Find peace with food and overcome disordered eating.
Eating Disorder Therapist
Overcome disordered eating and find peace with food
Shoulds v wants
by Harriet Frew on January 27th, 2015

Do you jump out of bed energised and enthused to start your day? If you are in touch with your real authentic self; the part of you that is eager to express itself and to engage with likeminded others and derive joy then, hopefully you might be yelling a resounding ‘yes!’(Okay, I know its January and quite often, staying under the duvet might hold much more appeal, but bear with me!).
When you are filling your day with enough ‘wants’ (ie: things that you really love and want to do) and not too many ‘shoulds’ (obligations that you feel you ought to do; doing the right thing; moral obligations), then you are likely to be feeling more joy, happiness and contentment. If not, and you are dragging yourself out of bed, feeling tired, beaten and defeated, then quite possibly your shoulds to wants ratio might be out of sync.
Now of course, a certain amount of giving, altruism and self-sacrifice is healthy and needed as part of having functioning relationships, connected families and a collaborative society. It helps make the world go round that little bit smoother and makes it an infinitely better place. However, the problem arises when your day is overloaded with shoulds and your wants don’t really get a look in. This is when feelings of anger, resentment and defeat might build up. Your energy levels are low and everything feels an effort. And of course, your relationship with food might well reflect the amount of ‘shoulds; in your life.
If you find it hard to eat enough
Typically, an under-eater may feel rule-bound, controlled and bound in by the expectations of others. However, you might feel strong pressure to be perfect and to please them too. Such a tricky one. Avoiding food can be safe rebellion against the demands and expectations placed upon you. Then, rather than verbalising unhappiness, which may be infinitely more threatening, cutting down on food feels a more reliable way to manage these obligations and is something you alone can control. People on the other hand, are somewhat more unpredictable in their reactions, so you stay with your tried and tested method.
If you find it hard to stop eating
The over-eater may feel also feel pressures and expectations. Possibly, feeling restricted, taken for granted or put upon. Stuffing down food can be a wonderfully effective, albeit temporary medicine in alleviating these feelings. The anger is turned inwards in self-punishment. Again, this feels safer than openly expressing feelings and possibly risking the rejection or upset of others.
The over-eater might also have fallen into the trap of using food to fill the void of unsatisfied wants. Cakes, sweets, chocolates, carbs ........ they can soothe you quite comfortably without giving you what you really desire, want or need.
You might also be aware of feeling very comfortable in your martyr status of embracing should after should. Doing too much; taking on the world; staying in control; it can feel very powerful.  Inwardly, you might seethe with anger and resentment though as your ‘to do’ list grows and others begin to expect you to just keep going.
I can put my hands up to experiencing everything I am talking about here.  Thankfully, today, my shoulds and wants are much more in balance. However, regularly, I review and ensure that I inject a good dose of non-food pleasure and indulgence into my life.
5 STEPS to balance out your should v wants
1. Take a piece of paper and draw 2 columns. Shoulds in one. Wants in the other. Think of your week so far. Which column do most activities fall into?

2. If you have too many shoulds, understand the cost of this. How are you feeling in your mood? What are your energy levels like? How is your relationship with food?

3. Brainstorm some of your wants. Don’t think about it too much. Be spontaneous; write freely; notice your energy lift. You might be surprised. A few years ago when doing this exercise, I discovered I had a real desire to buy a pair of red shoes. Now that was quite a revelation for me and yes I did buy them!

4. Commit to including at least one of your wants in your diary over the next week.

5. Share below. I would love to hear from 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.

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Find peace with food and overcome disordered eating.