The Worn Out Caregiver Holiday Survival Guide

Holiday pressures lead many of us to rely on mile long to-do lists, with attendant feelings of inferiority rather than attending to self-care. Don’t you just love the warm fuzzy holiday feelings of peace and joy?!? (Sarcasm intended.)

Many caregivers feel the month of December is all about providing experiences for everyone else, and typical self-care strategies just don’t fit in. This month, many people put themselves on the bottom of the priority list. While this may help your family attend more holiday parties or have more decorations around the house, ignoring self-care has its consequences. For example, attending your regular weekly yoga class may be tough to squeeze in, yet doing so will help you feel less stressed, sleep better, and be more present this holiday. Remember, self-care is not selfish.

In order to promote health and mindfulness, consider these three sanity saving pointers:

Have One Hot Meal Sitting Down Per Day

I remember that, when my children were infants, I rarely sat down. As the primary caregiver, I was constantly attending to their needs. I have memories of changing diapers, feeding them, keeping them from pinching the dog, keeping them out of the cat litter, and otherwise protecting this fragile new human. I was sleep deprived, and constantly ate on the run–with one hand. If I couldn’t eat something with one hand, I didn’t eat it. And I wondered why I felt like a chaotic mess!

I read a recommendation from Geneen Roth that changed a big portion of my self-care. She wrote that we all need to sit down and eat one hot meal on a real plate each day. The food choice wasn’t important; rather, it was the time spent sitting and focusing on the meal that was important. This recommendation spoke to me, because I connected with this being an opportunity to nurture and nourish my mind, body and spirit. And, oh boy, I needed that!

Even during chaotic holiday schedules, be sure to give yourself at least one eating opportunity each day to eat mindfully, focusing on just that. You’ll find that it calms you and reenergizes you– so you can continue to keep your little human from sticking metal into electrical outlets or eating the dog food.

Stay Off Pinterest and Other Ways to Avoid Comparison

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” I think this quote by Theodore Roosevelt needs to be on the Pinterest disclaimer page. Holiday traditions and activities involve limitless options for creativity. This is cool–for those who love hodge podging or baking decadent desserts–yet it can lead the rest of us down the dark dreary place of comparison and perfectionism.

Instead of looking into what everyone else is doing, consider the holiday traditions that give you the most joyful feelings. What do you remember as a kid that you want to pass on? Give yourself permission to pick the ones, if any, that you have the mental bandwidth for this holiday season. Resist the urge to search online for what you should be doing. Focus on what you want to do, and practice being okay with limiting the choices. To do this, you may want to avoid some social media, like Pinterest or Facebook, until the urge to compare goes away.

By the way, I love this recommendation so much that I’m deleting the Pinterest app from my phone as I type this! Wheee, that felt good!

Move Your Body in a Way that Feels Good

Human bodies are meant to move, and I don’t mean on treadmills in the “no pain no gain” fashion. Our bodies are designed for movement to promote health and well-being.  Our body also has ways of letting us know that the movement we’ve chosen is one worth repeating by the pleasure it gives us.  By staying aware of your body’s response, you’ll know what your body needs and wants. You’ll know that you’re moving in the right direction (nice pun, right?!?) when the movement feels good.

As you experience the holiday, notice what your body is craving. Do you want to dance to your favorite holiday songs? Take a nighttime stroll to admire the lights? Do you crave stillness? Attend to your body’s desire to move or not, and you’ll notice more connection to the present–and less chaos with what life throws your way.

Happy holidays friends!

(133) I am embarrassed I still struggle with food.

How long have you struggled with eating? Do you remember when it first got complicated? What if you have struggled your whole life after years of abuse, shame and fear? Is there a way to heal in our current diet focused and fatphobic world? Listen now for possible tools to promote your Food Peace journey.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food,
Dear oh dear food, you have been the bane of my existence since I was born. I started
with diary allergies that took time to diagnose so from a newborn, my food relationship
has been difficult. That difficulty has morphed into many different things, anxiety
soothing with food, fear of food, restriction, bulimia, anorexia, binge eating and so on.
I’ve struggled to understand you.

When I was young, about six years old, my life changed a lot because of an abusive
homelife, then at seven, it turned to shear torture due to physical and sexual abuse. I
coped by stealing food (at home, other people’s houses, stores and so on), hiding and
eating it. I learned to eat until sick, then purge to make myself feel better so I could eat
some more. One very traumatizing event, I remember hiding multiple PB&Js behind the
trashcan in the cabinet for later and once the event was over, I hid where I thought I
belonged, behind the trash and ate them all, at seven years old… The trauma (really
torture) went on and on and I ate and ate, and I gained and gained. I was also tortured
in school for my weight and lack of social skills. Through all of this, I was caring for my
younger sister since no one taking care of either of us and was also caring for my
parents who could not care for themselves.

