No more diets and deprivation. Eat the foods you love and have a great body image.
Rethink your body
To get the freedom to live the life you want
by Harriet Frew on November 24th, 2017

It is 10.15am on a rainy Friday. I am sitting and relaxing in a little cafe away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets.

I am eating a large slice of chocolate cake with creamy icing. It is delicious. It is tasty. I am relishing every mouthful. I am also very focused on the experience of eating.

It is likely full of sugar and fats and all the food groups frequently demonised. A nutritionist might well tell me that I need a hearty soup or a salad full of nutrients. I am not thinking about this though. I want cake. If I had the salad, I would still be thinking about the cake. I would be left feeling dissatisfied or as if missing something.

For me, cake is not a treat or an indulgent episode of eating linked to ‘bad’ or naughty food.
Cake is allowed. Cake is permitted into my eating. Cake is therefore pleasurable and guilt free.
Cake is not a replacement meal or something that has to be balanced with my daily eating. I had breakfast. I will still have lunch and snacks and dinner as usual.

You might think ‘if I did this, I would be put on lots of weight. I only have to look at cake and I balloon’.

And of course, if you or I ate many cakes and frequently it would affect weight.

But the paradox is that when cake is allowed, you will likely find that you eat it less. You will not be obsessing or thinking about it every day.

When you ban certain foods you will yearn for them more. You will dream, think and fixate over them.

When you demonise certain foods, you might feel guilty and ashamed when you do eat them. You might then go on and eat more cake or pizza or biscuits to feel better and block these feelings.

When you try to control your eating by eliminating food groups or counting calories or missing meals, you lose touch with your natural hunger and what your body needs. Your body tends to fight back and then you are vulnerable to over-eating or binge eating. I know this first hand. I have experienced it in the past.

When you listen to your body and respond to what it needs, you are less likely to eat too much or too little for your body’s requirements. You will likely find that your body craves healthy and nourishing foods for much of the time anyway.

I have found that my body doesn’t really want cake every day when it is permitted. Cake doesn’t hold any particular appeal anymore. It is just like roast dinner or Caesar salad or scrambled eggs on toast.

Six steps to support you in listening to your body

1. Start to notice your personal hunger signals. How do you feel your hunger? Do you actually know? I personally get irritable, tired and lacking in concentration often before I feel my tummy growl. You could keep a diary to try and tune in more to your body and listen to what it needs.

2. When you are hungry, think about what you are hungry for? Hot food? Cold food? Crunchy? Smooth? Crisp? Chewy? Sweet? Sour? Savoury? Bitter? Respond to your body’s hunger as is practical.

3. Sit down to eat. Eating at the cupboard door or on the run doesn’t allow you to register the eating experience so fully and then you might not feel satisfied.

4. Begin to slowly permit all foods into your repertoire of eating. This may feel overwhelming at first, so aim to do so only one food at a time. When you do this, plan it in and make the experience as calm and enjoyable as possible. Sit down, savour and taste the food.

5. If you have been depriving yourself of certain foods, initially you may want to eat more of them as the backlash against deprivation. Persist through this though phase and the foods will lose their magic allure.

6. Start to recognise when you want to eat for reasons unrelated to hunger. For boredom, anxiety, anger, sadness or loneliness. Ask yourself ‘what is it that I really need right now? Is it actually food?’

Be compassionate and kind with yourself as your embark on this journey of improving your relationship with food and your body. This might feel very difficult at first. You may have been out of tune with your body for a long time. If you get stuck in making changes, this might be a time to consider getting further support by seeing a counsellor.


by Harriet Frew on November 17th, 2017


It is there for you when you are happy. The delicious treats to be devoured to enhance that special moment and to celebrate good times. 

It is there for you on a lonely evening when you are longing for comfort and support.

It is there for you when you are bored, offering stimulation at the cupboard door when nothing else excites.

It is there when you are sad and in desperate need of consolation.

It is there for you when you are feeling overwhelmed and your shoulders are burdened down with pressure.

It is there for you when you feel desolate and empty, seeking to fill the void to just feel something.

It is there for you when you worry and fret about what is going to happen next.

It is there for you when you feel envious and inadequate as you make comparisons with others.

It is there for you when you feel disgust and self-loathing helping you bury these feelings deep to find some momentary escape.

Food can serve a multitude of needs beyond nourishment.

Why is this so?

Emotional eating is often rooted in our early experiences. You might have been given sweets or chocolate to soothe away the tears when you were crying and upset.
You may have been forbade to eat certain foods and in your mind they became even more extraordinary and desirable.

You might have lacked essential nurturing from your care givers when growing up and learned to turn to food to try and satisfy that ‘something’ that was missing. Maybe love, care, affection, support, time or a combination of these?

