Find peace with food and overcome disordered eating.
Eating Disorder Therapist
Overcome disordered eating and find peace with food
You got it wrong again!
by Harriet Frew on March 10th, 2015

I was 8 years old and hated maths with an absolute vengeance. I used to particularly dread the lessons on long multiplication and long division. I would cry at my desk in despair struggling to find the answer as Miss B would sigh and show her obvious impatience and disapproval that I was 1) crying again 2)not getting anywhere near to achieving an answer to these sums! The seeds of doubt in my mathematics ability were sown early and I learnt to avoid this subject as much as realistically feasible, channelling my energy more into English and the Arts. It irked me that my maths brain was not efficient; that I struggled and it didn’t come to me effortlessly. Surely, I should be able to just get on with it just like everyone else. My exaggerated insecurity around maths didn’t leave me as I became a teenager. I remember working in the local pub and feeling deeply ashamed by my lack of mental arithmetic skills to quickly add up a round in my head. Laying awake at night and practising my maths. I felt flawed, wrong, inferior, inadequate, stupid, and incompetent. What was wrong with me?
Why so important?
Writing this now seems a bit crazy, futile and self-indulgent. Why on earth get so tied up in focusing so much energy on my weakness. But for me, one of my rules to keep me safe and to feel accepted was to feel that I was somehow intelligent and competent. And this obviously included ‘knowledgeable at maths’ in my personal rulebook of self-expectations. Clearly, as a teenager and young adult, I felt anything but competent in this area and this deeply affected my own self-worth and esteem. I was constantly waiting to be found out, as the fraud I considered myself to be.
Escape from expectations
You will be pleased to know that this story has a happy ending and thankfully, at around the age of 25, I had the realisation that my competency at maths, in the bigger scheme of things, really didn’t matter one jot. Hey, maybe maths was my weakness but so what. There were plenty of other things I was okay at and maybe I had a bit of emotional intelligence in there that was going to bode me well for the future. Suddenly, it was an immense relief, and a burden was lifted from my shoulders. For the first time in a good few years, I could see my strengths, my potential and my positive qualities. And I think it is no coincidence that my bulimia stopped around the same time; although my relationship with food still had some work to do. I was beginning the long and rocky road to self-acceptance.
So why harp on about my maths anguish? Well, I have noticed a very common theme emerging with my clients with regularity. This is the tendency to focus on the perceived flaws – this may be in relation to body image or career achievement or eating or relationships or other things. The judgemental axe is out daily hovering over your head and waiting for you to take one mini step out of line. And then when you do, the berating and self criticism; punishment and self-loathing descend in an avalanche, knocking you side-ways with a hearty blow that may take days to recover from. Self-care goes out the window; eating becomes punishing through bingeing, starving or purging. Days are lost to the destructive cycle of the eating problem and self worth plummets because you feel you have failed to meet your expectations.
So how to stop this and keep your self-worth intact?
1. Firstly, really consider where is this judgemental voice coming from?
Have you internalised a voice from a parent, teacher or authority figure from when you were young and vulnerable? Root this out and recognise your early influences. Then consider, do you want to keep this judgement? Maybe you might want to rethink your expectations and write yourself some new more kind and realistic ones.

2. I am always banging on about self-care, but I wholeheartedly believe in this one hundred per cent! If you are treating yourself in a kind and respectful way, it is pretty hard to self-destruct simultaneously. You can try! Practice self-care even when it is the last thing you feel like doing. This is the time you need to do it more than ever. You will feel better, I promise.

3. Start a journal and write down the things you are good at; your positive qualities and personal attributes you possess. Maybe you are hard working, kind and thoughtful. Maybe you are a loyal friend, considerate and self-motivated. Pay attention to these things and shine the light on them. Then, enhance them and express these parts of yourself even more.

4. If there are people now in your life who are judgemental and are not supporting you, maybe you need to think about how you manage these relationships. Possibly, some good boundaries are needed and in some cases, you might choose not to have regular contact with them, if at all.

5. Aim for self-acceptance to your core (this is a lifetime journey). Everyone has difficult emotions; thoughts they struggle with; personal challenges and parts of us that trigger shame. Embracing your flaws as well as your strengths and starting to allow them a place, is the path to self-acceptance. 

