How to Let Go of Food Rules
Ever experience a huge disappointment in your life and think it "should" be different?
Ever eat after 6pm when you promised yourself nothing after 5:59pm?
Ever not fit into an outfit that you feel "should" fit on you?
Ever not get through a workout that you "should" be fit enough for?
We spend a lot of time in the world of “should”. What if we didn't cling to shoulds so tightly?
It's the arbitrary shoulds that we make up that don't get met that make us unhappy.
It's time to Shift your Should
If we release arbitrary rules and shoulds from our lives, we're left with "what is."
Of course, we can always take action to ensure that what we believe SHOULD be, will be.
But, imagine a world without food rules and "shoulds"
Could you accept what is?
You’ “shouldn’t” be hungry at 8pm but you are.
You should fit into that dress right now, because you’ve been working so hard but don’t and that’s ok.
There SHOULD be healthy food at that restaurant but there isn’t.
You should have eaten before you left and now you’re hungry doing errands.
Food rules feel good to us because they create structure and a path. Many of us crave a linear, step-by-step path to accomplishing something and feel unmoored without “rules” to follow. The diet industry LOVES to oblige with the random and frankly sometimes reckless rules.
don’t eat after 6pm
no carbs, including fruit
eat every 3 hours
no, actually fast intermittently
but don’t skip breakfast
and never ever touch sugar again
I should only have one
only eat organic
These types of food rules has us policing our bodies and food in a way that gives little wiggle room for life circumstances. And when we digress from the rules, we punish ourselves, give up, or try even harder even when the rules don’t make sense for us.
Believe it or not, shifting your shoulds and relaxing on food rules could actually make life way more joyful...
It's not about letting all your desires and hopes go, or about abandoning your goals.
It's about replacing disappointment, frustration, fear and anger with compassion, calm and neutrality, so you can make decisions about what comes next from a grounded place as opposed to a rash, panicky or desperate one. After all, food freedom doesn’t come from voluntarily constraining ourselves, even though we can feel more in control that way. It comes from having the wherewithal to shift and change your thinking and behaviors based on what is actually true, right now.
Here are 3 ways to release food rules:
1. When you’re faced with a “should” that doesn’t seem to fit the situation or causes you misery, try asking yourself where this “should” came from. Was it something you read? Did someone in your life create that rule for you early in life? Is it a core belief?
2. Try breathing through the should and then shifting the should. Shifting the should might mean you allow yourself to see and accept what is actually going on versus what you think should be happening.
3. Forgive yourself - you broke a food rule and now you feel miserable and like a total failure. This is actually likely to lead to a panic or disappointment or stress binge. There is a term in AA which is essentially “Do the next best thing.” It means that even though we do things sometimes that we’re not supposed to do, we always have a choice to dust ourselves off and do the next behavior that will have us feel in control again. When we cling to rules, however, especially when it comes to food habits it can sucker punch us into rebellion or rashness when we inadvertently break the rules.
When you’re ready to completely give up food rules and unshackle yourself from the Houdini-like chains around you, here’s the next step.
Watch my empowered eating webinar
Join my free Facebook group - The Empowered Eater’s Cafe
Let’s shift our should’s together and get on a path of intuitive, mindful and empowered eating.