IE: Make Peace with Food

Posted by Jennifer Campoli on May 18th, 2010
Filed under intuitive eating, Motivation | No Comments »

Afternoon friends!

I'm coming live to you today from the beautiful Boston Public Library. This is such a beautiful place to work, I've come to realize. I'm in the reading room which looks just like the library rooms you see in movies. The small green lamps, books lining the wall, a ceiling that reaches 50 feet in a dome above us and absolutely NO TALKING! :) It's perfect for today but not everyday if you ask me. I need to be able to drink my water and chat if I need to.

So, the last time we talked intuitive eating, I left you with principle 2: Honor your Hunger. Today I want to move to principle 3, the principle that by far had the greatest impact on my thinking and my relationship with food.

Principle 3: Make Peace with Food

"Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can't or shouldn't have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings, and, often, bingeing. When you actually 'give in' to your forbidden foods, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating and overwhelming guilt."

Giving myself unconditional permission to eat. Huh. An idea that I didn't know, hadn't thought of and would never consider. That was me before feeling tired, before spending so many years depriving myself and before having the desire to eat intuitively.

The thought of looking at food as just food, not calories, grams, carbs, fat, protein, good or bad felt so forbidden. It felt so unnatural to me. But if there was anything I wanted in my life it was the ability to just eat well, live well and be well. I knew that everything would start for me with this principle.

The book goes in to much depth about how restriction creates a constant battle in your mind: how to resist, how to not eat this, how to ignore what your body is asking for. Ultimately this creates quite the paradox. When you tell a child not to play with the 5 toys on the ground, what do you think they will do when you leave? Even if there are 10 brand new toys on the other side of the room, the child will go straight for those glorious five "forbidden" toys. The same goes for food friends. If you decide a particular food or group of foods is off limits, say hello to cravings, desire, and a need for only what you restrict. Ever tried the to eat a strictly low carb diet? How beautiful did a loaf of bread look to you then? :) Tried the cabbage soup diet? How much did you dream of strawberries!

(I am very embarrassed to admit that I most certainly tried the cabbage soup diet and it was pathetic and dreadful all at the same time!)

On a side note I think it is important to mention that this view of restriction does not apply to individuals who decide for reasons that speak to their beliefs. If you are a vegetarian, you come from a very different place when you decide not to eat meat. This decision is not about deprivation or restriction. It is about a belief system that I hope you value in a way that makes the decision quite simple!

Very shortly after my life of food restriction began, I fell victim to something that the book entitles rebound eating. It came in all forms for me. Whether it was pure binge eating once the bagel was within reach or "Last Supper Eating" when tomorrow was the starting day of a new diet. My days and weeks had become one giant cycle of restriction followed by rebound eating followed by guilt. Repeat. Very similar to the Dieter's Dilemma that I discussed last week.

After rereading this chapter nearly five times, a concept that is so simple finally settled into my mind. Guilt and deprivation are two emotions that many dieters experience. The two work like a seesaw, in an opposing manner. The book calls this the Seesaw Syndrome. When you restrict food that you may enjoy, the deprivation side of the seesaw is higher and the guilt side is lower. You feel in control and there is no guilt because you aren't eating your forbidden foods. Fast forward and you are in a tug-of-war: You break a rule and eat. Guilt rises and deprivation lowers. This shift continues until you are full of guilt for not following your rules, deprivation is gone. Guilt is on the top of the seesaw now. And so we begin again.

I knew I had to change. I knew I wanted to change. I wanted so badly to be the person in the book who could view a piece of chocolate the same way as a peach. I wanted to see french fries the same way I saw a baked potato. I wanted to eat what I truly wanted. I wanted to let go of "good" and "bad" foods. I wanted food to be unconditional.

I was also flooded with fear about how to do this. How to start, how to begin, how to not gain 500 pounds in the process? The words in the book comforted me everyday and I started simply.

1. I started to pay attention to foods that appealed to me and I made a list of them.

2. I put a check by foods that I actually eat and I circled food that I restrict.

3. I gave myself permission to eat one forbidden food from my list and I went to the store and bought it immediately. On my first day this was cereal with milk. I couldn't remember the last time I had enjoyed cereal with milk.

4. I checked in with myself often. I asked myself whether the food tasted as good as I had thought. If I said yes, then I would continue to eat it the next day. Or I would move on if I felt satisfied.

5. I kept new foods well stocked in the fridge and pantry. Not because I would allow myself to sit and eat all day long, but because I needed to know that it was there. I needed to know in the back of my mind that the food was there if I wanted it.

6. I started to journal. I wrote down how I felt before meals, what foods I was thinking about and how I felt afterward. I wouldn't write down what I ate but sometimes I would write about new foods to try.

This was a very very very slow process friends. I messed up all the time. My mind would go back and forth, sometimes panicking with what to do at my next meal. But ever so slowly my mindset shifted. I took on new beliefs. I took on new ideas of food.

I finally started to make peace with food.

So, share with me friends! I want to hear your stories about how you have come to struggle with food, come to love food or even come to make peace with food. The more we can share, the more we can learn!

No related posts.

Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge