On. Off. Black. White. Binge. Restrict.

Still here.  I’ve started at least half a dozen posts and just haven’t finished them, my creative writing spark nowhere to be found.  And I spent the last day or so writing something absolutely profound, and after installing some updates and rebooting, POOF! it’s gone.  I thought I had saved… apparently not.  The Blogging gods are angry tonight.

Anyway – let’s talk about binge and restrict cycles, okay?  This has been at the forefront of my brain for awhile now, mostly because I’m definitely in the binge part of the cycle and instead of just looking to get back to restricting, I want to figure out a way to break the cycle completely.  Move the behaviors to the middle, avoiding the extremes of either the binge or restrict, because while I love roller coasters, I’m not so fond of my nutrition taking the same kind of ride.

An interesting side note: my binge/restrict is not only about my eating, it’s also my spending habits. More interestingly, spending almost always ebbs and flows along with my eating; it’s rare when I’m being nutritionally sound but spending money on all the things on my I WANT IT NOW list. So it’s been like an early Christmas around here — food, treats and gifts galore.

Back to food. There’s a theory out there simply called Eat The Food (ETF) that posits that a lot of disordered eating starts after undergoing dieting of some sort — that by cutting out some foods completely from your diet you set yourself up for a binge at some later point.  The way to break this cycle is to go through a period where you eat anything you want, whenever you want.  They advocate listening to your body and only eating when hungry and only eating until satisfaction (not overeating), but that if you want, say, Pop-Tarts for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, that’s what you should eat.

The end game is changing the way you think about food — you take the stigma and draw away from eating once-forbidden foods.  Foods are no longer classified as “good” or “bad” — it’s all just calories, no judgment involved.  Perhaps veggies and lean meat provide more energy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be fueled by chocolate. Eventually you learn what makes you feel good and perform your best and because nothing is off the table (see what I did there?), there’s no reason to binge anymore.  You can have anything you want to eat at anytime — no need to eat like it’s the last time you’ll ever see that particular food again.

I’ll say this much:  after a few months of “being good” and eating clean (see how the restrict cycle gets a “good” judgment attached to it?), I’m on the other side of that spectrum right now, eating all sorts of crap (another judgment) without any sort of restraint. And I’ll be honest — I feel like I’m about done with this binge, but I need to figure out some way to not go into a full-on restrict phase because a binge will likely follow.

And I’m not entirely sure how to do this. In the past it’s always been that if I eat one I’ll eat 20 — it’s not enough until it’s gone. I’ve talked about this before, but I really need to figure out the middle ground — that’s got to be the key to a normal relationship with food. I want to be able to have all the tasty stuff I love in the house without being worried about it disappearing shortly after being shelved.

It all comes back to my old friend: mindfulness. If I can manage to just listen to my body, distinguish real hunger pangs from the desire to eat for some other reason, I can break the cycle.  So simple.  Not so easy. My body knows what it needs to thrive, it’s just a matter of paying attention and feeding it when hungry and stopping when it’s satisfied. Mindfulness. Yup.



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