“I eat healthy for a while, usually a week, and then I start over-indulging, eating lots of desserts and sweets…”
“I binge on chocolate whenever I allow myself to eat it, which is usually only once a week…”
“I struggle to stick to my healthy food options because I’m craving something sweet…”
Three totally different people, three different stories, but all caused by the same problem – restriction. Namely food restriction.
It’s the problem we never talk about in public.
You’ll probably never find an article in a women’s mag about how all their healthy eating advice is actually making us feel bad and eat worse.
Nope. People tend not to talk about this one. They hide it. We hide it. I hid it. But I don’t anymore. Here’s the truth: if I restrict certain foods, I end up craving them more. If I undereat purposely and get overhungry, then I end up overeating.
I accidentally did it yesterday – got too hungry and ended up overeating.
Restriction Causes Cravings
It seriously breaks my heart whenever I read comments like those of the ladies above. Because I know it’s so easily fixed. It’s just that the ‘fix’ doesn’t make sense to people in this diet culture we live in. I call it The Diet Lie – which is the lie that following a diet and downsizing yourself will bring happiness and fix your life.
When we restrict something, we start thinking about it more and we crave it more, then we give in and and eat it, then we feel guilty about it… and then we start the cycle again.
All of those comments above absolutely describe life in this cycle – they talk about the struggle to stick with those food/diet rules and how they cave – though they don’t talk about the guilt. But I’m 100% positive if I sat down for a cuppa with those ladies, they would absolutely say they feel a tonne of guilt about what they see as their failure.
Cravings Caused by Restriction Are Not Your Fault
They’re not your fault. They’re just a biological response from your body to restriction – it gets nervous, will she go on another diet? will I be hungry? will I ever get to enjoy my favourite foods again?
The solution is not to somehow magically OVERCOME those cravings. It’s to accept that restricting yourself is not a natural way to live.
Instead find a middle road to live in – one where you balance your health goals with your happiness. My philosophy is to base our healthy and happy eating approach on these Four Pillars – you can read more here
When you find that middle road, you’ll find those extreme swings, from one extreme of trying to eat perfectly, over to extreme cravings and snaffling up a pile of sweet foods will simply disappear. You’ll no longer have nights where you think (or say) “to hell with healthy eating” as you munch your way through the contents of the pantry once the kids are in bed. Instead you might enjoy a little something with your kids 😉
Me personally? I honour the fun of food too!
It’s the truth that I live – I refuse to restrict and avoid the foods that I enjoy. I’m instead creating a balance of happy and healthy foods that feed both my body and my soul.