One of the most common problems I hear from folks is the struggle of depriving yourself of food, only to end up overdoing it. Diet culture has taught us that we cannot trust ourselves and that the way to stop overeating and to “control ourselves” is through significant deprivation and restriction. Sadly, that tactic doesn’t work.
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A Better Relationship With Food Is Possible
It’s time to honor your body by breaking the cycle between guilt and deprivation, and stop feeling like you are failing. Instead of ‘last supper eating’ or starting again on Monday, you can allow yourself to make peace with the presence of food and start to experience your food on a deeper level. A positive relationship with food is possible when you can gain an outline of the process of making peace with food, which is what this episode will teach you how to do.
Have you been struggling with depriving yourself of food and are ready to start feeling at peace with food instead? Share how you are working to turn your situation around and embrace a more peaceful way of eating with us in the comments below.
On Today’s Episode
- Ways that you can start making peace with food in your own daily life (2:21)
- How to identify the foods that you don’t allow yourself to eat for no good reason (8:50)
- The psychological and physical effects that come from depriving yourself (13:10)
- Tips for breaking the cycle between guilt and deprivation and avoiding overwhelm (16:45)
- Why you should take your time and slow down when experiencing food (21:10)
Resources Mentioned In This Show
“[Intuitive Eating] is not a yes/no list, it is not a list of hard and fast rules that need to be done in a specific order or for a specific amount of time and all of a sudden things are going to be completely better. It’s applying it to a living breathing human, which is you, and all of your uniqueness.” (3:50)
“The more you say ‘don’t do this, don’t think about it’, the more you think about it. So in order to stop the bingeing, to stop the overeating, to stop the ‘last supper eating’, and ultimately to stop the guilt, is to systematically make peace with food.” (18:43)
“When you start to relax into the idea that the food is going to be there, the shininess of that object wears off, the novelty wears off. A novelty in our brains and dopamine go together, but if the food is there, or we are allowing ourselves to have it, it looses that forbidden fruit value.” (19:36)
“We always think we have to earn and burn our food… we have to let go of the idea of ‘making up for it’. Because that is a condition, it is not unconditional.” (25:35)
“Every time you take that step toward making peace with food, giving yourself that permission, checking in with your body, you are building bricks of trust.” (28:38)
Make Peace with Food (Intuitive Eating Principle 3) w/ Steph Gaudreau FULL TRANSCRIPT
This is Episode 292 of the Listen To Your Body podcast. Today I’m talking all about the effects of depriving yourself of food and how to turn that situation around. If you’ve been struggling with this, then today’s show is for you. The next evolution of harder to kill radio is here. Welcome to the Listen To Your Body podcast. on this show, we’ll explore the intersection of body, mind, and soul health and help you reclaim your abilities to eat and move more intuitively. Hear Your body’s signals, and trust yourself more deeply. I’m Steph Gaudreau, a certified intuitive eating counselor, nutritional therapy practitioner, and strength coach. On this podcast, you can expect to hear expert guest interviews and solo chats that will help you deepen your trust with food movement and your body. Remember to hit the subscribe button and share this podcast with your friends and loved ones. Now, on to the show.
Hey there, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for hanging out with me today on this solo episode. I’m so glad you’re here. Today we are going to be diving into one of the most common struggle points. One of the most common things I hear from folks, which is why would I deprive myself of food? Do I end up overdoing it? We’re going to talk a little bit about this today and go into a bit of a brief overview. I mean, let’s be honest, this topic alone could comprise an entire podcast season and it’s definitely something that when you work together with An intuitive eating counselor or nutritionist or registered dietitian, whoever you’re working with this on, there is a lot of nuances. And oftentimes, this process is going to take time. But we’re also going to go over some of the ways that you can start making peace with food in your own life. Now, this episode is a continuation of my 10 part series that I’m going to be rolling out over the next couple of months. That covers the 10 principles of intuitive eating. I already did principle one, which is to reject the diet mentality. That was Episode 288. And Episode 289 was all about principle to or honoring your hunger and there’s so much in those episodes. So I hope that if you haven’t heard those yet that you go back in the archives and you take a listen, it’s going to help set up a lot of what I’m going to touch on in In this episode, and in forthcoming episodes, My plan is to release a couple of principles at a time. So that way you can sink your teeth into it. Pun not intended. You can sink your teeth into them. Think about them, mold them over, let them breathe, experience them in your life, because the tendency is oftentimes, okay, give me the checklist of the 10 principles of intuitive eating, and I’m going to do them all right now. And why haven’t they worked in a week? Right? It’s not a yes, no list. It’s not a list of hard and fast rules that need to be done in a specific order, or for a specific amount of time. And all of a sudden, things are going to be completely better, right? It’s, it’s applying it to a living, breathing human, which is you and all of your uniqueness, and letting those concepts take the path that they will for you. So that’s a little preview of today’s show. Before we jump in a couple of things first, please Hit subscribe on your podcast app. This helps new people discover the show plain and simple. Before we go any further, a couple of things, a couple of asks, one, if you enjoy this podcast, please, please, please push, tap that subscribe button on your podcast app or where you’re at wherever you listen to the show. It helps new people to discover the podcast, which is really cool. And secondly, if you like this episode, something resonated with you please share on social media, wherever you do that, probably Instagram and tag me at Steph_Gaudreau. And I’d love to hear what you think about this particular podcast. What resonated for you finally, sign up for my Listen To Your Body newsletter.
