• Harriet Frew is a therapist who specialises in disordered eating

  • Here she gives some solid advice to help you work out a healthy relationship with food 

  • If you struggle with disordered eating, you can find a therapist here

1) Because life is too darned short to be filling your head with thoughts about the calorie content of your next meal or the size of your bottom. 60,000 thoughts per day – let's use some of this thinking time for stuff that really matters! 

2) Because you know deep-down that the next diet is NOT going to be the magic wand that fixes your relationship with food once and for all and gets you thin. At worst your new diet might last a few hours; at best probably a few months – but at some point, you are going to find yourself in non-diet mode (usually means chaos and rebellion) and probably eating everything in sight to compensate for all that deprivation. Help!

3) Sadly, food restriction generally does not bring feelings of happiness, good will and bucket loads of self-esteem. Read any starvation study and you will soon recognise yourself (albeit at the milder end of the spectrum). Irritable, cold, tired, withdrawn anyone? 

4) Achieving size X does not equate with happiness and robust confidence. Ask any yo-yo dieter that has been anything from a size six to 26 and all of the in-between. Good self-esteem comes from feeling good from the inside out. Body acceptance does not fall from heaven as you slip into those desired skinny jeans.

5) The more you deprive yourself of your favourite foods, the more you will yearn for them; feel addicted to them; obsess about eating them; dream about them; eat them from the fridge when no-one is looking; feel shame and disgust for allowing yourself to enjoy them. It's a no-win.

6) When your relationship with food is tricky, then you are likely to eat for a whole load of reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with hunger. This is not going to stop by going on another diet. In fact, it will make the whole situation that bit worse. Is it worth investing the time in working out what it is you really need apart from that cheesecake in the fridge? Yes it really is! 

7) Notice real people around you. What it is about them that makes them look great. I bet you it is not all about the size of their thighs. Radiance, confidence, smiles, interesting clothes and personal style all play a much greater role.

8) When you feel in balance around food, the scales can take their rightful place in a box in the garage. You will have found a healthy and sustainable weight that you can keep for the long-term, so there will be no need to obsess anymore. Hurray! 

9) Foods are not categorised as good and bad any longer, so the guilt dissipates. You might think you will just keep eating forever if you allow yourself to eat what you fancy. Actually, the opposite is true. Deprived eating drives bingeing; overeating and bucket loads of guilt. It can actually be quite fattening. 

10) Again, because life really is too short to focus time and energy around diets and thigh gaps. In a few years time, you might well yearn to have the body you have right now. Movement, skin suppleness, energy levels. Appreciate, celebrate and love your body.

Further reading

What is the best diet for mental wellbeing?

Breaking the diet-binge cycle: will I never stop eating, if I give up dieting?

How to get more protein in your diet and support brain health

Shame, guilt, and your relationship with food