As you may know, I coach women on how to break free from dieting, restricting and teach them to eat intuitively. Which essentially means making peace with food and finding their freedom by adding back in enjoyment, removing shame and guilt, and finding what feels good for them.
In intuitive eating you make choices from a place of love, grace, and on how you *want* to feel.
When clients and readers first begin to make the switch from dieting to intuitive eating, they sometimes ask me when they will stop craving junk food. After years of training their brains that a food is “good” or “bad”; removing those labels might mean craving things they had previously forbidden. This can feel a bit scary. But I’m here to hold your hand through it.
I get this question quite often because people see that I don’t generally eat a ton of “junk food.” However, remember, I’ve been eating intuitively for a long time now. It took me at least two years to get to a place where my body trusted that I wouldn’t deprive her anymore.
When we forbid certain foods and THINK about how much we’re forbidding them (aka, obsessing over things like “I can’t eat that!” “I don’t get to have that…” or “That’s badddd!” “I’m so bad!”) we put those foods on a pedestal. They become something we “can’t touch”, therefore we think about them and want them more.
Nobody likes to be told “no.”
I’ve heard people with celiac disease say things like… I never thought I liked cinnamon rolls until I knew I couldn’t have them anymore. Now I’ll just randomly think about them! This is what happens when we say no. (But the good news is, if you’re dealing with a food sensitivity, I can help you with your mindset so you don’t feel deprived as you avoid certain foods).
When we allow ourselves the permission to have whatever we want, sure… we may be excited about that for a little while, but after a bit of time goes by you’re going to WANT to feel good. You’re going to recognize that though you have permission to eat ANYTHING you want… eating EVERYTHING doesn’t feel good either.
You will learn what amounts of certain foods feel good for you, what foods don’t feel good for you, and which foods make you feel AWESOME. And from there, you’ll allow your body to feel better, get to her natural body weight, and feel happier in general (when you heal your body, your gut microbiome literally improves and gives you happier hormones!).
I remember the first meal I ate intuitively was a slice of hot apple pie for lunch. I couldn’t think of anything that felt more joyful and free. I specifically remember sitting on a blanket, in my bedroom, having a picnic all on my own.
The key is to not force yourself to stop craving junk food. You will naturally crave it less over time, because as I’ve mentioned loses it’s power over you. It becomes just food.
Over time, my body realized how much better I felt when I ate REAL foods (what I mean by real foods, here). Moderation is key. So if I want ice-cream or candy every now and then, I can have it.
The key is *having those fun foods in a way that leaves me feeling good.* I want to TRUST the experience, not hate it. Right? Makes sense?
For example, if Marco brings home Sour Patch Kids and I’d like to have some I’ll have a bite or two, and feel good with that. How? Because I know I have so many other options that are more yummy and satisfying for me. Plus, more than just a few Sour Patch Kids will make me feel icky. It’s not a rule, it’s information I’ve gathered from my own body by experimenting.
Give yourself permission to experiment and learn for yourself, what does and doesn’t feel good.
My goal is to *feel good.* I bet yours is too! Who doesn’t want to FEEL GREAT?
So, the next time you crave ice cream or fro yo, remember, YOU CAN HAVE IT. It’s not off limits, it’s absolutely okay to enjoy. Now ask yourself “How do I want to feel after I eat this?” And then proceed to order a scoop, eat it slowly, and fully savor every bite with GUSTO. No guilt (that just takes away satisfaction, which is not helpful). Then, let me know how you feel!
Note: If you ever have a desire to binge on these foods (so instead of “I’d really like a scoop of ice cream” you’re thinking “I can’t wait until my husband leaves so I can devour that entire quart of moose tracks”) know that it might not be a food craving that you’re having. Instead, you might be craving to “be bad” or to just “rebel” (in other words, to let loose!) or you might still have some lingering restriction going on there.
The craving to binge is likely a life need which cannot be met with food. Or, a “faux craving” simply because you have that food on a pedestal.
For example, a craving for a pizza… If you have a craving to stop and grab some pizza for lunch, that’s probably a true food craving. The craving is calm, collected, and it sounds good to have this as a meal today.
However, if you’re pre-planning to order a whole pizza and can already see yourself eating it as fast as you can while no-one is around, that’s more of an emotional craving in which you might just want to numb out feelings/thoughts for a while and not have to think about what you “should” be doing. This is a way of procrastinating for you.
A binge might sound appealing for the moment, but here’s the reality of what a binge ALWAYS feels like:
The food distracts you for a little while, and then the tough feelings come back when the eating stops. Not only that, but now there’s MORE piled feelings of guilt, shame, and “I can’t do anything right” on top.
That’s no way to feel better…
Trust this: When you choose to listen to your body, over time, food will lose its power over you and your cravings will mellow. Trust me.
You’ll be able to have a square or two of chocolate without devouring the whole bar.
As hard as it may seem, don’t force yourself to stop craving something. Just trust that slowly, your food cravings will normalize and you will get to a place where food is no longer on a pedestal.
And finally, a mindset shift for us to think about on restriction…
Restriction is easy, and takes no turning INWARD. Balance, and learning to eat in a way that feels good for YOU takes TRUE growth and reflection. It might be harder at times to reflect, but the reward is so much GREATER. It is so worth it.
What did you take-away from this post? What will you try out? I’d love to hear! And if you need any more help, hop on the phone with me for a 60-minute Discovery Session to talk about what is possible for YOU in your relationship with food (schedule that call on this page).