Here is a question I received from a reader:
Q: I feel that I still am thinking about food too much. Will this stop at some point? … I don’t have any problem with gaining a little bit of weight, but I just don’t know if I can trust that I won’t continue bingeing. Before I lost weight I was eating chocolate everyday (also overeating), why would that stop now?
A: In my experience, the biggest and nearly only reason for bingeing is restriction, both physical and mental.
If the fixation is eating as much as possible whenever possible- don’t worry. Once you reintroduce food, a free-for-all is to be expected. That is your body’s way of getting you back to normal and out of starvation. It is a survival response.
Our brains are wired to fixate on food, and our bodies are wired to crave it.
This may go on for a while. Until you genuinely know and prove to yourself over time that this isn’t just a fun blip in a lifetime of diets, your body will fixate on eating. That is ok. And for better or worse, eating is your way out. But you have to go through it before you get out of it, and you can’t force it. Slowly but surely you will find yourself caring less about foods you used to obsess over. Slowly.
If your fixation is still on calories and purity, that is your brain holding onto a modicum of control. It is so scary to let go of something that seemed so important before. It is so scary to give up control and not trust or know whether or not you will ever stop eating. You will. You will NOT continue eating for the rest of your life. You are not a bottomless pit, though the fact that you may feel like one right now is ok.
Bingeing is a response to restriction. Once you genuinely have been eating all the foods you want for a good amount of time, the fixation on them and on eating them subsides. I promise. This is both biological and mental.
As far as your overeating before your obsession and so fearing you will after, that is a good question. But you have to know that overeating and bingeing are different. There is a big difference between bingeing on chocolate, and eating a lot of chocolate for comfort. If there is no restriction involved, a binge is highly unlikely, and if you find yourself overeating chocolate once in a while, it is absolutely fine and normal and human. There is nothing to be scared or guilty about and life can continue as usual. “I ate a lot of chocolate, oh well, now I’m not hungry for a little while, maybe I should take down the trash.”
AND if you were genuinely consistently and uncomfortably overeating chocolate before you decided to restrict and lose weight, I would bet you almost anything it was under some sort of denial mentality. Was chocolate restricted? Did you worry about getting fat or eating too much? Did the more you ate chocolate, the more you think you shouldn’t be eating chocolate? I bet a lot that there was still a sense of restriction. That can cause a fixation and a hoarding/bingey mentality.
I promise you, chocolate is just not THAT exciting once you have full reign. Once you can eat chocolate for breakfast lunch and dinner and snacks and desert, there is no pull. It is unremarkable. Sure it is still good at specific times and can really hit the spot. But once you know you never need to stop, magically, you begin to stop.
I promise this is true. These days, I forget to go grocery shopping and forget to eat dinner before I leave the house. Of course, that is it’s own problem, and now it is highly probably that some good old fashioned grocery shopping and food planning and vegetable roasting may do me some good, but my days of fixating over food are GONE!