Have you ever had ‘eating days’? You do everything perfectly all week, but then totally lose it on a particular day. All week you plan what you are going to stuff yourself with (that’s what it’s all about). You see your ‘eating day’ as something you’ve earned. You see fast food as something you’ve missed out on, and therefore you eat as much as you like. Never mind that it makes you feel unwell. You want to stuff yourself with what you’ve planned for and been craving. The problem is that this eating behaviour is difficult to stop. Bans in different forms create anxiety around something you’ve ‘missed out on’, and, when a chance presents itself, you go for it. Usually without being able to stop in time, and without really stopping to think. You just eat and eat.

Are you suffering from FOMO? Fear of missing out? That is the anxiety about missing out on the fun opportunity to eat what you have been denying yourself for so long.

The thinking goes something like this: ‘Hmm, a new week is about to start, I just have to take the opportunity to stuff myself with food at that party we’re going to. It’s on Saturday, and I won’t get another opportunity that weekend, because on Sunday we’re going to the children’s football match/dance show.

The pattern is that we don’t want to miss any food opportunity that comes along. We want to ‘make the most of’ every food opportunity we come across. Oh! A new restaurant I’ve never tried – I heard they have the most delicious dessert. Oh! Of course I need to give my colleague a good send-off. Oh! Of course we need to celebrate Valentine’s Day/Shrove Tuesday/Mothering Sunday. Oh! It’s summer! Let’s throw caution to the winds! Or the most common of them all: all inclusive holidaysI’ve paid my money, so I’m going to make the most of it!

I understand the feeling and I understand the reaction. It’s OK to have that occasional celebratory cake or the ice cream at the restaurant now and then, but when the behaviour deteriorates and you are permanently feeling anxious about all the missed opportunities, then it’s time to do something about it. The problem is that if you look for missed food opportunities, you will always find them. Oh! Everyone except me orders pizza, while I have to eat my dry chicken … That’s just one example. Or that you feel sorry for yourself when you eat out with others, when everyone else keeps eating nonstop, making you feel left out. That’s also a version of FOMO. Or this: My new life starts on Monday, so I must make the most of today.

FOMO is a choice  it’s about how you interpret the situation … and make active choices. You can choose to not feel left out. You can do the opposite – pat yourself on your back, because you won’t let the situation dictate your food choices. You are in control of your food situation, not the other way around.

Focus on what you can have instead of what you are missing out on.Suddenly you will enjoy the situation – what you see, what you experience, what you feel, without adding food to the equation.

Ask yourself these questions: Am I hungry? Is it worth it? If I go without now, can I get hold of this food later? (The answer is probably yes!)

My best piece of advice regarding FOMO? Practise, practise, practise. It’s the only way to improve. Take a moment, observe the situation and your reactions. You can change your behaviour if you stop and think things through.