Intuitive Eating and Deprivation: AKA Why You’re Still Bingeing
Intuitive eating can feel like a big leap of faith, but what happens when you start and it just feels like you’re failing over and over again? What happens when the bingeing, the main thing that the intuitive eating was supposed to cure, just won’t stop?
Written by Ashley Seruya, B.A.
So, pro-tip: intuitive eating is never simple. If you’ve ventured onto to this path hoping that healing your relationship with food will help stop your binges for good, don’t worry, it will… eventually.
Because that’s the thing with intuitive eating. There are some kinks to work out first.
But let’s back up a second and establish a few things, namely this golden rule: bingeing is a response to restriction. Full stop. Bingeing is your body’s way of catching up when you prevent it from gaining its sustenance. And that restriction, that physical deprivation you are inflicting on yourself, it accumulates over time. So one week of restricting, one month, one year… when you finally hit recovery road, that’s gonna come back to bite you, full force.
Now, the second truth we need to be clear on: restriction is both physical and mental in nature. When you restrict physically, there are repercussions. And when you restrict mentally, there are the same repercussions. Don’t think that just because you ate the candy bar, you’re home free and clear. How did you feel when you ate the candy bar? Is there guilt associated with the fear food? What would it have been like if you’d eaten multiple candy bars? Are there still good and bad labels attached to these foods? Are you giving yourself full, unconditional permission to eat?
That’s a lot of questions there; a lot of things you have to get straight before intuitive eating can even begin to impact your bingeing behavior. Intuitive eating can heal your relationship with food, but it takes a lot of leg work. You have to unlearn diet culture in all its forms, and see the subtle ways in which you hold onto that garbage. And you have to let your body let go of the deprivation mindset, both physical and mental, and allow it to catch up with all the damage that’s been done in the past.
So if you’re still bingeing, don’t panic. Instead, assess the situation. Are you making up for lost time? Probably. Are there nutrients your body needs because you’ve been limiting your food choices? I’m sure. Are you still regarding food with fear, rather than unconditional permission and non-judgmental curiosity? Most likely. Are you engaging in subtle deprivation? It’s doubtful that you aren’t.
Change the answers to these questions, and then ask yourself if you still feel like you’re failing.