Robyn Priebe, RD, Green Mountain’s director of nutrition, is back with some thoughts on deprivation. It’s a subject we talk a lot about at Green Mountain and on A Weight Lifted. Sometimes it takes a while to really understand the significant impact it can have on our eating.
This may sound like a confusing question, but it’s a something I hear often at Green Mountain. We encourage everyone to eat what they want, even those of us with type 2 diabetes, PCOS or other health issues that are affected by what we eat (and what isn’t?).
When we discuss the idea of putting all foods in a “permissible” category, people often tell me, “That won’t work. I already allow myself to eat _____(fill in the blank — fast food, ice cream, whatever type of food you might not believe is consistent with healthy eating). That’s the problem. I eat it every day, or if I don’t, I binge on it.”
The idea of telling these people that they should allow themselves to have the fast food or whatever seems crazy. However, I question whether they are truly giving themselves permission to eat the food, despite the fact that they may eat it daily. There’s a big difference between eating something and feeling guilty about it versus being OK with eating that same food and not dwelling on it afterwards.
There are various different reasons/triggers for binge eating or compulsive eating. One very common type of binge is a deprivation-sensitive binge. What I find interesting is that deprivation can trigger a binge whether it’s actual physical deprivation of food (under-eating), deprivation due to eliminating/restricting specific foods, or perceived deprivation (thinking you should be avoiding a food or eating less). With perceived deprivation you may actually be eating enough food, eating all types of foods, but we still have this sense of “I should be eating less” or “I shouldn’t be eating this specific food.”
Changing the way we think about food often changes our relationship with food. Sometimes it’s helpful to evaluate our relationship with food. How would you describe yours? Do you view food as something that can do wonderful things for your body and mind or perhaps you think of it as a full time job or an adversary. I have had both of these relationships with food. There were points when I thought food was the enemy and I was the victim. It was a struggle making food-related decisions every day, all day. However, once we begin to tune in to all the amazing things food can do for us, and actually feel those benefits, our food choices often change without a lot of effort.
I find that fast food makes me feel ill. I do not consider that a benefit. I know I can eat it if I want to, but in most cases, I don’t want to. I personally feel great when I’m eating lots of fruits and vegetables and the chefs at Green Mountain find it mildly entertaining when I get excited because there’s extra salad in the kitchen for me to eat. I actually crave salads. There was a point in my life that I’d never expect to crave a vegetable and I wished that I could live on ice cream and cake, if only that wouldn’t make me gain weight. Now I know I can have any of these things if I really want them and by giving myself that permission, I’m often amazed at the results.
How about you? How would you describe your current relationship with food?