You might have been very aware of your size or experienced comments about this. You may have felt pressure to diet and consequently developed a guilt-ridden relationship with food.
It might have been something else.

To begin to disrupt the cycle of emotional eating, you need to step back and become more aware of your eating patterns, so you can begin to untangle the complicated threads where food has become much more than nourishment. You can enhance your awareness of this through a simple food and feelings diary.

You may not know how you feel to start with. You may have become adept at dissociating and pushing your feelings away.

It might be a new learning process to begin to explore your emotional world. This may not always be an easy one.

It is about learning to name and feel your feelings.

It is about learning different ways of coping with your emotions without turning to food.

What is it that you really need? Is it food or is it something else?

How else can you achieve this need? This is when you might need some support in learning new strategies.

And is it wrong to turn to food for emotional reasons at all? If we ate purely for nourishment, maybe we would lose some of the joy from food.

Food is meant to be enjoyed and shared and celebrated as part of life.

A healthy relationship with food might still involve some emotional eating on occasions. It is a joy to eat a tasty meal with friends or celebrate a birthday with cake.

It is only a problem when your main strategy for feeling better and deriving pleasure (albeit short-term) is eating.

Because of the short-term fix that food can offer, it is very typical that you might feel some ambivalence about changing relationship with food. This is okay. It doesn’t need to be a barrier.

If you are feeling stuck and you are looking for a way out with support, this could be the time to think about having some counselling.

by Harriet Frew on November 16th, 2017

When my children were babies and toddlers, feeling suffocated by the chaos and endless demands of domestic life, my friend A listened unconditionally to my woes on the phone, and shared hers back. She had been there before when were ‘finding ourselves’, travelling in Australia, and talking endlessly, as we put childhood demons behind us and started afresh. At my wedding, she was my supporter and cheerleader, injecting her immense excitement and joy into this special day. And today, she remains a constant presence in my life, although these days we talk less, and geographically, it is not possible anymore, to just pop in for a cup of tea. Most importantly, I know she is there, and I owe this friendship a great deal in my happiness and wellbeing quotient. I hope I don’t ever take it for granted.

But what if you don’t have close friends? We know that we have an epidemic of loneliness in the UK. It is certainly one of the most talked about issues in counselling, and a trigger for many unhelpful escape strategies like overeating, drinking, compulsive shopping and internet use. In some ways, we have never felt so connected with others, constantly glued to our iPhones and other electronic devices, but time for meaningful connections has diminished with our ever busier lives.  Loneliness can be hard to bear, especially when you feel maybe that you shouldn’t feel lonely – you are surrounded by people, but don’t feel connected at all.
We know that people live longer when they have meaningful relationships, these being incredibly important for our mental wellbeing. We put time and effort into health, exercise, work and family. It is worth investing in our friendships too.

If you are feeling lonely and want to connect more with others, here are 6 tips: 

by Harriet Frew on November 3rd, 2017

​1. 'Is this the right time?' You might be considering counselling but are waiting for the ‘right time’, when you feel ready and robust to take that plunge into the unknown. Often this ‘right time’ is a fiction and you could end up passing weeks, months or years waiting for this moment to arrive. It is very usual that contacting a counsellor may bring about anxieties and fears. You may also feel embarrassed or ashamed at the thought of talking about your life. Your counsellor understands this though and will recognise the courageous step you have taken to come along to the first meeting. They will work to create a relationship with you, where you feel safe and you can begin to open up.

2. The value of the relationship. The counselling relationship is all important for your experience of counselling. However skilled, knowledgeable or qualified your counsellor is, if you don’t feel able to talk to them, your progress in therapy may be limited. So, find a counsellor you can relate to and feel at ease with.

3. 'I just want to feel better'. Often in counselling, you might feel worse before you feel better. This happens commonly and is a helpful part of progress (although you may not feel it at the time). You may have buried away some feelings, so now you are talking about them, they feel raw and overwhelming. Your counsellor will support you with empathy and a non-judgemental approach to help you feel safe to open up.

4. 'Who am I?' In counselling, you don’t have to pretend anymore that everything is okay. You might have been working hard to put on a coping front in your relationships. You can begin to find out who you are and what you think. You can begin to understand yourself and appreciate your values more fully.

5. 'I just want to be told what to do'. Your counsellor won’t tell you what to do and you might feel very frustrated about this at first. Rather they will help you listen to your own voice and help you develop this more strongly.

6. 'My counsellor has annoyed me'. You might experience different feelings towards your counsellor throughout the therapy process. At times you might feel angry or irritated. You may want to please them. You may enjoy the experience of having someone really listen to you for the first time. You possibly will idealise them and see them as very special.

