If we consider our relationship with food as a diet seesaw, what is most enjoyable is when we achieve a balance on the pivot point between both sides. Allow me to explain.
I often talk about dieting in terms of a cycle of restriction and deprivation that leads to hunger and obsession with the foods we can’t have. For many of us, this eventually leads to eating these restricted foods or ‘breaking’ the diet, followed by guilt and shame that fuels us to start another diet.
The dieting seesaw
The two sides of this cycle – dieting vs. eating with abandon – could also be viewed as two ends of a seesaw, where we move up and down, from one to the other.
When we are ‘up’ we can restrain and control our eating, and when we are ‘down’ we rebel and eat with abandon.
Yet neither end of the seesaw is pleasurable.
Rather than a gentle rise and fall, we experience the dieting seesaw with a jarring thud when the seesaw hits the ground, and you feel the shock of pain through your body. We use this pain to motivate ourselves to push the seesaw, so the opposite side is up.
An emotionally painful experience
Yet this approach involves pain at both ends. And a considerable effort to switch from side to side.
On one side, we feel the pain of aspiring for perfection and restricting ourselves of pleasure. On the other side, we experience the pain of overeating and eating in a way that doesn’t nourish our body and make us feel good.
If we ride a seesaw in this way, we not only experience pain. It requires considerable effort. The ride is neither smooth nor enjoyable.
If we consider our relationship with food as a seesaw, what is more enjoyable is when we achieve a balance on the pivot point between both sides, rather than jarring between the extremes.
Perfect balance in our diet may not always be possible as our life circumstances change. However, we are better able to right ourselves when we start to tip one way or the other.
In this state of balance, our relationship with food is not painful, but enjoyable.
It doesn’t require immense effort to maintain. But rather an attunement into the sensations of balance and an awareness of the pull of gravity to rebalance ourselves.
The seesaw analogy sheds light on why aiming for a specific outcome or goal that is extreme or a considerable distance from our pivot point (known as our ‘set point’ weight range) can tip our balance.
If we want to achieve a balanced relationship with food, rather than imposing unrealistic or extreme rules on ourselves and tipping our balance, a far more enjoyable and sustainable approach is to tune into your body.
Tune in to your body
Through tuning in to how our body responds to what we eat, why and how we are eating, we can calibrate ourselves based on how our body feels. Our eating no longer dictated by external rules or a perception of how others may perceive us.
This balanced state will differ from person to person. It is likely to change throughout the day, week, month or years, and therefore require us to constantly tune into our body and why we are eating.
For this reason, mindful and intuitive eating practices can enable us to calibrate our eating for a balance we can enjoy and sustain throughout our lives.