Eat Freely

A hallmark of healthy eating is restricting ‘unhealthy’ foods like pizza, pancakes and pop tarts. People who take ‘healthy eating’ to the extreme are faced with a dilemma when they eventually succumb to an unhealthy food.

They binge, feel remorseful and then reinstate their eating restraints to make amends.

The binge

Overeating often occurs because…

  • The damage is done. You’ve eaten something that breaks your rules so eating more of the same won’t make a difference
  • A fear of scarcity. It’s ironic, given the abundance of food in developed countries, a fear of lack could drive your eating habits. From an evolutionary standpoint, the ‘feast or famine’ mindset makes sense. Prior to the agricultural revolution, food wasn’t a sure thing; humans relied on scavenging and food intake fluctuated wildly. The same instincts kick in when you indulge in a glorious glazed doughnut. Your primitive brain thinks: ‘This might be the last opportunity I get to eat a doughnut, so I better eat as many as I can!’

How do you override the binge mindset that leaves you feeling guilty and with an impending sense that your guts will literally explode?

The solution: let yourself eat whatever you like, whenever you like. Within reason of course.

By following the 80/20 principle, eating ‘healthy’ 80% of the time, the remaining 20% can be spent on foods you have a hankering for but aren’t nutritious. It changes your definition of a ‘successful’ day’s eating and lets you eat previously restricted foods, removing the stigma.

Adopting this mindset is a challenge but the long-term payoffs are worth it. You might feel like you’re breaking the law when you eat freely but it’s a sustainable and healthy strategy while bingeing is not.

Redefine your definition of healthy eating and allow it to include some indulgence.

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