I’ve mentioned before how I’m recovering from self diagnosed ‘all or nothing’ eating syndrome. I would be really super strict and soon would follow a day or month or season of reckless ‘we’ll I’ve screwed that up, may as well eat the house now too’ eating.
Depending on how long my restrictive eating would last the opposite extreme would usually follow for the same amount of time. All the while beating myself up for ‘failing’ and having no control. So I recently decided to commit to adding in more balance to my life and finally put an end to this yoyo. I want to follow a healthy lifestyle instead of a series of restrictive then out of control eating.
At the time I really didn’t think I was being restrictive. I just thought I was being really healthy. But what I didn’t admit to myself was that it was really stressful. My next meal was constantly on my mind and I usually ate more then needed because I didn’t always feel satisfied.
So just because I’ve decided to be more balanced doesn’t mean all is well now and I’m totally balanced. No way! It’s a daily practise and commitment to myself. It was really uncomfortable letting go of striving for perfectionism. Now, if I want an ice cream I still feel like I should eat it alone so no one will see me and judge me. And the thought ‘ah you’ve ruined it, an ice cream Jess?! Well now you’re fat. May as we’ll let yourself go’ still creeps in every now and then. I sound like a crazy person! But the most crazy part is that I use to 100% buy into these beliefs.
I said when I first had this revelation that I would have one treat a week. A designated blow out – permission to enjoy something not so healthy. And yes I did that for a while but it still felt restrictive and controlled and if something else was offered after I’d already indulged that week I would feel stressed. Even if I felt good about eating something it would still be stressful because I was breaking my own rules. So I’ve decided to ditch that mentality now too. I feel like it was a good way to break the all or nothing-ness but I feel like I need a little more freedom now to trust myself.
Now I’m working on a middle ground. As well as discovering what my triggers are for overeating I now remember these four options when I want to eat something not so healthy. Let’s say you are at someone’s birthday and you’re offered a piece of chocolate cake:
WORST: Eat the chocolate cake and feel horribly guilty and stressed about it. Keep thinking about it for days.
BAD: Don’t eat the chocolate cake and feel really stressed and deprived because you really want it.
BETTER: Eat the chocolate cake and enjoy every bite, feel satisfied and 100% happy with your decision.
BEST: Don’t eat the chocolate cake and feel 100% happy with your decision.
As you can see the worst thing you can do is eat something and then stress about it for a long time after. The cortisol released from stress can slow your metabolism, impair your digestion and raise your blood sugar levels. It’s not worth it! So if you feel good about that cake, eat it too. If you do feel guilty ask yourself why? Is it going to ruin your perfect diet? If it is, that perfect diet is probably not going to work for you.
Not indulging cravings or allowing yourself some soul food every now and then will start a vicious-cycle of forced resistance that eventually leads to binges on food that won’t satisfy anyway. It’s so much better to eat one piece of cake and enjoy every mouthful, than to eat the whole cake later that night in pity and self loathing for the awful thing you have done.
Let’s be kind to ourselves. Remember one piece of cake won’t suddenly make you overweight. Your body knows how to handle it. Sit, eat it mindfully and appreciate every bite.