From skwigg's journal:
Some thoughts on neutralizing food as opposed to it being a moral or high-drama issue.
I feel like it's a two part process.
One part is losing all notion of good and bad. Making what/how much you eat a moral issue loads it with unhelpful emotion. If you want crazy, reactive, ineffective eating, just get really emotional about it. When food is completely neutral, you can do whatever you want and there is only how it feels. You can eat a whole jar of nut butter every night and it's not bad or wrong. It just feels good or not, serves you or not. Choosing from that calm, matter-of-fact head space is so much more productive.
The second part is habituation. If something is rare, dangerous, exciting, or forbidden, we tend to become idiots around it. If we're exposed to it regularly and can have it whenever we want, not only does it no longer have any pull, we get tired of it. We may forget about it completely, or not want any when offered. This is me and baked goods. As a dieter, they were kryptonite. As a baker, they're so normal it's almost boring. There's zero temptation to overeat baked yum-yums because they're always around and I can always make more. I don't need to eat them all now. I look forward to eating other things. Same deal with ice cream, potato chips, bread, pasta, candy. Being around them is normal and boring so there's no urgency or excitement, no temptation to eat them all now while I can. I always can. There's always more. Yawn.
Now, as to how to get habituated, there are several options. You're going for regular exposure to a satisfying amount. If you stop short of satisfied, things stay weird. If we use ice cream as an example, maybe you get a cone or a scoop several times a week when you're out. Or maybe you bring home single-serving containers. One at a time first, then eating one and saving one, then larger containers but still practicing eating an amount that feels comfortable. OR, you bring home a whole lot of ice cream, and go ahead and eat as much as you want. If you eat too much and don't like it, that's great! That's how you realize that eating less of it feels even better. Eventually, ice cream is normal. Some days you want it, some days you can easily pass. Other food sounds better.
In Jill Coleman's Food Obsession Bootcamp, she has you buy and eat a "trigger" food every day to normalize it. This while eating moderately and to feel good in other regards. People quickly get tired of their previously magical and forbidden foods. And again, the key to "getting tired of it" is not just habituation, but doing it in a calm and neutral way. It's not possible to do it right or wrong. It's only possible to learn.
Instead of thinking of foods or portions as good/bad, right/wrong, or worse, fattening or not fattening, think in terms of taste, satisfaction, pleasure, and well-being. How do you feel after eating? What are the results over the next few hours?
Diet brainwashing tells us that a salad is good and a sandwich is bad. But a low calorie salad and an apple may leave you shaky, hungry, dissatisfied, and binge-prone. A big sandwich may eliminate hunger for the rest of the day, give you more energy to move, and squash all nighttime overeating urges. So which is actually more effective?
It's also important to realize that emotional satisfaction matters. After a cold and stressful work day, coming home to hot soup and good bread will satisfy in a way that carrots and hummus can't.
Satisfaction is the key to being sane around food. When our meals satisfy, we can live life and think about other things. We eat to meet our needs and not for all the other weird reasons that drive overeating.