I told myself I was being healthy…. that food restriction and obsession with carefully planning every single bite I put in my mouth was somehow good for me.
Well, I learned I was totally wrong, so I decided it would no longer control my happiness.
FOOD RESTRICTION IS NATURALLY CONTROLLING
It’s not your fault! Without a doubt, if you’re dealing with food restriction, you’re struggling to release control of your eating habits… I’ve been there.
But the thing is, the more I thought being healthy was only about food, the more I hated my body and developed an eating disorder. And hating my body led me to extreme diet swings like binging on sugar when I felt deprived, and then restricting myself like crazy because I felt guilty for giving in.
To say the least, food absolutely stressed me out! When food wasn’t in my control, I was anxious, scared, and frustrated that I was going to lose everything (even though it sounds silly that one “bad” meal would make you lose everything).
I was so obsessed with food that I didn’t know what to eat when I wasn’t in my own home.
If I was going to a party, I was anxious that there was going to be pizza and dessert. If I was going out to eat, I knew they were going to cook my food in unhealthy vegetable oils or give me a piece of chicken that was filled with antibiotics. If I was staying at a friends house, I would feel embarrassed refusing the meal she offered me because I didn’t know what was in it.
It all got a little ridiculous, and it sucked the fun out of everything.
When I finally started focusing on more important things in my life – like my relationships with the people I loved, my drive to learn new things, and exploring the opportunities in my career – I felt in control of my body and 1000 times happier with the way I looked.
It might sound a little “out there”, but trust me, it WORKS.
I WAS HYPER-FOCUSING ON BODY IMAGE
I focused on being healthy 24/7. It felt like I spent every waking moment thinking about food and what I (wasn’t) going to eat. I took healthy eating to the extremes, and it was all out of fear of losing the “perfect body” I worked so hard to get.
The biggest thing I had to break free from was thinking the only way I could control my body, was to control my food.
The thing is, most of us are jumping on the healthy living train because we want to change our body. That’s totally fine. But we have to acknowledge that it also means we’re likely to get a little obsessed with being healthy.
Because we naturally care about what others think of us and what we think about ourselves, we have a hard time breaking the rules we set for ourselves. We want to fit this “mold” that we feel like is necessary to feel beautiful, live happily, and be liked by others.
So, if you’re changing your life because all you want is to change your body, then you’re going to have a hard time NOT becoming obsessed with your food.
Is wanting to change your body a bad thing? No, absolutely not. But weight loss (or whatever your goal is) is so much more than food.
The thing is, healthy eating shouldn’t be the only thing you care about. Your health is so much more than just the food you eat. What you do outside of the few minutes you spend eating every day has profound effects on your health and how you feel about your body.
So why not use the time you’re NOT eating wisely — so everything about your life works to help you reach your goals.
3 WAYS TO BREAK FREE FROM FOOD RESTRICTION
I broke my restrictions. I no longer live by some crazy set of food rules or struggle with controlling every single bite of food I put in my mouth.
The most helpful thing I learned about breaking free from food restriction was to release my control of food while also RECLIMAING my time outside of the kitchen.
You’d think that the more you care about health, the easier it would be to make healthy choices, but that’s not always the case.
1. Nurture Your Positive Relationships
If you can focus on your network of support – aka the people that are there for you no matter what, that make you feel your best, and that help you be the real you, DO IT. Talk to them, involve yourself in their interests, be their support and don’t focus so much on YOU. Get out of your own head and be there for those important people in your life. Your existence is so much more than just your diet. That being said, don’t focus on the negative relationships either. Learn to let go of what’s no longer serving you, and find relationships that are uplifting, positive, and healthy.
2. Explore Other Interests
Learn the piano, another language, new cooking skills, join a club sport, or do anything that expands your world beyond food. When all you know is food, the obsession grows exponentially because you don’t think about anything else. Training your brain to focus on other things in your life is key to breaking your obsessive, restrictive habits. Even if you have no idea what your interests are – start somewhere. Ask your network of support that I mentioned above, they probably know you best and have great ideas for what you should try. One of the best things I did was start a yoga practice – it’s given me so much more of a bird’s eye view on how to empower myself in my own life to get what I want most, which is health and happiness.
3. Create Non-Food/Non-Fitness Goals
Piggy backing off of your other interests, create goals that push you to do these things. When you’re driven and motivated by something that pulls you out of your toxic obsession with food perfection, you can magically break yourself free, even if it’s only for a few moments.
Trust me, those moments turn into habits, and those habits turn into a lifetime. When I turned to my yoga practice and made handstands my goal, I spent SO much more time away from researching nutrition, looking at “fitspo” (fitness inspiration), and obsessing over my body image. What I did instead was shift my mindset to learn new things, and doing that gave me the power to feel accomplished, proud, and super motivated to do MORE for myself than change my body.
It was simply amazing to be free from my own thoughts – and now yoga has become a grounding practice for me to escape the self-criticism and restrictive habits that are so easily created.
TAKEAWAY: FOOD RESTRICTION DOESN’T HAVE TO CONTROL YOUR LIFE
You’re more than what you put in your body. You’re beautiful, you’re human, and you’re not perfect in abso-freakin-lutely the best ways possible.
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.