7. A variety of options. There are many different styles of counselling and psychotherapy. Some approaches are long-term whilst others are short-term. Some work more in the present day and the future. Others base more emphasis on exploring your past. Some counsellors will use a combination of both of these. It is worth researching different models to see what might work for you.

8. Length of sessions. The counselling hour is 50 minutes. On occasion, you may worry about filling the time. Other times, you may wish you could have longer and not want the session to end.

9. 'I want to know my counsellor's opinion'. The counselling session is about you. Your counsellor may disclose mindfully information about them, but only if they feel this is going to be particularly relevant or helpful to you. As a consequence, you will probably learn very little about your counsellor’s life, thoughts, opinions and actions.

10. 'What I imagine'. You might fantasise about what your counsellor is like outside of therapy and wish you knew more about them.

11. 'Why isn't this working?' You may get frustrated that counselling doesn’t seem to work like revising for an exam or learning a language. Working with emotions can be somewhat unpredictable and the path can be complex and changing. You might wish for a magic wand or if someone would just tell you what to do.

12. 'How will I ever cope when therapy ends?' You may fear the end of counselling and how you might cope alone. Your counsellor will work with you towards the ending though and support you in gaining more autonomy and independence.

13. 'But I came to talk about my eating'. You may go to counselling for one problem and then find yourself talking about something else entirely along your journey. Counselling can take surprising twists and turns.

14. 'I want to run away'. You might want to run away from counselling when things get hard and tricky. Be kind to yourself if this happens. You will not be the first person to experience this by a long way. If you feel able, talk to your counsellor about this.

15. 'I didn't know I could feel this much'. You may laugh, cry, rage, envy, worry and more all in the process of counselling.

16. Vulnerability - helpful or not? Becoming vulnerable and expressing your whole self in the safety of counselling can be a transformative experience as you begin to gain self-acceptance. It possibly will feel scary too, as this is unexplored territory.

17. 'I have to do homework!' Some counselling may involve homework tasks or record keeping. 

18. 'You don't have to meet face-to-face'. Counselling is often available now, not only face-to-face, but by Skype, telephone, instant messaging and email. This opens up many more possibilities for getting help (as long as you internet connection is reliable!).

19. Building resilience and emotional strength. Having counselling can provide building blocks of resilience and coping for the future. You will hope to gain better self-awareness; improved emotional intelligence; problem solving skills and a far greater understanding of the self. These benefits will ripple into your life and all your relationships.

20. Look back to see how far you have come. Change may not be as fast as you would like. Only when you look back, might you appreciate the journey. Change is not always comfortable but can bring about new beginnings and fresh, more productive ways of living.

by Harriet Frew on October 27th, 2017

​You have the deluxe, multi-speed blender that zips you up a nutritious green smoothie every single morning without fail. Spirulina, quinoa, spinach, kale, coconut oil, blueberries, sweet potato and avocado are just a few of the wholesome foods loading your supermarket trolley on the weekly shop. Of course, you spiralise everything these days. You wonder how you ever managed before this marvellous invention came along. It means you can safely substitute all those deadly carbs for wholesome, healthy vegetables at every meal. And don’t even mention sugar; the devil incarnate; you have been trying to stay clear of this poison for a good few months now. As you sip coconut water and nibble on pumpkin seeds, you glance at your kitchen shelf and admire the row of gorgeous cookery books lining it that support and inspire your daily eating plans.

It’s been a few months now since you started out on the whole clean programme. It had begun after receiving a cookery book on your birthday. The book was advocating the no-sugar; nutrient dense; wholesome living approach. What's not to love? And, initially, you felt significant health benefits. Never had your skin been so clear or your hair so silky and shiny. You lost some weight almost effortlessly just by altering your food choices and people complimented you on your glowing health. You felt you had more energy than you ever had before.

But what started out as a self-improving, life-enhancing programme seems to have become rather all encompassing. You are actually not feeling quite so energetic and full of beans as you did in those first few months and you are not quite sure why. You are also beginning to wonder if this whole eating thing has become a bit of an obsession. All the time and focus of your life now seems to be about food, and at the expense of other things.

8 warning signs that your clean eating may be becoming extreme (and then not so healthy after all)

1. You cannot stop thinking about food for one single minute. You find that eating clean has taken over your life to the point that it has become the pinnacle of all your priorities. Buying, planning, preparing, logging, eating, calculating, dreaming, and never stopping thinking about food all day long. You have a niggling feeling that it has slightly taken disproportionately.

2. The thought of eating out at a restaurant brings you out in hives. You feel sick in the stomach at the prospect of someone else preparing your food and the possible unclean contaminates that might enter it. You want to have complete control and to ensure your eating stays pure and healthy. It means it has become very difficult to socialise and this bothers you.

