The guilt and anxiety of the Easter bunny

Easter is over, and the chocolate eggs and bunnies are no more - just a pile of scrunched-up foil and crumpled cardboard. But perhaps, for you, that chocolate indulgence has left behind feelings of guilt, anxiety, and even shame. Perhaps you meant to stay strong-willed, were determined not to over-indulge, you were going to be sensible, not eat all the chocolate... but really, when it’s all there in front of you, it’s not so easy.

Perhaps you can empathise with one online blogger who says that Easter has been “reduced to nothing more than large-corporations exploiting a holiday and encouraging the nation to consume huge amounts of chocolate”. “But it’s OK to gorge on chocolate!”, we tell ourselves, “they’re shaped like eggs and it’s Easter! Treat yourself!”.

So, perhaps all those Easter treats were just too tempting, and it can be hard to stop at just one. The availability of cheap tasty treats can be a guaranteed trigger for bingeing. Binge eating is an issue for many people; the planning, the buying, the indulging, the physical feelings of fullness, and then comes the physical discomfort, nausea maybe, then guilt, self-hate, and feelings of helplessness. Those feelings that the food is in control of you. It was Easter, everybody was eating! Everybody was buying chocolate, people were even buying it for you, it would be rude not to... and you need to eat it, you have to eat it. But let’s be honest here, it's not just bingeing at Easter.

That need, that compulsion to eat - it’s all year round, it can just be worse at times like Easter and Christmas when eating is part of the festival... or that’s how it feels. When the compulsion, that physical and emotional need, arises, you buy the food you crave, the comfort foods, the high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt foods. You will have your preferred binge foods and you will buy them, probably secretly, then you will hide them away and you will eat them in secret. In secret and alone because it feels wrong and shameful, but it helps, and you need to do it. You eat alone, out of control, until you’re done, until you’re so full that you cannot eat another bite. You finish up exhausted, ill and hating yourself.

It doesn’t have to be that way...

Binge eating is, like all eating disorders, a way of coping with life when everything begins to feel too much. Too much stress, too much anxiety, too much pressure, too much unhappiness. Sometimes it feels like it’s the only way you can cope. You may not even understand why you do it - it is just a compulsion that you can’t control. Dieting doesn’t help, vomiting doesn’t help, and purging doesn’t help – they just make it worse. Therapy, however, can help.

Counselling for eating disorders

Counselling can help you to find new ways to cope. It will help you to look at what else is going on in your life, what is behind the binges, what triggers them... what needs are you trying to answer? Of course, it’s not a straightforward process - if you knew the answers you wouldn’t be bingeing! Sometimes bingeing can be a reaction to the stress that is here and now in your life, things you can’t control, things that are making you deeply miserable. Sometimes these issues can be made worse by problems from the past, problems, traumas, and issues from long ago that may be hidden so deep that you are unaware of them. They may be forgotten in the mists of time, but they are still there, below the surface and affecting how you live your life.

Counselling can help you to address your problems, both the here and now and the issues from the past. Counselling can help you to find ways to deal effectively with your feelings and emotions, and work out ways to feel comfortable around food (including chocolate bunnies!). Good therapy will help you to understand why and give you the tools and strategies to get back control. It will help you to manage the social situations and relationships that might be causing you stress and anxiety, it will help you to say “no” to food when you don’t want it.

In addition to counselling, sound nutritional advice and information will allow you to understand the physical effects that food has on your body, on your thinking and your moods. Knowing how food affects every part of you can be really useful and will help you to achieve a healthy style of eating that gives your body all that it needs. And yes, it will include some of that Easter chocolate, because healthy, balanced eating means something of everything, just not too much!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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