Today I wanted to bust a myth that you need to restrict certain foods or deprive yourself in order to get through your emotional eating. This is not the case. And I would actually say this is super detrimental to actually resolving your emotional eating. Depriving and restricting yourself in order to get healthy is a diet mentality. It is a typical of so many diets.
If you’re here, you’ve probably been on one of those diets where they say to cut calories, to cut out proteins or fats or carbohydrates. To restrict or deprive yourself in some way. In our society, when we think about getting healthier we think restriction. To give up those foods that we love. This is the old way of thinking.
This is restrictive and it’s not helpful for an emotional eater. It actually makes you go towards those foods even more.
I see this all the time when I’m talking to new or potential clients. They brace themselves thinking they need to cut out certain foods. That it’s going to be uncomfortable. That is not the case. It’s important to keep those foods in and to create a relationship with them. Keeping these foods in your life is important.
The reason is that whenever you have been on a diet (I have been on so many diets) you swing from one extreme to the other. You’re “good” – you restrict, you deprive, you get close to those weight loss goals or whatever it is you have for yourself. Then you have no more willpower. You swing to the other extreme and you give in because deprivation and restriction makes you obsessed. It makes you obsess about food, about calories, about good foods versus bad foods, and makes you constantly think about it.
When your mind is constantly thinking about these foods, it’s not helpful to you, right? It makes you stressed out and you constantly think about these foods. So restriction and deprivation don’t work. The second thing about diets is they don’t look at the true cause of emotional eating. They’re not looking at your relationship to food. They’re not looking at what that food means to you. They simply say, cut it out and then you’re left grasping for straws. You have no alternative to make you feel good because you use food to make yourself feel good.
Keep it all…
What I teach clients instead is to first of all, we keep all foods in. There is no “I can never have this food”. There’s no judgment. There is no saying this food is bad or good. You’re allowed to keep it. You’re allowed to have that food. It’s important to have it in that in your life.
I’ll share an example. For instance, when I used to go to parties, I would always have all the cakes, all the cookies, all the chocolate because I deprived and restricted myself of those things. So, when I was around these foods I had no control, no willpower.
And I just would eat and eat and eat.
I remember seeing this woman have one or two cookies. And I was like, “how did she do that?”. I want to learn to do that. Serendipitously mourned that time, my boss gave me a whole canister of cookies. So I started to tell myself that I’m allowed to have cookies. I can have a cookie every single day. I can have two cookies every single day. I’m allowed to have cookies. The cookies are going nowhere, I’m allowed to have them. I’m not taking them out of my life or restricting them.
Guess what? I was able to do that I was able to have one or two cookies without eating the whole thing.
Work on that relationship…
At the same time, I was working on my emotional eating issues. I was looking at the emotions under my emotional eating and why I went to those foods. So I knew that I was going towards those foods for a reason.
So whenever I caught myself eating these foods when I wasn’t really hungry, I would look at what was underneath. I would journal about it. I would meditate. And what I do with clients, I do deeper meditations to get to the root cause of what that food means. “Why am I eating that food? What is it making me feel? Pleasure? Is it distracting me from my emotions because I don’t want to feel them? Is it making me feel like I’m having fun? What is it doing?”
Whatever the food is making me feel is temporary. And when I was able to get to what I truly needed at the root and give that to myself, I no longer needed the food. I started to meet my needs. So the food was this poor replacement for what I really needed.
When you deprive or restrict yourself of food, you give it power. When you keep “those” foods in your life, you take the power away from it.
When you look at the emotions under why you’re going towards this food, you are taking the power back because the food is just a temporary solution. It’s not even a solution to what you really need. When you get to the root of what you need, the food no longer has power over you and you don’t need to take it away from yourself.
Breaking up can be easy…
You don’t need to restrict yourself. You don’t need to bulldoze yourself or force yourself to never have that food. What you do is you start breaking up that relationship to that food and so it becomes really effortless. You no longer need it as much. So for me, for cookies, I don’t really like eating cookies a lot. I have it with my son. I have a once in a while, I make them sometimes. It’s not an everyday thing and I don’t need it.
It’s not something I crave or want. But I know if I ever wanted a cookie I’d go and buy a cookie (or make it). It’s rare that I want a cookie, but I know I’m allowed to have it. THIS is important. It’s an important distinction between sustainable change and diets that are yo yo and not for life.
If this is something that you need help with, I encourage you to reach out and book a complementary consult to see how I can help you.
And of course, if you have any questions, leave them below.
Certified Holistic Nutritionist.