Some of my clients swing between two ways of eating, like a pendulum swinging from one side to the other.
On one side of the pendulum is overindulgence—eating unconsciously, overeating and feeling a lack of control. At some point they get tired of eating this way (often because of how they feel) and so the pendulum swings…
On the other side of the pendulum, they encounter restriction—extreme diets (sometimes disguised as “healthy”), restrictive eating and a disregard for hunger and natural cravings. The trouble is, they eventually can’t sustain eating this way and the pendulum swings back again…
Why Does Our Eating Swing Like This?
Our brain perceives food restriction as a threat to our well-being and engages in a protective response which leads to cravings and overeating. The pendulum that went too far to one side was abruptly released and swings full force to the opposite side. Visually, it looks something like this.
How Do You Stop the Pendulum Swing?
- By slowing down
- By listening to and honoring your body’s signals and needs
- By eating more mindfully
- By questioning the beliefs and the stories you’ve been told (or that you have told yourself) about food
- By observing and trusting
It is in these practices, that you will find the center. The pendulum will return to the middle in a gentle, steady state of swing.
Practice Builds Trust
Just as a pendulum won’t immediately go to center when it’s released, you may not either. Many people swing back and forth between control and chaos several times before their pendulum finally learns that it can safely and consistently oscillate in the middle.
However, I promise that establishing a gentle center—instead of wildly swinging the pendulum back and forth—makes eating less stressful, more sustainable and infinitely more enjoyable!
Over time, you will likely observe that your pendulum can naturally recalibrate itself. For example, after a vacation with more indulgences, you may come home craving lighter and healthier foods. During times of sickness or increased busyness you may eat less, and then find yourself craving heavier, grounding, comfort foods.
You will learn to trust that you can follow those cues and that it will all balance out.