Unconditional Permission to EatApr 05, 2021
If you've heard about intuitive eating, you've probably heard about allowing yourself “unconditional permission to eat".
What you think when you hear “unconditional permission to eat”…
“If I tell myself I can eat my favorite foods, I won't stop!”
One of the most common fears around unconditional permission to eat includes the fear that you won’t stop eating or that you won’t eat healthfully.
It's totally understandable you would think this way. Here's why…
Deprivation (mental and physical) and food morality (i.e. pizza is “bad” but salad is “good”) are two key factors in producing negative thoughts that lead to restrictive or binge-related behaviors.
If someone tells you that you could never have pizza again starting tomorrow, you’d feel instant deprivation. You’d probably order a pizza tonight and you’d likely have more than one serving.
This is how the diet/binge cycle perpetuates.
When you deprive yourself of something you enjoy, your cravings increase and your emotional reactivity triggers. Giving yourself permission to eat the things you love does not mean you’ll lose all control. True and unconditional permission to eat the foods you love means you crave and enjoy them on a normalized basis.
At first, unconditional permission to eat might look like eating more of the foods you’ve claimed as off limits for so long. That might include chips, donuts, fries, bread, bagels, basically any food that diet culture demonizes and tells you that you need to eat less of.
And this is where something really cool and awesome comes into play…
Food habituation explains that we adapt quickly to a repeated experience and with each repeated exposure, we derive less pleasure from it. For example, if you make chili on Sunday and say you’ll eat it the rest of the week for dinner… it probably tastes really good on Monday, and with each passing day, the pleasure surrounding that food decreases.
When you’re dieting, you aren’t practicing habituation. You’re “staying on track” during the week and then only exposing ourselves to food when were “off the wagon”.
This is restriction in and of itself, and also never allows us to get to the point where we have repeated exposure often enough that the food doesn’t seem so enticing anymore.
You know you’ve entered habituation when you look at a previously forbidden or “trigger” food and think to yourself, I don’t actually feel like eating this today, I can come back to it later if I so choose, but whatever I do choose is not wrong or right, it just is.
If this feels impossible right now, I want you to think about how long you've been dieting. How many diets have you been on? How many times have you counted calories? Counted macros? Gone on a meal plan? Cut out sugar? How many years? How many “get back on track tomorrow”s?
It makes total sense that you feel weird about allowing yourself complete unconditional permission to eat. That you fear being out of control.
But I assure you that with time and exposure to these “off-limits” foods, you won't feel so out of control around them.
A confident, joyful relationship with all foods is possible.
Want to stop dieting, but are worried about weight gain + feeling out of control around food? Have you heard about Intuitive Eating but don't really understand it or are looking for the Cliff notes version? I got you, sis. Download my free Intuitive Eating (30+ pages) Ebook today!