It’s Sunday night.
Tomorrow’s Monday, the start of your new diet, meal plan, or some sort of strict nutrition plan that’s going to make you cut out all your favorite foods in the name of losing that extra weight.
So, what do you do?
Make Sunday the day to eat everything you can’t have on Monday. To have your one last hurrah. To binge eat all your favorite comfort foods, chocolate, soda, bread and carbs, carbs, and more carbs. Because tomorrow, you’ll have to stop eating carbs for the foreseeable future.
Regardless of what diet or plan you go on, does this scenario sound familiar?
As soon as you have to give up something that you love, you suddenly fear you won’t be able to have it ever again, so you might as well “stock up” on it now.
This is a phenomenon called Last Supper Syndrome or also referred to as Last Supper Eating.
You’ve been there before in one way or another. The binge before the “perfect eating” cycle. You spend the whole day binging on those foods you’ll soon say goodbye to. It’s almost like a grieving process. You’re saying goodbye to food you love, food that comforts you, food that helps you through a difficult day.
You’re kind of dreading tomorrow. And, now you feel gross because you’ve binged on comfort food all day.
But, tomorrow’s the day. You put all the junk food away, throw it out, or give it to someone else so you don’t have the temptation. You replace chips with rice cakes, bread with fruits and vegetables, and soda for water, water, and more water.
Your fridge is stocked with healthy food, your meals are planned and ready, and you’re going to crush this perfect diet plan tomorrow.
Monday comes and things seem to be going pretty well! You’ve been busy and occupied most of the day and really haven’t noticed that much of a change. You’ve followed your new diet plan to a T.
And then things take a turn for the worse. It’s the afternoon slump. Whatever it is for you, work or your kids, have take everything you have. You’re exhausted, feel like you haven’t eaten anything of substance (because vegetables aren’t all that satisfying, right?), and wishing you could just consume one treat, comfort food, soda, or anything that would numb the stress of the day.
You’re so used to eating your emotions, that you’re all of the sudden left without any tools to deal with the stresses of life that will inevitably come up. The only way you know how to deal with stress is to emotionally eat. It’s how you’ve always done it. You’ve always “deserved” a treat when things were hard, when you made it through the day with everyone still alive, or when you’ve accomplished something big.
You’re standing in your messy house with no energy to do anything and no desire to eat that “bird food” you have prepared in your fridge.
But, you have a plan. You’re certain it’s going to work for you, so you push through it. You watch your family eat mac and cheese… oh, all that cheesy, carb goodness, while you choke down another chicken and vegetables meal.
You wish you could just have a little ice cream tonight, to take the edge off. But, you’re sticking to your plan! You go to bed feeling hungry and unsatisfied, but that’s how you’re supposed to feel on a diet, right?
This cycle could last days, weeks, and even months, but eventually you finish the diet plan and go right back to your prior eating habits… or you stop long before the diet plan is even completed.
You go right back to binging on your favorite comfort foods, because gosh dang it, you deserve it. You’ve worked hard! But, you don’t stop at one. You binge again. And since you’ve already blown your diet, you binge some more and tell yourself you’ll start again…
The weight never really comes off, or stays off, and in you’re in a vicious cycle of feeling completely out of control with food. You want to improve your relationship with food, but you don’t know how to do it. You don’t know how to find the balance of healthy eating for weight loss and feeling satisfied eating the foods you enjoy.
And if that’s you, you’re in the right place. Because today is all about working through the barriers you have with food. Overcoming emotional eating. Overcoming the “Last Supper Syndrome”. Today is about learning to make peace with food by understanding food better.
And if you know this is an area you want to work on, head here to check out my free “Overcome emotional eating” course. It’s a short 5 day email course designed to help you identify and overcome emotional eating and feel safe and comfortable around food. It’s a reader favorite, so head here to sign up for free!
3 TRUTHS ABOUT FOOD THAT WILL HELP YOU OVERCOME THE DIET MENTALITY/BINGE EATING CYCLES
TRUTH #1: DIETS ARE BLACK AND WHITE
What do I mean when I say diets are black and white? It means that diets set you up for one of two things, either success or failure. If you follow a diet perfectly, you’re successful on the diet. If you mess up (even once!), you might automatically assume you’re a failure.
Think about it, if you eat a cookie on a diet plan that doesn’t allow for cookies, what happens? You decide you’ve already blown it so you might as well eat the whole batch of cookies too. Then you feel all the feelings of guilt and failure. You’ve failed your diet plan.
When in reality, all you need to do is accept that you ate the cookie, and move on (more about this in step 3).
Although I do not condone diets or strict meal plans, I also recognize trying to eat healthy can be hard and sometimes we need something to follow or help us feel like we’re on the right track.
