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?

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Why is Change Such a Challenge?

While the process of change never runs smoothly, sometimes it feels like an endless battle with yourself which can wear you down and make you feel like giving up.

So let’s examine some of the reasons why change might feel like such a challenge.

It’s not coming from a helpful place within you
Often the attempt to change is motivated by your Inner Bully who says you’re unacceptable and have to improve to earn your place in this world. Trying to change yourself to please others isn’t healthy motivation and doesn’t work. The only motivation for lasting change comes from an authentic place within that is concerned for your wellbeing and wants the very best for you.

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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?

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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?

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Are You Committed to Your Destination?

I remember the day I wanted to give up.

I was at home.  It was a warm, bright morning and sunlight was streaming into the study.  I was heading towards the door but, as I passed my desk, something stopped me.

A simple thought.

“This is too hard”.

I’d worked so hard to understand my issues with food and myself but, despite my efforts, I couldn’t make enough sense of them to consistently affect my eating behaviour.  Although my bingeing had stopped, I was still eating when I knew I wasn’t hungry.  It felt like an impossible struggle with no way out.

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Gentle Reminder: It’s Just Food

Some food has a higher nutritional content than other food.  Some food is produced more ethically than other food.  Neither of these facts can be disputed.

What is up for debate is how helpful it is for you psychologically and emotionally to label food as “good” or “bad”, “healthy” or “unhealthy”.

If you consider one food more off-limits or “naughty” than another, which one are you most likely to reach for when you’ve had a bad day?  Or when you need a pick-me-up?  Or when you want to treat yourself?

Put it another way:  we don’t binge on broccoli.

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