For me, that urge to eat a bunch of random food went completely away once I was consistently eating enough. Apparently, I’d never eaten enough to know that was possible?! I still snack if I want to, or if something tasty appears, but that strong drive to start eating a lot between meals or to keep eating after meals isn’t there if I’m not restricting. So crazy! I battled those urges for decades thinking it was a mindset problem, a habit, or a character flaw. Nope, just hungry!
Additional thoughts: I noticed at lunch today that I was gladly doing the exact opposite of what diet “wisdom” (LOL) was telling me to do. I absolutely still have the thoughts. “Easy on the dressing with that salad. No bacon. How many calories in all those sunflower seeds. You don’t need a flour tortilla and cheese with that. Just eat the beans. No Sun Chips! OMG, you definitely can’t sit down with the whole bag. You should have a piece of fruit instead of dessert.” I realized that my brain is still giving me all of that nonsense every time I eat! That restriction voice is small and weak now that I laugh at it and stomp on it every time it makes a suggestion. It used to be a fire alarm in terms of how much attention I gave it. It felt loud, urgent, but now it’s more like a little gnat buzzing around in the background. I hardly notice it, and I do absolutely everything it tells me NOT to do. Ha! So fun! If I had listened today, I’d have eaten a bunch of salad greens with barely any dressing, eight sunflower seeds, plain black beans, and an apple. I’d have been hungry and obsessing over food all day long, and primed for something bingey in the near future. Instead, I had a big salad with lots of dressing, sunflower seeds, and bacon. I had a bean smushie (new creation) with black beans, cheese, a flour tortilla, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. I had Sun Chips right out of the bag. And I had a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg. That was perfect, totally satisfying. Six hours later, I’m just starting to get hungry again.
Over and over again, suggestions from diet brain are ridiculous and unsustainable. My body’s appetite is right on every time. It knows. It’s getting accurate feedback about its needs 24/7. Diet brain is parroting some nonsense it read in Shape Magazine ten years ago. It’s a matter of deciding who you listen to, your own body that actually knows how hungry it is and what it needs, or a diet culture that has SO MANY issues of its own, and is probably selling something.
I bumbled across a book excerpt from a family of previously normal eaters who read In Defense of Food and watched Food Inc and totally freaked out, vowing to eliminate all “fake” food from their diets. The woman was scared to eat, scared to feed her children, obsessed with food labels, and making sure everything they ate was “real.” She’s written three or four books now and is actively scaring the crap out of others. That’s what I mean when I say diet culture has its own issues. People are projecting their own fears, insecurities, and misinterpretations in an effort to feel better and bring others on board. Real food is great! I love it. I eat lots of it every day, but it’s that, alarmist “never eat a processed food or you’ll be fat and dead by nightfall” attitude that is not helpful. If your brain is enthusiastically sharing such messages, you get to choose how much attention you give them. The less you engage with and act on them, the weaker they get.