Concentric Counselling



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Pushing over the pedestal - bringing festive food down to earth

If you follow me on social media you will know that I am big on permission. Permission to say no, permission to eat, permission to rest, permission to engage in self care that may look selfish but is really self-full.

And you will have seen that I did a post recently on permission to eat the doughnut (check it out here). And, I get it - it isn't quite that simple. We live in diet culture, and often engage in it ourselves, with occasional food restrictions, chronic dieting, healthism and  binary ways of looking at food (good/bad, healthy/unhealthy). And in that culture we are often hear that it's an *indulgence* to eat the doughnut, or that it's ‘bad’ or the gateway to eating twenty doughnuts.

‘If I have one, I’ll have them all’
— Every worried dieter

The concern in engaging with festive food is that we will become totally abandoned and we won’t know when or how to stop.

The other end of the spectrum is that people will engage in eating food they don’t particularly care about; they figure they might as well have allll the food now because they will go back to restricting tomorrow. The thought process is, ‘if I fall off the wagon, I might as well fall hard. I’ll really go for it tonight, and this is the last time’.

Both these thought processes are rooted in scarcity - in the idea that we can’t trust our body or ourselves - in the notion we have to avoid food items/groups wholly because of fear of that our body won’t ever be satisfied.

Somewhere in the middle of that is an alternative. Somewhere in the middle of that is permission. Permission to trust your body.

We place play food (the Intuitive Eating term for junk/snack/bad foods) on a pedestal, place it behind glass that we only break under certain circumstances. So, of course, when we allow ourselves to have limited access, we stockpile.

Or, in other words, we binge: on foods that we love and wish we could have more often, and even on foods that we don’t even care about because, ‘sod the plan, the diet begins again tomorrow’.

Binge/stockpile is a natural physiological response to starve/restrict. Our system, seeing the opportunity to access some reserves, does just that, unsure of when it will have access again. It’s such a natural body response - such a built in primal process - that it’s even anticipated by diet culture, and built into diet programmes in a bid to make it seem part of the plan… ‘cheat days’.

But your body isn’t cheating you; your body is seeking to support your survival.

So imagine if you let yourself eat cookies, or goose fat roast potatoes, or chocolate, or cinnamon French toast, through the year, as well as all the other foods your body asks for - noodle soups, blueberries, smoothies, a cheese sandwich. And, when your body was hungry, you fed it what it wanted and you stopped when you were full. And, when you felt the old urge to binge, you could speak kindly to yourself and say:

That’s not necessary anymore. You don’t have to eat it all today for fear of scarcity tomorrow. You can eat just as much as you want today and then, if you want some more tomorrow, I will give it to you
— Self-compassionate intuitive voice

Breaking old food rules takes some time to refine, and we never get it perfect. Eating past fullness is something that we all do when presented with delicious foods. But there is a difference between overeating a delicious food in festive joy and bingeing past enjoyment in diet driven fear. I hope, this festive season, that your food choices can be rooted in joy.

If you’re a fellow professional and interested in incorporating a non diet and weight neutral approach into your work, head to my events page to see my upcoming CPD on the topic, or sign up to my mailing list below to receive updates.