Gentle Reminder: Dreamers Who Do

When I meet clients for the first time, I usually end the assessment by asking how they’d like their relationship with food to be.

“Just normal” is the almost universal response.

They then explain they don’t want to think about food all the time, they just want to eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full. They don’t want to binge or overeat. They don’t want to obsess about food from the second they wake up until their frazzled heads hit the pillow at night.

It’s a lovely goal.

It’s an achievable goal.

I used to dream about having a “just normal” relationship with food. At the height of my eating distress, when I felt alone and desperate in my dysfunction, I’d look at people who ate normally and think “they’re so lucky, it’s so simple for them”.

Working through my issues with food I came to realise it is simple.

Eat when you’re hungry.
Eat exactly what you feel like.
Stop eating when you’re satisfied.

It just takes a lot of practice.

Practise dismissing negative thoughts that say “you’ll never do this”.
Practise understanding what your body is saying to you.
Practise not judging yourself and what you’re eating.
Practise resisting the urge to detach from your feelings.
Practise staying with yourself emotionally so you build resilience.
Practise reaching out when you’re in need, not doing everything alone.
Practise seeing food as just food, not a way of coping with life.
Practise never giving up on yourself.

And the best time to practice is now.

Not when life gets easier or when you’re feeling better.

Now.

We all deserve a peaceful relationship with food.

It’s not enough just to dream about it.

As Sarah Ban Breathnach says, “the world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do”.

***

For a reminder about why there’s no better time than now, read this 2018 post “What Are You Waiting For?”.

Expert Insight: Looking the Wrong Way

“Body image is quite independent of physical appearance. Someone with high self-esteem tends to view her body favourably, regardless of how she actually looks.  

The weak connection between body image and physical appearance means that changing your looks won’t guarantee a lasting improvement in self-esteem…you need to get past your appearance and focus on your other personal strengths as well.”

– Rita Freedman, “Bodylove”.

It may come as a surprise that body image really has nothing to do with how you look.

When someone struggles with poor body image, we might say “it’s such a shame – if only they could learn to like their looks”.

In reality, it’s “if only they could learn to like themselves”.

If we want to feel better about ourselves, dreaming about having the perfect body and fantasizing about “fixing” our appearance is, essentially, looking the wrong way.

It’s looking outward, not inward.

A dysfunctional relationship with food is symptomatic of a dysfunctional relationship with ourselves. The latter can’t be improved by looking in the mirror. It can’t be solved with weight loss. It can’t be healed by the approval and admiration of others.

Self-esteem is our relationship with ourselves, no one else.

That’s why it’s crucial we give ourselves a break and get to know ourselves better because if you can come to know and appreciate your qualities and strengths, you can come to know and appreciate your body.

It’s simple: hate yourself, hate your body. Like yourself, like your body.

If we think “I’ll like myself when I’m thin enough” we’re entirely missing the point. For how many years now have we been missing the point?

It’s time we started getting it. I mean really getting it.

We just need to stop looking the wrong way.

***

Freedman, R (1988), Bodylove: Learning to Like Our Looks – and Ourselves”. London: Grafton Books.

A New Year’s Day Reminder

If you wrote a New Year’s Day letter to yourself (remember Season’s Greetings: A Letter to You?) here’s a friendly reminder to open it.

Enjoy reading your letter – I hope it brings you comfort, insight and encouragement.

If you haven’t written your letter yet, it’s not too late. Why not take some time to write one now? If you’ve immediately dismissed this suggestion, maybe ask yourself why. What’s holding you back?

Continue reading “A New Year’s Day Reminder”

Season’s Meetings: Shields Up!

It’s a good old-fashioned Christmas meet-up with family, friends and acquaintances.

So who’s here? There’s your aunt who tries to emotionally manipulate you. There’s that old family friend who always makes inappropriate remarks about your body. Over there’s your cousin who never fails to give you “helpful” diet tips. She’s talking to your mother who’s giving you “that look”.

And there’s you – mindlessly eating mince pies in an attempt to deal with the stress and misery.

Continue reading “Season’s Meetings: Shields Up!”

Season’s Greetings: A Letter to You

You’ll notice things are a little different on the blog this month. The usual features are being replaced with a series of festive-themed posts to help you through the holiday season.

And before the festivities really begin to ramp up, why not stop and take a breather?

Think about how the past 12 months have been for you and consider what you want next year.

Continue reading “Season’s Greetings: A Letter to You”

Gentle Reminder: It’s Not Your Fault

It’s so easy to beat yourself up when you binge. Especially if you begin to suffer health complications as a result of increased weight.

“It’s my fault”, you say. “I’ve brought this on myself”.

Except you haven’t.

Continue reading “Gentle Reminder: It’s Not Your Fault”

Expert Insight: Seeing the Funny Side of Our Mistakes

“One way to encourage clients to accept themselves is to remind them that it is human to err and make mistakes. This will enable them to see themselves as human and learn to replace self-judgement with humility and laughter, rather than being crippled by shame. When clients are able to laugh rather than become embarrassed by awkward situations, they are able to redefine their experience and maintain social bonds. In this way, good-natured humour and laughter has a positive effect in disrupting the cycle of shame (Scheff 1990). Moreover, shared laughter is quintessentially human and a powerful tool for connecting to others.”

– Christiane Sanderson, “Counselling Skills for Working with Shame”

Continue reading “Expert Insight: Seeing the Funny Side of Our Mistakes”