Rigid rules and restriction in health and nutrition have fallen out of vogue recently, and with good reason. They often elicit feeling of deprivation, and result in a bounce back into binging (in case of food) or complete inactivity (in case of movement).
But, sometimes, I feel like we swing too far the other way.
Rules ARE still ok. Rules can be quite helpful for folks.
I often suggest coming up with arbitrary rules that help you move in a desired direction. For example, a rule of “I don’t eat in the car” can be very helpful for someone, struggling with drive throughs, binging and mindless eating. I have a rule around skipping workouts: “I can skip a workout whenever I want, but never TWO workouts in a row.”
Another rule I have: “I don’t eat standing up”. It feels shitty in a sense of “what the hell am I doing wrong with my life that I can’t even set aside few minutes to sit down and eat in peace?”. Also, it’s super triggery. It immediately feels like a binge. So I don’t eat standing up, AND I ask people around me to NOT eat standing up.
One client says: ” This feeling that I can have SOME rules is a huge shift. Having a few food rules helps keep me successful.”
Restriction IS ok.
I might want a second (or third) glass of red wine on a Tuesday night, but it’s a workday the next day, AND I really don’t feel like feeling like shit in the morning, so I restrict myself to one. That’s helpful. That kind of restriction ADDS to my quality of life.
Avoiding certain trigger foods entirely, while you are working on something else, is often the right way to go. I kept peanut butter out of the house for months – because I couldn’t eat it without eating the entire jar. That wasn’t helpful. So, I avoided it entirely. I’d buy it every few months, eat the whole jar in a day or two, conclude that it was too early and avoid it again for few months. Then I’d try again. Eventually, I could buy peanut butter and eat it like a normal person. But that restriction was crucial at first.
Some folks intentionally give up eating out for a period of time, because those situations are too challenging. Again – perhaps, not a forever solution, but definitely helpful in the beginning.