Do You Need Permission to Eat?

Accepting the fear and allowing yourself to eat what you really want.

Eating in bed on a Monday to justify a reasoning.

“If I eat all that I really want, I’ll eat the plaster off the wall too!”

I heard this sentence from a client the last week, and this was something I kept repeating to myself when I was “Maria on a Diet” — (a fake name I had given myself of an old version of myself jokingly).

I honestly couldn’t understand this whole idea of having permission to eat.

Eating what I wanted, when I wanted to, without great concern whether it was going to “fatten me up” seemed a very distant reality. Even a fallacy, at times.

Especially since every time I allowed myself to eat what I wanted, I’d exceed myself — EXTREMELY.

This only reinforced the idea that I was completely weak and unable to “control myself” around food, that I needed constant vigilance and that the idea of permission simply did not apply to me.

Several hot dogs and soda cans at an event

Can You Gain Control?

At times you may think that having control around food is impossible.

I completely understand, and you are not alone.

The overwhelming majority of people feel that if they allow themselves to eat what they really want, they’d mess it all up as if freedom were synonymous with excess, weight gain and being out of control.

And that has physiological and psychological reasons for why it happens.

This constant control and restriction of your food can be compared to holding your breath underwater.

An underwater shot of the ocean

As you live holding your breath (using willpower to avoid eating what you like), when you allow yourself to breathe you end up madly gasping for air, in a sort of natural compensation.

So be assured, it’s not your fault!

You are not broken, defective, or need to be born again in a lean body to be able to eat the things you like in moderation.

Your body does exactly what it needs to do to keep you alive — it works perfectly.

What you need to do to stop feeling out of control around food is to stop holding your breath and allow yourself to eat what you really want.

When You Don’t Need Permission to Eat — What to Expect

Even knowing everything you need to know, you may feel very insecure about the idea of “releasing the reins” of your eating.

But I, as an ex-crazy dieter who felt exactly like this, I think I can help you with some fun facts about giving yourself the permission you deserve and to encourage you.

List of Things that Changed

First, my food cravings have changed considerably since I stopped controlling my food, abandoned my ideals of perfectionism and began to focus on how my body reacts to the foods I eat.

When I lived on the diet roller coaster, I believed I was a bottomless pit, a totally insatiable gremlin who needed to be rigidly supervised not to eat up to the foot of the table at the first opportunity.

So for most of my life the idea of “eating whatever I want” meant, without exception, absurd exaggerations of food. That’s because I had no clue about the role that food played in my life or any idea that what I was doing to lose weight (dieting) was exactly what kept me stuck in this cycle of restraint and binging.

But when I stopped looking at my body as a lump of modeling clay to be molded to my taste (or the taste of others), and I began to look at it as the body of a human person, daughter, sister, friend, a living animal that breathes and feels things … things began to change.

A girl enjoying a soda and her hamburger

I began to really pay attention to how I felt — physically and emotionally — about my food choices. In that process, the food and quantities started coming together — and I eventually realized there was nothing pleasant about eating an entire pizza or a gallon of ice cream.

The concept of pleasure changes as we take away the dressing of guilt and morality that we put over food.

The concept of self-care changes when you stop trying to lose weight at any cost and gives your body a chance to speak.

Slowly and gradually, this shift in perspective from self-aversion to self-care will begin to influence your cravings. Eventually, food stops being an immediate pleasure, being good or bad, right or wrong, and it starts to be about making you feel good — physically, emotionally, holistically.

Not just on your mouth.

But in your body and especially in your soul.

I am a Brazilian girl (living in Sao Paulo with my fiancé — and another 20 million people). I love coffee, books, and good food. I also really enjoy studying and learning new things that allow me to further develop myself both professionally and personally. I have a degree in Food Science and hold a Ph.D. in Agri-food Marketing. In addition, I am a Certified Nutrition Coach and an enthusiastic Nutrition student.

There is a power that comes alive when women free themselves from the food prison in which they have learned to live, when they realize that they are capable and deserving of feeling fantastic in their own bodies, and that confidence is a state of mind — not a body lotion which you get the right to use when you reach a weight-loss goal.

My work is dedicated to nurturing, celebrating and sharing this message.

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