A Tale of Three Eaters

19 December 2020 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

A Christmas story of unrealistic expectations,
good fortune and common sense.

Mary spent most of the year on and off a diet. Feeling motivated and then dipping into despair and disillusionment.  She would go to bed most nights assessing what she ate that day. And depending on what she ate or didn’t eat, she would either feel proud or guilty. As the end of the year approached, she thought she would focus on losing weight before the holidays. She thought about all the parties and family gatherings with dread and fear. Would she have enough willpower and control? She decided she would resist and be strong. The December holidays began with a series of year-end parties, lunches, social gatherings. At some point, it all became too for much for her, so she thought – “what the hell, this is too hard, I am going to start again in January.” Her December holiday was spent in a series of “last suppers” going between feeling guilty at overeating and rebelliously thinking…“who cares, I am going to be good in January”. When she felt guilty, she would exercise as penance for eating. In the end she even gave up on exercise. Mary didn’t always enjoy the food she ate, she ate things she didn’t even want or like, simply because she knew this would be her last time and come January, austerity measures would begin.

Anna is one of those few women who has never ever been on a diet. She spent the year eating what she wanted. Her focus was not really on food. She enjoyed it and only ate what she liked, but food and eating did not occupy her thoughts. As the holidays approached, it was a busy time. She thought about food and the meals her friends and family would enjoy. She looked forward to Christmas at her sister, who is a fabulous cook. She knew there would be deliciously prepared meals and that she would probably eat too much of the Christmas pudding or roast potatoes, but it was not a big thing for her. During her holiday she went on walks and runs and when she felt tired, she lay on the sofa and read her book. Anna had no specific food plans for January and did not fear that there would be any restriction or forbidden foods.

Natalia used to be a chronic dieter like Mary. She realised the futility of dieting and the negative effects of dieting on her life. The previous January she decided to commit to no more dieting. It wasn’t easy. She had been dieting since she was teenager. Natalia learned about Intuitive Eating and started integrating this approach into her life and over the year, she transformed her relationship with food into a more peaceful one. This was not a quick and easy process, but she persevered. As the holidays approached, she noticed all the diet talk. People eating as much as they could, because in January there would be famine and the 30-day no sugar no carb challenges would begin again. She spent the Christmas holidays applying the tools she learned throughout the year.

Natalia ate what she wanted with no guilt. She mostly ate when she was hungry. Most of the time she stopped eating at a comfortable point. And yes, there were times she overate but she didn’t beat herself up for it. She ate sometimes because she was sad or lonely or bored, but she was kind to herself about it and understood that emotional eating is not a bad thing. There was no last supper eating like all the previous Christmases. No binge eating because she had blown it by “cheating” – in fact words like “bad and cheating” didn’t exist in her vocabulary with food! There was no stress around what she could or couldn’t eat. She didn’t lie in bed at night doing an audit of what she ate and promise to be “good” the next day. She felt great freedom that diet prison was not waiting for her in January. She felt free and peace around all foods.

So, who are you?

Mary*, Anna*, Natalia*?

*Mary, Anna and Natalia are not real people but I know many Marys, Annas and Natalias. In fact, I was Mary for almost 30 years. I can never be Anna because, sadly, I am a woman who has a long history of dieting and recovering from that can take a long time.

If Natalia’s story appeals to you and you would like more peace with food this holiday, sign up for How to Handle Eating in the Holidays. You can start any time. The lessons are short. There are practical tips and more!

Love,
Xen.

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