I talk about restriction all the time. Physical restriction is the last thing you want for your relationship with food.
But there is another kind of restriction that’ll mess you up just as badly, and it’s mental restriction.
This is a really important concept (that Isabel Foxen Duke coined a version of the term as ’emotional restriction’.)
I don’t think of it as emotional – I think of it as mental.
Simply put… it’s guilt over eating. The mind chatter version of restriction.
“I shouldn’t be eating this way.”
And just like physical restriction (actually eating less), mental restriction will keep you in a binge-y mode too.
Meaning, even if you are telling yourself you’re allowing to eat everything … but you feel guilt over what or how much you’re eating, you’re still stuck in that cycle.
Mental restriction can be, but is not limited to:
Oooooh, I’ll let myself eat everything but I’d better just eat a little
If this is working I should start eating less
I shouldn’t eat a lot even though I’m allowed to
I am allowed to eat a lot …but eating a lot is bad
Oh, I can have a brownie but only if I eat it slowly and don’t finish it
I ate poorly today so if I’m intuitive I shouldn’t eat this way tomorrow
Oh I ate ALL OF THAT— what is WRONG with me? I SHOULDN’T need this much!?
I am gonna let myself eat whatever I want, and if it doesn’t work, it’s back on a diet for me!
Lots of mental restriction happens in the subconscious, but you’ll know if you have it because you’ll be feeling stress over eating.
What to do about it? Start being aware of when and where you still have stress around food and thoughts that are mental restriction. Be compassionate with yourself, arm yourself with reasons not to restrict.
For more work on mental restriction you can look at my ebook You’re Beliefs About Food Suck.
Lastly, remind yourself… eating a lot is not bad. We need a lot of food. If you’re hungry for it, you need it.