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 recovered years ago.

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.

🌷🌷🌷

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 🌷

How Calorie Labelling Impacts 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 “How Calorie Labelling Impacts People with Binge Eating Disorder”

Dieting is Never the Answer

This is the time of year when most New Year diets have failed.

Yes, The Eating Silly Season is coming to a close. To be fair, Eating Silly Season is now all year long, but in January it’s especially silly as Diet Culture stages its annual Grand Parade of Bullshit and Misinformation.

Look – there’s that “celebrity doctor” shamelessly promoting disordered eating on social media in the name of “science”. There’s that “diet guru” on TV forcing people who are Not Thin to lose weight rapidly with zero regard for their psychological wellbeing.

Then there’s you.

How are you doing with all of this?

Continue reading “Dieting is Never the Answer”

Gentle Reminder: Stay on Your Path

The path to a peaceful relationship with food can be long and twisting.

And many things can try to pull you away from it.

Maybe someone at work raves about losing weight on the latest diet and you consider joining them for yet another “quick fix” attempt.

Maybe you go clothes shopping and nothing fits well or looks right, and you decide your body is to blame.

Maybe someone snaps a photo of you and your Inner Bully has a field day pointing out all your “defects”.

There’s one thing, though, that’s perhaps more disheartening than anything else.

Continue reading “Gentle Reminder: Stay on Your Path”

Expert Insight: Dieting and the Fear of Famine

“Our ancestors did not have a constant supply of food. When a large animal – a whale, a bison, a woolly mammoth or an elephant – was killed, everyone feasted, gorged… it might be weeks or months before another big kill, so large amounts had to be eaten quickly and then stored in the body for the times of scarcity that were sure to come.  

This is an ancient or atavistic memory that calls us to eat all we can now, even if we are not hungry, just in case there won’t be any food tomorrow… there is something deep in our primitive brain that still fears starvation, scarcity, famine.” – Jan Chozen Bays, “Mindful Eating”

Remember the panic-buying we witnessed when the Covid-19 crisis first hit?

Continue reading “Expert Insight: Dieting and the Fear of Famine”

A World Without Dieting

If dieting never existed, what would your relationship with food be like?

Just think about it for a minute.

How would you eat if you’d never learnt to diet?

Would you wake up feeling confused and stressed about food?
Would you feel guilty and ashamed about eating something you “shouldn’t”?
Would you still binge? Label food as “good” or “bad”? Hate your body?

Continue reading “A World Without Dieting”