When I talk about intuitive eating with folks who are unfamiliar with the concept, many of them express concern that if they give themselves permission to eat “junk food,” they will lose control and not be able to stop themselves. More often than not, they have a history of binge eating, and so it makes total sense that they would be fearful about things like cookies, chips, or other snacks. But the truth is that the treats themselves aren’t a problem at all. Rather, our thought patterns are the problem.
Typically, the binge cycle goes something like this: we restrict a certain food, which causes a series of physical, psychological, and emotional responses that lead us to compensate for the restriction by binge eating.
We are afraid of binge eating, so we restrict cookies. But what happens is that we end up fearing the cookies themselves, which causes us to eat an excessive amount of them. Do you see the flaw?
The way intuitive eating prevents this problem is by removing the fear of cookies. By allowing ourselves to eat those “fear foods,” they lose their power, we don’t feel deprived, and then we don’t binge.
What’s interesting, is that when we give ourselves permission to eat all foods, (and learn to prepare them in ways that taste good) we are naturally inclined to engage in balanced eating patterns.
I talk a lot about eating treats and snack foods with people who struggle with food freedom, but that doesn’t mean that treats and snacks are the only things I think people should be eating! Really, I’m just trying to illustrate that it’s okay to eat cookies, because we also eat kale sometimes, too. But eating just one or the other would not be okay, long-term.
I baked some cookies yesterday with my nephew and they were delicious! (We used this recipe from Rachel Cooks, and they turned out great.) We each ate a couple, and we made a game of picking the yellow M&M’s out of the dough. Today, I ate more of the cookies. That’s right — multiple cookies, multiple days in a row! But I also ate a number of other things, too. When I woke up this morning, a green smoothie sounded really good, so I listened to my body and had kale for breakfast! When lunch time rolled around, leftover steamed broccoli (with cheese and sriracha) made an appearance in my diet, too. In addition to balanced eating, I am intentional about moving my body and taking care of myself in other ways. As a result, I feel great, and I’ve been wearing the same jeans for the past two years!
The moral of the story is that kale and cookies are both healthy. We don’t need to restrict one or the other…because sugar is poison, kale isn’t a super hero, and broccoli with cheese is actually the best combo ever. #ohkaleyes