Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Ooo I get soooo cross sometimes!

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.

Ooo I got cross today! It doesn’t often happen, but there are only so many times I can hear my chronically misguided workmate (let’s call her Vee) say things like, ‘I don’t have any self-control’, ‘If I had those biscuits on my desk, I’d just eat them all,’ ‘I can’t eat that because I’m being good’, ‘I eat too much because I like food, there’s no other reason’...
I got cross and pointed out that self-control is nothing to do with it – she’s over-eating not just because she ‘likes the taste of food’ but because it’s doing something for her, because it helps her in some way. Vee denied this and repeated that she just likes the taste of food. I asked how many of the biscuits in the jar on my desk she would actually taste if she really did sit down to eat them all? Vee laughed and repeated that she would definitely be able to eat them all. I said it would probably be only the first few she would actually enjoy, because after that, the taste would be gone, along with the enjoyment. Vee doubted it and seemed stuck on the idea that she overeats because she enjoys food.

I feel so cross that so many women are so stuck in the diet/fail/self-blame/diet/fail cycle. Vee has been dieting since she was 12 years old, she informed us today. She has lost and gained weight over and over and over again. From some of the things she’s said, I can tell that somewhere she knows that dieting doesn’t, work because if it did, she wouldn’t have gained the weight back again so many times. Unfortunately she hasn’t got that far in her reasoning. Vee thinks that she gains weight because she has no will-power. She has now embarked on a self-punishing diet of undressed salad with cooked chicken or ham, low fat yogurts and cereals without milk and lots of fruit, in her latest attempt to lose weight. When I brought a salad in for my lunch she praised me for being so ‘good’. I said "It’s salad weather and I like eating salad at this time of year". Vee replied that it was never salad weather for
her. SO WHY IS SHE EATING SALAD?!?!? Oh, she has to because she’s got to lose weight and she has no will-power around food, so she has to surround herself with diet food and avoid all other ‘bad’ foods ....
As you may have gathered, Vee is a VERY strong minded woman. She lives by certainties and one of her certainties is that she overeats and that she has no self-control around food. Vee is not open to considering her eating habits in any different way, nor does she seem open to any point of view that doesn’t chime in with her own.

This has been compounded recently when one of our colleagues (Bea) was told by a health care professional that she has to lose weight for the sake of her health. Vee pounced eagerly, instantly trotting out all the diet clich├ęs you can imagine. ‘You’ll have to be good now,’ ‘You’ll have to eat low-fat foods now,’ etc. She watches everything Bea eats and comments on whether it’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and even asks Bea what she ate at home last night and for breakfast in the morning.

Vee and another colleague (Jay) recently had a conversation that showed very clearly that both of them know that diets don’t work. They did a duet about how ‘being good’ leads to bingeing and failure and how they would then try to ‘be good’ again, even though they know that as soon as a cream cake leapt out at them, they would fall victim to its evil charms and ‘fail’ all over again. THEY KNOW THIS BUT THEY KEEP DOING IT!!

Oooo, I feel
so cross! I usually keep quiet when I hear these conversations around me because attempting to reason with Vee or Jay results in them asserting very powerfully their own ‘truths’ and not wanting to engage with my suggestions that it could be different. But today I did challenge Vee to eat all the biscuits in my jar ... she hasn’t done so, yet– but then that’s because she has ‘no will-power’ not because she physically couldn’t, didn’t want to or agreed with me that it wouldn’t be enjoyable. Grrrrr!


  1. Oh how I heartily agree about how hard it is to stomach the work place diet talk and moralizing about food! I actually once felt the need to tell a male colleague at a work lunch when he started wondering if we should be "bad" and have dessert that, "you know, food is not a moral decision."

    One thing I've felt to be helpful is to question people's comments. If someone says that they were bad and had a hamburger for lunch I say, "Oh. So why is eating a hamburger bad exactly?" It's a good way to have a non confrontational discussion about their beliefs about food. Of course most people don't listen and as you say, continue to assert powerfully their own 'truths' (like a grilled hamburger might be OK, but definitely not a fried one) but at least I tried. And maybe they'll stop talking to me about food in future!

    I think generally when people talk about body and health issues in our society they tend to repeat back things they've read and heard in the media without questioning. It's almost like our society's version of old wives tales.

  2. Is there any way to avoid these discussions?! I get very wound up by the 'good' vs 'bad' food chat that many colleagues (teachers) have at every available opportunity and have to remove myself from the situation before I get too cross! More diplomacy training needed on my part, I feel...

  3. I agree with all that, but......
    I was doing quite well using the BC principles, which really made sense to me after years of trying various diets and them failing for the usual reasons. However,I seem to have lost my way at the moment and don't know how to get back.
    We found an Easter egg yesterday that we had forgotten we had and I have been bingeing on it as well as eating cakes from the freezer etc - it starts when I am hungry when I get home from work - (but its also a habit to eat then) and then I just carry on.
    What do I do to get back on track - I am annoying myself so much.
    I think it all started because in the last 6 weeks, I have had a chest infection, hip bursitis, cystitis, tooth infection and root canal filling AND my father was seriously ill in hospital for a week (he is home now). I know what you will say - I am comforting myself - and that's right but HOW do I stop??!! Aaaagh.


  4. Hi everyone and thanks for understanding why I got cross ... I usually avoid the conversations, as I said, or turn them on to other topics, but dieters can be incredibly persistent and almost anything triggers another 'diet conversation'.... More coming in a future blog.
    B - as for stopping - would it help you to stop right now, with everything else that's going on for you? You are very aware of what you are doing and, at some level, it's helping you to cope. I would suggest you consider The Pause (also coming up in a future blog - plug, plug!!) and also treat yourself with extreme love at the moment - you have a lot to cope with. Can you 'spoil' yourself in other ways that will be as nurturing as the eating? Hope this helps.


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