This is where I remind folks about the show the episodes that come out if you happen to miss one but also I take these concepts body neutrality, intuitive eating, making peace of food, all of that This and expand upon it there. And you’ll also hear announcements about when my membership is going to be open and new opportunities that you might have to work with me. So you can do all of those later. But just make sure you do them today, if you would, that would help me out hugely. All right, let’s do this. So principle three is officially called making peace with food. And for a lot of people, they hear about the first couple of principles of intuitive eating, if they’re reading about it in a linear way, say in a book or listening to a podcast series perhaps. And they think, Okay, you know what, I’m on board with the idea of rejecting the diet mentality, or at least I can see where it hasn’t served me very well. I’m good with that. Okay, honor your hunger. I’m going to start paying attention to the more subtle signs that my body is sending me so that I don’t end up in that biological hunger drive where I’m Not eating most of the day, I, all of a sudden I’m ravenous. And I can’t stop eating or I just overdo it. And I end up feeling really full and stuffed and not good in my body. So a lot of times there’s buy-in for those two principles, I first starting this in a linear fashion. And then we get to principle three, which is making peace with food. And there’s a lot of pushback. So if you’re sensing pushback or Whoa, whoa, whoa, I was on board with you. But then you started talking about unconditional permission to eat? I don’t think so. And I just want to say that if you’re sensing those things, or feeling those things, it’s all very normal reaction, because we have been taught by diet, culture, and history of dieting, that we can’t trust ourselves around food, especially the foods that we tend to perhaps overeat if we slip up, quote-unquote, and we let them in our world. So we’ve been taught that we cannot trust ourselves we’ve been taught that the way to stop overeating. And to start, quote losing weight is to deprive restrict, etc. Please be clear. If you, for example, have celiac disease, nobody on planet Earth is saying, Please give yourself unconditional permission to eat gluten, for example, or if you have a peanut allergy. absolutely nobody is encouraging you to eat peanuts. We need to be realistic about that because oftentimes, there are a lot of rebuttals.
People say yeah, but surely you can’t mean unconditional permission to eat everything because what about x, y z circumstance so you Yes, we want to honor those things about our body. If you are doing a medically supervised therapeutic plan for a very specific reason, and you’re under the care of an RD or a nutritional therapist or a doctor or whatever, and they’re saying, Hey, we’re going to eliminate this food for a while and see what happens or you can’t eat gluten ever again. We want to respect that. But it’s worth noticing. And what I would suggest as a thought exercise, perhaps is maybe pause this here after I give you this assignment. Pause the podcast right now. And write down the foods that you don’t allow yourself to eat. for no other reason than you feel like you shouldn’t have them. I shouldn’t have them. I can’t control myself. If I let myself eat this, I’ll never stop. just pause and write that down. Again, if you have to omit a food because you have an allergy or something like that, then that’s one thing. But pause and do a little quick little inventory of all the foods you don’t allow yourself. Because you feel like you can’t. You have no control, or because somebody told you it wasn’t good for you. Or because you were on the latest, greatest, quote, lifestyle plan, and you’re just not supposed to eat it. So go ahead and give it a pause. And you’re back. What did you discover? How many foods did you have? Or what could you think of on that list? That are foods restricting for really no good reason? It’s interesting to see it written out, isn’t it? So I just set that up for you to give ourselves some awareness because it’s only important it’s only going to make sense when you apply it to you in your life. If you can say, Oh, I know this person that can’t eat gluten, so I’m not going to eat gluten either. Why is that? And I use gluten as an example because I do not have celiac disease. I don’t even have a gluten sensitivity. But because I did paleo for many years, I was told your bread flour is just trash, don’t eat it, it’s not good for you, too many carbs, etc, etc. And I have made peace with bread. I had to actually go through the process of making peace with bread. And I was scared. I was scared to eat it. What’s gonna happen? I’m not gonna be able to stop. And now that I’ve given myself unconditional permission to eat bread. It’s not a big deal. Sometimes I eat it sometimes they don’t I really like sourdough now and then or if I’m at a restaurant, and there’s this really fluffy, warm roll. I mean, not