Find peace with food and overcome disordered eating.
Eating Disorder Therapist
Overcome disordered eating and find peace with food
New Year, new you?
by Harriet Frew on December 30th, 2014

 So it’s January. The time for bright new beginnings and shiny fresh starts. The Christmas decorations which only two weeks ago, looked sparkling and magical, now look garish and the Christmas tree is starting to wilt.  The last mince pie has been devoured or avoided depending on how you deal with food; the sparkle and shine of Christmas is quickly dissipating as the gloom and damp of January sets in. It’s back to work or school routines and predictable daily life.
Maybe Christmas has not been the easiest period for you. When you are struggling with food and body image, then this is undoubtedly one of the most testing times of year. Anxieties about how to cope with the mountains of food; how to look attractive and appealing in front of family and friends together with the strongest desire ever to use food as a coping strategy as relationships are pushed to the limit. Alcohol; too many people in one room with strong opinions; the pressure to have the loveliest time ever.... it is not surprising that things can go wrong.  Stifled; suffocated; irritated; annoyed anyone? Over-eating, or avoiding food and then bingeing; or simply avoiding food and feeling deprived and miserable – are all likely to have happened in increased frequency over the past two weeks.
But hey it’s over now and January 1st marks the clean slate; the fresh start; the New Year’s resolutions. If Christmas has been particularly challenging on the food front, you might well be bracing yourself with steely determination and willpower to change your eating once and for all. This time is truly going to be different. You are sure of it.
Here are my 5 tips for embracing the New Year – 2015 and achieving your goals: -
1. Lower your expectations and chip away at that perfectionist streak you might have.  Reading one of my favourite journalist’s articles before Christmas, she was bemoaning the fact that at the end of 2014, she still felt fat and was not sorted in the food department. She had tried personal trainers; specialist nutritional plans; diets; detoxes, you name it, and she had tried it. But body acceptance and food happiness eluded her. 

Why? I believe that any taxing regime or overly strict plan is going to give you a wagon to fall off when it all goes wrong.  You are very likely to give up and oscillate from one extreme to the other. And if you are the kind of person that truly hates 6am workouts or giving up sugar entirely, then how likely are you going to stay on track? Instead, go for mini victories and sustainable changes.  You are in this for the long-haul. Not for the next few weeks.
2. When you achieve your little baby goals, stand back and give yourself a huge pat on the back. You need to feel encouraged, supported and that the changes you are making, and more importantly YOU are worth it. Think about how you encourage your friends, children, and close family members. I bet it is through love, support and kindness and noticing when things are going well. Cheering them up; pushing them on; pointing out the best bits. You need to become a master at doing this for yourself. I promise that you will start to feel so much better within days. 

3. Really get an understanding of your trigger situations around food and body image. For two weeks, keep a food AND mood diary (the mood bit is very important – this is not a diet record). Personally, tiredness, doing too much and saying yes when I mean no are my main triggers for eating lots of sugar and then feeling a bit rubbish. Everyone’s triggers will be different. Get to really know your personal triggers and then you develop savvy self-awareness placing you in the best place to bring about change. 

4. I have recently (and probably behind most people in the UK!) read Caitlin Moran’s ‘How to be a Woman’ book. In this she talks openly in one chapter about her own struggles with her weight and also de-stigmatises the ‘fat’ word. She also articulates well the concept that over-eating (and I would add under-eating) are safe ways of dealing with our distress but also allowing us to be able to function and carry on presenting a coping front (to some extent).   

Eating (and not –eating) temporarily provide pretty good distraction, escape and obliteration from life’s problems. Drugs, drink and other substances can perform the same role but ultimately you can’t really carry on with the 101 jobs that you have to do when are are high or a bit blotto! With eating or starving you can struggle on.
So understand that if you are undereating or overeating and you know that this is plastering over deeper issues, begin to try to get to the bottom of it. Do some reading; see a therapist; keep a journal. Understand what is going on. Trying to gloss over issues with another diet or new regime ain’t going to get to the root of the problem.
5. Keep the bigger picture of living your life in focus.  Don’t put life on hold until you achieve your goal around weight loss or gain or body image. Write a list of 10 things that really make you happy from the depths of your soul. If you are struggling, think back to what you loved doing when you were around ten years old. This will hold some valuable clues. The more you can access this joyful; authentic part of yourself, food becomes less important and you will desire to feed yourself on a deeper level. You won’t want to under-eat or over-eat as this will be preventing you being your best self and being able to blossom and express yourself to the fullest. Hurray to that! 

Happy New Year! Please do post below if you have something to share or you feel inspired by this post.
If you feel that my approach might work for you and 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 am starting face-to-face work in Cambridge this month 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.

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Bev - January 2nd, 2015 at 1:09 PM
I have had the best Christmas I can remember in terms of food consumption and am looking forward to a healthier, happier 2015.
Harriet Frew - January 5th, 2015 at 4:07 AM
Thanks very much for sharing Bev. All credit to you for your hard work and motivation in transforming your relationship with food. I wish you ongoing success and a wonderful 2015!
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Find peace with food and overcome disordered eating.