I think this is what it all comes down to.
I think this is the point.
I think, that if I would have known this, it would have saved me years of suffering.
Living in the gray is the key to our freedom around food and body obsession. Living this way means choosing flexibility, gentleness, and non-judgement over perfectionism, harshness, and strict judgement.
But the notion of living in the gray is not appealing to dieters. In fact, it’s terrifying. Dieters love structure. Control. Rules. Stringency. Tightness. All or nothing.
Dieters love the black and white.
They love being told what to do, to give someone else the power to dictate their next move. To hand over guidance.
Frankly, being told what to do is much easier than figuring it all out yourself.
Because figuring out a way to eat on your own is tough. It takes patience. Vigilance. Mindfulness. It takes a long time and it takes experience. So, it’s no wonder that lots of people look to other people and strive to rely on them forever. It makes a lot of sense.
But the bottom line is, and here’s some tough love for you, dieters don’t trust themselves. That’s why they thrive off of the rules, because they need them. They don’t trust that, if they veer off of perfection for just one moment, they can just come right back, in the next moment, and make an empowering choice.
Black-or-white thinking is perfectionism. We’re on one extreme or the other. And with dieting, this is how it works. And it’s also exactly why it fails.
Picture a spectrum. The dieting spectrum. One one side, the white side, we have dieting, restriction, deprivation, perfection. On the other end, the black end, we have bingeing, overindulgence, off-the-rails debauchery. Which is what dieting always ends with.
When we diet, we oscillate between these two ends. When we diet, we inevitably binge. And then when we binge, we inevitably vow to diet again. Over and over and over again. We feel like shit on both ends.
I want you to know that the only way to have a sustainable relationship with food is to live somewhere within the spectrum, somewhere in the middle, in the gray area. The gray area is an area in which we still commit to eating in a way that makes us feel great that also supports our goals. The gray area includes room for some fun, some relaxation, some non-negotiables.
By living in the gray, we don’t have to succumb to the perfectionist trap, which always leads to the downward spiral. Ate something that doesn’t exactly align with your goals? So what? Told yourself you wouldn’t eat sugar but then find out a salad dressing you had in a restaurant had a little honey? Who cares? Had some bites of birthday cake because you wanted to celebrate? Few things are better. Included an amazing glass of red wine to go along with your perfectly cooked steak? Okay, that might be better than cake.
There will be times when you move more towards one end than the other, but we shouldn’t ever be stuck on one end. Want to feel great before a big trip? Maybe tighten up your nutrition a bit so you can feel amazing before you leave. While on the trip, you might swing a little to the other side, but when you get back, you’ll be right back where you feel comfortable. This allows room for life. As we constantly evolve and change, being open to slightly shifting our eating through the phases of our life is imperative.
Trust yourself enough to make your own empowered choices.
When we live in the gray, we decide what’s worth it and what isn’t. We can wake up each day, committed to feeling well and eating in a way that supports that, and still leave room for our favorite foods. This can happen every day. Every day should have some joy inserted into it. Living in the gray provides that. Living in the gray is fun.
I can’t think of a time when dieting or bingeing has ever been fun. And you never have to do either again.
Please be courageous enough to trust yourself, to choose to live right in the middle, for the rest of your life.
Get customized nutrition through Ashley's signature nutrition framework, Intuitive Macros. It won't be the first nutrition program you've ever done, but it will certainly be your last.
Being healthy starts with learning to cook simple foods in easy, delicious ways with approachable and practical recipes and techniques.
Our health begins with properly nourishing our bodies with nutrient-dense foods. I believe in bio-individuality: each person requires different types and amounts of food to feel their best. Learn how to eat intuitively for the rest of your life!