Busting out of a bad relationship
Do you suffer from food guilt?
Did you over indulge on chocolate and now need a quick fix to get you back on track?
What if I told you that there was a way for you to never diet again?
What if I told you that it was possible to do away with food guilt and the need to repent for your food sins once and for all?
Well today is your lucky day!
In my lifetime, I have been on more diets and restricted myself from more foods than I have eaten freely. If I was in a dieting relationship with food, I was always faithful, well almost always faithful. I would inevitably reach a point where I was unable to resist the temptations around me and I would cheat. Anyone that has any experience of being a cheater, knows that it comes with a swift dose of guilt, followed by shame, which often leads to disappointment and disgust in oneself for a lack of control, then self-hatred… can you can see where I’m going with this?
I call this the dieter’s rollercoaster, a series of repetitious events that become all too familiar in the life of a dieter. The more often you fall victim to this cycle, the faster you move through each stage and the faster you end up at the self-loathing. It’s horrid to live through, but I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way.
When I came out about the eating disorder I had, recovery led me to a point where I understood I could never diet again. You see dieting had become my addiction. I was addicted to the highs of weight loss, the euphoric feeling of success that came with a reduction in the numbers on the scale, the satisfaction of my clothes growing looser and the approving glances and comments from others that confirmed to me that I was looking good, a growing sense that the less I was, the more I was.
What I came to understand in recovery was that restriction always led to overeating. For some of you, this over eating is a simple case of over-indulgence, for others- like myself, it leads to binge eating. Can you think of a time when you were on a diet where you didn’t end up at a point where you gave in to your cravings because you couldn’t resist any longer? If this has never happened to you, you’re one of the lucky ones, but if it is your experience, rest assured, you’re completely normal!
Many of us blame our willpower for this lack of strength, but in reality, the blame is entirely on restrictive diets. An incredibly interesting study I read about was one by Ancel Keys, a research scientist, who conducted the Minnesota Starvation Experiment from November of 1944 to December of 1945. This study was set up primarily to discover the effects of semi-starvation and to test rehabilitation strategies, to help support the huge number of famine victims spread across Europe and Asia as a result of the war. Of the 400 men who volunteered, the 36 fittest, healthiest and most mentally stable were selected to participate. The subjects were all white males ranging in age from 22 to 33 years of age. For the first 12 weeks the men ate 3,200 calories of food each day, for the 6 months that followed- the starvation period, each participant’s diet was reduced to approximately 1,560 calories a day, with their foods typifying the diets of Europeans towards the end of the war.
During the starvation period, the men were fed 2 meals a day. It was reported that subjects became anxious, impatient, moody, self-critical as well as developing distorted body image. Food became the main topic of conversation, with the men collecting recipes and replacing pin ups of women with pin ups of food. Many were consumed with constant thoughts of food, with some bingeing followed by extreme anxiety that led to purging. These men started out completely psychologically stable, with the only thing having changed being the amount of food they were consuming. The effects of starvation mirroring many of the symptoms of disordered eating. If you’re interested in reading this study in full, I encourage you to do so: Link . It was fascinating to relate to so much of what the men experienced all due to restriction, and I conclude, that restriction leads to bingeing which leads to guilt, which leads to anxiety, so on and so on.
As someone who has always been incredibly weight conscious, vowing to never diet again was one of the scariest, yet best things I’ve ever done. The process of undoing all of the teachings of the diet industry is a lengthy one. I still have days where I struggle with over-eating, but the difference is that I’ve done away with the guilt. I can officially say I am no longer a cheater, because food and I are now in an open relationship, and I swapped its intensity for a better relationship with my body.
My body, who I have battled against for so long, actually knows what it’s doing. If I listen to it, it tells me when I’ve had enough, when I’ve eaten something that doesn’t make me feel good and I learn and move forward accordingly. I eat what I want. Nothing is off limits. My days of restriction are behind me. My greatest fear was that this way of eating would mean I would binge uncontrollably, but instead, when things weren’t off limits, I found I didn’t want them as much as when they weren’t allowed. It’s the old chestnut; we only really want what we can’t have.
Becoming future focused as opposed to spending time dwelling on what I’d just eaten, also helped create change for me. When I switched my thinking from ‘I feel so crap, why did I just eat that?’ to ‘what can I do next time to help avoid this feeling?’, I found a gentler place to exist.
I could go on and on and I feel I’ve only just scratched the surface, but let’s leave more for next time.
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