I want to eat in these two ways

September 22, 2022

Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness.”    – Auguste Escoffier


A few days ago, while rummaging through a drawer, I found this journal. From the cover it seemed new so I immediately thought it would become my next journal once I finish the one I’m writing in now.

However, once I opened it, I discovered pages and pages in which I had put in black and white the details of yet another diet. I don’t even know which diet that was, amongst the several I started and never finished. I wrote the dates but not which year and having been on a diet for years, I honestly can’t tell you what year that was.

Reading all those details on the pages, like the weight (updated every single day), the hours of fasting, the details and comments like “I had curry but NO rice” reminded me of some very specific feelings which I have decided to say no to a while go in my relationship with food: fatigue, deprivation, guilt and defeat.

Looking at the journal I am reminded of the obsession with achieving a weight that is not natural to me and the huge sacrifices I made in the name of that obsession.

The sense of guilt comes to mind, the anxiety from feeling that I was sabotaging myself by always returning to the starting point and never ending the diet.

  • What if that “starting point” was a point of balance for my body and not a wrong place to be?
  • What if by stopping the constant striving to change this body of mine at any cost, I would have found greater physical and mental balance?

When I started asking myself these questions, they felt like very uncomfortable questions.

I didn’t want to give up on the project I had dedicated so much time and resources to. In fact, I still believed that my goal should have been to ‘eat less, avoiding a certain type of food, to achieve a light and slender body’.

I was not happy, I was constrantly struggling and, as I said, felt constantly in self sabotaging mode.

If you do feel the same way right now, let me tell you you are not the only one.

You are also, not alone.

There are things you can do and support to be found.

I hear you though, if you’re thinking that changing this is easier said than done.

When we’re deep in one place (like I was back then when writing one of those many food journals), it’s difficult to envision making it to another place.

This is true especially when we realise we’re in a place we don’t like to be and we are trying to think how we could possibly make it through to some “other side”.

Add to this that eating is a fundamental need, something we cannot do without.

Then the question becomes:

  • How do I want to eat, given it’s not something I can do without?
  • What kind of relationship do I want to have with food?

Reflecting on these questions over time I came up with my own answers:

I want to eat in these two ways.

I want to savor food with ease and I want to eat without guilt.

Allow me to explain what I mean.


1. I want to savor food with ease.

I now aim to enjoy the experience of food and try as much as possible to connect with food with all the senses, with a sense of pleasure and with calm.

What helps me with this is finding time during the day where I eat without distractions, sit while I do it and carve out time to do it.

It also helps ditching the food diaries and reminding myself that I don’t have to write down every single detail of what I eat, adding notes on how bad I was or how good I was that day.

The bottom line

If you suffered or suffer from disordered eating and regular binges, I encourage you to reflect on this:

You cannot truly savor food and experience your meals with calm, while following strict eating rules which go against your personal taste and preferences.

As long as you keep that fixation on rules, you’ll always focus more on being “performative” at the table, ticking boxes and collecting points for supposedly “being good”, instead of connecting with the food in front of you.

As long as the obsession with the rules continues, food will always remain the yardstick of your worth, a way in which you decide whether you’ve been good or not, or something that will condition your decisions about what your next meal should be.

To enjoy food calmly and without prejudices, it’s important to remind oneself, day after day and meal after meal, that our value as people does not derive from our eating choices. Contrary to the popular way of saying “you are what you eat”, our meals do not define who we are and our value.

Only then we can hope to savour food.

 


2. I want to eat without guilt

One of my main sources of guilt came from believing I wasn’t taking care of myself and I was putting my health at risk if I was not following a certain way of eating recommended by someone else…a book, a plan, a slimming group.

It’s that guilt that came from not being able to keep up with the rules, from never reaching the finish line of a diet and believing that that meant failing. That I was failing and auto-sabotaging myself.

Tired of constantly feeling this way, I started to learn more and practice the principles of intuitive eating.

I’ve become curious on what a new definition of “healthy” could really look like for me, which I knew I didn’t want it to have anything to do with guilt.

Here are a few considerations around health and healthy habits that support me today:

A fat body can be healthy, it can be at its natural weight. Even in the case where there are some aspects of our health to improve, these can benefit from eating habits which are rooted on pleasure and free from constraints. They can be supported by a number of protective factors ranging from movement to rest, to relationships, to cultivating time and space for oneself.

If you pay attention, these are the exact same things that support the health of a thin person, should they have any medical conditions or problems.

Any health problem that can be encountered is widespread in all types of weight.

Success and failure are two impostors that encourage us to build our reality in a very polarised way, for which eating healthy is equal to success and having supposedly “unhealthy” habits is equal to failure; thus generating a lot of guilt and frustration.

Becoming aware of this association between healthy-success/unhealthy-failure or fit-success/unfit-failure offers an opportunity to review our habits.

It is about learning more about our current habits and moving towards a different approach to food that allow us to eat with ease, without the obsession of having a perfect lifestyle and always be eating the same way, with the same measure every single day. Because that is unrealistic.

Some tips I ofter offer to support on this are listed below.

Gradually stop:

  • Counting points, syns, calories, macros.
  • Getting on the scale every morning.
  • Sipping diet & detox teas instead of eating when you are hungry.
  • Following ‘All I eat in a day’ hashtags.
  • Keeping weight-loss related apps in your phone.
  • Signing in for ‘carb or sugar quit’ challenges.
  • Tracking every single second of exercise in your day.

Slowly introduce more of:

  • Adding the food you’re most afraid of to your shopping list.
  • Noticing how your energy levels change (if they do) throughout the day.
  • Eating when you are hungry.
  • Follow ‘Intuitive eating’ and ‘Mindful eating’ hashtags.
  • Downloading a good app to relax and help with stress (InsightTimer, Headspace, Calm, etc.)
  • Getting out for a walk without your tracker and take notice of your surroundings instead.

Have you ever wondered which are the parts of your relationship with food that you do not like? Have you ever thought about how you would like to change it?

If I asked you this question:

What ways do you want to eat? What answer would you give me?

If you like, let me know the comments or reach you to me at info@themindfulbody.ie.

I’m curious if your experience is in any way similar to mine and that of other women I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with. I’m waiting for you on the other side of this article.

I’ve also written several other articles to help with this.

If you’d like to deepen today’s message here is a few of them you might want to read:

How to slow down and be more present when you eat

What’s wrong with calorie counting

How to make the best out of your eating experience

Always with kindness,

Dona 🌷

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Written by Donatella Porceddu

I am a registered psychologist and life coach specialised in binge and emotional eating, body kindness, and mindful eating. I empower women to become the best version of themselves through my comprehensive approach, which combines personal coaching and psychology, leveraging my client’s strengths and building around their opportunities.

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Donatella Porceddu Psychologist & Eating Coach specialised in Binge Eating, Overeating, Emotional Eating, Food freedom, anti-diet approach. 1:1 support through my Make Peace with Food program.

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