When it comes to gaining control over our eating habits, human beings simply aren’t very well adjusted. When we try to rely on self-control or commit to stringent diets- the desire to eat fatty foods doesn’t go away- it intensifies. It’s like closing the flood gate without opening a release valve. Eventually, the pressure becomes too great, and that’s when we succumb to the urge to binge.
We end up going from reactionary dieting to reactionary indulgence, like trying to regain control of a car on an icy road. Fight or Flight dieting is a trap we all occasionally fall into. Human beings aren’t equipped to avoid temptation entirely.
How to Escape the Vicious Cycle
First, we should recognize the nature of the impulses that drive us to eat unhealthily. The nature of the impulse to begin a reactionary diet is fear. We see that we’re putting on weight and we become afraid of it getting out of control. We panic, and commit to an extreme and unrealistic regimen. The thing to do is to say no to the urge to begin an irrationally spartan diet. This will be your first step toward sensible eating habits.
The second pitfall comes after we begin to lose weight. Your internal calorie compass says you’re heading toward famine. This is an ancient survival mechanism that will trigger a desire to overeat. Understand that this impulse will never go away. You must learn to live with it.
But how can you learn to live with a never-ending internalized drive to eat unhealthy foods? Treat it like a pet. Occasional moderate snacking is the best way to deal with this powerful and permanent feature of our brains.
In All Things, Moderation
It is only by rejecting the attitudes that make us feel guilty and fearful about our bodies and our diets that we can regain control and stop careening all over the road.
The first step is to abandon diets altogether. Throw away crutches like food scales, printed menus, and body-fat calipers. These only reinforce feelings of failure and drive us into more reactionary diets. Abandon the idea of failure. The idea that you can fail at eating is absurd, and it induces stress that will push you to overeat. Reject guilt, fear, and failure.
By removing all these negative associations to eating from your mind, you’ll find healthy eating will become more natural to you. And best of all, your indulgences will become more enjoyable, more satisfying, and naturally more moderate.