You hate it…
Feeling like you always have to think so much about what you do or don’t eat.
Not being able to eat the foods you REALLY want.
But you feel stuck. You’re afraid that you need to keep following the rules…keep dieting…because if not, you’ll just eat non-stop and have your weight go completely out of control.
If you’ve been following diet rules for a long time, it can definitely feel weird at first to be free of them.
But, these feelings of weirdness quickly become feelings of liberation.
And not only are they not going to be the cause for long-term weight gain, they’re essential for long term health and weight success.
The vast majority of the time, it’s the restrictive dieting that comes BEFORE feeling out of control with eating behavior.
Restrictive diet #1 → feeling out of control with food → restrictive diet #2 → feeling more out of control with food…. → thinking you need to go on restrictive diet #10 to fix how out of control you are with food.
A restrictive diet can NEVER fix you feeling like you’re out of control with food, as is most likely a factor or THE factor creating those feelings in the first place.
Have you ever experienced this?
You know you’re going to start a diet soon, so in anticipation of this, you start loading up on your favorite treats.
You think “I’m never going to be able to eat cookies again” and then you devour cookie after cookie.
This is often referred to as “Last Supper” eating.
Because you know you’re about to start missing out on your favorite things, you want to go out with one big last hurrah!
Caution to the wind and cookies straight into your veins (well, hopefully not literally)!
This is the natural response to impending scarcity.
But these feelings aren’t a one-time thing. Because then you are living in the self-imposed scarcity and you’re thinking of all of the things that you miss.
You start thinking of “excuses” so you can indulge. And you know that once you stop indulging, you’re going to need to return to the diet.
And if either way, you’re back on the diet tomorrow, you better have more than just a nibble, right?
If you’re going to feel just as guilty for 1 cookie as you will for 10 cookies, why not have 10 cookies?
Do you see how these thoughts are not fixed by a restrictive diet, but actually are created (or amplified) by one?
So…will you eat more when you decide to stop dieting? Probably. But… no worse than you already do.
You ALREADY go off of your diet and increase how much you eat.
When you’re off your diet and it’s temporary, you know you need to make it count. Calories galore!
There is a huge difference between going off your diet to “cheat for a little bit” versus being deliberate about no longer dieting.
It’s the difference of it being the NEXT time of many to come that you “fall off the wagon” or the LAST time you have to transition away from a miserable diet.
When you know that you’re not going back to dieting, you can let go of the feelings of “I need to make it count because tomorrow I’m back on my diet!”.
At first, you might have inner conflict. Like one-half of your brain believes it’s temporary while the other half of your brain is trying to be the voice of comfort declaring that everything is going to be okay and there’s going to be no more mean, scary diet.
The sooner you can resolve that conflict, the sooner your “non-dieting honeymoon” can end.
But first… you need to watch out for the trap that can prevent you from leaving restriction in the rear view mirror…
You have a tendency (all people do) of being nice to yourself NOW, while being downright mean to yourself later.
This is why it’s so tough to go to bed on time even though you know you will wake up in the morning tired if you keep scrolling through Facebook.
This is why 22% interest on a credit card doesn’t seem like that big of a deal when you make your purchase.
When you stop dieting, you will see the scale go up.
With more food in your belly and water and carbohydrate in your muscle tissues, you can easily see the scale go up a few pounds without actually gaining any fat.
And sometimes, fat IS gained after giving up dieting. But the sooner, the better. The more restrictive your diet and the longer it is sustained, the more chaotic eating will feel when you stop dieting.
A potential 5 lb weight gain today could be a potential 30 lb weight gain a year from now.
Think of it as kinetic energy. The more you pull back on the string of a bow and arrow, the more explosive the projection of the arrow will be. More restriction = more chaos.
Of course, you can take steps to make sure that any weight gain is temporary (like the increase in water weight) and steer the ship towards weight loss.
The key is to IMMEDIATELY be proactive about creating sustainable, non-restrictive eating habits…
To focus on creating plans that will give you some structure and focus.
To re-learn how to listen to your hunger and fullness signals.
To differentiate physical hunger from emotional hunger (and respond accordingly).
To include more nutrient-rich foods, but in a balanced way that enables you to have long-term consistency.
When you get these skills and habits in place, you can neutralize feelings of being out of control without fighting yourself.
You can quickly take yourself from feeling disoriented and weird about not having a set of “rules” to follow and feel calm and centered, knowing that you have a better framework in place.
You can know that you no longer need to keep alternating between extreme indulgence and extreme restriction, and that despite what you may have told yourself before, you CAN be a moderate eater.
The first step… is to just say “no” dieting.
And if you are having the most difficulty right now with determining whether you’re physically hungry or emotionally hungry right now and knowing what to do about, check out the End Emotional Eating Interactive Course.