As a dietitian who helps others get over disordered eating after years of dieting, I’ve heard this many times: “I don’t have a limit when I’m eating. If I let myself eat what I want, I won’t ever be able to stop eating.”
To this I say: bunk. It just feels like that.
Everyone has a stopping point*. You might not think so because maybe you’ve stood beside the cheese tray at a cocktail party scarfing ungodly amounts of mediocre cheese cubes fearing you’d never stop. Maybe you stopped at bursting and that felt bad. And maybe you simply don’t know your stopping point because you are hungry much of the time…so very, very hungry.
Dieting and calorie and food restriction create a false impression in your body that you are a bottomless pit. That you are a vessel that will never be filled, especially when you are confronted by a favorite or particularly delicious (or sometimes even mediocre) food. Maintaining a body weight lower than what is natural for you will also cause your body to constantly crave food, large amounts of it. Anyone who diets will likely experience this biological response regulated by a cascade of hunger hormones.
On the flip side, honoring your appetite (aka, eating intuitively) has the opposite effect. Once you begin to eat satisfying amounts of food when you feel hungry and your body weight adjusts toward its natural set point, your bottomless pit starts to find its bottom. As you practice honoring internal cues more often, you may start to find that your stopping point is not, in fact, stuffed but satisfied. You may even find yourself easily leaving food on the plate, or turning down the offer of a homemade brownie if you are simply not hungry for it.
My bottomless-pit acquaintances are incredulous when I suggest that they do have stopping points. They don’t trust their bodies. Most are desperate to stay thin and know their natural appetite will support their desired size.
I understand why people pursue this path. But if constant cravings have taken over your life and preventing you from fully living, it could be time to give up the dieting.
When you truly honor your internal signals of hunger and satisfaction, eating what I really want, and letting your body be, you will no longer have fearsome, insatiable cravings. Honoring your appetite comes from a place of body respect and is an act of self-care.
Eating what you want and as much as you want may feel scary at first. As your body adjusts, that fear may turn to comfort as you realize you are taking care of yourself and your needs and you no longer have to fear your own bottomless pit.
*Some medical conditions excepted.
Welcome to food freedom! Dare to Not Diet LLC is owned by Glenys Oyston, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Therapist and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. It's time to feel good about eating, your body, and your health.