As I grew into a teenager my body started to change, but it was changing differently
from others. I didn’t know at the time that it was PCOS at the time, but it was. I was
growing hair on my face, I started shaving my face at about 12 or 13, my body shape
was different, and my weight was going up at what I was told an alarming rate. By 6 th
grade, I was “obese”. Once the torture stopped at home (not in my mind), I was 20, I
kept on eating, doctors kept telling me to lose weight, my mother kept telling me how
terrible I looked, and others would tell me “you would have such a pretty face and eyes,
if you’d just lose some weight…” I kept eating and purging. I had two stays in a mental
health facility and they tried to work on my relationship with food, but that was not the
major reason I was inpatient, there was a much more intense reason I was there. They
tried but I was not ready.

Eleven years ago, at 28, after trying to conceive for about a year, I was diagnosed with
PCOS. It took us three years to conceive the first time which ended as an early loss. I
had six more losses and then no other pregnancies. I ate through all the losses and was
told, had I not been so fat, I would not have gotten PCOS and would also be able to get and stay pregnant by a doctor. I ate some more until I didn’t. I started restricting about
six years ago and lost a very significant amount of weight. I was restricting so much I
would pass out due an inability to my keep my blood pressure high enough and could
not keep my body temperature stable to the point where I wore winter clothes in the
summer. I kept this going for two years then the binging started again. I was never able
to get my weight low enough to alert any doctors of an eating disorder, but I would
guess that is from the PCOS.

I have since been working with a wonderful therapist for seven years and an amazing
eating disorder and HAES registered dietician for almost two years. I still struggle to this
day with the thoughts that go along with an eating disorder. Dear, oh dear Food, will I
ever “get” you? Will I ever “understand” you? I know none of this is about you, but it is
just a way to cope and control one small part of my life when I was unable to control
anything but morphed to lack of control around you. I want a relationship with you Food,
but, it is oh so embarrassingly hard. I do have hope Food, that someday, there will be
calmness and no charge between you and I. Someday I can enjoy you…
Love,
Frustrated but Hopeful

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Food controls my life. (Episode 118)

Do you feel like food has way too much power in your life and don’t see a way out?

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

This episode is brought to you by my online course, Your Step-by-Step Guide to PCOS and Food Peace™. Enrollment is open! Receive my FREE road map: Your First 3 Steps Toward Food Peace™ with PCOS. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

Check out the whole Love, Food Podcast store here. All T-Shirt designs have at least one with size range options from XS to 5X. All proceeds go to funding this labor of love to keep it as a free resource for you.

Product links may be affiliate. If you click and make a purchase, there’s no extra cost to you.

The transcribed episode can be found here.

Episode’s Key Points:

  • How do we know when food has too much power? It’s when we’re thinking about it ALL DAY LONG. At night, while you’re eating a meal… all day.
  • We as humans are wired to survive, and if we’re not getting access to enough food, our bodies are going to send food preoccupation into overdrive. But there are ways to think about food in a calmer way! And it isn’t more restriction.
  • Remember, food preoccupation is you being a successful human. We don’t want to demonize that!
  • Diet culture and body hatred perpetuate all of these food rules and body rules, but these rules are manmade… they don’t actually help us, and they disconnect us from our internal wisdom.
  • Using food to soothe is a SKILL! It’s not something to feel shameful about. But maybe this coping skill doesn’t suit you anymore, and that’s okay.
  • Unconditional permission to eat is KEY to reducing food preoccupation, and as long as you’re giving yourself permission, you can explore what I call symbolic hunger.
  • Food also has too little power in our life… but what does this mean? It means that we aren’t giving ourselves room within our relationship with food for anything but food as fuel. We also need food for pleasure, and we need to give ourselves true unconditional permission to eat.
  • You don’t need to be fixed… the world does!
  • Food is the GREATEST connector. It unites us, and it connects us to ourselves.
  • Our relationship with food is a great window into our relationship with ourselves. When we make peace with food, we make peace with ourselves.

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series.

I’m a food addict. I will never make peace with you. (Episode 117)

Have you ever described your relationship with food as an addiction? Do you think that Food Peace™ will never work for you because you’re addicted to certain kinds of food? Listen now to get my take on this Food Peace™ challenge.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

This episode is brought to you by my online course, Your Step-by-Step Guide to PCOS and Food Peace™. Enrollment is open! Receive my FREE road map: Your First 3 Steps Toward Food Peace™ with PCOS. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

Check out the whole Love, Food Podcast store here. All T-Shirt designs have at least one with size range options from XS to 5X. All proceeds go to funding this labor of love to keep it as a free resource for you.

Product links may be affiliate. If you click and make a purchase, there’s no extra cost to you.

The transcribed episode can be found here.

