What if you want to stop dieting and eat intuitively but feel like dietary restrictions prevent you from “doing it right”?
Part of the Psycho-Spiritual Wellness Eating Guidelines is to eat exactly what your body wants when you’re hungry.
Do you like the way that feels, but also feel screwed because your mind sputter, “Yah, I hear what you’re saying, but how can I eat exactly what my body wants when I can’t have gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, or anything else good in this world?!”
With most people struggling with some sort of food sensitivity or digestive issue (like me!), it can certainly feel like an impossible battle to win.
So today I’d like to talk about how to navigate dietary restrictions when you’re trying to give up dieting and feel normal around food.
When Dietary Restrictions Feel Like Dieting
This whole post got started because my acid reflux flared up, and I read that a low-carb diet is great for reversing acid reflux.
I thought to myself, “Uh oh. Low-carb is definitely a diet. Does this count though, since it’s for my health, not for weight loss? Will this make me binge? Am I screwed no matter what?”
I believe manipulating your diet in order to manipulate the size of your body is the type of restriction that always leads to a binge.
But if the manipulation is for the sake of health instead of weight loss, then we enter a gray area…
Honestly, I haven’t started the low-carb thing because low-carb has always made me binge in the past.
Instead, what I have started is something called “gentle nutrition.”
What Is Gentle Nutrition?
Gentle nutrition is the last pillar of Intuitive Eating (which is similar yet distinctly different from Psycho-Spiritual Wellness), and it’s a pillar that I really like because it’s takes the “diet-y-ness” out of food restrictions. Gentle nutrition goes like this:
“Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well.
Remember that you do not have to eat perfectly to be healthy.
You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating.
It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters – progress not perfection is what counts.” –Intuitive Eating
Oooh yeah. This feels good, doesn’t it?
Gentle nutrition means I can listen to my body while staying smart about my health.
For example, if I’m listening to my body, and my body wants pizza – but I can’t have pizza because of the dairy/gluten/goodness it has – then I can choose to have something else that will satisfy my craving.
That could be vegan pizza, or it could be something completely different. But as long as I’m doing it to honor my body instead of to cut weight, it works pretty smoothly.
That’s the golden nugget: As long as your food choices are best on wellness instead of weight loss, it’s pretty smooth sailing.
(Hindsight 20/20: This is why I eventually transitioned from “Psycho-Spiritual Weight Loss” to “Psycho-Spiritual Wellness.” Read about the transition here.)
Permission vs. Restriction
This all comes down to a delicate dance between permission and restriction.
Since dietary restriction lead to binges, it’s critical to maintain 100% permission to eat whatever foods you want.
This doesn’t mean eating foods you’re allergic to, but it means satisfying that craving without trying to be “good” or “low calorie” while you’re at it.
If you struggle with dietary restrictions too, then learning how to eat intuitively and stop dieting will come with this extra speed bump. Don’t let it stop you from trying.
You may find yourself having mini binges on forbidden foods that make you feel like poo for a while.
But if you stick to the mindset of gentle nutrition and total permission, you will slowly notice that your cravings begin to shift.
Summary: Eat Intuitively with Dietary Restrictions by Focusing on Wellness
I think that “gentle nutrition” is a great way to eat intuitively even when you have dietary restrictions.
It’s all about finding balance between listening to your body and your mind while letting go of calorie content.
Make dietary decisions based on wellness instead of weight loss, and you’ll be on your way to feeling normal around food in no time.
If you’re struggling with this right now, I would love to hear from you. Leave me a comment below and let’s explore this thing together!
I love what you have to say because I know it’s true, but when I specifically try to apply it to myself, I’m running into difficulty. My current goal is to change from binge eating to a lower carb, healthy vegetable-and-protein type menu to deal with several health issues, especially diabetes and the fact that I’m about 150 pounds overweight. How do I eat healthily without setting off binges (many times sugar or high-carb foods, but not always)? I just learned about the Stop, Drop, and Feel, but so far, all I feel is panic that I’m not bingeing! I believe that’s just my mind’s way of trying to protect me from some deeper feeling, but it may take a while to get through to it. In the meantime, how do I eat healthy without setting off the binges?
Kari Dahlgren says
This is a great question Lisa! And this is what coaching is really good for. Without knowing anything about you, my best advice is to focus all your attention on the SDF without attempting to “give up dieting” yet. Build your emotional tolerance up first.