Planning the journey

Moving from one set of experiences with food to another set is like going on a journey, a journey towards freedom with food. Knowing where you are at the start of the journey can help with planning your route. Also, knowing your starting point makes it possible further down the track to look back at the journey so far: you may find yourself pleasantly surprised with how far you have come.

In planning your journey it’s also important to know where you’re heading for. This knowledge can help keep you on track, and may also inspire you to keep going when the terrain gets rocky. Some people find having a clear destination in mind helpful; others find that fixing on this trips them up: it seems like an impossibly far-off goal and they get disheartened.

If this sounds like you, instead of thinking of the future in terms of a destination it may work better to think in terms of a direction with a number of milestones along the way. You may find this helpfully shifts the focus of your attention onto what you are working on now and the next milestone ahead of you. And it may mean you notice each time you reach a milestone, and allow yourself to pause and celebrate.

To plan your own journey, you may find it helpful to consider how you would answer these questions (I’d suggest write down your answers so you can come back to them at a later date and monitor how your journey is going):

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Take action
Here’s one way to act on what you’ve written down. When planning a journey it’s a good idea, if possible, to check out the terrain and the possible challenges in advance. So over the next few days you could get prepared for moving towards that first milestone by
  • checking your everyday experience of food and eating against your answer to question 1. Some of us overestimate how severe our difficulties are because we focus on what isn’t going so well; others underestimate, fearful of facing the reality.
    • checking how close or far away are you to the first milestone you identified. Some of us overlook that on easier days we may have already reached our goals; others regularly set targets that are too challenging for where they are on their journey.
    • noticing what aspects of your daily life will be a support to you on your journey.
    • noticing what aspects of your daily life may make it harder for you on your journey.

It may help to talk this through with someone, for example a trusted friend or family member, or a counsellor experienced in working with people who have difficulties with food.