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You can't restrict your way to balance

The beginning phases of making changes with your eating habits and relationship to food, can feel a bit bumpy. One of the important pieces in accepting intuitive and mindful eating is to give yourself permission to eat anything, or in other words, permission to improve eating habits without restricting certain foods. So often people feel anxious about still enjoying treats and fun foods while they’re in the process of improving their eating habits. This anxiety is understandable. They understand they can eat all foods and they are on board with the process, but day to day acceptance of that idea feels really confusing and challenging. It may be because we feel like there should be a break from old habits. There's no defined "end" to what you were doing and what you're trying to work on presently. It's a slow and steady process, but slow and steady just isn't as satisfying. Our brain wants a clear separation to distinguish our old patterns from the new.

So what can happen is you have this feeling like just for now you have to restrict UNTIL you get to a “more controlled” place with food. It's easy to tell yourself this "kickstart" is all you need. You might convince yourself "I just need to be really strict for a few weeks" thinking THEN you will find more balance and can eat fun foods in moderation. It’s as if you're “waiting for the right time” but it simply can’t work this way. You can’t restrict your way to balance.

So what can help with this nagging feeling? What can you do to avoid this slippery slope so you don't fall into yet another diet disguised as a "lifestyle?" Here's some things to remember:

1. Acceptance is essential. You must accept that this is a process and requires you to really look inward. Fully commit!

2. Remember that progress of any kind is success! And progress in the beginning may not even be huge shifts in your eating habits. Progress at first might actually be enjoying fun foods again without guilt or re-learning hunger and fullness cues. So anything that feels like progress from the week before should be celebrated!

3. Don't "should" yourself. Avoid negative talk around what you think you "should" be doing or progress you "should" have made. There is no one way or clear path.

4. Remember that progress is not linear. Meaning it's not a perfect upward trajectory. You will have "set-backs". You'll have lightbulb moments! Moments that challenge you. So allowing yourself time to reflect back to reassess and see what progress has been made is helpful in moving forward.

5. Take it day to day. If you aren't making drastic changes you may feel like you're not getting anywhere, BUT all the small changes you're working on add up. Within 6 months you can look back and be in a very different place with your eating habits than you were when you started, even if you didn't realize it day to day. There can still be work to be done but it doesn't mean you haven't made change. So just focus on what you can do today and this week!

Hope you've found this helpful along your journey to finding balance with food. Reach out with any questions. Thanks for reading!


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