Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas, New Year. 

This can be a horrendous time of year it can be if you are struggling with disordered over-eating.  Whatever your size and shape. Whether you are a binge / compulsive eater, or unhappy with your weight, the emphasis on food celebrations from October to December, only makes things worse.

From the day the schools return in September, shops are filled with seasonal ‘treats’ designed to draw us in. Months of promotions. From chocolates to crackers, sweets to sauces, there is unhelpful food at every turn. At ‘not to be missed’ prices.

The adverts repeatedly tell us that we ‘deserve’ these seasonal foods, that they are ‘special’ and by association then we will feel, or be, ‘special‘ if we eat them. Yet these labels  given to food, should not extend to us. Labels are for jars, not for people.

If you are trying to eat well, trying to heal from disordered eating, then a trip to get food or petrol, in fact going almost anywhere now, can be agony.

Shiny packaging, new flavour combinations, old family favourites – it might feel that we have no controls or limits here. That we cannot stop ourselves. And that is exactly what the manufacturers and retailers want us to think.

And perhaps you have feelings of panic around weight gain, immediately followed by thoughts of January weight loss?  This is all completely understandable.

Quite often this time of year is the loneliest too. Being lonely can mean using food for company, a significant trigger for overeating. Many women feel they are alone because of their size, feel they are too big to get a relationship, yet when turning to food for comfort add to weight gain which only compounds the problem. Vicious circle.

So, is there anything we can do? Absolutely yes.

Though first it needs to be made clear that if you have binge or compulsive eating then you are probably going to suffer at any time of year. Binge Eating Disorder is a mental health problem, not something that only arises in the Autumn. This needs treatment and help to recover from – although the tips below are still relevant and can be used to help. However in the run up to Christmas it might be more intense, might mean different binge foods, and might make it easier to justify or disguise buying.

Seriel dieting (years of weight gain and loss) is also a form of disordered eating. It is likely that you have lost touch with your natural appetite and tastes, and that you are either always ‘on’ or ‘off’ a diet. And when ‘off’ that may mean ‘permission’ to overeat, as you probably have no trust in your body, you have given control to your diets. November and December may find you dieting now in advance of year-end weight gain, which means navigating shopping is even harder. Or perhaps ‘sod it’ has already kicked in, free reign has started, knowing that January will bring another diet and order will be restored then.

Tough, tough times.

Some ideas to help navigate through the next few months –

  • Online shop as much as possible for the next few months. Schedule it in your diary, plan your meals together with your online shop.
  • Never write a whole shopping list, or complete an online shop, or go shopping, when hungry.
  • Plan your meals as much as you can, and really try to focus on three balanced meals a day – a lot of overeating or binging starts from being genuinely hungry. So do not let yourself get too hungry.
  • You can use a technique called AND AND for when buying and eating ‘treat’ foods. Buy the chocolates AND some fruit, eat the cheesy biscuits AND the raw nuts – that kind of thing.
  • Try to shift the focus from quantity to quality. If you know you will be buying some chocolates for example, then buy the best quality you can. This might be a smaller box, which is OK because better quality products are more filling.
  • And even if buying your same favourite chocolates or cakes that you always did, why do we need to buy these huge portions? When did packet / portion sizes get so big?
  • The government is trying to tackle the supermarket special offers on unhealthy foods. We can all help with this, budgets allowing. We have so long been brainwashed into bargain buying on junk foods that it is now autopilot. Try to notice the next time that you are about to buy more than you need because of an offer. This can be applied to present buying for others too.
  • Widening out – Is there anything you can do to make life outside of food more fulfilling, busier, rewarding? Eating is ticking a box in your life; overeating has a purpose – what purpose is it serving for you? See if you can identify what is missing, and then take a step towards doing something about this.
  • Talk to someone.  Try to find someone you can trust, this might be a friend or a therapist.   Talking helps remind us we are not alone, we are the only people to feel like this.
  • Which brings me onto self-compassion.  Whatever your situation, blaming yourself and hating your body will not help heal this. Try to bring a little self-compassion into your life by realising overeating happens for many reasons and this is not your fault.

 

If you would like to chat about this, I offer a free 30-minute call.

If you feel you need help with Disordered Eating, read more here.

If you feel you need help with weight loss, read more here.

Then please get in touch.

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