Why Food Plans Won't Heal Overeating
Updated: Dec 6, 2018
There are many reasons why diets, fresh starts, and imposed structures don't work to heal our relationship with food. In fact, the desire to eat perfectly is a big piece of what keeps us caught in our struggles with food.
Going on a diet implies that there is a rigid set of rules that you must follow, and if you don't, then you've fallen off the diet.
Even going off track for one meal or one dish can have heavy mental implications since the mindset of being on a diet comes with the equally compelling mindset of being bad when you don't adhere to it strictly. You may think that cheating on your diet is no big deal, that you do allow yourself some flexibility and you don't feel too bad about it, but the nature of any plan is a list of rules, of yeses and noes, goods and bads, ons and offs. And when you're not on, you therefore must be off. Now I'm not saying that being intentional with the food you put in your mouth is a bad thing. I think we could all use a bit of awareness, thought, intention, and discernment into what we decide to eat in this world of fast-food, processed food-like things, enhanced stimulating snacks, 100 calorie diet packs, and isolated protein drinks. I do think there's a place to question what your food values are, and decide how you want to feel about certain discounted bakery sweets, or Halloween candy, or chips that never make you feel good.
However, deciding how you feel about certain foods and whether you want to eat them or not is very different than discounting your personal food preferences and appetite levels and instead relying on a diet plan to lead the way. Following something outside of your own intuition and awareness and connection will inevitably result in being off the diet at some point, simply because the plan didn't account for you as a human. In fact, most diets neglect to account for the human aspect of eating- our innate preference for stimulating foods, the strength of our habits, the natural ebbs and flows of life, and the way our appetite can increase as we lose weight. Most diets focus on one thing- weight loss, calories in, calories out. The problem is, we're not robots. "But if diets don't work, how am I supposed to lose weight?"
I know, I know. I can hear you thinking it. And it's a good question if weight loss is something you're focused on attaining. I don't pretend to say weight isn't important because I think we all deserve to be comfortable in our bodies, and more importantly, at peace with, and even proud of, our relationship with food and self. I have several answers to that question and I'll share them briefly. Before you focus on weight, the first thing is to end the pendulum swing of on-again, off-again dieting, or the diet/splurge/diet cycle. This is done by first letting go of the 'need' for weight loss, agreeing to put it aside for now, and ending the good and bad judgement aspect of that swing, which in turn works to end the overeating aspect. Next is to truly understand how food impacts you. How does it support you, how does it harm you? Where do you have control, where do you lose control? This is about understanding our human instincts, and how modern food hijacks these instincts and makes us feel totally out of control. Learning about food and the brain is both enlightening and empowering. After that, you start being mindful of your relationship with food- how things make you feel, what habits you have, and what your thoughts are surrounding food and your body. When you start to get curious over these things, you're able to become the watcher of your decisions and processes and you learn more about your relationship with food than you ever could when you are fully IN it. Next is to start discerning what your own personal food values are, which foods you want to eat, what your goals are, and how you can implement your personal values in a loving way.
And the result, is the inevitable weight balancing that happens when you're eating foods you enjoy, while feeling at peace, tuning into your inner wisdom, and eating in a way that makes you proud. Here you will find your natural weight. For many, after a period of binge eating or consistent overeating, this does mean weight loss. For other it means a change of body shape, and for others it means allowing some weight to come back on after years of intense restriction. The fact is, the perfection that is required in many diets is near impossible to maintain and leaves little room for flexibility and the natural ebbs and flow of life, hunger, desire and of course, birthday cake. This perfection creates a good/bad mentality, an on-again, off-again reality that harms our inner relationship with self and ultimately serves to distance ourselves from our true wisdom, intuition and power.
When it comes to food, the best thing we can do for ourselves, is to let go of the idea that something outside of us will bring us inner relief.
A peaceful mind around food comes from a willingness to reconnect with yourself, to know yourself, and to answer to your needs. It comes from being at one with yourself, letting go of the judgement and self-criticism, so you can make choices that serve you, out of love and awareness, and a desire to heal. When you're ready to find peace, I'd love to talk. Book a free Discovery Call here.