The Effects of Restrictive Dieting

In a recent article entitled “How Restrictive Diets Mess with Our Brains and Lead to Bingeing” by Roni Davis and featured on tinybuddha, Davis writes about her experience with restrictive dieting and subsequent development of an eating disorder. What I especially resonated with in this article is what she says about the overall process of restricting and how it affects us psychologically:

“There are many reasons behind why we eat what we eat, when we eat, and even the quantities we choose to eat; it just doesn’t work to tell someone to stop everything they know and just eat this much of this at this time of day, because at some later date it’ll make them skinny and happy. Our brains don’t work that way. Our brains actually work exactly the opposite. As soon as we place restrictions on what we’re allowed or not allowed to eat, our brains start creating compulsions and obsessive thoughts that drive us to “cave.” Have you ever noticed that as soon as you “can’t” have something, you automatically want it even more? That’s a survival instinct that’s literally been hard-wired into our brains since the beginning of time……. From an evolutionary standpoint, we’re not designed to restrict food. Coded into our DNA is the overwhelming urge to survive, so when food (either over-all calories or food groups) is restricted, our brains begin to create urgency, compulsions, and strong desires that force us to fill its needs—and often, even more than its needs (binges).”

Instead, Davis, again from experience, proposes that we begin to form a connection with our bodies; that we learn to distinguish between being physically hungry and emotionally hungry. She notes that giving ourselves unconditional permission to eat whatever we want, whenever we want, based on our mind/body connection, allows us to become mindful of the choices we are making and the obsessions we have created with food will dissipate.

Davis goes into much greater detail in her article; it is a worthy read:

Photo credit: http://Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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