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Rebellious Eating

Note: Quotes on self-acceptance were found on this website.

I was talking with someone the other day about how it can be easy to eat as a way of rebelling against a specific person. Even if the other person isn’t around.

Even if they’ll never know – and you’re the only one who suffers.

Have you ever done this? I know I have. In fact, I had a few people I rebelled against with food.

My mom. Her mom. My doctor. My therapist. The Weight Watchers people.

The problem was, their voices were so loud in my head, so ingrained, that it felt like they were around even when they weren’t.

And with those internal voices came judgment.

The judgment was what I rebelled against. My rebellion became a sort of dare. Would they say I shouldn’t eat it? Would they decide not to have anything to do with me? Or (and this might be the worst) would they tell me they were disappointed in me?

Emotionally, I think the process goes something like this.

You see a food that looks tasty, but it’s on the “bad” list. Maybe a piece of cake, a cookie, ice cream.

You hear the voice of the other person saying you shouldn’t eat it. You know they would think less of you if you had the food. And you crave their acceptance.

But – and this is the tricky part – you want them to accept you as you are.

Why should their affection be conditional on a piece of cake or candy? Are they really going to disown you over a cookie?

And then you get angry. What right do they have to judge your eating habits? You don’t have to do what they say. You can eat whatever you want, damn it!

By then, it doesn’t even matter if you truly want the food or not. You just eat it, as fast as you can, as a way of proving you can. (Plus, if you eat it fast, you don’t have to think about it.)

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Unsplash

Except – then you realize the other person will never know. The only result is that you might feel queasy, physically and emotionally. And you might wish you hadn’t eaten it, or at least all of it.

So how do you get around this?

What I’ve found helpful is to focus on self-acceptance. As Byron Katie said, “It’s not your job to like me… It’s mine!”

If you love and accept yourself for who you are, without judgment, it gives you a cushion. It’s still disappointing if the people you care about don’t accept you, but it’s not quite as devastating.

I know self-acceptance isn’t always easy. But consider these wise words.

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

― Buddha

“Loving yourself… means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.”

― Margo Anand

Then if you hear those judgmental voices in your head, maybe you can have a better answer than eating.

You can say, “I’m in charge of what I eat. I’m not going to be manipulated. It’s up to me if I want to eat it or not, and either way, it doesn’t matter what you think I should be doing.”

If you decide to eat the food, I hope you can allow yourself to slow down and enjoy it. Or if you find you don’t enjoy it, know you can stop eating it. You don’t have to keep going out of spite. Doing that isn’t very loving.

And as Amy Leigh Mercree said, “One woman filled with self-love and self-acceptance is a model more super than any cover girl.”

I like that. I hope you do, too. And instead of rebellious eating, we can aim to be this kind of super.

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