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More on Rebellion

Can I ever say enough about how misguided rebellion shapes our eating in self-destructive ways? Too many dysregulated eaters consider a rebellious attitude an attribute and are proud of their defiance and stubbornness. Flaunting the norm may promote entrepreneurship or creativity, but it has no place in the eating arena. Au contraire, it’s one of the major causes of unwanted eating.

We become rebellious through trying to assert our independence from our parents or care-takers. Rebellion is appropriate, a pre-requisite for separation and authentic autonomy. We often have to work very hard to not be like our parents and not live under their thumbs in order to form individualistic personalities. The harder you had to fight rigid, controlling, manipulative parents to become independent, the more likely it is that today you’re still stuck in battle mode. Rebellion was an adaptive strategy back then to forge your own spirit. However, true separation leads to a sense of self that allows you to comfortably be both similar to and different from parents and from the norm.

What exactly are you so angry about when you tell yourself you’re not hungry, but eat anyway? Who are you enraged at when you don’t eat when you’re famished? Which people are you trying to hurt? Maybe your food abuse does stick it to parents or partners, but hands down, you’re the one who suffers the most. Most of the time that you’re in serious rebellion mode, you’re stuck in the past. I don’t mean when you get angry for good reason. I mean the feeling that comes over you when you want to prove something, when you try to get the better of or even with someone, break rules, challenge reasonable “shoulds,” or have your own way and not be found out.

Whenever you rebel in the food arena now, it’s a learned, destructive habit which has little to do with food. You’re still trying to prove that you’re your own person who knows what’s best for you, or that you’re deserving of something. Ironically, you prove just the opposite: that you don’t know what’s right for you and that you’re reactive not proactive. When you fall into rebellious mode around food, ask yourself how this behavior serves you. Will it make you more independent? Hurt the person you want to hurt? Make you feel more adult and proud of yourself? What exactly will it prove and to whom?

Overcoming rebellion around food is a huge step toward “normal” eating and you won’t become a “normal” eater without it. Beyond that, it will free you up emotionally to become the mature and emotionally healthy, independent person you’re striving to be.