Why is it that we crave certain foods with such intensity that we end up “bingeing” just before bed? Why is it that our minds navigate toward “bad food” posts on social media and binge watching Cake Wars? People ask you if you’re letting yourself eat those foods to which you frustratingly tell them yes, which is why you don’t understand why you can’t let go of this obsession with these “unhealthy foods.”
You can’t let go of your fascination because of just that folks, because they’re “bad foods” in your head and you have likely, unintentionally, not healed your relationship with ALL foods. When our minds perceive certain foods as “good” and “bad” rather than simply as all foods being neutral, some to our taste buds liking and others not, our minds go into restriction mode. This mode creates a sense of danger mentally- essentially our brains don’t know whether or not we are going to eat again. You see our brains do not know the difference between starvation due to famine in Africa vs. semi-starvation due to caloric restriction, fad dieting, mental restriction for certain foods, etc etc. Our brains simply perceive the emotions associated with both and if you really think about it, they’re much the same for all of the above scenarios. When you start ruminating about a particular food and how you know you shouldn’t be eating it and are going to refrain from this type of food the rest of the week etc etc (this applies even if you let yourself eat it because you’re trying to have a healthy relationship with food), your mind tells your body to go into hoarding mode. At this point your brain dictates certain hormones to be released more or less than usual, it changes a variety of chemical messages that induce a physiological response (wanting more, increased taste bud reception, etc.) amongst other things that are simply out of our control when we get to this point. As human beings we want what we can’t have. I know you’re thinking, ‘but, i DO let myself have it!!’ Yes, you do, you physically allow yourself to eat the cake, but mentally you were worried the entire time, subtly or not, about how the cake was going to affect your waist-line the next day, so mentally, you did NOT let yourself have that cake and enjoy that cake.
All foods should be okay to eat if we like the way they taste and don’t have true food allergies. Life is about balance. To live in a world where certain foods are always off limits or deemed as bad foods, aka foods that make people fat, creates a sense of scarcity for our minds to which our bodies follow. To fully heal our relationship with food so that we are not crazy around it- binging, purging, ruminating, and restricting it- we need to find peace with ALL foods. When you begin eating food from a place of calm with no guilt to follow you will realize how one piece of cake DOES do the trick because one large piece of cake (or two or three) made you physiologically full and you are totally content with being done eating. Because that portion of cake was enough for today and if you decide you want another tomorrow that’s perfectly okay! Because that portion of cake was so rich that you’re simply sick of the flavor and want to move on to something lighter.
My point is that whether or not we realize it, many of us are mentally restricting certain foods, EVEN IF WE ALLOW OURSELVES TO EAT THOSE FOODS. Eating food we enjoy can be a wonderful, emotional, relational, beautiful experience. We need to let ourselves mentally enjoy the experiences otherwise the way our bodies follow will likely not be what we’re hoping for. Eating food is also only one aspect of life, ONE ASPECT. We were not put on this planet to think about food and weight 24/7, frankly we have way too many goals to pursue to be wasting our precious time with one minute aspect of life. Understand that freeing yourself from mental restriction likely does not and will not happen overnight. This is all a process, one that will take a different amount of time for every unique being and one that will involve intentionally clearing your mind from the negative thoughts and reminding yourself of the contents of this post while eating the food. I assure you though, you got this!
You CAN achieve food liberation so get out there and #eatthefood