Your eating lessons from My Big Fat Fabulous Life: The trap of all or nothing thinking

FullSizeRender-4When I met with Whitney and her dad Glenn Thore during episode 6 of My Big Fat Fabulous Life, I pointed out a common family eating experience.

Both lived in a world where food was labeled good or bad and eat less or nothing was always better.

Labeling food this way sets anyone up to fail. Foods can’t be fit into two simple boxes.

Even more, folks that keep foods locked up as good or bad will more often than not experience disordered eating. What does this look like?

All or nothing thinking leads to periods of deprivation or starvation. And, we know not eating enough leads to bingeing.

During the episode, I shared a handout on this process. Here it is for you:

All or nothing thinking leads to bingeing and other disordered eating.
All or nothing thinking leads to bingeing and other disordered eating.

All or nothing food rules are normal and this makes me sad. I discussed in this post how nutrition science is a fluid science. It is never black and white and always changing.

Your Aunt may say with much conviction to stop eating carbs because “we all KNOW how bad they are.” Before you etch that in stone keep in mind some examples.

As a youngster growing up in the 80s, I learned eggs were bad because of their cholesterol content. Fast forward to 2015 and the US government declares Eggs Are Officially OK to Eat: eating high cholesterol foods doesn’t affect most of our cholesterol levels. Diner establishments everywhere rejoiced!

What other foods experienced this? Carrots, bananas, avocados, nuts, meats, beans, and coffee are just a few.

Next time you hear about a new diet craze or nutrition research in the news, consider how it fits in the continuum of nutrition science. No foods are so incredible we must have them everyday. And, no foods are so horrible that consumption today will make diabetes or weight gain.

Food just doesn’t have that much power.

How do you eat when food is no longer all or nothing? How do you choose?

Ask yourself. You have the answers.

We all have hunger, fullness, and satiety cues helping us to know how to eat. More often than not, when I bring this concept up, I see puzzled looks. Eating in accordance with body cues is considered novel, foreign, new, or strange.

Does the idea of eating without all or nothing thinking sound scary or silly? If so, please come in. I want to share a different way.

You were born knowing how be a competent eater including how much, when, and which foods. Even cooler, your body was born knowing this in a way to promote health.

It never needed good versus bad lists or portion sizes. Your body didn’t and doesn’t need to be controlled. Your body was made to experience a rhythm with food looking at the bigger picture.

It doesn’t get all out of sorts when calories consumed are a lot more today because of little activity or vice versa. Your body considers the bigger picture (think week or month not day) and can deal with mistakes.

Sort of like viewing your town from a mountain, your body considers your total needs and communicates future needs via hunger, fullness, and satiety signals. It will adjust accordingly to promote health and keep your body at the weight it wants to be at.

Did you eat more than usual on the days around Thanksgiving last year? Me too. If you did, your body let you gently know it needed to eat a bit less afterwards.

Don’t recall this happening? If you didn’t experience this gentle communication, I am guessing messages of “I was bad” or “I shouldn’t have eaten that” or “I am disgusting” may have been clouding your view to your innate wisdom.

And your body let you know its hunger and fullness adjustments whether you were looking or not.

Here’s another way to think about it:

Have you ever gone camping or somewhere a great distance from town and been in awe of the nighttime sky? I live in a town with enough light pollution that country stargazing can take my breath away.

Does this mean the stars only exist out-of-town? Of course not, but it does take intentional distancing from the chaos of town to really see what’s already there.

Black and white food rules are the city lights, smog and skyscrapers. They are keeping you from seeing and experiencing the mechanisms your body has to provide health naturally. And, to experience this you have to distance yourself from all the pollution.

Diets harm not help. Time to take a diet detox.
Diets harm not help. Time to take a diet detox.

I want October to be the month you take a diet detox. That means no rigid lists, no good vs bad, no depriving.

Letting go of this pollution, you will be able to breathe again and heal your relationship with food. It can help you reconnect with your body’s metaphorical stars: your innate food wisdom.