This is a work in progress post. I’ve only written up to stage 2 which is the stage I am in. One day, I hope to complete the stages guided by my own up to date experiences. The final stage being complete recovery!
Free eating is a style of eating that is my own version of a group of methods I’ve picked up from various resources and activities. This style was formed in an effort to recover from binge eating disorder. The ultimate goal of this pursuit is to eat what you love & love what you eat which in turn, will make you a much more happier person 🙂
The main engine of ‘free eating’ runs on the theory that what you resist will persist, and what you embrace will disappear. Try this – set a timer for 1 minute, then do your best to not think of 2 yellow lab puppies playing in the yard. Go!
If you’re like me, it will be very difficult for you to not think of the 2 puppies. This example shows how difficult it can be for the human mind to let go of something that it is told to resist. Now replace the 2 puppies with images of the foods you have told yourself is bad for as long as you’ve suffered from disorderly eating.
When you resist your cravings for these foods, you are feeding to the persistence of the cravings. It will grow stronger and stronger until it finds a weak spot in your resolve. Before you know it, you are hectically shoving everything you labeled as bad, down your throat before anyone could witness.
In my own experience, I have told myself that I couldn’t have the donuts, ice cream, slim jims, chips, etc. that my heart truly loved for over 10 years. I was told they would make me fat and so I labeled them as bad. Because of this resistance, my cravings for them persisted and I’ve suffered from disorderly eating and yo yo dieting.
I cannot tell you how happy it made me when I started this journey. I told myself that it was okay to love these ‘bad foods’, and that they aren’t really ‘bad’ at all! Try this – think of all the foods you have labeled as off limits or bad, and mentally flip the switch from ‘those are bad’ to ‘they are delicious and you can love them!’. How does that make you feel? Anxious? Nervous? Happy? Reflect on that feeling.
Many of the recovery resources you find out there will tell you to eat intuitively and not to resist urges. But I didn’t understand why it was telling me not to resist. If I don’t resist, then I will binge and gain weight! As I began to really contemplate on the idea of ‘what you resist persists’, I began to really understand these resources. The more I allow myself to eat what I crave when I craved it, the less I will obsess over it & the less I will want to binge on it.
Stages of Free Eating. If you choose to use this style, please be aware of some things. This method will only work if you are mindful of your pursuit. Also, it may or may not work for you, it may even be another resource you choose to only adopt pieces of like I did with other resources. There are so many different diets & resources out there simply because there are so many unique experiences out there. Every recovery journey is different, so it’ll take different methods. I hope you can gain some progress through this.
The purpose of this stage is to introduce a welcoming atmosphere to foods you use to restrict yourself from. You will continue to mentally repeat that no food is bad until it is apart of your belief system.
Eating: Eat what you want when you crave it.
Thinking: No food is bad, this food sounds good so I’ll eat it. I’ll try to stop when I’ve had my fill. When I’m done, I won’t think I ‘messed up’. I can also have more if that’s what I am craving. I am not ‘controlling’ my willpower over these cravings. The next day, I will not try to ‘undo’ what I ate. I did nothing bad, I simply ate what sounded good.
Challenge: Feelings of guilt and worry will arise.
Action: Let feelings of guilt and worry come. Do not resist or ignore them. Instead, observe what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling, then let those feelings pass like clouds in the sky.
Expect: You will gain a bit of weight as you start to eat what you use to resist. But know that that is natural and comes with stage 1 as you explore your cravings. Accept this fact, don’t resist it, and carry on with your day.
Once you begin to notice your binge urges subside, you are on your way to stage 2. You will know you are on your way to stage 2 when you feel less and less guilty about eating what you use to label as ‘bad’. And once you notice your urges decrease significantly.
Once you have noticed the urges have decreased you are in stage two. You will still continue to train your muscle to believe that no food is bad. This is my current stage. I will continue it once I live through it : )