Everyone struggles sometimes with the foods they eat, the fitness goals they set for themselves, the balance they try to achieve to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
But some of us struggle every day, every moment even, with food playing a huge stressor role in our lives.
Honestly answer the following questions to determine if you need food freedom:
- Do you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t even have a particular food?
- When you experience intense cravings, do they often feel uncontrollable?
- Have you, in the past, or are you currently struggling with overeating/binge-eating?
- Do you experience overwhelming guilt after eating any particular food(s)?
If you can relate to any of the struggles mentioned above, I’m here to tell you that there’s a better way!
And it all begins with developing a healthy relationship with food.
You can’t develop a healthy relationship with food if you constantly declare war on your body or on the food that fuels it. I’ve learned the hard way–both through experiencing this myself and hearing from hundreds of clients–forbidding myself from eating specific foods actually initiates a rebound effect that triggers overeating!
Many physiological effects of food deprivation prove too true. Ultimately, women who live with forbidden food rules often end up obsessively thinking about food, overeating said food, feeling guilty and then repeating the cycle.
Over time, as I’ve learned to #dofitnessbetter, I’ve determined I don’t need a list of forbidden foods.
Most of the time, I fuel my body with whole foods that nourish and provide the vitamins and minerals I need. I focus on the 2 P’s (protein+produce). In addition, I watch for changes in my hunger, energy, and cravings and adjust my nutrition intake accordingly.
But regardless of my food choices, I do not see myself as a good or bad person based on what I’ve eaten. I’ve taken the morality out of my eating and for me, getting rid of forbidden foods has ended the “now or never” type of overeating that I fell prone to in the past.
Instead of making foods forbidden, I ask myself:
- Do I really like the taste of this food?
- Do I like how this food makes my body feel?
4 Reasons I Have No Forbidden Foods
- Having no forbidden foods ends feelings of deprivation. When you feel deprived of something, you begin to long for it. In order to control eating, many dieting women focus on rigid food rules that tell them what they can and can’t eat. When no foods get labeled forbidden, you naturally decrease cravings simply by ending feelings of deprivation.
- Having no forbidden foods decreases social stress and increases social enjoyment. Let’s be honest, following a diet and a list of forbidden foods can only last for so long. It may go along fine for awhile, but eventually you must attend an event or a social situation in which you violate your food rules. Social stress increases if you constantly worry about what you allow yourself to eat. Finally, two options usually remain. First, you focus so much on food rules that you forget to enjoy and celebrate the occasion. Or, second, just one bite of a forbidden food sends you in an all out tail spin. And once you break your restraint, an all-or-nothing binge-fest often follows.
- Having no forbidden foods overrides the “what-the-heck-effect.” If you evaluate your success or failures in terms of avoiding your forbidden foods for the day, you become more likely to fall into what many researchers describe as the “what-the-heck-effect.” Essentially, this is a restraint-overeating cycle that begins with a violation of your diet. Even just thinking you might “blow” your diet triggers the consumption of more food, regardless of your true hunger.
- Having no forbidden foods saves mental energy. You’ve got so many more important things to think about than your list of forbidden foods. If you fight food obsession in your mind regularly, getting rid of forbidden foods definitely helps. Research shows that trying to suppress food related thoughts actually only increases thinking about such foods.
The Forbidden Foods Cycle
Can you relate to the following scenario? You begin a new diet with new food restrictions. At some point–whether due to a social situation, emotional eating, cravings, or all out hunger–consumption of forbidden foods occurs. Consuming these forbidden foods triggers feelings of guilt and lack of control over food.
This guilt and uncontrolled eating makes it appear that the solution is to exert more control and add more to a growing list of forbidden foods. (Hint: this is NOT the solution!) So you tighten up the “reins,” and go back to your diet (Or another diet. Or another one.).
Women trapped in this forbidden food cycle often feel like once they start eating a particular food, they won’t be able to stop.
It’s also common to experience reactive eating when you find yourself trapped in this cycle. Once you eat a forbidden food, you feel as though you should “throw in the towel” and eat whatever you’d like to get it out of your system and then “start again tomorrow” back at the beginning of the cycle.
Psychological deprivation of food often triggers a rebound effect. Coincidentally, this ends up causing you to overeat many of the foods that you’ve forbidden.
Unfortunately, the more someone diets, the more likely she is to engage in binge and overeating. And thus, the cycle continues, over and over and over again.
If you experience anxiety every time you eat, especially when “forbidden foods” show up on the menu, you need food freedom.
Challenge: What foods do you currently forbid? How does eating one of your forbidden foods impact your mood or how you feel about yourself? Does it affect your eating for the rest of the day? How can you begin developing a healthier relationship with food?
P.S. It’s time that we change unproductive behaviors and DITCH the DIET once and for all!
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