The Holiday Trap (again)

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    • #4660

      Hi Gillian,

      I have been doing great and I thought I had this nailed, making good choices, feeling better and eating less until I have fallen into the age-old holiday trap and I have relapsed big time. I went back to watch your session on relapse, which was really helpful to watch whilst I was going through it actually, and my error became clear. I am that perfectionist who tries to eat perfectly and I can’t handle it when I eat something I shouldn’t.

      Looking back I fooled myself into believing I wasn’t in compliance, I genuinely made choices to not eat the sweets that were coming around the office for example and I didn’t feel like I was missing out, I told myself that I could have one if I wanted one, but I didn’t, so I believed that I wasn’t in compliance.

      So at Christmas I have indulged in all sorts of foods that I never would normally eat, because it’s Christmas, which I know is a mind-set thing, and I haven’t stopped eating. It’s like I’m saying, ‘It’s okay to overeat because it’s Christmas’. But the fact that I only let myself eat these foods at a Christmas indicates that I have put myself in that cell of compliance as my eating and there is certainly rebellious behaviour going on.

      In your session on relapse you described the perfectionist who swings from rigidity to chaos and that describes my behaviour around food. I know you described how one ‘imperfection’ will be followed by a strong addictive desire to overeat and working through this is the key to breaking through this problem. That way, I allow myself to indulge or overeat and it’s no big deal, instead of turning into a week long binge episode, which makes perfect sense.

      My plan, as you suggest, is to break out of that perfectionist behaviour by adding in imperfections, maybe starting with just small ones at first and try to work through the addictive desire which will inevitably follow as my thoughts will always be along the lines of ‘I’ve blown it now so what the hell!’.

      I suppose one good thing about eating imperfectly is that it gives me the chance to work through this behaviour, so I can handle them in the future without having a full meltdown. I’ve also made a mental note to still go through the consequences of buying all that indulgent Christmas food in the supermarket, at the time I was like a kid in a sweet shop, letting myself off because it’s Christmas which is a mind-set problem that I need to work on. It’s just a way of justifying my desire to overeat. I am hoping that if I tackle my imperfect eating and learn to be okay with not eating perfectly, then I won’t have such a strong drive to overeat because I am hoping that it takes away that rebellious quality and i will be able to deal with the holidays better and recognise the mindset justification in my thinking.

      I also plan to consider how I want to feel after holidays have finished, bloated, sluggish and just plain rubbish or feeling well and rested. Is there anything else you suggest that I could do or is there anything I have missed? As always, I appreciate your insight. Thanks, Victoria

    • #4661

      Hi Victoria

      Brilliant! It looks like you’ve grasped the problem and taken the steps to address it. This is exactly what I had in mind when I created this site; for you to return to sections and discover what may be missing for you. A shame really that you won’t be able to work it through until next Xmas, as far as the addictive mindset goes, but it will be a very different experience if you are already skilled at imperfect eating.

      I may mention this in our Q&A webinar on Sunday.

      By the way, I spaced out your post as it made my eyes go funny when trying to read it. I didn’t change any words.

      Let me know if any questions.

      Best wishes for the New Year.

    • #4663

      Hi Gillian,

      Thanks for that, yes you’re right, this has been a real eye opener for me and I can see clearly where it all went wrong and more importantly how I can avoid falling into the holiday trap in future. It is really helpful being able to go back and revisit sessions at times when they are particularly relevant to my own experiences at that time. This is when the penny dropped and it dawned on me that I had been in compliance for the past few months.

      I can think of 3 occasions in the 2 months when I ate something that wasn’t great for me but I didn’t overeat, they were minor and I compensated by not eating carbohydrates for the rest of the day, or substituted it for a meal. If I actually overeat or I can’t compensate for it in some way, it feels like too big an imperfection and I feel so guilty, I overreact and then it becomes a problem.

      However, now I know that the problem is my conditioned response to overeating after the event to overeat again. Had I forgiven myself for overeating, reminded myself that the aim is to overeat less, not to never overeat, reinforced the idea that I was free to overeat again everyday if I wanted to and then anticipated the inevitable desire to eat that followed, I could have worked through that and my total amount of overeating would have been much less overall compared to my response of ‘I’ve blown it, I may as well just keep on eating’ which lasted over a week.

      Had I not been in compliance by practicing dealing with imperfect eating I might not have rebelled like I did, as I would have had a good sense of choice. I think this is something that I need to be aware of falling back into. I must say, compliance feels very comforting but as tempting as it is, I know that it doesn’t do me any favours in the long run.

      Yes it’s a long time to wait until next Christmas to practice but this happens to me at every holiday period, Easter, birthdays, holidays, weekends away, so I will get lots of chances to practice.

      Despite it being a tough week, which put quite a dampener on Christmas, upon reflection it has been an invaluable learning experience and this is the point that I can do something about it to change the outcome in the future. Thank you again for your wisdom, it is hugely appreciated and I know this is the answer, this is how I move forward and put my dysfunctional relationship with food behind me.

      All the best for the new year to you too, here’s hoping for a much happier and healthier year 🙂


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