If you are a hardcore dieter, then you’re probably all too familiar with its troublemaking cousin, the inevitable binge. Whether this looks like stress eating after a long day at work, overeating every time you’re at happy hour, or having a massive ‘cheat day’ that makes you feel sick to your stomach, binges can come in many different forms.
So after becoming completely exhausted by this cycle, you’ve decided to try this whole “not dieting” thing.
But based on your previous experience, weren’t you already “not dieting” when you were having your cheat day or eating your feelings with a whole box of girl scout cookies? So how could the concept of a seemingly endless binge be the solution?
To get a better understanding of what’s going on here, we need to redefine what dieting is. Dieting is not exclusively about the type of food you put in your month, but rather the mindset through which you approach these foods. That’s why not everyone who consumes salads or vegetables are dieting or anyone who eats cake is on a binge.
Dieting is rooted in the way you think about food, attempting to manipulate the quantity or type without regard for your actual energy needs. Eventually, your survival instincts are bound to take over and you find yourself head first in a pantry raid.
Yes, you heard me correctly. These binges that result from food restriction are instinctual, meaning they are a natural reaction to prolonged body cue suppression and not an outcome of your lack of self-control or capacity to stick to a meal plan.
So when we offer our clients the opportunity to stop dieting, this is an intentional choice they get to make. The choice isn’t coming from a “screw it” mentality and the goal isn’t to just eat all the things.
Rather, letting go of restriction and allowing yourself to have your “forbidden foods” serves as means to reconnect with your body cues and innate food desires. And although it sounds like a dream come true, it actually takes a lot of hard work. This process looks like facing the fear that eating “bad foods” will lead to endless weight gain. It takes listening to what your body is communicating when it can be so much easier to numb out. It takes sitting in the difficult emotions that are rooted in years of negative self-talk and self-loathing. And it takes believing that you are worth all this energy and investment so that you can live the life you want.
And when you are willing to go there, the food becomes less of the focus. You don’t feel the need to eat the whole quart of ice cream because you’re able to identify, accommodate, and tolerate the frustration you feel after a hard day at work. You also know that you can have that ice cream anytime you want, and so you choose a method that you know will best meet the complexity of your needs. And when you wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and you notice negative comments about your thighs floating around in your head, you remind yourself that you’ve committed to not dieting, because you’re over feeling like you’re in a constant tail spin with food. You’d rather be present in your life for the hard stuff, the good stuff, and everything in between.