Unpacking The Temptation to Cleanse

Unpackingthe Temptationto CleanseTrue confession:  I’m a little bored with intuitive eating.  I’ve pretty much worked out all of my eating issues, so there’s just not much for me to “do” when it comes to fixing the way I eat.

I am grateful for this, truly, but I also feel a bit like a fish out of water.  For the first time in my life I’m not trying to change the way I eat.  I’m not trying to eliminate any foods from my diet.  I have no rules or “shoulds.”  I don’t even have to focus that much on listening to my body, because I do it automatically now.

My social media feeds used to be brimming with the latest eating trends, but during my years of intuitive eating I cleared it all out.  Still, something snuck its way in the other day; a link to a “new” cleanse.  I felt tempted to click on it, and though I didn’t, I knew it was an opportunity to think about why I felt that temptation (self-coaching in action!).

“Why would I want to read that?” I asked myself.

Possibilities:

  1. I wanted to “hate read” it so I could feel smug about my intuitive eating
  2. I wanted to see what’s trending so I can build a case against it
  3. I miss the excitement of trying out new ways to “fix” my eating

As much as answers 1 and 2 would feel like a fit, and would be easy to answer to, I knew that #3 was the real culprit.

Sigh.

There’s no denying it- there’s something very alluring about overhauling your diet, especially when you’re promised that it will “fix” you and make you feel awesome.  Who doesn’t want to feel energized, in control, healthy, successful…all of the outcomes that cleanses and diets promise, but fail to deliver long term?

So the appeal is there, but as an intuitive eating coach I know too well that there is no such thing as a harmless diet, and a cleanse is definitely a diet, even if it’s not meant to be long term.

To follow a cleanse/diet, you have to categorize certain foods or ways of eating as “good” and others as “bad.”  You may not feel like that’s what you’re doing, but you are forcing food rules into your head.  What is scary is that getting these ideas and rules out of your head is much, much harder than getting them in.

“Wait a minute…” you might be thinking, “but it’s hard to stick to a cleanse/diet, and super easy to quit a cleanse/diet.”

Yes, absolutely.  It’s not the dieting that lingers, though, it’s the diet mentality, and this is what you’re left with:

Diet mentality + No diet behavior =  Low self-esteem

In other words, when you feel like you should be eating differently but you can’t make yourself do it, you end up feeling bad about yourself.  (And like I always say, feeling bad about yourself is not motivational.)

I don’t want to go to be in that cycle of self-defeat ever again.  It’s too much drama, and it’s not worth the momentary feeling of exhilaration a cleanse might bring.  So instead, I return again (and again) to my most important question:

What can I do that will make me feel better in my body?

laying-down-optimizedThat’s pretty easy for me to answer at this point in my life.  Right now I am in need of some breathing, stretching, and rest.  I have the skills and ability to help myself feel better right now, without imposing any new rules or diets on myself.

On that note, I’m going to go roll around on the floor like a cat for a bit.

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