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How the Diet-Restrict-Binge Cycle Keeps You From Being The Woman You Actually Want To Be

Updated: Jun 26, 2019

This post was originally published on HuffPost.

One of the key components I work with emotional eating clients on is tapping more and more into their desire and less and less into their self judgment, criticism and fear of their bodies and the food they eat.

It’s not easy- often women believe that judging and beating themselves up is the only thing that has kept them from not eating an entire pizza for every meal, every day of the week.

The paradox of the situation, one which we don’t fully realize until we give it up, is that the judgment and criticism and the resulting diet-restriction-binge cycle, is actually what keeps the entire pizza fantasy in rotation.

We’re so used to holding ourselves back through these mean voices, that when we first start giving ourselves permission to listen to our bodies, we fear that we will be overrun with giving into every compulsive bite that crosses our path.

So when I introduce the idea of listening to desire- all the way from the big things like “who do you want to be in the world” to “what do you want for dinner”, women often can’t tell me what it is they truly desire. They only know what they don’t want, or what they’ve told themselves they can’t have (hello entire pizza).

Women often tell me they are afraid to be kind to themselves or to listen to desire, “does that mean I just get to lay on the couch all day and eat potato chips?”

We think that being cruel to ourselves is what keeps us in check, except we don’t actually have the genuine belief, or actual evidence, that we are in check because we keep reaching for foods that we judge and criticize ourselves for, perpetuating the cycle and misguided notion that what we really need is to be more disciplined, more strict and better with our food choices.

But it is the restriction and forced discipline that causes the rebound effect of binging and compulsively eating food that isn’t doing us any good.

So my answer to clients, when they ask about the bag of potato chips is “No, you will not lay on the couch all day and eat potato chips. That’s still the restriction/binge cycle talking. Once you’ve really chosen to be kind to yourself and made this skill a habit, likely you’ll listen to your body in a wholly new way and you’ll know what the right amount for you is.”

When we’ve restricted and binged for a long time, it can be a really hard cycle to break. Because most likely this pattern was born out of your feelings of lacking self worth, so you turned to controlling food (or at least attempting to control food) as an effort to feel better about yourself and your body.

But then it doesn’t work and you continue to feel bad about yourself.

So you binge to bury the painful experience of how you feel about yourself.

Then you hate yourself for binging and vow to be better, more disciplined and stricter on yourself.

And the ride starts all over again.

You never actually get to be the woman you want to be when you’re on that ride.

It’s a tricky merry-go-round to get off of.

One that starts and ends with not believing in your self worth.

Never does the feeling of what you want, or your desire, enter into this merry go round ride. It’s all about what we don’t want, who we don’t want to be.

The only long lasting remedy I know to building better self worth is care, love and kindness.

Would you expect a child or a friend, or heck, even your dog, to be confident, vibrant and alive, if you were berating them and forcing them to do things, denying them the desires of their heart? Likely not. We’ve all seen how children and dogs respond when we yell, berate or criticize. And if your friends were to stick around after you spoke to them that way, I’d question their sanity.

We know that people flourish when they are loved and appreciated and cared for, when they are expressed and get to follow the things they desire the most.

You are no different.

Learning to give ourselves the care and love our soul is starving for isn’t a push button solution. But it is a very, very doable process. One that will dismantle your emotional eating and restriction/binge/guilt behaviors for good.

Give yourself the real nourishment your body & soul are craving by putting to rest the habit of restriction and bringing to life the love and care that will bring you and your desire, to life so you can be the woman you truly want to be.

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