Thursday, 24 June 2010

What have you got to lose?

We asked that question on the Overeating Workshop this weekend. It's a question that the diets all answer in exactly the same way: WEIGHT.

Yes, of course, you may well want to lose weight and whether you go on a diet or whether you experiment with Beyond Chocolate you'll lose weight if you want to.

But what else might you stand to lose by changing the way you eat?

What the diets don't acknowledge and don't even pay lip service to is that there's a great deal more at stake. When we stop using food the way we always have as a way to comfort, treat, soothe, occupy, soothe etc.. then what?

Oh, I know, we're supposed to just STOP IT!

STOP using food to treat yourself, STOP using food to wile away a boring evening, STOP using food to distract yourself at work, STOP using food to stuff down your despair, your anger and your grief... just STOP IT! It's simple, right?

And there's more... If you've been overweight for 10, 15, 20 even 30 years or more, if the size of your body and your relationship with food has been an issue for most of your life, what would your life be like without it? How would you define yourself? If your relationship with other women and so many of the conversations you have at work, at the school gate, with your mother, your sister, your best friend all revolve around food and diets and the size of your body... what might it be like to be outside all that?

When we stop dieting and focus on the real questions; how to eat when we're hungry, how to stop when we're satisfied, how to move in a way we enjoy and look forward to... when we ask the questions we really want to know the answers to; what do I do when every single part of me wants to eat, when every fibre of my being feels magnetically drawn to food, when zombie like I head for the kitchen because I don't know what else to do, when I am sitting in the car stuffing the third Kit Kat down my throat, hating myself and not knowing how to stop?... when we stop pretending that it's easy peasy to lose weight, all we have to do is just drink fruit juice for 7 days, just stick to 1000 calories a day for 6 months, just cut out carbs, sugar, dairy, just eat powdered soups and shakes for 14 weeks, just follow the plan, count the points, just eat sensibly... that's when we realise that we have a lot to lose.

So, how on earth do we deal with all that? The first step is to acknowledge that we do have something to lose other than weight. When we are honest with ourselves and accept that food means more to us than nutrition and energy, we can begin to experiment with ways of managing without overeating. It's not impossible, in fact its very doable when we take it one tiny step at a time, with support, kindness, compassion and an array of tools to draw on. So, before you consider going on another diet ask yourself this... apart from the weight.. what have you got to lose? Make a list. It's a really good place to start.

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