feel it”. – Elizabeth A. Behnke
How could someone allow themselves to put on so much weight? Why can’t they just come to their senses? This – and much worse – is often what people who aren’t thin fear others are thinking about them. To be fair, it sometimes is what people think if they’ve never had any kind of overeating issue themselves.
I know from personal experience how easy it is to put on a lot of weight without even knowing. Hard as it might be for some people to believe, it’s not difficult to put on 5 stone or more without really noticing.
Continue reading “Food for Thought: Coming to Our Senses”
You reach for food to soothe yourself, to comfort yourself, to make everything better just for a moment.
But what happens when that moment is over?
The discomfort kicks in.
You feel over-full. You feel sick. You hate yourself.
What was intended to be comforting has to turned into a maelstrom of physical and emotional discomfort.
Why have I done this to myself yet again, you ask. Why?
Continue reading “Gentle Reminder: The Discomfort of Comfort”
“One gender-related theme that stood out was related to caretaking. Every woman in the study, but none of the men, reported putting others before themselves…
Tina was a compulsive eater who used food as a way to practise self-care. During the second interview, she began to realise how taking care of others led her to eat: “I had no down time. I had no time for myself and I think I was using food more than I had been to take the edge off and medicate myself, reward myself, treat myself”.
– Patricia Goodspeed Grant, “Social and Emotional Origins of Comfort Eating”*
Continue reading “Expert Insight: The Self-Care Gender Gap”
“I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be”.
– Kristen Neff
That self-critical voice has such authority, doesn’t it? We think “if I just strive to be the person it tells me I should be, then one day I’ll be OK”.
But that day will never come.
The day will never come when that negative voice in our head says “well done, you’re worthy, now you deserve to look after yourself”. Its sole motivation is to make us feel not good enough, not smart enough, not thin enough, not successful enough, not enough, not enough, not enough…
Continue reading “Food for Thought: Unlocking Self-Compassion”
Do you ever feel like a walking contradiction?
Does it feel as though you hold conflicting beliefs about yourself simultaneously?
It’s not unusual to have paradoxes within us. The tension they create is often what brings us to counselling.
Clients frequently share with me what they think about themselves – “I’m greedy”, “I’m lazy”, “no one likes me”, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m a failure”.
Sometimes when they’re in the middle of describing themselves negatively, they do something quite astonishing.
Continue reading “Gentle Reminder: You’re Not Who You Think You Are”
“In my work with women who experience despair and conflict in their relation to food, I have found that in the first hour they talk about eating. By the second or third hour they tell me they feel confused and do not know what to do with their lives. They have little sense of who they are or what they believe. They are lost, empty, restless, confused and dissatisfied. They are struggling with all the questions of identity their mothers also faced”.
Kim Chernin, “The Hungry Self”
In many ways, little has changed since Kim Chernin’s book was first published over 30 years ago.
In my work with clients with overeating issues today, I’d say the majority are struggling with questions of identity. They also feel lost, empty, restless, confused and dissatisfied. If food is an escape, it’s the discomfort of these feelings they’re often attempting to escape from.
Continue reading “Expert Insight: Questions of Identity”