Beware the “Don’t-Binge-Eat” Diet

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about the trap of the “Don’t-Eat-Emotionally Diet” or the “Hunger-and-Fullness Diet”

…wherein we misguidedly use our hunger signals to define strict boundaries around food, rather than looking to our hunger cues for information about our bodies’ needs. More on this here.

You may have also heard me reference the trap of the “Love-Yourself-to-Lose-Weight Diet,” or the “New-Age-Thinking-Will-Make-Me-Thin Diet,”

….wherein we pursue body love or improved mental health for the purpose of weight loss, rather than for the purpose of sanity or true holistic health and well-being. Unsurprisingly, this does not usually work long-term, for reasons I explain here.

Today I want to discuss another “diet trap” that ironically keeps women in this painful cycle of restricting and bingeing—

 I call it,

“The Don’t-Binge-Eat Diet,”

…where we walk on eggshells, trying not to eat “too much,” or resist particular urges with food…for fear of…“the B-word!”

…where we avoid eating in a way that we believe to be “abnormal” (according to diet-culture) rather than connecting with our authentic desires and staying true to ourselves.

…where we berate ourselves for eating certain amounts of food or try to control amounts of food through will-power/self-control.

(In my opinion, binge-eating should never be defined by the amount of food you eat—but rather, as an instinctive reaction to deprivation. Defining binges by “amounts” only encourages restrained eating, which ironically, triggers even more reactive eating in the long-run. More on this here.)

Now, you’ve probably already figured out that the “Don’t-Binge-Eat Diet” doesn’t usually work that well long-term.

Why?

Because binge-eating is a reflexive, psychobiological response to dieting and diet-mentality—and by definition, cannot be healed through diet-mentality.

Trying to avoid eating in any particular way that we think is “wrong” (whether that be types of food, amounts of food, or whatever your “thing to avoid” may be) is itself a restrictive behavior—

the grand irony of course being, that trying “not to binge” is a variant of the exact same restrictive thinking that triggers reactive eating (i.e. bingeing) to begin with.

So what’s the solution???

Instead of defining what you consider to be “normal behavior” and trying to emulate that behavior by force,

let’s focus on challenging your underlying diet mentality—including your assumptions and beliefs about what’s “right,” “wrong,” or “normal” with food—and allow your authentic desires around food to unfold without force, interference, or other cause for rebellion.

In other words, let’s focus our efforts on meeting our true needs around food—instead of trying to shut out what we don’t deem “acceptable.”

To better understand diet mentality (which is quite a different thing from traditional dieting), click here.

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