How to Stop Rebellious Eating
The last time I blogged about a rebellious food attitude, a reader said she appreciated my insights into the underlying problem, but wanted to know what to do about it. Good point. Although I can’t give you a step-by-step outline to follow, I can give you a general game plan. You will need to change your beliefs about your rights as an adult, alter your reaction of anger toward “shoulds” by separating the concept of control from caring, and do whatever you can in the moment to make mature and rational decisions about food.
First, examine whether the shoe fits. Do you eat (or refuse to eat) from anger, habitually challenge healthy guidelines about food in order to prove something or to hurt or defy someone? Do you feel entitled to food or can’t stand for anyone (even yourself) to tell you what to eat? Understand why your upbringing makes you so defiant, then identify the specific beliefs you have such as, No one can tell me what to eat, I hate living by food rules, I can eat whatever I want and everyone else be damned, It’s my body and I’ll feed it what I want, even if it’s not good for me. Now take these irrational beliefs and make them rational. Use my book, THE RULES OF “NORMAL” EATING, to guide you in reframing beliefs. Make sure to create a rational, healthy belief system.
Next, notice when you have that defiant feeling around food. Does it occur mostly when you’re with family, at work, around your partner, with your children, alone, when you try to eat healthily? Be aware of times and places and what triggers your desire to challenge what you know is best for you. Acknowledge the feeling even as you get your higher brain in gear to evaluate whether or not you want to act on your rebelliousness. Engage in serious debate between your impulsive feelings and the adult in you that wants to eat “normally.” Understand that your defiance was once adaptive, but is now destructive. Remind yourself that the only person you’re hurting is you.
Last, when you’re in this challenging mood, don’t allow yourself to eat. Get up from the table, leave the room, put food away. Remind yourself that you are taking care of yourself by not falling into the rebellion trap. Reframe the issue from feeling controlled by “shoulds” to feeling taken care of by wise advice. Effective self-care includes not allowing the angry child in you to dictate your eating behaviors. When you are no longer feeling rebellious, return to food and observe how you feel about it. If you’re still angry, don’t eat. If you feel neutral, then decide if you want this food or not. If the anger returns, put the food aside. You can retrain yourself not to be a rebellious eater and eventually this motivation will disappear and stop plaguing you.