I feel as though there are two major opposing forces in the health and wellness world right now: diet mentality versus intuitive eating. One person is telling you to go Paleo or do Whole30 and the other is telling you to "simply" listen to your body. There are too many dietary theories out there and I'm so over feeling like there is a right and wrong way to eat. Who's with me?
The truth is (even if you are an intuitive eater) you are still in a diet mentality if you think there is actually a right and wrong way to eat. If you have a real medical issue that needs regulated by the food you eat, obviously there is a clear answer as to what you should and should not eliminate in order to regulate your health. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that everyone needs to be eating gluten-free or dairy-free. With all these choices, it starts to become overwhelming, especially if you are struggling with restrictive eating or binge eating.
When you struggle with an eating disorder such as restricting and bingeing, you need to address the mentality you have around food (also, body image, but that is for another post). You have to stop looking at food as being "good" or "bad." When you restrict yourself from eating the bad foods, you start going absolutely crazy around food (trust me, I know from experience). You tell yourself you're not going to eat any sweets until the weekend and all of the sudden you find yourself eating a sleeve of cookies on a Tuesday night. You feel crappy. You feel guilty. You feel disgusted. You are full of shame and the binge continues. The next day, you wake up remembering the binge episode you had so you RESTRICT hardcore all day thinking it will make up for what you did the night before. This works out great when you are at work but when you come home, the binge happens again. Why? Because all day you were depriving your body by RESTRICTING it from what it actually wants and needs. Let's be honest, you were probably restricting to the point where your body goes into starvation mode and starts wanting ALL THE FOOD. This is often called having a lack of "will power" but it is actually your body's physiological response to restrictive eating.
Instead of trying diet after diet or restricting yourself to the point where you are missing out on life, try listening to your body. No diet book or article can tell you how you feel after eating certain foods. Notice how you feel after eating gluten or dairy. Do you feel bloated and fatigued or light and energetic? How do you feel when you eat animal protein in the morning or in the middle of the day? Do you think eliminating beans or grains could help with your digestive issues? If you want to get really serious, you can eliminate all of the common food allergens and slowly add them back in after about 3-4 weeks. Play around with portion sizes and STOP counting everything. One day you might eat more for lunch or you might need a snack after dinner (yes, it is okay to eat past 7pm). On other days, you might not be as hungry so you just graze all day.
The truth is, intuitive eating is a hard transition. It is SO hard to turn off the diet mentality and fully trust and love your body. It IS possible, though. What will help you completely abandon the diet mentality you are carrying with you? What will help you address your binge eating or your restrictive habits? First, admit to yourself that you are struggling with this and admit that you need help. Help might mean telling a close friend or family member so that you do not feel alone. Help might mean reaching out to a professional. Whatever it is for you, I encourage you to take that next step so you can stop dieting and start living your life free of food anxiety.
Life is too short to be constantly worrying about your food choices. If help is what you need, contact me here.
Have a good week, loves.
With love and peace,