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Does Perceived Deprivation Cause You to Overeat?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sorry to bombard everyone with Blogs today - seems I've got a lot to share!

Read this blog today and thought I'd share...

Does Perceived Deprivation Cause You to Overeat?
by Marsha on January 13, 2010

Robyn Priebe, RD, Green Mountain’s director of nutrition, is back with some thoughts on deprivation. It’s a subject we talk a lot about at Green Mountain and on A Weight Lifted. Sometimes it takes a while to really understand the significant impact it can have on our eating.

How will giving myself permission to eat what I want help me if I already eat anything I want?

This may sound like a confusing question, but it’s a something I hear often at Green Mountain. We encourage everyone to eat what they want, even those of us with type 2 diabetes, PCOS or other health issues that are affected by what we eat (and what isn’t?).

When we discuss the idea of putting all foods in a “permissible” category, people often tell me, “That won’t work. I already allow myself to eat _____(fill in the blank — fast food, ice cream, whatever type of food you might not believe is consistent with healthy eating). That’s the problem. I eat it every day, or if I don’t, I binge on it.”

The idea of telling these people that they should allow themselves to have the fast food or whatever seems crazy. However, I question whether they are truly giving themselves permission to eat the food, despite the fact that they may eat it daily. There’s a big difference between eating something and feeling guilty about it versus being OK with eating that same food and not dwelling on it afterwards.

There are various different reasons/triggers for binge eating or compulsive eating. One very common type of binge is a deprivation-sensitive binge. What I find interesting is that deprivation can trigger a binge whether it’s actual physical deprivation of food (under-eating), deprivation due to eliminating/restricting specific foods, or perceived deprivation (thinking you should be avoiding a food or eating less). With perceived deprivation you may actually be eating enough food, eating all types of foods, but we still have this sense of “I should be eating less” or “I shouldn’t be eating this specific food.”

Changing the way we think about food often changes our relationship with food. Sometimes it’s helpful to evaluate our relationship with food. How would you describe yours? Do you view food as something that can do wonderful things for your body and mind or perhaps you think of it as a full time job or an adversary. I have had both of these relationships with food. There were points when I thought food was the enemy and I was the victim. It was a struggle making food-related decisions every day, all day. However, once we begin to tune in to all the amazing things food can do for us, and actually feel those benefits, our food choices often change without a lot of effort.

I find that fast food makes me feel ill. I do not consider that a benefit. I know I can eat it if I want to, but in most cases, I don’t want to. I personally feel great when I’m eating lots of fruits and vegetables and the chefs at Green Mountain find it mildly entertaining when I get excited because there’s extra salad in the kitchen for me to eat. I actually crave salads. There was a point in my life that I’d never expect to crave a vegetable and I wished that I could live on ice cream and cake, if only that wouldn’t make me gain weight. Now I know I can have any of these things if I really want them and by giving myself that permission, I’m often amazed at the results.

How about you? How would you describe your current relationship with food?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thanks.. this post made me feel better. This week's splurges were a slice of pizza (on two different days) and a fancy cupcake... its funny that its balanced out and has not turned into a binge. Before, I would have beaten myself into the ground.. but now, I see that its important to always enjoy life, and that sometimes that may involve eating something I don't eat everyday. I suppose its better to see the weight come off a little slower if it is something closer to a sustainable lifestyle. Now, its Saturday and I'm not looking forward to that "day off" I had in previous weeks... because I now see that there is an option between "no you cant have that" and "all you can eat"
    4009 days ago
    Thanks for this blog. It makes me feel so much better about where I am. What I discovered when I started SP about 5 weeks ago was that I was undereating daily because I actually thought I was overeating and should stop. About once a week, I would get incredibly hungry and binge (duh). Once I got into a suitable calorie/protein range, I no longer feel the need to binge on anything and the weight started dropping. Pretty amazing how you can deprive yourself thinking you're doing something "good." Now food is fuel, and for the most part I have found substitutions for my few binge foods that hit the spot.
    4009 days ago
    It is a lot of work to get it all down pat I think. I don't really fall into these patterns of binge eating because I didn't have a Whopper or a chocolate chip cookie. I--- like the writer of this article crave salads and veggies. I therefore am not always getting enough calories, as you know..It's all about balance and probably eating that whopper if you really feel like it and not dwelling on - OH NO I just ate that. The balance is the hardest part. Good to think about..
    4057 days ago
    Thanks for the blog. It's definitely something to think about. I can't say I crave healthy food, but I don't crave unhealthy food as much as I used to. I over eat at meals, and there's a lot of "stuff" tied up in that. I do agree that perceived deprivation leads to overeating.
    4059 days ago
    Thanks, Kris. emoticon
    4060 days ago
    I wanna get certified, too, but gotta wait till we can do the moneys. :) But anyway -- I totally think that that mental shift in allowance really helps.
    4060 days ago
    I completely agree. Making things off limits -- or feeling guilty about having them even though you THINK they are off limits -- sets up binges and horrible patterns of relationship to food.
    4060 days ago
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    After joining Spark People, I put off eating healthy and indulged in all my fattening favorite foods just to avoid the fear of deprivation. I was out of control and the food was in control. During that time I recognized that I needed to make changes but I did not want to go on a diet I wanted to want to eat healthy. I started by giving up diet coke and replaced it with fruit punch. I gained back the 10 pounds I lost since I started spark people. On Saturday, I cut out the fruit punch and have decided to have crystal light instead but only once a week. I am drinking my water and recording what I eat. At the beginning of the week, I told myself that I was not going to worry about what I ate but I would only drink water, skim milk or crystal light once a week. Surprisingly, I have been recording what I eat and making healthy food choices. I am on my way to a healthier life style. I am sure between stress and temptation, challenges lie ahead but today I am on the right path and in the future I know spark people will be here to guide me. emoticon
    4060 days ago
    Hmmm. I'm one of those people who tries to eat right but if I stray one or two days I might feel slightly bad but I won't beat myself up over it. Now, binging on some of my bad foods I just don't do anymore unless I'm going on vacation. It can be such a drag to be the one to ask all these questions concerning the way food is prepared and trying to jot down everything I've eaten and trying to see if it's truly unhealthy. So I don't deny myself, exactly, but I don't go without either. I guess I'm trying to say I do things in moderation and it's been working out so far. :)
    4060 days ago
    Love this article! It's really true about the relationship with food and that deprivation can cause binging. I totally get the part where she doesn't want fast food or whatnot anymore! I can't believe that I'm often the same way!

    4060 days ago
    This is soooo true. Seems like the more you concentrate on what you can't have, the bigger a deprivation it becomes, and the more temptation, and the more you want it, just BECAUSE.

    Then the cycle of emotional eating begins...

    Great find, Kris!
    4060 days ago
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