Thursday, 12 August 2010

I eat the way I live

How would I describe myself? Among other things, I think I'm passionate, generous, voracious, avid, fast, driven, obsessive, excited, determined, positive, optimistic, always looking for the next challenge, a new project, something to get my teeth into... That's how I approach most things in my life... including food.

I eat the way I live. 

For many years dieting and weight loss were the focus of my relationship with food. I would approach every new diet as a project.  My goal: 8 stone nothing. I would throw myself into it 200%. At first it was always exciting, a challenge. I'd make sure I had all the 'kit' and would put every ounce of determination and energy into doing it properly. And then of course, within a week or a month at the most, the novelty would wear off, I'd falter or cheat or lose my grip and I would be left with just me and the food, again. That's what I was avoiding. Deep down, underneath all the passion and the drive was my fear of stopping. My fear of letting everything else drop away and just be there. Just me. If I don't fill my days with projects and plans, if I don't have a new book to write or a goal to aim for... then what? What am I left with when I stop, just for a moment... What am I left with when I stop... just for a moment and don't fill that emptiness with food. 

That's what I've been experimenting with for the past ten years, ever since we started Beyond Chocolate. Not as a project, not obsessively, not with that avid determination but gently, messily, with kindness and compassion. It has been the most rewarding thing I've ever done because when I started to allow moments of pausing, when I didn't stuff everything down with food I discovered that I am strong and loving and courageous. When I allowed myself to feel the sheer terror of the emptiness that I imagined I would find if I did not eat my way through every spare moment in my life, I discovered that I am  OK. That I don't fall apart. That even without a goal or a project, my life has meaning and I am enough. I discovered that feeling anxious or lonely or frustrated gets easier and easier and that I don't have to run away from my feelings by stuffing myself with chocolate. I discovered that people don't despise me or think less of me when I admit that I can't cope with absolutely everything. I discovered that being bored, having nothing to do is full of possibility and that I am never really empty.

When I stopped turning to food on automatic pilot, I discovered the key to a balanced relationship with food and a stable body size and so, so much more.

When we stop overeating we strip away all the defenses, we begin to see ourselves the way we are rather than the way we want to be. I so wanted to be perfect, to be capable and successful and the harder I tried the harder it became.

Stopping overeating is about being willing to recognise who we are.

How would you describe yourself?

What would you discover if you stopped overeating?


  1. I've just had an interesting question from my mother. She said, "But what are you intending to do all day?" You see I have just retired, yes, I'm 60, one of the lucky ones who can retire at 60 (she is 93!) and she cannot believe that I, at last, can just BE. I lead a walking group every week, do Tai Chi and circle dancing deliver the village magazine, have taken up gardening and lunching with friends. I am gradually redecorating the house and, generally, having a ball. You may think this is nothing to do with Beyond Chocolate but it very much is. I have been following the BC principles for 4 years,ever since I read the book, and have maintained the same weight for all that time after yoyo dieting for 40 years. This is a major achievement and I wondered why it had taken me so long and been such a struggle to get there. Then my mother asked the quetion and I realised that I too had measured success in projects and perfection because every waking moment had to be purposeful according to some exterior arbitration. Well no more! Thank you BC for opening my eyes.

  2. Wow! What an amazing comment, anonymous and good for you! I hope I can approach retirement with the same enthusiasm and zest for life as you and get as much out of it.
    I too have been working with Beyond Chocolate for a couple of years now and my weight has been stable too - a great relief after 25 years of dieting hell and failure.


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