For years I thought I liked parties. Sometimes I was even the life of the party. But mostly, I would go to said parties and stick close at hand to whomever dragged me out. Amidst my exchanging appropriate pleasantries about what’s new, how work is, and how your or my parents/kids/cats/dogs/gerbils are doing, my mind would wander to where the heck the food was. And thank God when the food came out, because then I could just distract myself from my discomfort eating. Phew.
I thought I had a huge appetite, I thought I just loved food more than the skinnier people do, I thought I had a willpower problem. Wrong-o. Brief rant: we must question our thoughts because they aren’t always true. Here’s my truth: I hate small talk and I hate parties and large groups of people, and most especially cocktail parties. The reason I’ve been overeating at parties and gatherings all these years is just that. For reasons only Freud may know, I’m just not comfortable, so I resort to eating to fill the discomfort. Boom.
Once we figure out social environments we actually like AND enjoy, life becomes a lot more comfortable, and we may even eat less. My Dear Dad is genuinely a party-loving man. Murray Thompson delights in and is energized by any social gathering. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t know a single soul in the room because by the end of the night, half of those souls will be invited to his house for dinner. Last weekend my husband and I shared a beautiful dinner with a couple we haven’t seen in months. We caught up, we cut through the small talk, we had some laughs and shared what’s really going on in our lives. I enjoyed the conversation, and the food, and I didn’t overeat like days of yore. I’ve figured out I am most comfortable in small groups. I am wired differently than my Dear Dad. And that’s OK. Like Dear Dad, I love people too, otherwise I wouldn’t do the work I do. I just love them more on a one-to-one level, when I can really have a good chat and where I don’t struggle to fill the time by asking about how that hamster farm is coming along…and wondering when that blasted food is coming out.
Allow yourself to be uncomfortable, without mistaking that discomfort for hunger…or diagnosing yourself with a food obsession. With Thanksgiving on our doorstep, many of us have obligatory social events that we may or may not approach with excitement. If you have a propensity to overeat at these things, consider whether or not you are eating to soothe a discomfort. Then try something new-give staying with the discomfort a shot. Don’t eat your way through, that never helps anything. Just allow yourself to be uncomfortable. Find a way to make it fun, even if you have to resort to counting the number of times Aunty Trudy apologizes for her lumpy gravy. The end will come, and you will be able to go home. Perhaps this is the time you can leave a touch more comfortable in your own skin and without beating yourself for overeating, yet again.
Decide BEFORE the event how you want to feel when it’s over. Festivities are a time when many of us have learned that celebrating means indulging. I’m certainly not here to tell you not to indulge. Rather, CHOOSE how you want to feel at the end of the event and eat accordingly. Here are some ideas. After Thanksgiving dinner I want to feel: like I could go for a walk/run/do a yoga class/like I will want a snack in three hours/pleasantly full, but not bloated, like if I eat another bite I will burst-I do this once a year and I’m wearing my sweatpants. Any of these choices are fine, choose your outcome ahead of time, then honour your commitment to yourself.
So friends, this is the type of stuff we work through when people come to me about diet and body image junk. I am not a weight loss coach, I do not put people on diets-I don’t believe in them. What I do believe in is looking at why we are overeating and going from there. I believe in eating food that works for you, not for Diane down the street. The food that works for you isn’t in a diet book and I can’t tell you what it is, but your body can. Once we deal with our feelings and the why of overeating, eating slowly but surely normalizes. Looking for a new way to roll with the whole dieting, deprivation and exercise crap? PM me-we will arrange a 15-minute consult and dig in on a whole new level.