that I’m going to restaurants these days, but you know what I mean? So, to just kind of set this up, making peace with food really deals with sort of the psychological effect of deprivation and if you’ve been in the diet world, meaning you’ve been a diet or which is most folks listening to this, at some point have done a diet or your lifestyle is including lots of voluntary restrictions of food chances are you are having some kind of psychological effect from deprivation, whether you’re really conscious of it or not. And it’s really interesting because I hear so often, you know, I’m trying to cut back or everything I’m trying not working and I say what have you tried? Well, I try cutting back, and then I just seem to overdo it. I go into a Phuket spiral right fuck it all. I’m eating everything. That’s why they call the fuck it all spiral right? I had a bite. I fucked it all up. Fuck it all. I’m eating it all, and it’s done or a binge, right? And so quite often we get into this cycle where we deprive, we have these overwhelming cravings. If you have ever dreamed about a food that you are depriving This is you. And I remember when I did a well-known elimination, diet, dreaming, legitimately, having dreams about sugar or chocolate or whatever I wasn’t supposed to. I’m supposed to have it right. So you deprive yourself, the cravings take over. There’s also a psychological component which we’ll talk about.
We enter then we just enter the fuck it all I’m eating everything spiral and the binge and then the guilt comes and then we say okay, I’m going to do better next time I’m going to, quote be good. Notice the difference between the guilt and the shame. Guilt is like I, I did something bad and then shame is I am bad. How many times have you felt like you’re a bad person because you ate a quote bad food that you promised you weren’t going to eat. But then the psychological effects that we’re going to talk about kicked in. And perhaps some of the physical sorts of biological hunger effects that we talked about in the last episode. So there is oftentimes that component of guilt, right, that’s a component. There is a component of I need to if I if I’m going to cut it out, if I’ve made a cut this food away from my life, then I have to I’m going to give my it’s like I’ve got to get it out of my system. Right Alright, I’m going to start on Monday. So I’m going to do it up big, or quite oftentimes, folks that I will talk to have come off of a, you know, a 30-day plan where they were super good and they, oftentimes if they are, they are upholders. If you know what a Gretchen Rubin upholder is I am one right rule followers. The rule followers get to the end and they’re like, heck yeah, I did that. I made it through. Whoo. And then it’s like, gloves come off. And every food that they denied for a month. It’s like, right. Gods come off. We’re gonna, we’re just gonna overdo it because we’ve been deprived and so people end up feeling like this is a failing. So many folks I talked to feel they have morally failed. They are a failure. They are bad. For this phenomenon. So the idea of the Last Supper eating is what that’s called, right? It’s going to be the last time I can have it, I better do it up good. Or I let myself have that food in the house or somebody brings it into the house. And because I always deprive myself, it’s novel. And I feel like I’ll never have it again. And so I’m going to go in, and instead of having one cookie, or maybe two or three, I the whole bag. I eat the entire package. And I’m not even really aware of it. I just know that there was a full package of cookies here. And then I ate the whole thing and now it’s empty. I don’t know what happened in between. That is another example. Another example is not wanting to waste food. Right? So my grandparents grew up during the Depression. And this is an interesting discussion about things like lineage. What is the lineage? What are the things that your parents learned from their parents? What does what role has perhaps food insecurity? in your lifetime? Your personal experiences? Have you ever had food insecurity? So there might not be enough food or not supposed to waste food. And oftentimes that comes into the discussion as well. So what do we do about this, if we need to break the cycle, between the guilt and the deprivation, the deprivation leading to cravings, and that leads to the overeating and then that leads to the promise that we’re going to cut back and it’s it happens over and over and over again? There is a process that is outlined in the intuitive eating framework for making peace with food. So again, a lot of people are on board with the concept, or the concept is even scary to them. You never have to do anything that strikes legitimate panic into your body. First of all, that’s not a good place to try to learn something new because you’re just going to be in a fear response. The idea of making peace with food is often scary to people because they think, well, that just means I’m giving myself permission to binge eat.
