This is a quote from a hardworking client striving to make peace with food (she really has a cookie jar!). What’s not mentioned above, is how Melissa (whose name was changed for her privacy) got to this point.
One of the first goals we started off with was…
Eat the cookies.
Whenever she wanted them, Melissa had permission (and even instruction!) to eat the cookies. This was a scary feat at first- in the past Melissa would avoid the cookies, then eventually eat more than she would have liked, leaving her feeling out of control.
After practicing “legalizing” cookies, they began to feel less off-limits and guilt-inducing. Now, Melissa can have cookies as she pleases and move on with her day. She no longer feels as though she needs to avoid them completely or eat them all; giving herself permission has allowed her to stop when she feels satisfied. Granting permission to eat these cookies eventually took their power away. This process can feel messy and intimidating. It may even result in eating lots of the illegal food at first. You will not lust after cookies forever if you know you can have them whenever you want.
For those of you whose minds are screaming “BUT WHAT ABOUT HEALTH?!?” I hear you. You never expected a registered dietitian or perhaps anybody but your grandmother to encourage cookie-eating. Let’s think about it though…
Is it “healthy” to obsess over food and be overcome with food guilt? (No, this can induce shame, increase cortisol levels, blood pressure and encourage further self-soothing with via the binge/restrict cycle).
Is it “healthy” to avoid the cookies entirely, only to be followed by a cookie binge? (No, this is a natural reaction to restriction, but it more than likely will not make us feel good physically or emotionally).
If we create strict rules around what we should and should not eat, it is impossible for foods to feel neutral and for us to eat in a balanced and nourishing way. We always want what we can’t have, including cookies.
Allowing formerly off-limits food can feel chaotic and foreign, which is where the help of an intuitive eating dietitian can come in. Eating in a way that makes us feel satisfied, nourished, and free from food guilt is a long and windy road, but being free from that cookie jar is worth it.
Do you want to learn how to enjoy your favorite foods without guilt or feeling out of control? Contact Jaeger Nutrition today.