Do you feel like your diet is restrictive? (Note: when I say “diet,” I’m referring to the way you regularly eat day to day, not necessarily a diet to lose weight)
A lot of binge eaters will say yes and this is part of the problem.
If you’re feeling restricted with your food options, it’s because you’re withholding foods you really want to be eating, telling yourself you can’t have them, and basically forcing yourself to eat in a way you don’t really want to be eating – such as not eating when you feel really hungry.
Here’s the thing though. Restricted is a feeling. Feelings are caused by our thinking. So what does this mean?
You will only feel restricted by how you eat if you think restrictive thoughts about how you eat.
I’d say the most common restricted thought is, “I can’t have that.” That right there will cause you to feel restricted and deprived, leading you to flip around and binge.
The truth is though, you can have anything you want. This is important to understand. There is nothing you can’t have. Saying you can’t have a particular food is untrue and not useful to you. It may feel useful, like you’re doing something good for yourself by making that food off limits, but actually, it’s working against you.
It doesn’t matter what you eat, how much you eat, or how often you eat, the only thing that is going to determine whether or not your diet is restrictive is how you think about it.
Let’s take a look at how I’m regularly eating at the moment.
I don’t eat meat, dairy, and eggs, and I eat very little flour and sugar. I sometimes eat planned treats.
To most people, this may sound very restrictive, but to me, it’s not at all. Take away all these foods and there’s still so much I eat! So many delicious vegetables (including potatoes), beans, nuts, seeds, olive oil, rice, quinoa, and fruit.
One piece of why this works for me, is that I don’t look at what I don’t eat and feel like I’m missing out. I made a conscious choice to take those foods out of my day to day diet for reasons I’m super happy with. I also love the foods I do eat. Not only do they taste great, but I also feel great when I eat them.
The second piece is something I thought was really important for me to acknowledge when I decided how I want to eat regularly. Although I stick to a vegan diet without flour and sugar, none of these foods are off limits. I decided that if I really want a cheeseburger, I’ll eat one. Funny thing is though, I haven’t wanted one. But if I did, I could! Same thing with everything else. If I want pizza or cookies or ice cream, I can have them, at any time. But because my reasons for not wanting them are so much greater than any reason for why I would want them, my desire for them has gone way, way down.
Heck, I know lots of people who eat 2 meals a day. Doesn’t that sound restrictive? It doesn’t to them. They love it.
No matter what your diet looks like, you get to decide whether or not its restricted.
Take a look at how you describe your diet. Look at how you categorize foods and whether there are foods you “can’t” eat. Be honest with yourself and switch that “can’t” to “don’t want.”
“But Kirstin, I do want it!”
List out why you do and why you don’t. I guarantee there will be some really good reasons why you don’t. Remind yourself of those any time you think about wanting.
You get to decide every day what your eating plan is going to look like. It’s your choice. Choose one you want, not one you think you have to follow because you binged last night.