I would never have read ‘Beyond Temptation: How to stop overeating and feel normal and in control around food’ had I not been put in touch with one half of the sister-duo, Audrey Boss, to talk to her about this book for 30ish.me
Few books have affected me as much as this one* Perhaps it’s because I had never actually analysed my eating habits before. But I definitely learnt a lot about myself, especially whilst reading the ‘Awareness’ section.
In order to make these realisations ‘real’, I’ve decided to share my self-discoveries. Let me know if any of you can relate to this, I can’t imagine (and hope) I’m not alone in these.
I don’t want to miss out
Similarly to the way that some people have to go to EVERYTHING they’ve been invited to for fear of missing out on that one amazing evening, I get anxious unless I’ve tried everything available. This obviously only applies to occasions where there’s many dishes or a variety of food items. For example, a share platter, tapas or buffet. As a result, I have to try a bit of everything which sometimes, is just too much.
I want to be part of the group
Especially if I’m with a large group of people or working in a large organisation, I’ll go with them if they’re all getting a coffee. Although since I don’t like coffee, I’ll get a hot chocolate. I don’t even like hot chocolates that much (not unless they’re from Paul or Carluccio’s). But I want to be part of the group.
I am a competitive eater
Woe betide the person responsible for the servings if my helping is smaller than the person next to me. Whether you’re a guy, a giant or have worms, I will eat the same as you. Even if it kills me. I hate the feeling of being shortchanged.
I can’t leave anything on my plate
I blame this on school. I went to a really old fashioned school (we had hand-writing lessons and even had to have regulation knickers – thick and grey for winter, and white cotton panties for summer) and we had great home-cooked food. However, we weren’t allowed to leave our seat until we had eaten everything on our plate. I was so terrified of not finishing my food, I would only allow myself ‘a very little of everything’ – this translates into a couple of peas, a smudge of mince and a teaspoon of rice – just to be sure I could finish it. If I were feeling extremely hungry or especially loved one part of it, I may have been daring and asked for a ‘medium of chicken casserole’, which roughly translated as one large spoonful.
The absolute worst moment I ever had was when chocolate semolina was served up for pudding. Usually just the word ‘semolina’ was enough to make me gag but for some reason, the very little that I had on my plate was piping hot and delicious. In a fit of madness, my body took control over my brain and I found myself agreeing to a second helping. Alas, I was only one of two stupid people asking for more and I could only look on with horror as the teacher ladled a (by now) cold, lumpy portion of it into my bowl. Whereas before it was steaming, by now it had been sitting on the side for so long that it had grown a thick, matt skin and looked as though it had given up on life. Needless to say, it was with huge reluctance that I touched the first spoonful to my lips and just couldn’t eat anymore. It made me want to retch. There was no way I could eat this. So I was made to sit there until hometime. Two and a half hours are a long time when you’re a kid. By the time I was allowed to leave the table, after being made to sit in silence with tears streaming down my cheeks, I felt so ashamed that I couldn’t even look mum in the eye.
I’ve paid for this food and so I’ll eat it
There’s absolutely no way, if I go out to a restaurant, that I will leave anything on my plate. This urge is especially strong if I’m paying or if someone has taken me to a high-class (usually expensive) restaurant. I was horrified the other day when I took a friend out to lunch for her birthday and I had to stop myself from cleaning up her plate when she became full and left half of it. I wish I could stop eating when I’m full.
Another example is the other night when as a treat and because Hungry House was offering us 20% off any order, I finished my Thai Green Curry and rice even though I feeling sick halfway through it. I finished it because I was going out for dinner the next evening and wouldn’t have a chance to eat the rest of it. I knew that it would just have to be thrown away if I didn’t eat it the day after so I forced it down.
I can eat until I’m sick
Twice I ate so much that I was physically sick. And I don’t mean in the bulimic way. The first was when I was 9 years old or thereabouts. Mum had cooked an amazing Shepherd’s Pie (they were normally 1/3 mash potato, 2/3 mince) and very unusually, my little sister, Rosie, and I had been left at home to fend for ourselves for a couple of hours. Like a diligent sister, I dished out a reasonable-sized portion for my sister then proceeded to polish off every last bit of the dish. To this day, I have no idea where mum thought this giant Shepherd’s Pie had vanished to. That evening, I lay in bed with the largest, biggest food baby ever. Eventually I managed to doze off, only to wake up in a terrible panic. I screamed for mum and dad. Just as dad ran up to my bed and opened his arms wide for a soothing hug, I was sick everywhere. Over him, over my bed, over me. Crying, I ran down the stairs, smearing sick along the walls. Once in mum’s bathroom, I was sick down another wall and just missed the toilet. Even the freshly laundered pile of pants in the corner weren’t safe from the steaming, mincey mess. It took me a good few years to be able to eat Shepherd’s Pie again, I can tell you.
The second time, I was in my second year at The University of Birmingham. After a year of fending for myself, the prospect of a returning home to food that wasn’t bread and super noodles was almost too much for me. Unusually, mum had stocked up on microwave meals and, slightly disappointed that I wasn’t greeted by a generous home-cooked meal, waited until mum had gone out before eating my way through the fridge. I think I ate three microwave meals in one go. I’m sure I could have eaten more if I’d paced myself properly. However, it wasn’t long before my stomach realised what was going on and promptly rejected everything I’d eaten. Mum believed it was food poisoning.
I don’t want to let people down
This was a recent realisation. And there are two parts to it. I feel like I have a ‘duty’ to be excited about food, mainly because I’m generally known for my love of food. Any kind of food. Even plane food. Therefore, if anyone suggests something that I think I should get excited about, pudding for example, I often act like it’s the best idea in the world. And I don’t even really like puddings.
The second part to this is when I know someone else wants a particular food but needs a second person to validate getting it. This often happens with pizza. If I know someone wants to get pizza, I will go along with it and play the part of the hungry sharing friend. Even though the pizza dough rarely sits well in my stomach.
Time to sort it out
I’m only too aware that I use humour to forgive myself for eating as much as I do. I even made some business cards recently that included references to food. It is time that I grew up and started taking responsibility for my eating habits – I want a healthy relationship with food and not be the one known for hanging out by the food table.
You can read my review of Beyond Temptation at 30ish.me here >
If you feel like you could benefit from food realisations of your own, you can buy Beyond Temptation here >
* In fact, the only ones I can think of are ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers whose title is now a mantra of mind, and ‘The Host’ by Stephanie Meyer (author of Twilight) which can make me bawl my half-Chinese eyes out.