How to Set a Food Boundary Without Dieting

06.17.2021 - By Binge Dieting Learn how to change your relationship with Eating

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Going on a diet usually requires rigid and even punishing rules around food. When dieting we deprive ourselves, and then beat ourselves up when we make the smallest mistakes. If your body has too much weight on it then it’s true, it makes sense to take in fewer calories in a day or a week in order to make that happen. The problem is that the diet mentality is short lived and stressful and everyone reverts back to eating to soothe or for other emotional reasons. The happy medium is to find a way to set a boundary with food without dieting.  In this episode, I show you how to do just that. When we look past our constant need to be in control, we can better assess whether we are truly hungry or using food to numb and avoid. I encourage you to take a step back and get honest with yourself in the moment of eating about what you’re feeling or believing. If it’s not true physical hunger, what’s the worst thing that could happen if you put the fork down? What if you can just be with what’s there without the food? If you want to learn more about how to set a boundary with food, tune in to the episode! Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:  Discover the difference between setting a boundary with food and dieting. Learn to sit with the discomfort that comes with setting food boundaries. Identify instances when dieting may be beneficial. Resources The song by Karen Drucker I’ve Got the Power Episode Highlights The Brain on Overdrive Our minds are always reverting to some form of fear, even though it might be rooted in a memory buried way down under the surface. We all have a need to be needed, to feel good enough, to fit in and to feel a sense of purpose. Our life experiences will always give us opportunities where we feel the opposite though, so we often  live in a state of trying to prevent feeling one thing or another that might expose our insecurities. It’s normal to try to calm our looming insecurities or to distract ourselves with food, even though the added weight gain will increase those insecurities. What happens next? We get stuck in a state of overthinking and planning and dieting, leading the mind to panic and make up exaggerated stories about the consequences of extra weight. The mind now shifts its focus to the body rather than other sticky and unsolvable obstacles that might come our way in life.  Overthinking is not helpful.  A simple but powerful antidote to an overthinking mind is to take a step back and ask these questions:  What am I doing? What am I scared about right now?  What is taking over my mind this time?  Why am I so worried about food?  Why am I so caught up in this?  How to Set Boundaries with Food A food boundary can be helpful when it’s gentle; when it’s not about dieting or restricting but about noticing when you’re disregarding your goals for health. It can be helpful as you learn how to eat intuitively. It can be a helpful signpost to remind yourself that you might want to not eat those chips or that cookie so you can stop and check in with the inner world. It’s listening to your body and asking, “Why do I want to eat this food right now?” It’s probing the depths of your mind and being curious instead of mindlessly eating.   You might want to zero in on the foods or social settings when you often habitually eat too much and choose in advance to create a boundary. For example, before going out or before sitting down for the evening alone at home you might decide what you want the eating experience or the being at home alone experience to be like. Wherever the problem eating is happening, this is where you write down a goal for a boundary. You might try a boundary around chips or ice cream or the amount of sugary foods in a day or eating second portions.  Often overeating is a chance for you to rebel against your own rules or society’s rules or your partner’s rules about beauty. It could just be a way to not feel things. It could also be connected to a happy emotion; it can be a way to connect to others, to experience joy and freedom and to enhance a fun situation. There are hundreds of different reasons why people might overeat or eat even though they’re not hungry, or when they deceive themselves and convince themselves they are physically hungry when they’re not. If you don’t investigate this, the patterns might never change.  Embracing the Discomfort I don’t think it’s a good idea to be on a strict diet and to ignore true hunger. Just notice when you’re overeating. As you become more self-aware, the next step would be to enforce a food boundary and be with the discomfort involved with dismissing the urge. It can be noticing the short moment between that next bite and you saying, “That’s enough, no more”.  When you put your fork down, you make a conscious decision to face life instead of using food as a coping mechanism. You might realize that your fears are largely unfounded. You will be okay. Once you get honest with yourself and acknowledge your fears, you’re generally going to be alright.  A food boundary is you saying, “Fork down. I am looking forward to feeling whatever is going to come up right now. Bring it on, life.”  When Dieting Is Beneficial However, in some cases and for some people, a diet may be beneficial. Sometimes after a period of indulgence your body might appreciate an internal detox. Rather then a diet as a means for weight loss and control, a “diet” that restores balance to the body is occasionally not a bad thing. This process is listening to what your body wants you to do. So it’s not really going on a diet, it’s paying attention to your body.   This process becomes harmful when we get overly attached to the outcome, such as with an intense need to lose a lot of weight or look different.  A temporary “diet” can help people embrace low-calorie and nutrient-dense foods. It reboots our taste buds by incorporating healthier alternatives. The brain learns to appreciate and enjoy simpler foods. A “diet” also encourages people to put more effort into planning their food choices. When you diet, you plan to make sure you're not caught off guard in stressful or overwhelming situations. With a plan in mind you manage to stay on track even when you’re too busy or tired to whip up something healthy. It’s not even really a diet; it’s basic self-care.   Planning Ahead When we make a plan, we let our logical planning center take the lead instead of the fast-acting and fearful part of our brain. Planning ahead means overbuying healthy foods with long shelf lives while underbuying convenient, fatty, and sugary items.  It also means that you don't go to the grocery when you’re hungry or tired. If you do, you’re aware of this and have made a list, so you don’t purchase food impulsively. Benefits of Knowing How to Set a Boundary Setting a food boundary and following through with it would mean that you tap into a source of internal strength. It requires listening closely to your body rather than giving in to the subconscious brain.  The benefits of a food boundary may not be immediate, but they add up over time. When you set a food boundary, you are willing to forego immediate gratification to embrace difficult experiences that are a natural part of life. You train your brain to find another way to be present with discomfort. Mindful Living At the end of the day, the best “diet plan” isn’t a diet. It’s a way of life that has three general rules: Pay close attention to the thoughts that go through your head before eating. Ask the why. Why do I want to eat this so badly?  Why is it difficult for me to just be present? Why do I believe I need this food to be happy? Plan ahead for food availability.   Forgive yourself when you overeat and then regret it. Pick yourself up and try again.  In the end, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that you can follow. Only you can figure out what’s best for your body and what feels good for you. But it’s important to know that a food boundary can exist without a diet. It all starts with paying attention and taking the time to get to know yourself.  5 Powerful Quotes from this Episode “The only reason these things are scary is because I created a story in my mind that unless my body looks different, I'm unacceptable, I'm not enough, people are judging me. It's this big deal. And that's the joke. We made it up.”  “Imagine what would happen if you just noticed the human impulse, to control, to fix, to worry, to create stories, and you just sat with it, what would happen? Nothing. You would be fine.” “Our fast-thinking brain is all about immediate gratification. All you need to do is to be willing to slow down enough and get calm enough inside so you cannot be derailed by an overactive, fearful, fast-thinking subconscious mind.” “It's about asking what your deepest, truest part of you needs, way deep down, the real you, so to speak, rather than the part with an agenda to numb, to avoid, or to not miss out.” “People think that there is one correct amount of protein or carbs or fat and there was one correct amount of ratios, and there is one correct solution, and there isn't one. So this is about you figuring out for yourself, what fits for your body and what feels good for you.” If you listened to the podcast and enjoyed it, please share and post a review! Have any questions or want to take my online class or schedule an appointment? You can email me at [email protected] or visit my website. To making peace with eating, Betsy

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