"But if I give myself full permission to eat, I’ll eat sugar all day.”
Can you relate?
This is a common fear I hear from clients just starting Intuitive Eating.
This is an understandable fear because...
diet culture taught you that you can’t be trusted around food.
diet culture taught you that willpower will keep you “on track” and prevent binges.
It's understandable that giving yourself full permission to eat seems counterintuitive at first. It goes directly against what you've learned about food and bodies!
Why Willpower Doesn't Work
In the past when you've tried to limit sweets, cut out "junk food," or reduce portions...what was the outcome?
Chances are attempts to control your eating backfired.
Maybe your food rules seemed to help at first, but they eventually triggered a binge and caused you to feel even more out of control around food.
This binge-restrict-guilt pattern is not your fault. The truth is, willpower and control do not work when it comes to food.
The more we try to control our food intake, the more out of control we feel around food.
The Paradox of Control
What if I told you that giving yourself full permission to eat will help you feel MORE in control around food?
I know it sounds strange...but hear me out!
Restriction fuels binge eating. So when we aren't eating enough or we feel deprived from foods we enjoy, the drive to binge increases.
Legalizing all food doesn't mean that you will want to eat sugar all day every day. Just because you can eat sugar all day every day doesn't mean that you will.
When your body senses that it has consistent access to enough emotionally and physically satisfying food, the drive to binge will decrease.
Picture yourself eating chocolate all day every day. This idea may seem exciting at first, but over time it would get old. Your body would naturally start to crave a variety of flavors, textures, and nutrients.
How to Give Yourself Full Permission to Eat
Here are some steps you can take right now to give yourself full permission to eat:
Make a list of foods that you enjoy but don't trust yourself to eat. Maybe it's bagels, chips, chocolate, or ice cream.
Add one of these forbidden foods to your grocery list this week. Choose an item that feels challenging but not overwhelming. Start with an "easier" food to build your confidence.
Choose a time to eat the food. Sit down and eat it in a calming environment. Reduce distractions from your phone and the tv.
As you eat, notice the texture, flavor, and how your body is feeling. Get curious without judgment. If you'd like, write down your observations. Continue to grant yourself permission to eat.
Any time you notice a craving for that food, give yourself unconditional permission to eat it. Repeat steps 3 & 4 with the same food and same flavor. Repeating this exercise with the same product will enable your body to habituate. With time, you will be able to eat that food with ease.
An important note: making peace with food does take time. It's not an overnight process, so be kind to yourself throughout the journey.
At first, you may feel out of control around foods that have been off limits, like sweets.
Now that you're allowed to eat as much sugar as you want, you may panic if you want to eat it frequently.
This “honeymoon period” of chaotic eating is normal and temporary. With time and practice, your body will habituate to the once forbidden foods and you will be able to eat them to comfortable fullness.
You will naturally desire a variety of food. My clients tell me they’re amazed when they start having legit cravings for fruits and veggies!
If giving yourself full permission to eat feels scary, I see you. And I can help! Fill out my application and discover if my program is a good fit for you.