Hi friend! Food rules are not part of Food Freedom because they can quickly lead to disordered eating habits or make restriction even worse. I know from my own struggles with restrictive dieting and orthorexia, that learning how to break free from disordered eating foods rules was a HUGE part of creating my healthy (and happy!) relationship with food 🙂
YUP, FOOD RULES SUCK!
Food rules are a pain in the BUTT. They’re needy, they demand SO much of you, and they’re just plain old restrictive. Food rules are the cornerstone of eating disorders, strict dieting mindsets, and an obsession with being healthy – so it’s absolutely essential that we learn how to break free from them if we want a happy and healthy relationship with food! And believe me, I know about crushing food rules, first hand, and how challenging that process can be.
I made food rules for:
- Food groups
- Cooking methods
- Added sugar
- Portion sizes
- Meal times
- and so much more!
No wonder I was so stressed out about eating healthy – I lived by a set of strict food rules! Plus, the high stress and restriction were what made my binge eating so much worse. I was either following one extreme or another! I’d be as strictly healthy as I could be, or I’d binge on all the unhealthy foods I could get my hands on. This cycle was terrible, which is why I set out to find Food Freedom in the first place. I told myself that I could not live in this vicious cycle anymore, so I had to find a way to heal my relationship with food.
THE START OF RESTRICTION & ORTHOREXIA
When I was following a strict paleo diet and also practicing intermittent fasting, my food rules were at their most extreme. Going strict paleo for a year was the cornerstone of my battle with orthorexia because it turned healthy eating into an obsession.
Not everyone who follows paleo and practices fasting has an eating disorder, but for people with an already shaky relationship with food, a strict diet can easily put you into the eating disorder danger zone.
Some of the biggest food-fears I had during that time of paleo restriction were around grains. After going through the process of healing my relationship with food and finding Food Freedom, I broke my food rules. My plates were always “healthy” and made of real food, but now my mindset around food is healthy too – and that will always be the key to successful Food Freedom!
Use this free workbook to start your Food Freedom journey!
4 WAYS TO BREAK FREE FROM DISORDERED EATING FOOD RULES
So how do you actually break free from those disordered eating food rules? Start with these 4 essential steps!
1. ASK YOURSELF, “WHY?”
Eat fewer carbs, eat more fat, eat less sugar… WHY? Honestly, “why” is a powerful question that I had to learn how to ask myself when in recovery from orthorexia. The general nutrition advice that you read in magazines or find on Pinterest is NOT made for people struggling with an eating disorder.
When your relationship with food is suffering, it’s easy to forget that YOUR nutritional needs are a lot different from what most people are talking about right now.
The truth is, not everyone knows as much about health as you probably do. Most people are worried about getting healthier… not loosening their control over food. Most general nutrition information out there is directed towards weight loss, obesity/diabetes-related disease prevention, or marketing for a specific diet, supplement, or program. Before my recovery, I twisted the general “eat less and exercise more” recommendation into an excuse to under-fuel my body and create food rules that made me even more strict around food. So in recovery, I had to ask WHY.
Ask yourself these questions when you think about following food rules:
- What’s good for ME?
- What do I need to be happy and healthy?
- Why is this a recommendation?
- Who is this rule made for?
- Why does or doesn’t this make sense for me?
The answers to these questions will bring you one step closer to finding Food Freedom, so you can reclaim that balance between happiness and healthiness and heal your relationship with food!
2. PRACTICE AMAZING SELF-CARE
Practicing amazing self-care is essential to finding Food Freedom and crushing restrictive food rules. It’s how your body works! Simply explained, if you’re not taking care of yourself holistically (as a whole), you’re not going to be able to heal single parts of you (like your relationship with food). So, in order to break free from food rules, you have to take really good care of yourself in all ways.
Self-care should include strategies for:
- Getting great sleep (I aim for 8 hours every night)
- Moving your body (it doesn’t have to be at a gym)
- Fueling your body (with enough nutrition and calories – read about mindful eating meal prep here)
- Making time for play
- Expanding your knowledge
- Exploring creative outlets
- Practicing self-love and body positivity
- Detoxing from social media – (get my mini social media detox here)
- and anything else that makes you happy and healthy as a whole person!
3. PRACTICE EMPOWERING PERSONAL GROWTH
Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.
– John Maxwell
I never read any of John Maxwell’s books, but I heard this quote and fell in love. It’s just SO true. Every day, every minute, and every second the world changes. We’re constantly in motion; we have a choice whether or not we want to resist or move with it. Change is indeed inevitable, and growth is absolutely optional. So, what do you want to do? Do you want to be stuck feeling like this and trapped in a self-sabotaging relationship with food? Nope! You want to GROW and turn your restrictive food rules into something healthy and happy!
My favorite personal growth strategies include:
- Yoga classes
- Reading books
- Listening to podcasts
- Working with a coach
And the key is that all of these things are truly practices! You can’t try it for just a few days and expect big breakthroughs to happen. Read more about the most powerful tool you need to heal your relationship with food, here.
4. TRANSITION INTO INTUITIVE AND MINDFUL EATING
The last key to breaking free from food rules is to transition into intuitive and mindful eating. Intuitive eating is characterized by 3 big ideas: no food rules, no calorie counting, and no meal plans. It’s all about listening to your body and eating based on how you feel. It’s exactly what it sounds like, you eat based on your intuition! But what happens after you’ve been struggling with food? If you want to eat intuitively, does that mean you go from total restriction to complete Food Freedom all at once? Absolutely not! 🙂
Intuitive eating is a LOT to handle all at once. And when we’ve come from a place of restriction with an eating disorder, trading all those rules in for intuitive eating can make us feel lost, overwhelmed, and like we’re failing. But we’re NOT failing! We just need an approach that makes SENSE right now. Which is why my favorite way to transition into intuitive eating after struggling with food is to follow these 3 baby steps:
- Redefine what real food is
- Replace restriction with structure
- Indulge more often than you think you “should”
Getting rid of food rules for good and healing your relationship with food is a matter of transitioning from a place of restriction to a place of FOOD FREEDOM. Learn how to transition into intuitive eating with a breakdown of the steps above, here.
Ready to end the cycle of restriction? Start healing your relationship with food with this free workbook:
TAKEAWAY: FOOD RULES CAN BE CRUSHED WITH FOOD FREEDOM
You have the power to heal your relationship with food! And it always starts with taking the right action steps to get in the mindset of self-healing. YOU can absolutely do anything you put your mind to! If I didn’t think that breaking the endless cycle of restriction was possible, I wouldn’t be here sharing my tips for success! 😉
Did you learn something today? You might be interested in finding Food Freedom! Using the 3 strategies in this food freedom ebook to learn how I healed my relationship with food. I’m sharing my best tips for healing your relationship with food (including lessons from my experience with orthorexia, binge eating, over-exercising, body image, weight gain, weight loss, and restrictive dieting). In this super special 30 day program, you’ll learn how to create a sustainable Food Freedom action plan that works for YOU.