Every Tuesday at 1pm I stop whatever I'm doing and dial in to host our Overeating Phone-In Clinic. I spend the next hour in the company of women who are following the Stop Overeating e-course. We talk about what, why, when and how we overeat. They ask questions about, reflect on and share what they have discovered as they explore the way they overeat from every angle.
We are a mixed bunch: we've got stay at home mums with toddlers, career women dialing in from work, professionals who work from home and some who are retired. So different and yet so similar...What comes up again and again in our conversations is the eating we do to stay busy or because we are busy. Because we don't know how to not be doing something, or because we are constantly rushed off our feet and, it feels like, doing everything...all the time. The eating punctuates our days, gives them a rhythm, marks time. It's the eating we do because we can't stop and the eating we do so we don't have to.
When we talk about this type of overeating, I hear frustration and confusion. It's difficult to grasp why we use food in this way. It's not like that mega binge we dive into because of a broken heart or a redundancy, or the huge portions we stuff down to compensate for the depravation of a recent diet, or even the overeating we do because the food is free or it's been paid for or someone we love has cooked it for us and we can't say no. At those times it's pretty obvious why we are overeating. But in this case there's no particular trigger, no obvious cause. "I don't understand why!" is often what callers will say.
So we talk about how we manage our lives as women. How we drive ourselves to achieve more, to be productive, to feed, nurture and care for those around us: to be busy, busy, busy. And in the middle of all this busy-ness is food: easily available, cheap, legal, quick. It's the perfect way to look after ourselves for just an instant. The perfect way to take a micro-break from all the madness...or to keep ourselves going because we feel we just can't take a break - even a micro one - or something to do because it feels like we have nothing much to do at all and eating gives us an illusion of doing something.
In these moments we eat because food does the trick. It's the best way we know how to look after ourselves and it works so well. In these moments, eating chocolate biscuits or crisps or sweets makes it possible to carry on: carry on working on that document we don't really want to be working on, carry on looking after a demanding 3 year old without a minute to ourselves, carry on managing despite the back pain...just carry on. Because it feels like if we didn't eat...we wouldn't be able to carry on.
So every Tuesday we explore what it would be like to carry on without the food. What would it take? We talk about it and we take small, brave steps towards understanding and managing the busy-ness of life without food. It's challenging, it's exciting, it's full of 'ah-ha!' moments, it's supportive...and it's the only way.
Can you find a moment in your busy life to join us?