As we enter the holiday “food season” (extra food season), we’re exploring the issue of volume (how much we eat) in our therapy groups and individual sessions. For one person, volume eating might be needing to see or eat a large quantity of food. At the other end of the spectrum, volume might be scary for someone who might be a restrictor or have anorexia.
Consider how volume plays into your own relationship with food. Do you tend to want too much, or too little? Or perhaps you’re a grazer, not identifying a beginning, middle or end to a meal, but ultimately consuming a large amount of food over the day and night.
We never want someone to feel deprived in their recovery, because that’s what leads to disordered eating. That’s why for people with binge eating disorder, we may start by keeping the same volume they’ve been eating, but we replace some of their nutritionally deficient foods with nutritionally dense foods.
As you explore your relationship with food, and the role volume plays in that, you may start to spot volume issues in other areas of your life. For example, where do you want or have too much or too little in your relationships? Do you isolate and go without any support, or do you surround yourself with casual relationships that leave you feeling lonely?
What about the possessions you choose to be surrounded with? Do you feel abundance or scarcity? Are your things in in good shape and well taken care of, or falling apart and in disarray? Are you more attached to your things than you want to be?
We can watch reality TV shows about people’s relationships with their possessions, from compulsive hoarders to minimalists in tiny homes. Is your house the home you want it to be?
Are there volume issues in your calendar? Do you fill it with lots of activities versus giving yourself space and breathing room? Do the items on your calendar drain you or give you energy? What can you trim away?
The first step to addressing volume in your life is to be in awareness. Observe yourself and explore if this is something that’s a problem. By exploring and managing your volume issues, you can heal the part of you that needs a specific volume to be there.
When we work with clients on their food volume in the therapy process, often they are asked to measure their foods so that they know they’re getting adequate nutrition across the food groups, in proportions that are healthy for them.
Sometimes that’s done with a food scale, measuring cups and measuring spoons, portions of a plate or bowl, or sometimes in units (e.g., 1 piece of fruit, 8 nuts). Some food plans include foods that can be eaten in unlimited quantities, but that doesn’t work for everyone.
Once someone is eating in a healthy way, has processed the emotional issues, and their thought patterns have bubbled up to the surface, we can work through the process of mindful, gentle eating from a compassionate, self-loving perspective. As therapists we can share lots of ideas to support this process.
If you struggle with volume of food or in other areas of your life, there is help out there.