The day I attended the most fabulous buffet, my relationship with food changed, and it has never changed back.
I was always the person who had to have the last biscuit, in fact a packet of biscuits, or a bar of chocolate never lasted more than a single setting. I wasn’t conscious that I had a problem with food. I didn’t realise that I wasn’t comfortable around food. Well actually food should have been uncomfortable around me – I was ready to eat it.
I have honestly probably tried most diets and eating plans before accepting that health and fitness was a better route. You can read about other parts of my weight loss journey here.
Twenty-five years ago I attended a course with a difference. It was a psychological approach to weight loss. We started off with some gentle group therapy talking about our relationship with food. A couple of weeks in, we were told that the next week we would be having a party. Each person was to bring a dish. Everyone volunteered their favourite dishes. I made a trifle – yum yum.
My excitement was at an all time high! There was a buffet to beat anything you would see in a top class hotel. Sweet, savoury, snacks, starters, chocolate, wine. There was nothing up there that I didn’t want to eat, and nothing I was missing either.
But, the lessons were about to begin….
We were all asked to go up and choose our meals. A starter selection, main meal, dessert, cheese and biscuits, drinks, chocolates – in fact anything we liked. I think everyone took less than they normally would – we were conscious of our neighbours.
On returning to our seat at the table we were asked to look at our food and think about what we really wanted first. There were no rules, so if you wanted trifle, then you had a few bites of trifle. We then moved onto our next favourite item. Soon the moderator asked us if we were feeling full, as it takes a good 10 minutes for your tummy to register if you are full. Very often we don’t know when we have had enough.
With no pressure it was suggested that we walk away from the table and chat if we thought we might be full. We could come back of course, but you know what? I didn’t – I realised that I had eaten what I wanted and was full. I hadn’t eaten that much at all. The sneaky thought of course was that I might just like a bite more, just one more chocolate, or a little biscuit with a bit of brie.
Look away now, it gets icky!
We were asked to pile everything in front of us onto one plate, and mash it all together. It was literally a small mountain on the plate! And mixed up all together it looked disgusting. Left to my own devices all that would have gone inside me, no question. We then went up and binned it. From 12 people in the room we filled a large bin bag. We also then binned all the leftovers from the serving dishes. Another bin bag and more.
The messages were simple:
- Rather waste in the bin than around your waistline
- Food doesn’t have legs – it won’t run away if you don’t eat it all in one go
- Be comfortable around food, it is ok to eat a small bit of chocolate, just don’t eat the whole bar
- To listen to your body and stop eating when you are no longer hungry.
I am not perfect and I continually have to remind myself of the lessons I have learnt along the way.
This was a big lesson for me and even after 25 years it is still a very strong memory, I still struggle, but the one thing I know is that I am more comfortable with food. I am comfortable with chocolate or biscuits in the house and don’t feel the need to eat them. Well, maybe just one square!
The programme was called Weight Winners, which I attended in South Africa. In an effort to credit experience, that literally changed my relationship with food, I found this article.
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