Weight. Body image. Self-esteem.
These are issues that come up quite regularly in my work as a dating and relationships coach.
Or perhaps I tune in to them more than to other issues, because I’m a recovering compulsive overeater. For many years, through my teens, twenties and early thirties, binge eating and comfort eating inflated my body and deflated my confidence.
The way I felt about my body affected my interactions with men and potential partners.
Throughout university, I barely had a boyfriend because I felt fat. I was a few stone heavier than I am now and I disliked myself profoundly, although you wouldn’t have known it. I hid it well.
The first thing I did on the morning of my finals exams was to weigh myself. The number on the scales dictated how I felt about myself that day.
It took until my early thirties for me to come out of denial about emotional overeating and to find help. Today, I’m largely free of obsession around food and body image. I eat healthily most of the time and I’m pretty happy with my body. Just like Kate Winslet, I don’t weigh myself anymore.
My eating isn’t perfect, whatever that means. I still eat on my emotions at times – on sadness, tiredness or anxiety. A few biscuits, a bit of cereal, extra chocolate or toast. But I’m aware that I’m doing it. My eating doesn’t spiral out of control like it used to. And I forgive myself quickly and move on. I don’t carry around bags of shame.
I believe I had to make peace with my body and develop a healthy relationship with food and eating in order to find love. My excess weight, in the past, acted as a barrier to men. They may have found me attractive but I didn’t feel worthy or good enough. And I had so much shame that I didn’t want anyone to come near me. I didn’t want to take my clothes off.
Your story may not be quite so extreme, but I wonder if your relationship with food and your body is affecting your relationship with others. Is it affecting your dating? Is it keeping you single? Or is it keeping you emotionally distant in your relationship?
This morning, I felt inspired to record this video: How to stop emotional overeating. I wanted to share some of my journey with food and body image, and how I’d managed to put an end to my emotional eating. In it, I share how I’ve learned to soothe myself in healthy ways rather than with excess food, or alcohol or male attention or work, for that matter.
The video is half-an-hour long so you’ll need a bit of time. I hope you find it useful. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you’d like any support on this issue, or would like to know more about how I developed a healthy relationship with food, do get in touch. I’d love to help.
A reminder that I’m hosting my first How to Fall in Love retreat in Dorset, Nov 17-19. Click here for more information. Rooms are selling fast. Four spaces left.
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