You can’t have a healthy balanced diet until you truly find peace with food. So what does “peace with food” mean? Peace with food is being able to see all food as equal, not having certain foods off limits, and not feeling guilted into eating other foods. Without a good relationship with food it’s impossible to have a lasting healthy diet. So let’s learn how to make peace with food today and have a healthy diet for life!
Some people think all you have to do to have a healthy diet is…start eating healthy.
That sounds all awesome and good, but the problem with this mindset is that without changing the way we think about food, everything that we accomplish with changing our diet won’t be lasting. Without seeing all food on an even playing field, with milkshakes and green smoothies treated as equal, and using your body’s cues to dictate how you eat instead of “food rules” that you’re governed by based on diets you’ve done, your discipline against eating “junk” food will only last so long before you give in.
Deprivation –> Heightened Cravings –> Need for Larger Quantities
Deprivation, or not allowing yourself to eat what you crave/want when you want it, always leads to heightened cravings for those foods. There’s no exception…it’s how our bodies work and how we’re wired. Biologically, when we restrict foods, those foods become more appealing. And what happens when we have heightened cravings for food is that our hunger-drive kicks in and we have a need for a larger quantity of those foods. This matches up with what people experience when they diet and deprive and then end up binging after a certain amount of time. Or, when dieting and giving oneself a “cheat day” needing to go “all out”! It’s not natural to deprive, not how we were made to eat.
So what’s the solution? And how can we feel more balanced and level around food?
Don’t deprive. Make peace with food. Allow yourself to eat what you crave regardless of whether it’s your “cheat day” or not. Better yet, don’t have a “cheat day” at all. Cheat days only reinforce a “good food, bad food” mentality and confirm that your diet is non-sustainable. It promotes “yo yo dieting” and binging.
So, if you want a healthy diet, start with making peace with food:
- Identify the fears you may have with including all foods you crave into your diet (fears that you’ll only eat “unhealthy” foods, fears that you won’t be able to control yourself around those foods).
- Remind yourself daily that food is not the enemy and that there are no “good foods” or “bad foods”.
- Eat what you crave, without judgement.
- Challenge any “forbidden foods” that you may have. Eat foods that may have been off limits in the past and realize that by eating those foods you did nothing wrong.
Stice, E., Burger, K., & Yokum, S. (2013). Caloric deprivation increases responsivity of attention and reward brain regions to intake, anticipated intake, and images of palatable foods. Neuroimage, 67, 322-330.