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.

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”

Gentle Reminder: Trust Yourself

Self-trust. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right?

Actually, if you’ve experienced a lifetime of self-doubt, it’s more like difficult difficult lemon difficult.

It can be hard to connect to that quiet, assured, trustworthy voice within you.

But it’s there.

You may struggle to hear it, but it’s there.

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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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Expert Insight: Finding Satisfaction with Food is like Learning to Ride a Bike

“Compare teaching yourself to eat just the right amount of food to teaching a child to ride a bike. Do children learn easily when you get angry or criticize them for making mistakes? Will children feel like giving up if they are expected to do it perfectly right away? Will they want to try again if they’re ashamed about falling off? Or do they learn best when you observe what they do, encourage each positive step they take, and offer gentle suggestions on how they can improve? Do they want to keep trying because you focus on how much they are progressing, not on what they do wrong? Will they feel encouraged when they notice it gets a little easier each time?

Learning to stop eating when you’re satisfied is exactly the same. You’re most likely to learn when you’re gentle, patient, encouraging and optimistic with yourself throughout the process.

Continue reading “Expert Insight: Finding Satisfaction with Food is like Learning to Ride a Bike”

How Much is Enough?

You’re having dinner at a restaurant with friends. You skipped lunch so your stomach is growling like a caged beast as you examine the menu. You go to town on the bread basket and devour your starter as soon as it arrives. Now the waiter puts your main course in front of you. It’s a sizeable portion and you’ve eaten almost enough already.

What goes through your mind?

  1. Nothing. You pick up your knife and fork and eat until you’re finished.
  2. “I’ll have to eat it. If I don’t, what will people think?”
  3. “Diet starts again tomorrow so bring it on!”
  4. “I’m paying for it, so I might as well eat it, otherwise it’s a waste.”
  5. “But it looks so good! Also, I’ve had a tough day so I deserve it.”

Which answer leads to you feeling satisfied and thoroughly enjoying your evening?

Continue reading “How Much is Enough?”

Food for Thought: The Enjoyment of Less

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness” – Charles Spurgeon.

I’ve spent my month’s blogging break decluttering my house.

I mean seriously decluttering.

Decluttering in the past meant I’d throw out a few things, take some bits and pieces to the charity shop and really just fanny about with everything else. I might box some stuff up and put it in the loft or hide it in cupboards or drawers but, truthfully, it was always more like strategic resettlement rather than a coordinated clear-out.

Continue reading “Food for Thought: The Enjoyment of Less”