Thursday, 15 December 2011

Revenge Eating

Gretel Hallet, is a Trained Chocolate Fairy and is running the Getting Started half day workshop in Norwich - perfect for beginners to experience the core principles of Beyond Chocolate and equally great as a refresher for any Beyond Chocolater. If you live in East Anglia and want to know more about Beyond Chocolate or her workshops, get in touch with Gretel.
Revenge eating occurs when something has happened to annoy or inconvenience us. Revenge eating is a way of ‘getting back’ at whoever or whatever that was; whether it was a rude shop assistant or an empty shelf or an ungrateful relative or even when we wake up in a bad mood.
Imagine that you’ve seen a photo in a cafe window of a succulent sponge pudding, upside down in a pool of creamy yellow custard, and it has a slice of pineapple on top with a cherry ... and you decide that tomorrow lunch time you’ll go to that cafe and have that pineapple sponge pudding for lunch. You look forward to it all the rest of that day and all the next morning. But when you get to the cafe and order the pudding, what appears in front of you doesn’t look anything like the photo in the window. What appears in front of you is a rock solid disk of something that has apparently drowned in a bowlful of custard. There may be a pineapple slice and a cherry in there somewhere but you lack the necessary tools to excavate them from this sorry mess.
And besides, this wasn’t what you ordered. So you take it back, complain, get the money back – but the lack of pineapple upside down pudding in your life is causing a problem. The problem is that the body was expecting that pudding, the mind and senses had been anticipating the enjoyment of the pudding and now – no pudding.

So, revenge eating becomes an increasingly attractive option. Revenge eating consists of instantly purchasing something similar or even bigger than the thing you’ve been deprived of and eating it defiantly whether or not you actually wanted it. In the case of the pineapple upside down pudding, it was an iced Belgian bun with fresh cream in and a cherry on the top. No need to excavate to find any of those ingredients.

But it’s not the same. It’s not satisfying. Advanced revenge eating then entails eating everything else in sight that’s (a) edible, (b) not nailed down and (c) not someone else’s. And at the end of this restless bingeing the revenge eater was left with a profound dissatisfaction with herself, life and the continuing lack of pineapple upside down pudding.

At some point it may well become essential to the preservation of life as we know it, for this particular revenge eater to procure a satisfactory pineapple upside down pudding one way or another, but at the end of that particular episode I was left with an over-full stomach and an aching dissatisfaction in my chest.

What Beyond Chocolate has helped me to see is that revenge eating hurts no-one but myself. It won’t matter how much I eat; the cafe that cruelly deprived me of pineapple upside down pudding will not suffer in the least if I eat myself into a catatonic state or feel sick all afternoon. It’s only me that has to cope with the after-effects of my revenge eating. So I am gradually learning how to cope with food disappointment and the lack of availability of what I want on occasions, and to do so without revenge eating.
Enjoy is one of the keys to this process – if I won’t enjoy eating the substitute, it’s better to wait until I can find something else I would enjoy. Tuning In will help too – what is it that I actually want? The sweetness of the pineapple? The creaminess of the custard? The fluffiness of the sponge? And Stop When You’re Satisfied will save me from the uncomfortable after-effects of over-eating.
It’s time to take revenge in other ways ... ;)


  1. I have always had an uneasy relationship with my stepson, for lots of reasons, but it wasn't til starting to explore Beyond Chocolate principles that I realised my worst binges invariably happened on the days he stays with us. He used to be a very picky eater and I used to try to make simple, nourishing food for him but eventually gave up because all he really wants is margharita pizza. All the different emotional frustrations involved in the relationship, combined with feeling deprived of the right to cook and share the kind of food I like (sensuous, healthy, tasty) seemed to manifest in a whopping great binge of chaotic revenge eating. Since discovering BC, these days I tend to make something delicious for myself - salad, soup, whatever - and he has his pizza, and we rub along because we're both getting what we want, and I guess, slowly (on my part anyway) learning to accept our differences in life as well as in what food we like. And I have stopped revenge eating every other weekend....

  2. Amazing insight both of you ladies!I have can totally relate to the angry binge or teh defiant eating. I may have only wanted an apple but one look from my mother or one of her terse comments of "really dear, you can't still be hungry!" would have me discarding the apple and reaching for thwe cake or biscuits and cramming them in in angry defiance!

  3. Thanks for your comments, ladies. I have been revenge eating for years but only realised it recently over the pineapple upsidedown pudding episode ... now I'm aware of it, I can decide what to do, which is sooo much better.


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