Non-diet nutrition

Everything is easier when you've had enough to eat

Skipping meals, counting calories, and other methods of restriction put your body in "survival mode" and your decision-making abilities get thrown out of whack.

The Flourish team

Picture this: It’s Monday morning (your favorite morning of the week, of course). You're jolted awake with the sneaky suspicion that you've overslept, which is confirmed by the bright light coming through your window. In a panic, you quickly pull on a passable outfit, grab an apple off your counter, your bag, and you are out the door. 

Work is riled with its typical Monday chaos, plus an overflowing inbox topped with a little workplace drama just to kick things up a notch. The day gets away from you as you are thrown between meetings and phone calls. Before you know it, it's 2 pm. You’ve missed your lunch break window, and so you resort to grabbing a break room donut and some Cheez-Its from the vending machine to tide you over. 

By the time you’ve fought through rush hour traffic and finally arrive at home, you're completely famished, exhausted, and the aftermath of a very stressful day is hitting you hard. All that weekend meal prep doesn’t sound so good at this point, so you order pizza while watching your favorite crime show. Before you know it, half the pie is gone, your stomach doesn’t feel so great, and you're left wondering, “What the hell just happened?”

We see this scenario played out in various forms all too often. Whether it’s skipping meals altogether or restricting the meals you do have to a measly salad with no carbohydrates and barely any dressing or fat, these eating patterns set us up for survival eating—or in other words, binge-eating.

So what is the solution? Listen to your body’s needs and eat until you are satisfied.

Now, if that seems too simple, it may be because there are so many alternative thoughts and beliefs driving you to treat and feed your body for other purposes. The fear of weight gain, demonization of certain food groups, or just a lack of boundaries and prioritizing your own needs can manipulate how you respond to your body’s biological need for fuel. 

Consider another biological need—the need to breathe. Our bodies are pretty amazing at regulating its need for oxygen. Whether it’s slowing down your breath when you’re sitting at rest, or quickening the pace when you’re exercising, or even in danger, your body knows exactly how much oxygen it needs, at a certain moment, in a certain circumstance.

But what happens if you decide to hold your breath? Sooner or later, you’ll find yourself gasping for air and trying to catch your breath. This is because your body’s biological systems are built to survive and will do whatever it takes to do so. If we let it do its thing and respond accordingly, these needs are pretty low drama. However, if we are constantly ignoring or intentionally fighting these needs (aka restricting foods we deem “bad” or “off limits”), at a certain point our body turns “survival mode” on high volume, which often can look like the scenario we began with.

So could this mean that your chaotic eating has nothing to do with what you believe to be a lack of control or willpower but it’s merely an SOS from your body for consistent and sufficient nourishment? We encourage you to find that out for yourself. Ask yourself, “What would it look like to honor my biological needs that I was born with and experience the freedom of body attunement?” We can tell you right now, you can’t go wrong when you are partnered with your body rather than against it.

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