If you relate to this blog and would like to get in touch about working with me do get in touch I work in Cambridge on Mondays and Fridays; WeightMatters in London on Wednesday and offer Skype and telephone sessions at other times. Also, please do share your own thoughts below if you feel inspired.
Best wishes

Posted in Self-care, Self-esteem, Thoughts    Tagged with no tags


Leave a Comment

10 lessons 10 principles of intuitive eating 10 tips 10 ways therapy can help 10 ways 12 days of christmas 20 ways to stop bingeing now 3 steps 5 things to learn 5 tips 5 ways to silence inner critic 5 ways ACEs Bingeing Blog CELEBRITIES AND SELF ESTEEM CELEBRITY BODY IMAGE Childhood adverse experiences Christma Control Covid-19 DEALING WITH PRESSURE ELLEUK ELLE Easter Eating Disorder Eating problem FEELING FAT HAES HOW TO COPE WITH PEOPLE COMMENTING ON YOUR BODY Inside Out Louise Chunn Managing emotions Minnesota starvation study NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS NO DIET New Year Parenting tips Perfect body Perfectionism RECOVERY FROM EATING DISORDER REJECT DIETS SELFISH MOTHER Sleep Spring about counsellors action alcohol all or nothing anorexia nervosa anorexia recovery anorexiarecovery anorexia anti dieting anti diet antidiet anxiety eating anxiety appetite assertiveness assertive awareness of thoughts bbc beach body beautiful people behaviours being authentic being kind to self bikini body plan bikini body bikini competitor binge eating disorder binge eating recovery binge eating bingeeatingdisorder bingeeating bite by bite black and white thinking body acceptance body builder body building body confidence body diversity body dysmorphia body ideal body image tips body image workbook body image body love body neutrality body neutral body positivity book recommendation boost self-esteem boost self-worth boost selfesteem breakthrough buimia bulimia nervosa bulimia recovery bulimiarecovery bulimia buying jeans cake can counselling help caring what others think cbt challenge thoughts challenging negative thoughts change is possible change childhood experiences childhood children and eating disorders children chocolate christmas clean eating cognitive behaviour therapy comfort eating comparing self to others comparing with others comparions comparisons compassion focused therapy compassion complex problems compulsive eating compulsive exercise confidence conflict about body size connection contribution coping corona virus corona counselling directory counselling critical voice criticism dads dbt dealing with emotions deception developing awareness developing healthy relationship with food diet binge cycle diet culture dieting cycle dieting diet disordered eating recovery disordered eating disorderedeating ditch the diet does self help work dolphin early experiences eating disorder diagnosis eating disorder prevention eating disorder recovery eating disorder treatment eating disorders eating when hungry eatingdisorder eating ednos elizabeth gilbert embracing change emotional eating emotional intelligence emotional regulation emotional trigger emotions envy evening eating exercise addiction exhaustion expectations expressing emotions fearne cotton feelings fitness fitspiration fitspo florence and the machine florence welch food obsession food freddie flintoff freedom with food friendship fulfilment fullness fun geneen roth giveupdieting giving up dieting giving goals guilt habit happiness happy new year harriet frew health at every size healthy eating healthy food healthy weight help for disordered eating helpful help history of body image hope how body image develops how counselling can change your life how low self esteem develops how to stop binge eating how to stop bingeing how to stop emotional eating how to stop overeating hunger identity improve body image improving body image inferior insulin intuitive eating iphone is your weight your worth janet treasure jealousy jellyfish joy judgement kids and eating disorders kind to body labeling exercise on foods labelling foods letting go lies limiting beliefs listen to body listen to your body lockdown loneliness lose control around food lose weight losing control food love body love your body low self-esteem macros male body image manipulation maudsley method maudsley model media meeting your needs men and eating disorders mental health tips mental health mind body connection mindful eating mindfulness mindset mirror mood mothering motivational approach motivation mums mum my story negative body image new year diet new year plan new year resolutions ninja warrior no dieting nodiets nodiet nofoodguilt not dieting obesity obsession with food obsessionwitth food obsession on eating orthorexia nervosa orthorexia osfed ostrich over-eating over-exercise overcome binge eating overcome bulimia overcoming eating disorder overcoming fear overeating at Easter overeating overevaluation of shape overexercise parenting people pleasing perfect philippa perry photo shop pixar film pleasure poor body image positive preoccupation with food pressure problem psychodynamic psychological approach psychology of eating disorder psychology psychotherapy reading about eating disorders reading recovery journey recovery relapse relationships resolutions restriction binge cycle restriction rest rhino role model root of problem roots of behaviour roots of problem rules about eating rules around eating sabotage satiety saying no secret eating self awareness self conscious self esteem self help books self worth self-acceptance self-awareness self-awarness self-care self-compassion self-confidence self-criticism self-esteem self-help book self-help self-kindness self-loathing self-love self-worth selfcare selfesteem selfworth shoulds social anxiety social eating social media and body image social media song starvation starve stop binge eating stop bingeing stop comparisons stop dieting stopping dieting stress striving strongisnewskinny success summer support for carers support surviving Christmas susie orbach tablet television therapy thin idealisation things you didn't know thinking about food thinking styles thinking thinner self thin thoughts about food thoughts time tips to boost self-esteem tips to love your body tips tired to my client who is struggling trauma treatment for eating disorder tv and body image ulrike schmidt undereating understanding self understanding your past unkind to self validating emotions values value victoria stockwell vulnerability wants weighing scales weight conflict weight loss weight wellbeing what is counselling what is therapy when food is love when therapy is hard work you can do it
Find peace with food and overcome disordered eating.