Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A nap or a bowl of chocolate covered peanuts?

I've been unwell lately, some horrid stomach bug type thing which has been dragging on for ages and has really floored me. And yet I soldier on. Like so many women I find it difficult - make that impossible - to put myself at the top of my priorities list. It is unthinkable to stop striving to be the "perfect" mum, partner, business woman, friend, daughter. And of course, the more exhausted I become, the further I stray from that ideal of perfection. I become irritable and unreliable, forgetful and overwhelmed. So now I'm sick AND beating myself up for not being 'perfect'. And that's when I turn to my good old friend - food.

It still takes me by surprise, after all these years, how food can fill the void. Instead of acknowledging that I need to retire under my duvet and get some rest, I grab a Snickers and carry on. Instead of asking for help (and accepting it gratefully), I cram down a packet of crisps and put another load of washing on. Instead of switching off my phone and ignoring my inbox for the day, I guzzle another Coke and get back to work.

Food does the trick at some level. It soothes, it provides instant energy, it comforts and distracts me, it feels like a little reward for keeping it together. It's so much easier than admitting that I am at the end of my tether and that I need a break. So much easier to eat than to stop - even if it's just for 5 minutes.

And yet...

It doesn't really help. I still feel exhausted after the Snickers, still feel overwhelmed after the crisps and still feel panicked by the contents of my inbox after the Coke. Because in the end food is just that - food. It isn't a hug, it isn't a nap, it isn't a helping hand. It's just food.

I'm lucky, having spent so many years living by the Beyond Chocolate principles and teaching women how to make them work in their lives, I have a heightened sense of awareness concerning my relationship with food and it doesn't take much to set the alarm bells ringing and bring me back to earth.

This is evening, as I sat down to write the Beyond Chocolate newsletter with a bowl of chocolate covered peanuts I didn't want and wasn't hungry for I heard the distant chiming somewhere in the back of my brain. Ding Dong! Wakey, wakey! You don't need chocolate, you need sleep!

So, I'm about to post this blog entry, switch off my computer and go to bed. I won't fold the laundry, I'll trust that my partner can fix himself something for dinner and I will accept that the emails will have to wait another day. I know that by looking after myself and listening to what I need, to what I am really hungry for, I am doing myself - and everyone around me - a big favour. Tomorrow I will be refreshed, rested and ready to take the world on, and one step closer to being the 'perfect' me I want to be - without the help of chocolate covered peanuts.

How can you take care of yourself today today instead of turning to food?


  1. Thank you so much for this post. It's nice to know I'm not the only one like this out there :)

  2. Practising extreme self care...

  3. I have just done the same thing today. I was made redundant last week and am trying to get out and about to find a new job.
    This morning my hand was inching towards the biscuit tin even though I'd only just had breakfast, when I suddenly realised how exhausted I felt, that I didn't actually have the energy for the meeting this afternoon (something that it was much easier for the other person to do another time anyway) and really really needed to stay at home and have a quiet day. What an amazing revelation.

  4. Im in the middle of a pretty bad MS relapse and have jst caved in to the need for a bar of choc, seeing as I really dont have the energy to get up and do something else that will make me feel better. The difference this time is I recognise it for what it is and im not beating myself up over it. I can stop obsessing over the chocolate now ive had it and get myself back to bed for more sleep!!!

  5. I have just woken from a nap - hopefully enabling me to mark my last 11 essays quicker & allowing me some sleep! It's the message that keeps echoing in my head from the course last year - are you really hungry or what do you really need? Sometimes I've had to push on to get eg a lecture written for 120 students the next morning - but at least I know why I'm eating the toffee.. And even that awareness is sometimes halting the move of the hand..


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