“The more eating is expected, allowed, consistent, and rule free, the more your body and mind will be allowed to calm down about it.”
This is a quote by Caroline Dooner, author of The F*ck It Diet , which, if you haven’t read, I highly recommend you grab a copy. Or, if you’re like me, download it on Audible. It’ll shake up everything you’ve ever been taught about eating, losing weight, dieting, etc, and why we’ve been going about it all wrong.
You aren’t the problem; restriction is the problem
You think the problem is you- you need more willpower, more discipline, or maybe more negative self-talk to motivate you, right?
Nope, nope, nope. Restriction, dieting, and rules will only work against you and keep you feeling out of control, obsessing over every bite you take, and slow your metabolism.
You see, when you restrict, you put your body in a type of famine, which means that it’s always longing for more food. You, like the rest of society, has come to view this as a shortcoming, when in reality, it’s really your body’s amazing survival skills trying to protect you.
And yes, this even applies to those who binge regularly, because what follows a binge for most people?
Restriction is not something we master. In fact, the more we do it, the harder it becomes, and the more intensely our bodies fight back with cravings and weight gain; often gaining back more weight with each diet.
The body is incredibly smart
The more diets you try, the smarter your body becomes. So, even when you were able to lose weight all those times before, after each diet you’ll probably notice that it gets harder and harder. This is because the body is preventing it.
Restriction feels threatening to your body’s survival so, in an effort to hang onto it’s fat storage, it starts to use different mechanisms to operate on less fuel. It will begin to slow your metabolism and different body processes, as well as burn muscle as fuel.
Throw in the mental restriction that diets cause, and it’s no wonder you feel out of control around food or have strong cravings. Just as powerful as our bodies respond to restriction, so does our mind.
Freedom lies in allowance
Allowing yourself to eat the foods you love, building them in at a pace and in amount that feels safe, on a regular basis, allows you to do the work of habituating- neutralizing and normalizing these foods, and therefore stripping them of their power.
I know this may go against everything you ever heard, but let me ask you this- has restriction and dieting gotten you to the place you want to be? Personally, it only left me feeling even more out of control, perpetuating my disordered eating behaviors and thoughts.
It wasn’t until I slowly allowed pizza and desserts into my life that I was eventually able to feel okay around these foods, and change my relationship with them. I practiced eating them with other foods that felt safe, in a comfortable environment, when I wasn’t overly hungry.
Was it scary at first? Yes. Did it get easier over time? Yes. It can feel terrifying to start eating the foods that you’ve forbidden for so long, or the foods that you may associate with a binge or feel out of control, which is why it’s so important to go at your own pace.
As you read this, you’re may be thinking,
“If I start eating X, I’ll never stop.”
I understand this fear completely. It can feel scary to start eating “normal” foods, fearing you’ll lose control and not be able to stop eating. The truth is, you may feel a little out of control, this is part of the process, and even more reason to not keep restricting it.
For a little while after adding pizza back in, I wanted to eat it for every meal because I spent ten years avoiding it like the plague. However, the more I ate it, the easier it became, and the less I wanted it.
Think about it this way- if you eat pizza every day, for each meal, for the next week what do you think will happen? Pizza will likely lose some of its allure, right? Think you may not even want to eat it come day eight?
I can almost guarantee you’ll stop fantasizing about it all day, or feel the need to devour it once you get around it. And take it from someone who binged for years- that feels amazing and oh so liberating.
As we allow our forbidden foods back into our lives, we start to neutralize them. That means that all that crazy emotional power they have over us starts to fade, and we begin to feel more confident and in control while we’re eating them.
But, this can’t happen as long as certain foods are withheld, forbidden, restricted, or determined to be “bad.” Remember this- what you resist, persists.
“But won’t I gain weight?”
Maybe. Maybe not. To be honest, I don’t know what your weight is going to do. But what I DO know, is that continuing to restrict and fight your body will never get you where you want to be. Worse, it’ll likely keep moving you in the opposite direction.
For those who have restricted on and off for a long time, your body will need an adjustment or transition period, as it has to learn to not only trust that you’ll give it food consistently, but that you won’t put it through another famine.
During this process, your body will want to hang on to everything you give it at first, again, until it trusts that you won’t take it away. Only when your body is being fed adequately can it can achieve the weight where it feels healthiest, which might be different than what you *think* it should be.
But keep this in mind…. fighting against this will likely only keep you stuck.