When was the last time you thought to yourself that if you just had more willpower and control everything would be fine?
Maybe it takes everything in you to not eat an entire sleeve of Oreos in one sitting. Maybe you're thoughts are consumed by thoughts of what you should and shouldn't be eating.
Typically what happens is you'll be going along your merry way, eating the "good" foods on your list when something happens. You get stressed, or sad, or anxious so you go straight to the freezer and start binge-eating ice cream out of the carton while standing up.
When you realize that you've broken your diet, you feel monumental amounts of shame and guilt, so you decide to keep eating because you'll just "start over again tomorrow."
You tell yourself that you'll use all your willpower to make sure that this doesn't happen again. You'll follow your diet perfectly, and everything will be great. You'll exhibit the most epic self-control anyone has ever seen.
Except..., it never really goes down like that does it?
I hate to break this to you..., but there is just no amount of willpower or self-control that will stop this from happening again.
As you might know from experience, the more tightly you grip on to control in one direction, the further and faster you're going to swing the other way eventually. This is the restrict-binge cycle.
It's the classic pendulum swing of the typical dieter. The more you try to stop the binge eating with restriction, the more the bingeing keeps happening.
It might sound counter-intuitive, but you have to let go of the idea of controlling yourself through willpower. To help you come out of this pattern, imagine not trying to follow your diet perfectly and just trying to eat normally.
Think of the most normal, rational eater you know.
The type of person who eats an appropriate amount of food for their body type, seems to eat whatever they want, stops when they are full and does not at all seem the slightest bit controlled by food.
You know the type...
The person who can eat a couple of tacos and then be done with it.
Who can have one cookie and feel satisfied.
Who's been eating a little crappy for a couple of weeks and can very casually make healthier choices without being like "I am a disgusting fat pig. I need to go on a diet."
That person is a normal eater. What is the difference between you and them?
What are they doing that you're not doing? A normal eater isn’t fighting the urge to binge on foods all day, so it's not willpower. And more specifically, how are they thinking that you're not thinking?
Normal eaters think very differently from those who are obsessed with food (i.e. binge eaters, dieters, or eating disorders).
They don’t think if I eat this way, “I am okay” but if I eat that way, “I am absolutely, definitely NOT okay.” They don't think they've been good or bad because of what they eat.
They don’t have those restraints or thoughts. They are not that emotional about food.
They are not full of willpower. Eating an entire tub of ice cream in one sitting would kind of make them sick, so they have no urge to do that. It's not self-control.
People often tell me I am so disciplined around food, to which my response is always the same. It has nothing to do with discipline.
I don’t try to fight myself from having cookie's if I want cookie's. I care about feeling good physically, so I use that lens to choose whether or not to eat one.
My focus is not on being thin so food is about nourishment and enjoyment, not gaining or losing weight.
I don't equate morality to my food choices so I don't feel superior when I have salad or inferior if I have Taco Bell.
That difference in thought is fundamental to having freedom around food.
It all boils down to mindset, how you perceive food, yourself and your body.
I used to be so obsessed with being skinny so everything I ate was either helping or hurting the goal of the perfect body. In order to loosen the grips on food, I had to be less attached to the way I looked.
The most common reason people go on a diet or try to restrict what they are eating is because they are concerned with the way their body looks. Period.
So if you are obsessed with food, try to shift your context for it. Food has to become less of a function for being fat or thin and more about nourishing your body to create the life and health you want.
Once I started to shift how I felt about my physical appearance (detaching my worth from my weight), the less I felt the need to control the food I ate thus controlling the size I was.
In essence, I had to stop thinking that having the perfect body meant having the perfect life. It wasn't until I became more confident in my skin and realized that my self-worth had nothing to do with my size, that I was no longer obsessed with food.
If you are in the middle of an effed-up relationship with food, then start looking at the relationship you have with yourself and your body.
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