While you may now see dieting for what it truly is, and realize how much it has cost you in terms of you own social, emotional and physical wellbeing, you may still be suffering from residual effects. Healing takes time. Some of the habits and patterns of dieting are still rooted in your mind, even though you have tried to eradicate them. This is known as stealth deprivation or diet backlash.
Reflect on the following questions to explore if you may be feeling the effects of stealth deprivation.
Have you made peace with food?
Do you really believe that all foods are emotionally equivalent?
Are you able to think about foods without labeling them good or bad?
Are you able to eat foods you truly enjoy at any time, without putting special conditions on them? For example, you don't consider them a treat that should only be enjoyed on vacation or at special celebrations.
Do you have food security?
Do you buy food often enough, so you have a good variety of choices and a plentiful amount of food at home?
Do you have free access to food, rather than it being controlled by someone else, like a family member?
Are any other factors affecting you?
At social gatherings, have you stopped eating according to the expectations of others rather than eating what you really want?
Have you stopped eating with judgemental people in your life, who inhibits your food choices?
What do you need to practice or work on to resolve these issues you've identified?
If you've answered no to any of the questions above, you may still be living with self-imposed food restriction. Feeling deprived of food (either the variety or in the amount of food) puts you at risk for overeating, and overeating often initiates a vicious cycle: food restriction as compensation, rebound in more overeating, and so forth.
The effects are stealth deprivations (diet backlash) are very real and will interfere with your ability to eat with attunement and re-discovering the satisfaction that comes from being an intuitive eater.
If you're still struggling with thoughts that some foods are 'good' and some are 'bad', remember this is not your fault. This is a cognitive distortion that has been learned and re-enforced by years of dieting and by our weight obsessed culture. In order to extinguish old beliefs and replace these thoughts with ones that will actually help you heal your relationship with food, there is more work to be done around 'making peace with food' and 'challenging the food police'.
If you have discovered that some of your disconnected eating may be attributed to lack of self care or the lingering effects of the dieting mentality, there is more work to be done in these areas.
Remember, slow growth is good growth. This is a process that requires patience and lots of practice. Before rushing forward, it's best to pause and work on addressing these unresolved issues around self care and stealth deprivation before tackling any problems you may have with emotional eating. Navigating life's ups and downs is much easier when you have good self care practices in place and the dieting mentality is behind you.
Download a PDF version of the self reflection exercises here.
Nutrition Consulting and Corporate Wellness. The information on this site is intended to inform, not prescribe. For diagnosis and treatment medical and health related concerns, please seek the advice of a qualified physician.