There was a time when I used to avoid any food that I deemed “bad” or “unhealthy.” I believed that having even the tiniest bite of something processed would immediately ruin my diet. No way was I worthy of saying I’d had a “good day” if I gave into ice cream. Because of this, whenever I had these “bad” foods, I’d go into an all or nothing mindset and try get as much of that food in that I could. In those moments, I was eating based on fear because I truly believe that tomorrow I’d somehow wake up with renewed willpower and would truly (this time) swear off ice cream. But the truth was, the more I’d deprived my body of satisfying foods, the more it’d seek deeper satisfaction from food.
This all turned around when I began eating intuitively and quit dieting. I stopped labeling foods as “good” or “bad.” Now, food has become enjoyable, and I no longer deprive my body of the food that it’s craving. As a result, I’ve stopped bingeing, stopped worrying about gaining weight, and have begun fully showing up in my life.
I absolutely love having a scoop of ice cream on a hot summer day with my husband. Before intuitive eating, I considered ice cream a no-no because my experience proved that anytime I’d have a bite, I’d eat the whole container, continually going back for more. Now that I’ve given myself permission to have ice cream any time I want, the power of this treat has been stripped away. Rather, it’s there, and I know I can have it if a craving arrives. Otherwise, I don’t think about it.
When you label food as “bad,” it only becomes more appealing. You start thinking about that food and how much you want to taste it, but feel like you can’t. When you deprive yourself of a “bad” food long enough, you get to the point where you just can’t take it anymore. Then, you lose control, and eat the food without giving yourself permission to fully enjoy it. This creates many problems for you: you feel distracted by food, you feel helpless, and you miss out important parts of life.
Instead of living by this “all or nothing” mentality, begin eating your favorite foods in moderation. The truth is, your body will still crave a balance of nourishing foods. Sometimes you’ll want something healthy, and other times you’ll want something more indulgent. That’s okay! When you eat intuitively, you’ll find that it’s actually fairly easy to enjoy your favorite things in moderation. Since you know that you can have anything you want, whenever you want it, you’ll learn to relax when a craving hits. The lust for a “forbidden” food will eventually lose its strong appeal, and you’ll begin to trust in the power of permission.
So give it a try! Give yourself permission to enjoy the foods that you’ve been depriving yourself of for so long. Then check in with yourself by asking what you want, what you need, and what would leave you feeling happy. You will find life so much more fulfilling, and food will begin to lose that it’s power over you.
This article was contributed by Paige Burton, a Health Coach and graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Click here to learn more about becoming a Health Coach yourself by sampling a free class from IIN.
For more information on intuitive eating, and why it is so amazing, sign up for Burton’s free “Why Intuitive Eating” series here.
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