When I help women to ditch the diet obsessions and way of ‘eating’ I talk to them about the two types of allowance that are important but not of equal weight:
Physical allowance: the physical act of eating food – AND – Emotional allowance: the belief that eating whatever food you want to eat/ are eating is fundamentally ‘okay’.
In my experience many people can ‘do’ the physically allowance part- but what actually makes the difference around finding sanity with food is being able to ‘do’ the emotional allowance part….. and this probably what many of you are struggling with and the reason why ‘things just aren’t working out’.
Furthermore emotional restriction has a lot to do with your perception that the food you “want to eat” says something about you as a person (hence the guilt, shame and self judgment).
In other words emotional deprivation is at play when you experience:
….. underlying pangs of guilt, shame, worry
…..obsessive thoughts about weight gain,
…..generally feeling like you’re doing something wrong when eating
Hence emotional allowance is SO important.
But how do you get to the stage where you can emotionally allow yourself to eat?
……The answer lies in doing the work on the emotional restriction.
Which means working on the voice you hear when eating/ thinking about the food/ wanting to eat the food that says: “I shouldn’t be eating this. This is wrong/ bad/ naughty! What if I get/stay fat?! What would my friends think if they saw me eating this? How will I justify eating this to others?”
Which goes to say you can physically allow yourself to eat as much chocolate, nuts, teaspoons of peanut butter as you want. If you’re feeling like a ‘fat pig’ or ‘naughty’ or some other self shaming word, that doesn’t mean you’re mentally ‘allowing’ the food. (which really cancels out the whole point of ‘normal eating’- see here and here).
…..Because you’re not emotionally at peace with your decision…. which will always affect how you ‘’eat’.
If you’ve been joining in on my Instagram Q & A sessions which I’ve been popping up randomly and doing weekly: see here to find me on Instagram so you can join in, I had a really interesting question pop up about dietary restrictions and ‘normal eating’.
I need to make it clear that just because women are being restricted from food, doesn’t mean they are dieting or have a diet mentality around food.
Whether you are emotionally restricting comes down to how you FEEL about yourself as a person when you eat the food that doesn’t make your body feel so good. It’s not about feeling ‘uncomfortable’ because of a sore belly but rather how you feel about who you are (your core self esteem).
The rule of thumb: If eating has some bearing on your self esteem then you’re emotionally restricting.
So if you eat some food that doesn’t make your body feel all that great and you don’t think about it beyond the thought “I might pay for this on the toilet later.” Then you’re not emotionally restricting.
To further drive the point home:
A “normal eater” who doesn’t eat dairy because they are lactose intolerant, doesn’t see themselves as a ‘fat pig/ hopeless/ a loser’ when they choose to eat food with diary in it — they just see themselves as a person who’s about/ likely to feel sick. They can just pop a tablet and move on.
They don’t attach further meaning to it and are truly able to let it go.
I look forward to hearing from you: Are you ready to start emotionally allowing yourself to eat food you ‘want to eat’?
What is it going to take you to get to the point where you take the steps to let the food in without all the manipulating, self deprecating and emotionally loaded thoughts?
Hint: if you need a helping hand see here.