I frequently describe the chat that needs to happen—between those of you struggling to normalize your eating and move away from compulsive overeating or binge eating, and your loved ones. I spend so much time talking about this in patient sessions that I decided to write it down in a letter form, so all of you in this position can use it.
Why such a conversation, you ask? Because in order to start to change your relationship with food, you need to let go of the fear and the shame you’re all-too-familiar with. To do so, it helps to put it right out there to those who will be seeing you eat and may be surprised by what they see. The last thing you need is more judgment—you’re critical enough of your own eating, you don’t need anyone else’s judgment! So read on and test it out at home!
Dear All-who-really-care about me,
While I know you are worried about my health and my eating please realize that you are not alone. Just because I don’t talk about it with you doesn’t mean I am not concerned. In fact, I am actively working to try a different approach to change my relationship with food, so I thought I’d let you in on it.
Remember all those diets you’ve watched me start and stop, those failed attempts to take control with rigid, senseless rules? Those days are over. “What now?” you’re wondering? “You’re giving up again?” you’re thinking? Think again! Here’s what you can expect to see, so brace yourself.
You know those foods you think I shouldn’t be eating? The foods you and I really like to eat? It’s time to make peace with them, to legalize them. Because now they feel forbidden, and when something feels prohibited I want to eat more of it—just like anyone would. Yes, that’s normal. What isn’t normal is thinking I will never eat cupcakes again—or ice cream, or chocolate, or bread or ‘white carbs’. No, that’s absurd, unrealistic and quite frankly, unnecessary.
What I’ve been learning from an experienced Registered Dietitian who deals with helping people like me is that it’s not the food that causes the weight gain. No, not the carbs themselves, nor the sugar, nor the fats, but rather how much we eat of them. And I’m learning how to start to take control of my portions of such foods.
First, I’ve got to welcome them back into my diet. You see, when I feel I’m not allowed to eat them, it sets me up for trouble. I feel ashamed if you and others see me eat things, so I’m more inclined to eat them quickly, mindlessly, just because there’s no one around. And trust me, I do. And this goes against what I need to do—to eat them mindfully whenever I’m hungry and choose to eat them.
But I fear the reaction from everyone. So I’m giving you this letter so you won’t be surprised when I sit down at the table and have a couple of cookies. I’ll eat them without distraction and I’ll really enjoy them this way—as opposed to just shoveling them in. Please recognize that I am doing this because I care to feel better and be healthy, so be open-minded. Realize that the diets and restriction have only set me up for problems.
So when you see me at the table eating something you think is ‘bad’, think again. Perhaps you’ll join me and we can normalize our eating together.
Be patient with me--this is a process. It's not going to get better over night.
Thanks for supporting me and for understanding.
PS: Learn more about my struggle from http://www.dropitandeat.blogspot.com/2012/09/what-ive-learned-about-food-addiction.html
Let me know how it goes!