Why Restrictive Eating Does Not Work for Weight or Fat Loss

As you all have probably noticed, I tend to write more often than not about “overeating” and “overeating prevention.” That is because I write about whatever inspires me and that is probably the biggest struggle of my life. Being an American means that I was brought up with the doctrine that “MORE” is always “BETTER.” It’s very difficult for me to say “No” to larger portions of food because I’m so used to the mindset that I’m somehow missing out if I don’t have the most of everything.

For instance, American restaurant portions can be extremely large and without any nutritional or caloric information, it’s hard to gauge just how much you’ve really eaten. Don’t get me wrong, my two passions in life are fitness AND food. A good meal brings just as much joy to my heart as getting a new PR (personal record) on a 5k. Obviously, though, one of those things is a lot more accessible than the other.

…And that is precisely where most Americans get into trouble with managing their health and their relationship with food. The fact is, it’s just easier to eat a thousand calories than it is to burn them. Most people will choose the path of least resistance. And why not? I’m one of them. What makes me different from others at this time is that I’ve caught onto the hype and I’ve learned the importance of savoring my food via mindful and intuitive eating.

What I want people to know is that… It’s OK to eat FOOD. Even the junky stuff. Your body is a machine, essentially, and it works hard each and every day to keep you in tip-top shape. You just need to learn to work with it.

Below are a few tips for learning how to work with both your mind and your body to reach your fitness and nutritional goals. YES, you can have your cake, eat it, feel good, and still be fit!

Practice Allowance, not Restriction

Constantly telling yourself you can’t have something you really want generally backfires at some point. Restrictive behaviors only cause your mind to fixate on the action more than it would have had you just indulged. This can’t really be said for everything in life (murder, theft, rape, etc), but when it comes to food the stakes aren’t quite so high.

If you feel like you’re agonizing over whether or not to eat something, more likely than not all the stress from that agonization will just end up pushing you toward the thing you’re trying to avoid. Avoid that stress and pitfall by practicing allowance and mindful eating. Allowance is the opposite of restriction. It entails telling yourself that you’re allowed to eat what you want to eat and it has no moral bearing on the person you are. Mindful eating is being sure to savor what it is that you are eating as to avoid overindulging. Overindulging/overeating are actually unnecessary if you’ve properly savored your meal or dessert while consuming it.

Apply the 80-20 Rule

The “80-20 Rule” is actually pretty simple and easy to implement. 80% of the time, try to eat your version of healthy and nutritious meals. 20% of the time is fair game for whatever else you want to eat. This acknowledgment is important when it comes to feelings of guilt pertaining to the things we’ve eaten. As stated earlier, restriction creates feelings of rebellion which ultimately compel you to engage in the behavior because you’re so fixated on the action. Once you engage in a behavior you feel you should’ve been restricting, your feelings of guilt will compel to do so once again. The cycle continues.

Applying the “80-20 Rule” to your life, helps you to begin a practice of allowance instead of restriction. It’s just one step of many, but it’s an extremely important one.

Pay Attention to Caloric Intake

Most people know that the keys to fat loss are strength training and a healthy and nutritious diet. No one really knows what a “healthy and nutritious diet” actually is and they’d have an even harder time trying to define that for you on an individual basis. That’s your job. Knowing that, I’d have to say the absolute BOTTOM LINE for fat loss is a caloric deficit. You cannot, knowingly, produce a caloric deficit if you have no idea how many calories you have consumed or have burned.

If your goal is fat loss, it is more important to become aware of your caloric intake than anything else. As I stated earlier, though, It is so much easier to consume than it is to burn. Being aware of your caloric intake makes it easier to practice “allowance” because it can afford you a logical explanation as to why your body craves what it craves. It also provides you with the knowledge of how much “room” you need to make to ensure you stay on the path toward your weight loss goals.

Don’t fret, though, it’s not as daunting of a task as you may believe. More and more restaurants are providing nutritional information with their meals. Not only that, there are numerous technologies available to help you track this information yourself. You can use MyFitnessPal, a Fitbit, or even a simple google search may yield the information you desire. The goal isn’t to be 100% perfect, but having a vague idea and knowing your specific body and caloric needs are tremendously effective in lightening your body and mind’s burdens.


This blog is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.

Author: Robyn

All great things start with a leap of faith.

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