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The Flip Side of Yes and No

If you’re having trouble saying yes or no to food, think about there being a flip side to every choice—each time you make a healthy decision to eat or not eat, you’re reaping a heaping of rewards. You’re not simply saying no to deprive yourself of food, but saying yes to taking better care of yourself. You’re not merely saying yes to a food you’ve previously rejected thinking it was “too fattening,” but saying no to the artificial restriction of diet think. The truth is that every time you accede to or refrain from anything in life—food or otherwise—you are moving toward one thing and away from another.

Let’s say that you reject food you genuinely crave because you fear weight gain or that eating it prevent weight loss. Instead of focusing on pounds, consider all you will achieve by saying yes to that food: honoring your appetite, attempting to meet your needs, enjoying a delicious taste, taking another step in learning to nourish yourself. The same is true if you desire to eat but know you’re not hungry. By saying no to eating, you’re not depriving yourself, you’re actually giving yourself gifts of self-management, impulse control, self-care, and finding new ways to bring yourself excitement, comfort, and/or satisfaction.

It’s much harder to recover from eating problems if you see no farther than what you are missing out on when you make a food decision. Instead, you have to push yourself to see the positive in your choice. If your goal is to be a “normal” eater and attain and maintain a comfortable, healthy weight, every food choice that supports those goals is a resounding yes, whether it involves eating or not eating. Keep your goals constantly in mind as you consider what and how much to eat or not eat. No matter what words you use or how you feel in the moment, always consider what goals you will be moving toward and which ones you’ll be moving away from by accepting or rejecting food.

Eating unmindfully, it’s easy to get sucked into considering only one side of a decision and not its flip side. The truth is, for every opting in, you are opting out of something else. By taking one job over another, choosing one life partner above the rest, etc., you are saying yes to one thing and no to others. There is no other way to live life. But by only focusing on a specific decision, rather than looking its ramifications, you lose sight of the larger picture. It can be tough to pull yourself out of the present and see how your behavior will impact you down the road, so finding benefits in each eating moment is critical. Make a point of flipping over every food decision; think about what you’re getting, not what you’re missing, every time you want to eat.