Or I’m supposed to purposely set out to binge eat. And that is not what this principle is about. And it’s not what the process is about. It’s really about habituating yourself to a food, giving yourself permission to eat it. And once you really grasp that food is available to you, and it’s not the last time you’re ever going to see it. And it’s not the last time you’re ever going to let yourself eat it. The allure goes away. It’s like if you tell somebody not, it’s like the white bear experiment, or they told people not to think about a white bear or something like that I have getting the details mixed up. But the point is, the more you say, don’t do this. Don’t think about it, the more you think about it. So in order to stop the binge eating, to stop the overeating to stop the Last Supper, eating, and ultimately to stop the guilt is to systematically make peace with food. Now, let’s say you did the exercise I asked you to do at the top of the show, and you all of a sudden you realize you have a list of 30 things you don’t let yourself eat. It doesn’t mean that you are going to need to go through this process. very deliberately with all 30 foods, because that can feel really overwhelming to people are like, hell no. No way. And so the point is that when you start to relax into the idea that the food is going to be there, the shininess of that object wears off. The novelty wears off, right, a novelty in our brains and dopamine go together. But if the food is there, or we’re allowing ourselves to have it, it loses that forbidden fruit value. So the process of making peace with food, I’m just gonna outline it for you. So you can start to learn more if you want. The first step is to write down a list of foods. You actually like it. A lot of people have a hard time with this. It sounds simple. What foods do you actually enjoy? Joy and I don’t mean, what foods do you tend to overeat or binge on because you said no more. But then the cravings take over. And that’s what you reach for. Oftentimes, what the folks that I’ve worked with discover is that they don’t actually even enjoy the taste of that food, or the experience of the food. They never really stopped to think about it or to experience the food because it was just that psychological effect from deprivation that makes them eat it really fast or think that it’s never going to be around anymore. So what foods do you really like? Number one, number two, get clear on of those foods. Which ones do you allow yourself to eat and which ones do you say are completely off-limits? Number three, two, Choose one of those foods and give yourself unconditional permission to eat it. That means, yes, you give yourself permission to eat it whenever you want. That’s what unconditional means. There’s no you give yourself permission if only XYZ condition is filled. So you give yourself unconditional permission to eat that food. I suggest eating slowly and paying attention to the experience. Right? So that is really checking in with yourself as you are experiencing the food. In other words, eating the food when you’re super distracted by other things, is probably not going to give you the full experience because your mind is somewhere else or you’re preoccupied. So maybe This is something you do when you know when you’re by yourself. Or maybe it’s something that you do where you’re really going to sit down. If you’re normally eating and nibbling on the go, and here and there, maybe this is the time where you’re going to say, you know, I’m going to sit down and have an experience with this food to really take my time and to really pay attention.
Am I actually enjoying this experience that I imagined in my mind of this food because normally, the foods that we sometimes think are off-limits, we have that off-limits relationship, we think they’re a lot better than they actually are to our taste buds or, you know, they, they don’t give us that release true satisfaction? And a lot of my clients that I work with have a hard time distinguishing between the appeal of the food because of the effect of dopamine and the lack of habituation and the actual experience. Remember dopamine, I say remember, like, we just talked This, we haven’t talked about it in a while, but dopamine is really the neurotransmitter of seeking. It gives us that sense of anticipation. Right? It’s why things like gambling are really attractive, because we’re like, oh, what’s gonna happen right? It’s very attractive in that way. And so oftentimes the attraction of the food itself is not the same as the real experience. So think about that. I will say one of the foods that I’ve kind of done this with is Cadbury, the little mini eggs, not the eggs with the creepy stuff inside but just a little chocolate eggs. And this oftentimes shows up for people where there are special foods that they only have once a year or they’ve been away from home for a while and mom always makes her back and cheese or whatever it is. You have to kind of think about those circumstances, well, where could I get that food? Or could I get the recipe and make it if I indeed want to make peace with that, because if you want to make peace with mom’s mac and cheese, but you are going to get the one out of the box from the grocery store, it’s probably not going to be the same experience, right? So yet that may play into it. But for me the Cadbury mini eggs, I realized that I would get the big bag and I would just like mindlessly, I don’t even mindlessly I would just eat them, eat them, eat them, eat them without even really experiencing it. And once I stopped to slow down, I realized that I could eat a few and that was enough. It started to lose its appeal. It was like way too sweet. hurt my teeth kind of thing.
So making peace with food is something that you may want to try for different things but just know really take the time. The experience that writes it down what was that like and the other component to that is letting yourself have that food without making up for it. I always say, you know, we always think we have to earn and earn and can’t say, earn and burn our food. We’re like, oh, let myself eat that but I had to go run five miles afterward or I have to do this banana pants workout before I allow myself to eat XYZ or you know, had to fast all day before I let myself eat this Thursday, we have to let go of the idea of making up for it because that’s a condition. It’s not unconditional. And then the last piece, after you’ve had that experience, is to make sure that the food is accessible to you in some way. So some people will choose to do this with foods that they have to go out of the house to get. Some people will eventually bring the food into the house and they realize that once the food is there all the time. It’s not as appealing. It loses its special notice it loses its allure, it loses the luster of only being around once in a while. So, therefore, I must go eat it right now because it’s that kind of last supper mentality. And there are so there are lots of objections when I work with people, they’re like, Yeah, but yeah, but yeah, but and that’s normal. That’s natural. Because again, it’s not probably what you’ve been letting yourself do. It’s going to feel a little bit scary, a little bit of nervousness, excitement, maybe even a little bit of a healthy amount of anxiety, which is really the excitement. If it’s all-out terror and panic, no, got to respect that. But it’s really important to the overall idea of intuitive eating and more intuitively because if we keep depriving, we’re going to keep overdoing it. Then comes the guilt and all those other things and recognize that yeah, if you try making peace with food, and at first, it’s like you can’t get enough that’s oftentimes a normal part of the process. For most folks, eventually, that does diminish. It does diminish all of the things that you’re really afraid of. Right? I, I, I won’t eat anything that makes you know anything, quote, healthy. That’s a huge fear of that folk tab. When they’re oftentimes making peace of food. They’re like, I’ll just, I’ll just eat junk food all day long. How I asked this, I had a client I did this with, and I said, you know-how for how many meals Do you think you could eat cookies before you really get sick of it and you end up wanting? You know, chicken and potato and some salad. I think I think the answer was three, maybe three meals. Right. So we oftentimes have these fears, and they’re a little bit irrational, we think, and this is this has to do with something that we’re going to talk about in the next principle is that sort of all or nothing thinking. I’ll never eat anything healthy or that makes my body feel good. ever again. That’s a fear that people have, or they fear they cannot ever trust to themselves. And, again, every time you take that step toward making peace with food, you’re giving yourself that permission. you’re checking in with your body, you are building bricks of trust. Another fear is, you know, I just won’t stop eating. I’ll never stop eating and again, eventually, if you’re a food that you’re making peace with is I don’t even know, Twizzlers. How many bags of Twizzlers do you think you’re going to get through before you just say you know what I’m done. More, right? Another common fear is or responses. I’ve tried doing that once before, but there was oftentimes a condition underneath it right there where it wasn’t unconditional. There was something standing in the way, some voice in your head or what somebody told you at one point what shouldn’t be allowed or, you know, you said if I allow myself to eat this, then I’ll be good the rest of the week. Those are all conditions. It’s not truthful permission.
Okay, so that I feel like that was a pretty good spin through making peace with food again. My goal with this series is to present the 10 principles of intuitive eating to elaborate a little bit. I know sometimes when you hear about this or you read, you might be missing really key points that are important to understand how these different principles really do fit together. Form a flexible framework around which you can begin to experience a different, more peaceful way of eating. I would love for you to share this episode out. So go ahead and post it on Instagram tag me at Steph_Gaudreau I would love to hear what you think or if you just want to send me a direct message on Instagram, please feel free to do it there. Hit the subscribe button. Remember, that sends a signal and says hey, I really like the show. And it makes it more likely that folks unfamiliar with the podcast will actually find it so it is a way to organically spread the word. And then also join myListen To Your Body newsletter. I send out a newsletter once a week I will let you know about new opportunities to work with me coming up with the different programs that are coming up when my membership will be open again, and so much more. So you can do that at StephGaudreau.com/LTYB, alright on next week’s episode, I’m going to be back with the fourth principle of intuitive eating which is really challenging all those voices in your head, that tell you what you should and shouldn’t be doing when it comes to food. Until then, be well!