Episode’s Key Points:

  • Your feelings about being addicted to food are valid… BUT, it’s important to investigate WHY we feel that way, and to dig deeper.
  • We live in a world where controlling our food and having a certain body size are thought to go hand-in-hand. We think that if we eat less, we’re going to weigh less, and that people in larger bodies just don’t have “discipline” when it comes to food. But this just isn’t true!!
  • Internalized fatphobia and the desire to find acceptance in our thin-obsessed culture can drive us towards dieting, and the desire to restrict our food. It can also push us towards removing pleasure from our lives, whether it’s about food, sex, or anything else!
  • If we were allowed to embrace pleasure, I think that the feeling of addiction around food would change.
  • If we aren’t giving ourselves PERMISSION to have pleasure, we are going to subconsciously restrict and deprive ourselves of food.
  • This is not your fault! Our body pushes us to be preoccupied with food when we deprive ourselves of food. Restriction keeps the food-preoccupation going!!
  • Compassion and permission are key, not keeping ourselves “under control.”
  • Name the moments when food has too much power!!
  • Our bodies and our brains just want us to stay alive, and the feeling of food addiction is actually how our bodies continue to try and stay alive.
  • Remember, your needs aren’t a burden. You are NOT too needy! Redefine your expectations around meeting your needs.
  • Consider how thin privilege plays a role in feeling like we need to fix ourselves. Put the anger and the burden where it belongs! Not on us, but on the fatphobic society in which we live.
  • Strive for embodiment, pleasure, satisfaction, and compassion.
  • Patients with PCOS often experience even more intense feelings about being addicted to food, especially because most doctors encourage people with PCOS to cut out carbs. But carbs are not the enemy! By removing them from your diet, you just increase the need for them, and the feeling of being out of control around them.

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series.

The Should Eat Fantasy Compliance

How many diets have you been on? When was the first one? Most people have been dieting in some shape or form….or coming off a diet…or preparing to go back on a diet….for as long as they can remember.

Can you relate?

I believe we live in a culture that has trained us to distrust our bodies and think we need to follow orders to pick out dinner options. 

We should be eating this. We should be eating that. We must not eat this after 7, or else…

Or else what?

All these shoulds lead most of us toward shame, guilt and distrust of our own innate wisdom. You were born knowing how to eat and how much. All those diets disconnected you from that. 

You may be wondering, “But I feel so good when I am dieting, at least for a little while.”

Totally. Diets and preparing for them give the notion that things will be alright soon. Just the decision to embark on a diet can relax and calm you. Your head may feel clear for the first time in a long time.

The first few days or weeks of a diet can give off a buzz of excitement and kudos from well-meaning friends and family.

Can you feel it? That’s diet seduction.

And it is just a fantasy.

The reality is diets are only short term. They are unsustainable. This is not just a belief of mine rather evidenced-based in literally hundreds of research studies.

So why do you blame yourself for the diet ending?

If diets don’t work for most people, why do doctors and dietitians recommend them?

If diets are actually harmful long term…promoting weight cycling, higher insulin levels, higher triglycerides, higher blood sugars, depression, and negative body image….why are they recommended to improve health?

Those are important questions with a really nasty answer:

The world is so fat phobic that it cannot wrap its head around the notion that weight loss is not a behavior. And, medical science has yet to find ONE diet that works to promote health and promote maintenance long term for most people. Even more, this mind control is rooted in white supremacy and misogyny.

You see how people of size are treated in our world: chairs don’t fit, airplanes won’t accommodate, and culture hasn’t provided equal treatment in academia, the military, or employment.

This constant discrimination sends anyone trying to find a way to fit in. To find more ease in a world that says their body is not acceptable.

A fat body dieting is complying with the orders: eat this not that. Do all that it takes to weigh less. Even if it hurts.

And each time you comply with the orders, the fantasy of equal treatment and a better life fill your head.

This is The Should Eat Fantasy Compliance.

This is the reason why you keep getting sucked back into Diet Culture and it is so important. You are just doing what you are told while craving equality and decency.

Unfortunately The Should Eat Fantasy Compliance distracts us all from the facts that diets don’t work for most people and they are harmful. It also distracts us from the bigotry that comes from weight stigma, racism, and gender inequality. 

I want to stand with you radically rejecting diets and reconnecting to your own innate wisdom for health.

This week’s Love Food podcast episode (107) is one of my all time favorites because it gives you the tools to stand up to the villain. In this episode I go through the 4 pillars to Food Peace: permission, pleasure, consistency, and variety. Take a listen here or via your favorite pod catcher.

Until then, call out the real villain. And take off that shame cloak. It is not for you. It never was.

 

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help.

Listen to the Love Food podcast and find new ways to rewrite your fate with food and body.

You can find it on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, your fav pod catcher or right here.