How dieting stifles you


That's the word I've been chewing over lately. Sometimes literally. 

When expressing myself and thinking about what I want in the world, stifled feels like a fitting word. My experience is not that different from others. This feeling of being stifled is especially true for women. 

We're often told we're too much of something. Too bossy. Too fat. Too serious. Too emotional. Too silly. Too flighty. Too vapid. Walking the delicate line between being too cold and too emotional is impossible.  

Because it's impossible, we stop. We barely walk at all actually because each step could make us fall. 

Women learn at a young age to limit themselves. This often starts with food. 

One obvious way we learn to limit ourselves is through dieting. Our daily walk on eggshells starts with each morsel of food that passes our lips. 

At age 15,  I have a distinct memory of enjoying a cookie. Some man noted, "A moment on the lips, forever on the hips" while he proceeded to eat his own cookie. 

Because I was not an adult woman with the ovaries to say "fuck off," I nibbled slowly at the rest of the cookie. I promised myself it would be my last for a while. And that was when I learned that having what I wanted wasn't acceptable and it was okay for dudes to police my eating. 

Years and years of this feeling of being watched every time you eat slowly wears down your psyche. 

We learn by living this not to trust our bodies. Over time, we unlearn how to trust ourselves. We look outward to others to answer our questions. Or at least that was my story.  

Years of ignoring hunger culminated in a total lack of attunement with my own needs and desires. Each calorie skipped was a daily reminder that my most basic instincts were incorrect. 

As a young woman trying to navigate the world, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to have agency. What does it mean to ask for what you want?

 It might start with asking for what you want to eat. 

How to stop eating peanut butter out of jar

When I used to have water polo practice from 9pm-11pm at night in college, I would get home at midnight. I just played 2 hours of water polo, so I was pretty friggin' hungry. 

But..... I was on diet.

I was carefully counting calories. I was purposefully not buying things from the grocery store. Most importantly, I heard from Oprah or someone that you shouldn't eat after 7 PM.  

Sometimes, I would successfully eschew the fridge. Other times, I would try to just have one tablespoon of peanut butter. 

But more often than not, I ate a lot of tablespoons of peanut butter. Like sometimes I would pull a muscle in my mouth voraciously scooping peanut butter. 

I felt out of control. I was so frustrated and ashamed. 

Isabel Foxen Duke, founder of Stop Fighting Food, calls this “feeling crazy around food.” 

Isabel Foxen Duke is one fabulous babe. In fact, a lot of her work was really critical to me healing my relationship with food.  I've listed her as a reference for like a million blog posts. 

I'm not the only one. Isabel is one of the most well-respected coaches in the emotional eating world. Her approach is about changing your mindset around food. 

 If I had these videos when I was binging on peanut butter, I would have realized that I needed food. Eating peanut butter was actually a pretty good choice. 

If you're tired of swinging between "this time I've got it," and "what the hell is wrong with me? Why can't I get my hand out of this peanut butter jar?" I encourage you to check her out. 

Isabel’s offering a free video training series. The series unpacks the emotional and psychological  components to changing your relationship with food. 

If this is a topic that speaks to you, I highly recommend you sign up to get her free vids.

Here’s the link again to sign up for this free training


PS: I am a paid affiliate for Isabel's program. She still does a kick-ass job though. Even Ricki Lake likes her. If you sign up using my link, you can help me pay my squarespace rent. 

How to stop eating when you're full

I've talked about this before on the blog.

The holidays used to be horrible for me for overeating. I hated going to parties where there was a lot of finger food and nothing too hearty. I'd never get to the flatbread in time. So, cookies being my fave, I ate a bunch of 'em. Well past the point of fullness. 

Nowadays to avoid the terrible overly full feeling, I have a few strategies. 

Here's what to do to stop eating past the point of fullness (if you want to). 

1. Give yourself full permission to eat. 

This is the most important step. You can't do anything else on this list effectively unless you give yourself permission. 

Often times our subconscious minds tell us that this is our last chance to eat something. Meanwhile, our conscious mind is trying to get us to stop. 

This is part of the binge-restrict cycle. When we think we can't have something, we stop eating it. Then, when we face it, we feel like we can't have it. So we go craaaaaaaazzzzzzzzzyyyyy on it. It is, after all, our last chance. 

2. Eat when you're hungry.


This one is pretty intuitive. But diet culture teaches us that eating is bad in general. 

The worst line I ever read on a diet website was, "You're on a diet. You're going to be hungry. You just have to learn how to deal with it." 

Why? That's cray. Why would it be healthy to ignore a cue from your body. If I started bleeding out of my face, I wouldn't be like, "I'll just ignore this." So, why do we do this with food?

3. Pick foods that fill you up so you don't get voraciously hungry. 

 You can keep hoping that the ramen noodles you bought will last you until dinnertime. This would be a false hope, Luke Skywalker. (Get it?! A New Hope? #starwars #rogueone #nextweekend #nerdsarecool)

Dietitians love to show people this chart that shows how your blood sugar rises and falls.  In it, we see that carbohydrates spike your blood sugar, then fall. Protein lasts longer than carbs and fat lasts the longest. Fiber helps to sustain fullness for longer. Soluble fiber, found in most fruits and veggies, takes your body longer to digest. So, it hangs out in your stomach for longer. 

