Are You Restricting Without Realizing It?
Josée Sovinsky, RD
In my practice as a non-diet and eating disorder dietitian in Toronto, Canada, I work with a variety of clients looking to embrace intuitive eating principles. This radical approach to eating can facilitate food peace, balance and freedom. One of the concepts we often work on is letting go of restriction and dieting. This can have many benefits, such as being more nourished, reducing cravings, and feeling less shame around food.
However, after being introduced to this concept and trying it out, many clients return to sessions claiming this didn’t work for them. Even though they ate all types of foods and enough food, they still felt out of control with their eating patterns.
This can happen when we see restriction as only behavior; instead of recognizing it is a mentality.
Restrictive behaviors include avoiding certain foods, counting calories, and cutting down on portion sizes. These are usually easier to identify. On the other hand, restrictive thoughts, or a restrictive mentality, can be sneakier. Even when we don’t engage in restrictive behaviors, we can still be subscribing to a restrictive mentality.
Signs you may still have a restrictive mentality:
· You feel guilt after eating specific foods
· You feel shame when you eat more than others around you
· You describe yourself as “bad” or “naughty” when you eat certain foods
· You believe certain foods will make you gain weight
· You think there is a perfect way to eat
· You believe some foods are “healthy” and others are “unhealthy”
· You think you will binge if you keep certain foods in the house
· You worry about what other people think of your eating habits
· You view food as an enemy
· You view your days as “good” or “bad” based on what you ate
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Restrictive behaviors are what we do or don’t do.
A restrictive mentality is what we think, feel and believe.
Restriction includes both of these concepts.
The Bottom Line:
Letting go of restriction goes far beyond changing our behaviors. Don’t get me wrong, modifying behaviors is certainly part of the battle and can prove to be extremely challenging. However, even if we manage to change our behaviors, we will never truly find food peace if we don’t also work on our thought patterns and mentality.
Remember, intuitive eating and finding food peace is a process. Be kind to yourself.
Josée Sovinsky, RD is a passionate Registered Dietitian working in a community setting in Toronto, Ontario. After facing her own struggles with disordered eating during her degree, she developed a strong interest in helping those affected by eating disorders and mental illness. She decided to learn more about intuitive and mindful eating, body acceptance and Health at Every Size®, which now strongly guide her work. She dreams of a world free from mental health stigma, body shaming, and disordered eating. When she is not helping others make peace with food, she enjoys baking, photography and doing yoga in her living room. Visit Josée's website and connect with her on social media.