3. You actively avoid any social occasion where ‘unclean food’ might be served or expected to be eaten. This means that you are becoming more of a recluse and you are withdrawing from social events, that in the past, you would have enjoyed freely and spontaneously. It seems that somehow the fun and pleasure has disappeared and it is harder to live in the moment.

4. You have noticed that your eating has become more ordered and routine is a priority. It feels increasingly important to eat at specific times and to adhere to these plans meticulously. Otherwise, you feel strangely uneasy and as though you have lost control.

5. Eating food that you deem to be ‘unclean’ brings on mass feelings of guilt. You kind of sense that this guilt is slightly out of proportion, but it doesn’t take away the strength of the feeling. The guilt can be completely unbearable and all encompassing. You feel distressed just thinking about it.

6. Although you don’t like to admit it, sometimes you have uncontrollable urges to gorge on all the foods that you are trying to avoid. You may or may not have acted on this. You are completely confused by this desire and just admitting it brings on feelings of self-loathing and shame.

7. You feel much more aware of your body size and thoughts about your weight are often close by. Trying to improve your body shape feels important and necessary. You notice that you are increasingly critical of your body, even when you are eating ‘well’. The only way to keep self-esteem intact is by rigorously following your rules.

8. You are aware of being obsessed with monitoring other people’s eating habits, particularly those of celebrities; health gurus or models. You regularly check out available food diaries on-line, and then compare these with your own. Social media offers this kind of fodder in abundance and you can while away hours looking at this material without noticing the time skipping by. Viewing it doesn’t leave you feeling any better about yourself and the self-comparisons run you down.

If you recognise that your eating clean has become an obsession that has taken over your life, you may be suffering from an eating disorder. If this is impacting your life and affecting your health; relationships; work and social life, then you might want to think about getting more support through counselling.

10 lessons 10 tips 10 ways therapy can help 10 ways 12 days of christmas 20 ways to stop bingeing now 3 steps 5 things to learn 5 ways to silence inner critic 5 ways Bingeing Christma Control ELLEUK ELLE Eating Disorder Eating problem Inside Out Louise Chunn Managing emotions New Year Perfectionism Sleep Spring about counsellors action all or nothing anorexia nervosa anorexia anxiety eating anxiety assertiveness assertive beach body beautiful people behaviours being authentic bikini body plan bikini body binge eating disorder binge eating bingeeating bite by bite body dysmorphia body image workbook body image boost self-esteem buimia bulimia nervosa bulimia cake can counselling help caring what others think cbt challenging negative thoughts change children christmas clean eating cognitive behaviour therapy comfort eating comparing self to others comparions comparisons compulsive eating compulsive exercise confidence conflict about body size connection contribution counselling criticism deception developing awareness developing healthy relationship with food dieting disordered eating does self help work early experiences eating disorders eating when hungry eatingdisorder eating embracing change emotional eating emotions envy evening eating exhaustion expectations feelings food obsession food freedom with food friendship fulfilment fun geneen roth giving up dieting giving guilt habit happiness healthy eating healthy food healthy weight helpful help how counselling can change your life how to stop binge eating how to stop bingeing how to stop emotional eating how to stop overeating hunger identity improve body image improving body image inferior insulin iphone is your weight your worth janet treasure jealousy joy judgement kind to body letting go lies listen to body loneliness lose control around food lose weight losing control food love body low self-esteem male body image manipulation media meeting your needs men and eating disorders mental health mind body connection mindful eating mindfulness mirror motivation ninja warrior not dieting obesity obsession with food obsession on eating orthorexia over-eating over-exercise overcoming fear overeating parenting people pleasing pixar film pleasure poor body image positive preoccupation with food problem psychological approach reading about eating disorders reading recovery relapse relationships resolutions restriction rest role model root of problem rules about eating rules around eating sabotage saying no secret eating self awareness self conscious self esteem self help books self-acceptance self-awareness self-awarness self-care self-compassion self-confidence self-criticism self-esteem self-help book self-help self-kindness self-loathing self-love self-worth selfcare shoulds social anxiety social eating social media and body image social media stop binge eating stop bingeing stop dieting stopping dieting stress success summer support surviving Christmas susie orbach tablet television therapy things you didn't know thinking about food thinking styles thinking thinner self thin thoughts about food thoughts tired to my client who is struggling tv and body image ulrike schmidt undereating unkind to self values value weighing scales weight conflict weight loss weight wellbeing what is counselling what is therapy when food is love when therapy is hard work
No more diets and deprivation. Enjoy food whilst looking good and feeling great about your body shape.