Counselling support for eating disorders and body image.
Rethink your body
To get the freedom to live the life you want
When food is your number one pleasure........
by Harriet Frew on January 12th, 2015

Walking in the Blue Mountains, Australia several years ago with a friend, I remember him commenting on my approach to our hiking adventures. ‘You’re on a march; a mission; just slow down and take it all in’. I recall being a bit confused by the statement at the time. Isn’t that what you were meant to do? March on; walk the distance; achieve the goal! But he had a valid point. There was some remarkable scenery; sheer drops to take your breath away; interesting people to strike up conversations with and spectacular views. I was likely to miss out on all of this, purely because my attention was so much directed towards our endpoint.
And, I continue to this day to express some reluctance in completely letting go of my driven streak, particularly when life is extra busy. I can find it immensely satisfying ploughing through numerous tasks and feeling the sense of accomplishment as I tick off all the jobs.  However there is definitely a cost! Sometimes sheer exhaustion, lack of energy for conversations that matter; chit chat with friends; laughing about the mundane. I can miss out and don’t have enough fun along the way.
In the olden days, my bursts of productivity, efficiency and super-achieving would be simultaneously occurring with the more restrictive and ‘good’ phases of my eating. I was following my rules; being careful with food and monitoring my portions. In contrast, when I ran out of steam and couldn’t carry on a moment longer in achievement mode, then food often in the form of bingeing provided the release, the reward and the comfort. My time off and momentary gratification, before the remorse and regret kicked in.
Did I need food? Sometimes yes, but mostly no; I didn’t need it for anything to do with physiology and hunger. It was a kind of pay back for all the over-expenditure which I felt I was due. It was a way of dissociating from my feelings of anger and resentment at the pressure I put myself under. I often really needed sleep; relaxation; fun and a good dose of pleasure and positive distraction. Food was just the sticking plaster.
Having enough pleasure, fun and relaxation in life is an essential part of emotional well-being and keeping the body relaxed and rejuvenated. It also ensures that food does not become the main pleasure and coping strategy for relaxing and reducing anxiety, which it easily can turn into when your relationship with food is a bit out of sync.  
Today I am very fortunate to have children as part of my daily life and children do completely challenge you to live in the moment. Singing, dancing, laughing for ages about something completely bonkers and silly is a complete release and also a shared and agreeable time. But of course, I cannot rely on my children for this; they are a fortunate blessing and an added bonus. It is my own choice and responsibility to make time out for fun, pleasure and enjoyment.
5 ways to increase your pleasure quota without turning to food
1. What activities do you really love – both doing alone or with others? Which activities allow the time to pass for minutes or hours with you being oblivious? Maybe you don’t have much time for these things now, but somewhere in your past, there will be clues. When I was a little girl, I used to love writing songs and also directing my siblings in plays. This creative side of me was buried for a long-time by many ‘shoulds’ but allowing some of this to creep back into my life has brought much happiness.

2. You need to have lots of options up your sleeve. To begin with, nothing might feel as good as sugar or carbs or whatever your ‘turn to’ food is.

3. You need to be patient with yourself. If you still have the desire to eat, try eating and the new strategy together first. This will help disrupt the habit and support you in making a shift.

4.  Who in your life really makes you smile? Spend more time with them. If you are struggling to think with this one, maybe it is a clue that your social side of life needs a bit of attention.

5. Do you feel you deserve to have fun and pleasure in your life? Sometimes food can almost be a way to provide yourself with a legitimate break or some time out. If you are aware that this is a block for you, getting some support to work through this can be beneficial. 

Good luck in your pleasure seeking activities! May I add that I am promoting self-caring ones! Please do comment below if you would like to share what has worked for you.
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 now working from Portugal Place in Cambridge and I continue to work at WeightMatters 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 Bingeing, Eating, Overeating, Self-care, Confidence, Emotions, Habit, Thoughts    Tagged with binge eating, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, Eating Disorder, self-care, self-esteem, self-confidence, fun, pleasure


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Counselling support for eating disorders and body image.