Let’s talk about the vicious cycle of restriction and bingeing also known as….. dieting. Here is a super simple break down of what happens to body and mind when we are stuck in this cycle.
Leading up to:
- you’re exhausted
- you’ve had hours or days of restricting foods
- you’re triggered emotionally or are depleted of any emotional resources or physical energy from restricting
- you start to get a craving for a restricted food
- you may start with a different “healthier” food than what you are craving
- soon this leads to another type of food to fill the void
- eventually you give in and eat the food you’ve been craving all along and then continue with more foods
- you feel ashamed of yourself
- you feel guilty
- you attempt to cope by over exercising/purging/setting new food rules
What you *need* to do after a binge:
- forget the guilt and show yourself some compassion – what’s done is done and it is a part of the process. Try to let it go whatever way you can whether through deep breathing, a self-love meditation, a gentle walk around the block, getting lost in a book or TV show.
- have your next meal or snack as usual. Do not try to compensate and under eat or skip your next meal. This will only perpetuate the cycle.
How to stop the cycle:
- intuitive eating
Intuitive eating uses a blend of intuition and rational thinking to help you understand and listen to the needs of your body. You are allowed (and encouraged) to forget about food rules. There is no restriction in this lifestyle. When you stop restricting, you will not be consumed with thoughts of food every waking minute. You will also not have to feel guilty when you eat. Of course, this is a process that will take time. It can be hard to let go of food rules if you have been dieting for a long time. It may feel strange to “allow” yourself to eat the things that you have been witholding for so long. At first, you may overeat a little bit but as time goes on and you continue to explore the foods that you have been restricting, they will become less special. You will come to know what the right amount is for you and you will be able to consume what is satisfying for your body without bingeing.
Something wonderful occurred to me a couple of months ago after indulging in a most delicious “snack” and eating more than I intended.
My boyfriend and I ate an entire ball of burrata with the better half of a baguette. It was SO GOOD! My old self would have FREAKED OUT and felt guilty, yucky, and full of self-hate.
“But dairy and carbs are fattening!”
“I’m going to have to workout for hours to make up for this!”
“I better not eat at all tomorrow!”
But that day, I felt none of that. My intuitive-eating, self-love journey has brought me to a place where yes, I did eat more than I intended to but big deal. IT WAS SO GOOD! I loved it! And then I continued on with my evening and didn’t think about it again.
It’s hard to believe the amount of time and energy that being stuck in a diet mindset can take out of your life.
What is your strategy when stuck in the cycle of restricting and bingeing? Do you obsess over food and experience guilt when eating? How do you tackle the aftermath?