Food rules. We’ve all got them. We all use them in our daily lives but are they actually making your restriction worse?
It all comes down to what’s behind the rules.
See, our food rules aren’t inherently bad; they’re simply a method to ease decision making around food. We have so many choices to make on what to eat and drink that, without guidelines, we become overwhelmed and make choices that leave us feeling guilty (here’s how I suggest dealing with food guilt) later.
My food rules experience
I’d like to say I’m totally over my obsessive food rules but they definitely still come up. Just a couple weeks ago, I flew six hours to ride 40 miles across NYC and spend four days with my boyfriend’s family (yikes!). Honestly, it was a lot, and I’m confident I would have fallen apart in this situation just a few years ago, when I didn’t recognize and appreciate my restrictive tendencies.
The weekend was filled with lots of Italian food, eaten at a round table, with a bottle of wine to share. This wasn’t really a “problem” until Sunday night – the night of the ride. We finished riding 40 miles (and another 2 to return our bikes – trust me, I felt those 2 miles) and headed to a nice dinner. It was our last meal in the city, in a crowded family style restaurant in Little Italy, and a bottle of wine showed up.
Can you believe that the first thing that popped into my mind was “I can’t drink. It’s Sunday. I don’t drink on Sundays?”
I was diagnosed with my eating disorder 13 years ago, I’ve been ‘recovered’ (off and on) for 10 years, and those thoughts still come up. And I hate to break it to you, lovely, they’re never gonna go away. We’ve just gotta change how we interact with them.
Over the last few years, I’ve made a huge mindset shift away from fighting my restriction, instead using it as my strength and strategy. This has allowed me to completely change my life (no exaggeration).
So as these ‘should’ thoughts crowd my head, I don’t fight them; I use them to help me move forward. This radical shift is so so important if you’re ready to ditch the food obsession trap and finally live your best life.
So…do I need to fix my food rules?
It depends. Lorie at lemons + zest describes our food rules as ‘our safety net’ and so we almost don’t know how to live without them.
Further, when we’re thinking about our food rules, we’ve got to understand the ‘why’ behind them.
Are they helping you better understand your body?
Are they grounded in a desire to feel physically better – not to shrink or restrict?
Do they make you feel stressed out or obsessive?
Understanding that ‘why’ behind the rules is key to figuring out how to move forward.
If you’re unsure about how to move forward, take my rate my restriction quiz to figure out how ‘in control’ you are of your eating. Once you take this quiz, I can assess your situation and send you personalized suggestions on how to take the next step.