Find peace with food and overcome disordered eating.
Eating Disorder Therapist
Overcome disordered eating and find peace with food
Finding your healthy weight and staying that way (without weighing)
by Harriet Frew on November 11th, 2014

Before I sorted out my relationship with food, my body size and weight could shift considerably depending on whether I was in super-controlled dieting (ultimately unsustainable!)  kind of phase or in the alterative blown it/sod it phase of chaotic eating where self-care and well-being did not get a look in. However, there is a happy ending to the story and my body weight is pretty sustainable now (or so I think from the way my clothes fit) as I don’t tend to weigh myself very often.

So how have I arrived at this point in time where food and body image are significant in living but are not the basis of my worth? How have I found a place where my weight is pretty much sustainable so I don’t need to think about it? How has life become truly for living rather than getting bogged down in the distractions of body obsession?

Here are a few tips from my journey. These are my thoughts and may not work for everyone. However, I know they have worked for many. Every little step along the way is a little victory and needs acknowledgement.

Ten tips that have helped me on this journey

1. Never diet again. I have been there and done the diets. I have monitored my calorie intake; cut out bread, potatoes, rice and other tasty carbs; missed meals; pretended I wasn’t hungry; eaten a bit less than I really needed and guess what, the results are always short-term. Yes, a few pounds are lost but then ultimately a few pounds are gained again. Also the side effects of rapid weight loss such as tiredness, preoccupation with food and feeling like a half-baked version of yourself do not make the thinness worthwhile. Hungry and happy rarely go together. To find a healthy workable weight, ditch the diets and seek a way of eating that is sustainable long-term. 

2.Rules are meant to be broken. As human beings we do not like to feel controlled or bossed around by our internal critic (or anyone else mind) for any time period. Yes, short-term we might comply and be the ‘golden dieter’ for a few weeks. However, before long, you will naturally rebel and say ‘sod the rules’ and miserable hunger and then go on to eat a whole cake in one go in defiance to all the deprivation of days, weeks, months previously. Start to notice your inner critic and your (probably sub-conscious) rules. Begin to notice how these affect your behaviour. 

If you take away the rules, there is nothing to rebel against anymore. Initially, you might want to feast on everything in sight. However, there are only so many cupcakes, muffins, cheese scones (or whatever your forbidden food is) that you will be able to stomach and you will soon move beyond this phase and start to listen to what your body needs.  Hurray!
3. Exercise is important for health; vitality; longevity; energy. However, over-exercise is detrimental. Exercising when you think you ‘should’ is also not productive and it is unlikely that it will last. How many people join gyms in January to very quickly abandon over-ambitious plans? Find exercise that you enjoy. Exercise when your body wants to exercise. Research shows that the benefits of generally being active (walking, fidgeting, moving around often) are as significant (if not more so) than intense bursts followed by long periods of inactivity. 

4. When you have good and bad foods, then anything on the ‘bad list’ will be associated with guilt, enticement, naughtiness and rebellion. For me, bad foods used to include do-nuts; milk chocolate, crisps, anything sugar laden. If ‘bad foods’ signal guilt, you will feel this physiologically in your body (faster heart rate; anxiety); in your behaviour (secret eating; bingeing) or in your thoughts ‘I’ve no willpower; I’ve broken my eating plan’. You will inevitably feel negative about such eating occasions with such emotional attachment associated with these ‘bad foods’. If you allow yourself to eat everything (in moderation) the ‘bad foods’ will lose their significance. You can then eat them and enjoy them. Actually enjoying the food you eat and feeling satisfied is so important. You are far less likely to over-indulge as they are not off limits anymore. 

5. Eating low GI for much of the time can really help. Blood sugar stays stable and cravings are often reduced. Eating in a consistent way is also productive. Not in a dogmatic, controlling, punitive, food obsessive manner. But where you have a general routine and guidelines that hum in the background of your daily life. They become valuable habits embedded in the structure of living. 

6. Get enough sleep at night. Get enough rest in the day. I used to feel I had to be super-woman and keep ploughing on accomplishing task after task without a rest. And what a grumpy, intolerant, irritable person I could be! Sugary food became a simultaneous reward, punishment and two fingers up the world against my punishing schedule. 

7. Stop measuring your worth by your weight. When you reach X stones or lbs, life is not going to be magical, alas. Give up on fantasies of ‘super-skinny’ if this is not your natural body type. If you starve yourself to thin proportions through restriction, you are going to create a whole food and body image problem for yourself. And when you do get down to X stones, the same problems and anxieties will remain. It is unlikely that you will develop a whole fresh personality where confidence exudes from every pore. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a healthy weight but stop fixating on specific numbers. Focus on health; well-being and self-nurture. 

8. Self-care, nurture your interests; love and respect your body. Treating your-self kindly is a sure way to keep weight stable. Much excess weight is gained through over-eating for comfort, security, self-punishment and escaping feelings of loneliness or boredom. 

9. Become a planner with food. Not so you are obsessing over portion sizes or mapping out weeks of eating plans. But ensuring that you make time to eat throughout the day. Eating breakfast. Not getting over-hungry. Having snacks or pre-prepared food to hand when you go about your day. Keep doing this daily. Consistency is key. 

10. Address the times you eat to fill a need that food just cannot fill. I used to eat more if I had broken a rule; eat because I was tired and needed rest; eat because I was overwhelmed and couldn’t set healthy limits; eat because I was anxious and needed self-soothing; eat because I was scared of failure and wanted temporary escape and oblivion. Eliminating these and listening to my body has transformed my relationship with food to a different level. 

What has helped you to find a healthy and sustainable weight? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please do post below and share.

If you would like to get in touch about working with me to explore some of these issues further, I would love to hear from you. I will shortly be starting face-to-face work in Cambridge and I continue to work at Weight Matters in London. I also offer Skype and telephone support. I am passionate about helping you to eat all the foods you love; and feel great about your body without disordered eating or dieting.


Posted in Body image, Emotions, Exercise, Giving up dieting, Motivation and change, Self-care, Weight    Tagged with no tags


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Find peace with food and overcome disordered eating.