Why changing your diet is never the answer to ‘handle’ your bulges.
I’ve binged, I’ve puked, and I’ve been on every possible diet that drives women clinically insane, mostly because I truly believed that the answer to one failed diet, was an even more restrictive, life-controlling, all-I-can-think-about-is-my-food-and-my-fat kind of diet.
What the hell, I’m gonna take this opportunity to name a few of my most out-of-control diets, just to commiserate if any of you out there are really feeling the *shittiest* right now.
- South Beach Diet
- The Grapefruit Diet
- The Cabbage Soup Diet
- Calorie Counting
- The Three Apples A Day Diet
- The Vegan Diet
- Only Raw
- Only Juice
- The Fat-Free Diet
- The Protein Power Diet
- The Alternate Day Fasting Diet
- The No Food After 5PM Diet
- The Fat Flush Diet
- 3 Hour Diet
AND wouldn’t you know it? Through all of these, I STILL managed to stay about 30 lbs overweight throughout most of my teen and college years.
Fifteen years later, I can pretty much guarantee that, “Changing the Diet” isn’t the answer. On the contrary, every time I relax my tightly clenched fist around food rules, and let go of my latest attempt to lose weight, I end up eating less food, and more importantly, thinking less food.
There are as many kinds of food plans as there are people eating them with success. A friend of mine recovered when she stopped eating diet foods. She said she’d been dieting all her life, and it had nearly killed her. These boundaries look different for everyone. For some people, it is about learning how to eat the cookie. For others, it is about learning how not to eat it. It’s only important to know which side of the equation you are on. Either way, the goal is the same: sane and guilt-free eating in sync with unconditional body love ( aka no body bashing).
You may fear that if you let go and start to enjoy food more than you already do, you’ll eat and eat and never stop. I think just the opposite is true. The more you enjoy eating, the more selective you will become. The more you eat with awareness, the more you’ll want to develop your appetite and not spoil satisfaction by overdoing it. Eating won’t go on endlessly when you are in touch with not wanting more food. True enjoyment depends on knowing when you are hungry and when you are full.
I still remember way back, the way I used to think was if I wasn’t full, then I must be hungry and probably should eat. Hunger was a dangerous state. If I allowed myself to get very hungry, I would surely overeat when I finally got the chance. The experience of a genuine appetite was always fraught with anxiety that I was about to go to hell. So I ate to avoid letting myself experience hunger in the hope it might keep me from binging. This meant I snacked constantly and never felt empty.
The way out of the trap is the only trusting your body and your appetite rather than trying to control it. Of course, your appetite is hooked in to other needs besides nourishment. Food is a source of comfort and relaxation. It’s a social medium. It obviously can fill a void of loneliness, distract you from worry and annoyance, or soothe a hurt– but only up to a point. There’s nothing wrong with this. The problem arises only if you keep eating after the food has given every bit of satisfaction it possibly can. If you can begin to notice that turning point, you begin to have some choice. And only when you address your real needs, your genuine appetite and trust your body, you can truly lean in to experience great food with a body you love to match, for life.
In the comments below, I would love to know which crazy diets have you been on? And this week’s challenge is to think in terms of nourishment rather than restriction and diet. The sooner you can switch your eating mentality to one of Nourishment instead of Restriction; you will already be setting yourself up to succeed.