Have you ever found yourself on a calorie-restricted diet feeling a sudden urge to eat ALL the foods? Or maybe you aren’t on a restrictive diet, but you missed lunch that day and overate at dinner as a result. It was almost like your brain couldn’t catch up to your stomach to let you know you were full! You may have experienced the restrict-binge cycle. You may be wondering how to break the binge cycle.
Restriction in any form – under-eating or restrictive food rules – can lead to a natural drive to eat. Sometimes this drive to eat can result in a chaotic eating experience like a binge. And the restrict-binge cycle begins. Restrictive diets don’t work long-term because the desire to eat will always be stronger than your desire to restrict your food intake. When our body doesn’t receive the calories or energy, it needs to do everyday activities like breathing, working, walking, etc., fat stores are burned for energy leading to weight loss. However, this weight loss isn’t sustainable because our bodies adjust to the calorie restriction and slow our metabolism. Calories, or energy, are no longer being burned as efficiently.
Making Peace with Food
One of the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating is making peace with food. Making peace with food means giving your unconditional permission to eat all the foods. Sounds a bit scary right? You may think you’ll eat everything when you allow yourself to enjoy all food. Giving yourself permission to enjoy all foods without guilt or shame is one of the first steps in breaking the binge-restrict cycle. Since we know feelings of deprivation lead to cravings that may result in binge-eating, giving yourself unconditional permission to eat and enjoy all foods can help break restrict-binge cycle.
What are some other practical ways to prevent the restrict-cycle?
- Pursue health over weight loss. Focus on implementing positive behavior changes like creating balanced meals, increasing your fruit and veggie intake, and joyfully moving your body more, rather than solely focusing on the number on the scale.
- Honor your body by eating when you’re hungry and learn to recognize when you experience fullness. An RD can help you on your journey of re-learning your hunger and fullness cues.
- Instead of focusing on restriction, or the “right” way to eat, focus on eating nutrient-dense meals that are satiating and satisfying.
- Avoid skipping meals. When we are adequately nourishing ourselves throughout the course of the day, we are less likely to overeat/binge later in the day.
- Challenge the food rules you’ve created. Food does not have moral value and can’t be good or bad. Choose foods that make you feel good AND taste good!
- Be grateful for the food you have to eat and the abilities your body has! What a gift they are!
Are you ready to make peace with food and learn how to break the binge cycle? Do you want to give yourself unconditional permission to enjoy all foods but don’t know where to start? Consider scheduling an appointment with one of our intuitive eating dietitians!
Taylor Aasand MPH, RDN
Taylor Aasand is a Dietitian & Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She has years of eating disorder experience working in inpatient, residential, PHP, and IOP settings. Her passion is helping adolescents and adults heal their relationships with food and their bodies. She believes it is a true privilege to walk side by side with patients as they build up their body and food trust.