One thing every dieter can relate to is “The Last Supper” mentality, a term coined by the creator and author of “Intuitive Eating”, Evelyn Tribole. It’s the mentality we have around food when we believe it’s the last time we will be able to eat it for quite some time.
Ever pigged out the night before your diet was supposed to start? Ever fallen face first into a tempting bowl of brownie batter, where you told yourself that it was totally cool to eat the whole thing now because tomorrow your would, “start again?”
Yup! You, my friend, have experienced The Last Supper mentality.
We binge and hoard our food, relying on the comfort of a fresh start tomorrow. It’s a get it while you can belief system. It exists only in the present moment because we have our eyes fixed on the future. That is what dieting is so dang good at; prompting us to step out of today and focus on tomorrow. A day that does not yet exist and which may never exist.
We have thoughts like:
Tomorrow, I start my diet.
Tomorrow, I will be better.
Tomorrow, I will have more control.
Tomorrow, I will be the person who I think I can be for the rest of my life, but just not today.
It is that living in the future that makes what we are doing in the present seem totally reasonable.
Crocodiles eat one giant meal a year. They know that they only have one chance to get that meal in, so they stuff themselves with the biggest kill they can score. It would not make sense to go after anything small that would only satisfy for a few days. They instinctually know that they have one day to get it all in, so they need to make that meal count!
If the croc were a cow, it would be another story. It would have access to food all day long. It would eat until it was full and then stop. It would not binge on pounds of grass, fearful that it would not be able to eat again for another year. It would take it’s time, eating slowly and peacefully because the threat of starvation is non-existent.
The only thing reasonable about the scenario of a binge is the reason behind why it is happening.
There is nothing absurd about the reason that you binge. Your will power, focus, determination account for nothing in this situation. Biologically, we are designed to hoard and binge when faced with the idea of starvation. Whether you see starvation as zero access to food or as zero access to the foods you love to eat, it does not matter. Your mind and body do not differentiate between the two. When you believe that this will be your last good meal, you organically treat it as such.
In other words, denying ourselves any food that typically provides us with satisfaction, both physically and mentally WILL cause your body to want to binge/hoard.
This is a major factor in why weight loss from dieting statistically lasts for no more than 3-5 years before weight is gained back, plus some.
Breaking out of this cycle means breaking free from restricted eating. It means trusting your body to tell you what it needs. It means living in the present moment.
Today, I will trust my body to tell me what it wants to eat at each meal.
Today, I will honor my body by feeding it what it intuitively informs me I need.
Today, I will not judge my food by how fat or thin it may make me but by how nourishing (both physically and mentally) it will be for me.
Today, I will accept my body just as it is.
You may think:
So what about weight loss? If I do not restrict I can not trust myself to eat normally. I will just get fatter. How can I accept my body if I feel it needs to be changed?
For starters, you have no idea what will happen to your body when you stop restricting food and “eating normally.” My guess is, if you are on a diet, you already had some eating issues and certainly body shame going on in the first place. People who eat normally do not have body shame, nor do they have any issues with food.
Secondly, your body wants you to be healthy. It does not want to direct you to ways you can harm it with food. It is not something that you are meant to be fighting against. That being said, it does want you to know when you are manipulating food as a means of dealing with outside stress. Cravings and emotional eating are simply signals from our body that we need to give ourselves some love and attention. Be honest with yourself around that. Do not confuse that as proof that you can’t control yourself around food.
Lastly, by accepting your body today you are not saying you give in the towel on getting healthier. What you are saying is that you will stop trying to control food as a means of controlling your body (your weight.) Instead, you will work towards listening to your body and following it’s guidance around food.
Remember, thinness is not the same as healthy.
Healthy is getting in tune with yourself. Honoring your cravings. Not attaching any sort of judgement, like shame or guilt around either food or how your body size may react to it. Having a peaceful and loving relationship with yourself regardless of your size that day.
This is the reality, stop making foods off limits and you simply will not care that much about food anymore. You will be like the cow, who knows it can have whatever it wants whenever it wants and thus eats slowly and with peace. You will be totally relaxed around food because, unlike the crocodile, whose stakes are very high in staving off starvation, yours are super low. Your hunger will be met any time you need.
One final point to be made here is this; food issues are a reaction to body image issues. If cake made you thin and salad made you fat, would you still be eating salad all day? I bet, regardless of how crappy nothing but cake made you feel, if it delivered the promise of a thin body, you would have it morning, noon and night.
Be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Look authentically at what your real desire for yourself is.
Do you want to just be thin? To continue to not trust your body to make good choices? To restrict food in the hopes that maybe this time your plan of weight loss will actually work for good? To use your body shame as a guide for what to eat rather then your God-given intuition? To regard your body as an object made to be molded into the current culture’s ideal rather than as a living and breathing creature with individual needs, hungers and yes…body shape.
Or….do you want to have a healthy relationship with food? Do you want to no longer have it control you? Do you want to eat freely? Do you want to be so in tune with yourself that you no longer feel anxiety, shame or guilt towards food or your body?
Do you want to stop having a million “last suppers” and finally just eat regular dinners?