 An easy way to prevent yourself from overstuffing is by eating MORE at other meals. You can add peanut butter to your apple.  You can add hummus to your carrots. You can add chicken to your salad. You can just have a snack between lunch and dinner. 

4. Satisfy your Cravings. 

See #1 again. 

Satiety can also be psychological. For example, if I'm craving a hamburger, I usually don't feel "full" until I get that burger. I can snack all night on mango slices and never feel "full" because I never let myself just have what I wanted. 

Sometimes it's better to have the real thing. I can tell you from experience that you can eat all the different varieties of vegan macaroni and cheese. It just doesn't satisfy like the real thing. 

 By all means, don't hurt yourself. I do not recommend eating something you're allergic to. Anaphylactic shock can kill you. Overeating is less likely to kill you. 

5. Give yourself time to eat


In today's busy world, we often don't have time to eat. We eat while we're working. We eat while we're driving. We eat while we're watching tv. We eat while we're trying to do something else. 

Not only is that a recipe for indigestion, but it's also a way of disconnecting you from your body. Chewing is hard to do while shoveling a sandwich down during a long commute. Chewing is an important part of digestion. Without it, you might feel bloated. 

 If you sit down to a square meal, you might find it more satisfying. 

 6. Make a plate

Sometimes putting food on a plate shows us how much food it is so we can feel like we actually got a square meal. 

When I get a hankering for snackies, I find it useful to fill up a bowl or a plate with said snackies. As with holiday parties, sometimes snacks don't seem like they can add up to a meal. But, they can. It's a fine way to eat a meal. That's why the Spanish love their tapas. 

7. Listen to your body

Overeating is often symptomatic of other issues. 

It could be the result of not feeding your body when you were hungry. It could be the result of not satisfying a craving. It could be feelings. You could be in a rush and not have time to chew. 

Overeating is just eating more than your tummy can hold. Slow down and try to listen to your body when you're hungry and when you're full. 

You don't have to sit down on a meditation pillow and chant oms between each bite of food. Just remember that eating is about taking care of yourself. 

You don't have to feel shame about eating. You don't have to eat in a rush. You don't have to eat food that you hate. You CAN eat food you love. You CAN take time for yourself.  You CAN eat food that makes you FEEL better. No shame necessary. 

Most importantly, don't be too hard on yourself. It's just a little too much food. 

Why we "overeat"

Since I started eating intuitively, I haven't really been "too full."

Back in my dieting days, I would often find myself in situations where my belly would be terribly full. 

I've talked about this before in my mac and cheese episode  and exercise is a drug post.

Many things cause overeating. Want to figure out the reason you can't stop? 

Here are three common motivations for overstuffing: 

1. Dieting

So says the great and powerful Isabel Foxen Duke

"The only time you will ever feel 'out of control' around a specific food, is when you’re trying to control it to begin with."

Why would you feel "out of control" if you're not controlling food in the first place?

Science shows how restriction can lead to binging. The most famous experiment was the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. Young men followed a strict "semi-starvation" diet for a period of 24 weeks.  A few of the dudes had a "complete breakdown in control." and broke into the food supply. 

Dieting creates scarcity. Your body doesn't know the difference between a diet and a famine. When you get your hands on a batch of fresh-baked cookies, your survival instincts kick in.

Even perceived restriction can lead to overeating. This is what the intuitive eating ladies call "last supper" mentality. You go nuts on food because your gut thinks there's not more coming soon. 

This made sense to the prehistoric humans who understood that winter was coming. Your body knows to eat a little extra and store it on your booty for the those colder months.. 

2. Feelings

I read through a BUNCH of binge eating disorder websites to write this bloggy post. They all refer to "psychology" as a reason for binge eating. 

I like to think psychology is fancy doctor-speak for feelings. Food is fantastic at numbing. It's also designed to make you feel good. A lot of foods activate dopamine and serotonin responses in your brain.

I used to eat a TON of cereal after I spent all day working as a cashier. I was depressed and I wanted to feel better.

When I was chowing down on my cinnamon sweeties, I was able to zone out on Hulu and simple sugars. It felt good to be "bad." Sia would call it a cheap thrill. Eating a few bowls of cereal at 11 pm at night was the most exciting part of my excruciatingly boring day. 

I think emotional eating gets a bad wrap. It's not IDEAL to shove your feelings down into a box of cereal but for me, that habit helped me cope with a difficult part of my life. Since I quit the job, I haven't eaten that cereal at all. 

3. Because you want to

Sometimes, I just eat a lot of something because it is, for real, not something I'm going to have later. For example, when I lived in Argentina, I ate spoonfuls of dulce de leche (it is BOMB there). 

I eat an extra serving at Thanksgiving because it's not going to be around for another year. Thanksgiving is an elaborate meal that we have a national holiday just to prepare for. Ain't nobody got time for all those side dishes any other time of year. 

Whatever the reason, it's OKAY to overeat sometimes. But, if you want to prevent that gaseous uncomfortable fullness in the future, subscribe below. 

Ted Talk: Why Dieting Doesn't Usually Work

A lot of people don't really believe me when I say that dieting doesn't work. 

Which is why I mention set point theory like erryday 

If you're one of the Debbie Doubters, here's a cool video from Sandra Aamodt. Aamodt is a neuroscientist and science writer. 

She does a kick-ass job of explaining set point theory and why diets don't work. 

Check it out!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin