One of the main battles in overcoming overeating is to stop thinking of some foods as "good" and others as "bad." Food is nourishment and hunger is a healthy, involuntary sensation just like feeling cold or tired, the thinking goes.
But like so many people with a history of dieting, I’ve struggled with knowing when I'm truly hungry, and I've had a hard time not judging myself harshly if I pass up a so-called "good" or healthy food in favor of something I've categorized as "bad," like an indulgent dessert. That puts me in a cycle of disordered eating, one I've dealt with for much of my adult life.
To finally address my overeating issues, I began seeing New York City psychotherapist Alexis Conason. Over two years in private and group therapy, I learned about mindful eating, which she describes as "eating what you want when you want it." Sounds so simple, but for most people, this is pretty revolutionary. We spend so much time depriving and judging ourselves, and one of the ironies of this is that even if you don’t struggle with your weight, food judgments are a constant yet ever-changing part of our culture.
Gluten, salt, animal products, sugar, carbs—we are barraged by conflicting information that flip-flops through the years. But by far the most painful to live with are the judgments we place on ourselves. Denying yourself food that your body is craving will never help you maintain a healthy weight long-term. In fact, it will almost always set you up for disordered eating, as I've learned the hard way.
Dr. Conason helped me understand why. “When we believe that our food will be restricted, we have a 'now or never' mentality, thinking this is our one opportunity to eat this food, so we should eat as much as we can in this moment because we’ll never allow ourselves to have it again,” she says. One of the many issues with this is that we will eat it again...and probably again after that. We hate ourselves not only for eating it, but for failing.
Continue reading this article at Health.com.