So, when you are looking at meal plans or specific “diets”, ask yourself the following 3 questions to make sure they are healthy and sustainable (because we’re here to create healthy habits for life, not just for 12 weeks).
Does this plan include a good balance of all kinds of food? (Including healthy carbs, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, proteins, and even small amounts of satisfying or “treat” foods)
Does this plan allow for or support following an exercise program alongside it?
Is this plan sustainable over the long term? (Meaning you could eat it as part of a healthy lifestyle)
No matter what kind of healthy eating journey you seek, or what kind of goal you want to accomplish, remember that any diet or plan that makes you feel like you are either “on” or “off” is not going to serve you in the long run.
Also, speak kindly to yourself. It’s normal to have good times and rough times. Instead of living in the black or white, can you live in the gray? The gray is a place of self love, learning, and progress. It’s about making mistakes, learning from them, and ultimately feeling more peace with all kinds of foods.
TRUTH #2: FOOD IS NEUTRAL
Food is inherently neutral. This means it doesn’t have any value or meaning outside of nourishment for our bodies.
We often label certain foods as “bad” and other foods as “good”. You know, the chocolate, chips, soda, and breads are all “BAD”. But, vegetables, fruits, and water all are “GOOD”.
But, if we look at food this way, we lose sight of what food can be for us. If you eat a “bad” food, then you’re a “bad” person or a “bad” eater. If you eat a “good” food, you’re “good”.
There’s no reason for food to be labeled as good or bad because the perfect nutritional balance is a mixture of all kinds of foods.
When my clients tell me they’re going off soda for good, I ask them if they plan to never drink soda again the rest of their life. That’s a powerful question.
Instead of labeling foods and then trying to eliminate them, can we find a way to enjoy them in moderation? To feel in control when we are around them and not feel guilty or “bad” for enjoying them once in awhile.
Instead of listening to what society says about certain foods, ask yourself what that food does for you. How does a particular food affect you? This can be a great guide for knowing how and what. If a food makes you feel crummy or tired, it might be best used in moderation. If a food gives you energy or makes you feel better, add more of it into your diet!
TRUTH #3: SELF TALK IS POWERFUL
Lastly, self talk.
The words we say to ourselves are powerful. Powerful for good and powerful for bad.
It’s all about separating the rational from the irrational.
Take this scenario from the book “Intuitive Eating” to illustrate this point.
“I’ve been so good on my diet the last few weeks”
“I haven’t had any ice cream or candy or cookies”
“I’d sure love to have one of those brownies, but I can’t - I shouldn’t - I won’t”
“If I have a brownie, I’ll blow my diet”
“I won’t be able to stop eating the brownies”
“Oh, maybe just one will be ok”
“Oh, no - I shouldn’t have done that”
“That was really stupid”
“I have no willpower”
“I’m going to be out of control”
“It’s all my fault that I’m fat”
“Will I ever be able to lose weight”
Now you’re feeling:
Fear of future deprivation
Fear of being out of control
You slowly take a second brownie
And a third brownie
Before you know it, you’ve gobbled up the whole plateful.
You’re stuffed and completely miserable.
Have you been there before? Your self talk brings you low. You tell yourself you’re not in control, you’re never going to be good enough, and ultimately that you’re not worth trying.
I know this may seem like an extreme example, but it’s very common! The worst about it - most times we don’t even recognize that we do this to ourselves!
We don’t often pay attention to our own self talk. It’s inherent. It’s automatic. But, it wears on us over time. So, instead of always spiraling down into depressed thoughts about our lack of control with food, here is a guide for changing your negative self talk into positive, uplifting, and useful self talk that will actually help you change your behavior.
Use the “glass half full” approach
When the negative self talk creeps in, notice it is a “glass half empty” approach. Then, change the negative self talk into a “glass half full” approach.
Half empty approach:
“I had a terrible week”
“I overate so many times”
“All I ate was sweets”
“I feel so fat”
“I’m such a failure”
Half full approach:
“I has some successes this week (name them)”
“I had many times when I honored my hunger”
“I had more sweets than I wished, but also had some other foods too”
“I’m feeling better about myself”
“I’m doing better little by little, I’m learning”
PHEW! That was a beast of a blog post! But, I truly hope you have received some actionable steps toward helping you avoid the cycle of diet perfection.
For more resources on making peace with food, read “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole. The book takes you through every step toward making ultimate peace with food.
If you’re looking specifically for relief with emotional eating, sign up for my free mini course “Overcome emotional eating” where we dive deep into how to recognize and deal with your emotions without using food.
I’m here to help you in your journey toward feeling more safe around food, more confident in your ability to reach your goals, and love the body you’re in. You’re already doing great things!