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Diet Mentality & Amnesia

The most common side effect of diet-mentality or poor body image is Amnesia. 

In the midst of our emotional discomfort when difficult body-related feelings strike,

the pain of dieting or restriction—and our firm resolve never to diet again—suddenly vanishes from our memory

…as if dieting was never a problem
…as if “this time will be different”
…as if “only” cutting out sugar never hurt
…as if dieting didn’t eventually lead to All Hell Breaking Loose Every. Single. Time.

These bouts of Amnesia usually last as long as the mind and body can maintain another attempt at control—

before they’re brutally disrupted by binges, anxious episodes, obsessive thoughts, or some other symptom of “craziness” around food.  

“Oh yeah,” she says. 

“I forgot.”

“I’m actually not capable of dieting safely for very long…it’s only a matter of time before the shoe drops…before the wild beasts within me take over…”

“On my knees…desperate for help…I remember now.”

Moderation vs. Liberation in Diet-Binge-Cycling Recovery

Moderation…is trying to stay “in control” while widening the amounts and types of food you eat, so your rebounds aren’t as severe.

Liberation…is losing control and being okay with it—relaxing with out-of-controlness—knowing that no matter what I eat, and no matter what I weigh, I am whole, safe and complete. 

Moderation…defines recovery by what you eat or your ability to perform “correct” (aka “moderate”) eating behaviors.

Liberation…defines recovery by how we feel about our food and body no matter what they look like (i.e. by our ability to relax with our food and our bodies under all circumstances).

Moderation…positions “acceptance” or “surrender” as a means to an end (i.e. as a means to achieving certain physical food or body goals).

Liberation…positions “acceptance” and “surrender” as the highest ends in and of themselves, understanding that our state of consciousness—and not our behaviors—is where peace lies. 

Moderation…is afraid of losing control; untrusting of “cravings,” “urges,” and other strong or powerful energies within us.

Liberation…trusts and celebrates the flow of our instincts, our appetites, and our wild (i.e. natural) human desires.

Moderation must always be careful. 
Liberation cannot be touched. 

When the world feels scary, remember this about your food and weight…

When we’re filled with fear, anxiety or feel out of control in our lives—when the challenge of uncertainty strikes,

we may find ourselves trying to seek control in habitual ways—reverting back to old beliefs and storylines that give us a mission, that give us something “to do” in the midst of a frightening situation.

Food thoughts, poor body image, or diet-related fantasies may come up while we sit inside, waiting restlessly for an uncertain future. 

Our subconscious tells us: “if I can get this under control, I’ll have something to look forward to…I’ll be okay…I’ll feel safe and secure.” 

The pursuit of thinness offers a false sense of security in insecure times…and we so easily forget the costs and consequences of such pursuits.

Notice if this desire to get your food or weight “under control” is coming up for you during these difficult times.

Ask yourself, is this really a road you want to go down given your past experiences on this roller coaster?

And consider…

How else might you take care of yourself (physically AND emotionally) throughout the chaos? 

Where can you surrender what you can’t control,
and relax back into this present moment

No, That’s Not Emotional Eating

There are two primary reasons that people confuse “binge eating” …that is, eating in reaction to dieting or diet mentality

with “emotional eating” …that is, eating for pleasure, soothing or comfort. 

If you’re not sure about the difference between “emotional eating” and “binge eating” you may want to review Video #2 of my video series here before moving on with this post.

#1. The first reason that binge eating is often confused with emotional eating, is that our will power—and thus, our ability to diet or resist food—diminishes when we’re stressed or managing difficult feelings. 

If we’re dieting or using will power to hold ourselves back from eating, we’re more likely to “crack” or “fall off the wagon” (aka binge eat) when difficult feelings come up. 

This is not the same thing as “emotional eating” per se—which has nothing to do with will power or restriction. On the contrary, this is binge eating (i.e. a rebellion against dieting) that’s been brought to the surface early, because our ability to resist food has been compromised by stress.

To be clear, dieting (or diet mentality) is still the “real culprit” in this example. “Falling off the wagon” is pretty inevitable if you’re using will power to suppress your true desires around food…difficult feelings only speed the inevitable process along.  

#2. The second reason that people confuse binge eating with emotional eating—is that emotional eating can easily “trigger” a binge…if we’re still struggling with diet-mentality around our emotional eating choices. 

If we think emotional eating is “wrong” or “bad,” or if our emotional eating urges come in conflict with what we think we’re “supposed” to eat—we will easily succumb to “falling-off-the-wagon” eating when we “slip” at the hands of an emotional urge. 

In other words—what could be a cupcake or two when we’re bored, turns into a sheet of cupcakes + whatever’s in the kitchen sink because “I’ve already screwed up…better get it in now and start again tomorrow!” 

In other words, emotional eating can turn into a binge the moment we judge our emotional eating as “not okay” or deem ourselves “off the wagon.”   

To learn more about the difference between “emotional eating” and “binge eating,” check out this podcast interview I did with Health At Every Size warrior, Julie Duffy Dillon

It’s a great episode—especially for anyone who’s ever identified as an “emotional eater” or who struggles with the question: “I’m not dieting, but still bingeing—what’s up with that?!” 

Check out this episode here