Intuitive Eating

The “I can’t keep that food in my house” paradox

August 20, 2015

Self-Paced Course: Non-Diet Academy


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A Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) with a master's degree in dietetics & nutrition. My passion is helping you find peace with food - and within yourself.

Meet Katy

I hear this almost every day – not only from clients but also friends and acquaintances who believe that there are certain foods that have so much power over them that they are destined to overeat that food if they bring it home.

Here's the irony – it's the act of not allowing themselves to have that food that makes the statement true.

Deprivation makes the brain want what you tell yourself you can't or shouldn't have.  Studies show that simply thinking about going on a diet (i.e. restricting/depriving yourself) leads to overeating – before any actual deprivation has occurred!

It's the person who keeps the candy dish always filled at home who rarely overeats on candy.  Their brain knows they can have the candy any time.  There's no threat of deprivation.  The person who never allows themselves to have candy is likely to overconsume from the candy dish initially, until desensitization occurs.

I often use the process of "systematic habituation" with clients where  I have them repeatedly eat a small portion of the food they're concerned about overeating.  This shows their body what it feels like to eat that food in a smaller amount and counteracts the feelings of deprivation by exposing them repeatedly to it.  Sometimes it takes a few days of eating ice cream at every meal, or it might take a few weeks, but it works, as crazy as it may sound. 

Next time you think "I can't keep that food in my house," consider the ways in which you've created a paradox where you overeat it when you do have it because you wouldn't let yourself have it.  Frustrating, I know.  It's so freeing to show yourself that you can have any food you want without losing control. 

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