How the Binge Restrict Cycle Keeps You At War With Your Body

reaching for a chocolate truffle

Have you ever heard about someone being happy on the current diet they are on? Chances are slim that if you've ever been on a diet or restricting foods in some way that you felt happy doing so. I can remember back to my first diet at age 15, I felt miserable. I was restricting my calories to 1100-1200 a day, working out more and more and I was miserable. Being so miserable about my body and food made me miss out on life way to much. Plus it kept me stuck in the binge restrict cycle for years without even realizing it. Today I want to share with you how restriction and food deprivation makes you miserable and what to focus on instead, because there is so much more to focus on, trust me!

How Restriction Works & What it Looks Like:

Food restriction occurs anytime you restrict your caloric intake for the purpose of losing weight or to control your body. Let me just say this right away, I am not anti weight loss. However, I think that most of the time, we tie weight loss to health promotion and this is what I have a problem with. You can read more about how this happens and the issue with tying weight loss to health over here. If you are pursuing a healthier lifestyle for the purpose of feeling better and weight loss occurs, there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion. However, it is often times a slippery slope when we choose to lose weight from a place of body fear and shame due to diet culture, which is all around us. I would encourage you to read more about this in my blog post linked above as I delve much deeper into weight loss and how intuitive eating can help.

Food deprivation works in a way to make you feel that food is the enemy and thus so is your body. You may believe that your body has to change in some way because you are not worthy just as you are. It complicates your relationship to food and your body even more and makes you second guess everything you put on your plate. You can read more about self-love after weight gain right here.

binge restrict graphic

Why the Binge Restrict Cycle Makes You Miserable:

Food deprivation makes you miserable because it keeps food and your body at war with each other, which later leads to the binge restrict cycle. When that happens, there is a high possibility that you will feel pretty miserable about not just your body but also your life. When you deprive yourself of food, you also choose to go out less and live more secluded. Going out and being with friends and/or family is a social experience that often times includes food. If you are hanging out with women, a lot of the times, it can also include diet talk as well. These two things can be a recipe for disaster. If you already feel that you need to restrict yourself around food, being out and surrounded by "temptation" can prove to be too much. So often times, you avoid going out altogether.

Have you been there before? I sure have. It's no fun at all. I can remember purposely missing out on fun nights out because I was worried about how I would be able to 'control' myself around all the food. Not to mention if I did manage to go out and then binge on foods and the guilt that would occur after it. The binge restrict cycle makes you feel miserable and out of control which is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve.

How Restriction Affects You On Various Levels:

On a purely scientific level, when it comes to hunger, our bodies actually cannot tell the difference between when we are starving ourselves because of actual famine or restricting. What happens is that our bodies will actually not only hold on to weight, but they will send signals to our brain to eat and eat quickly, i.e. a binge and the binge restrict cycle begins. Our bodies will want to end the hunger and restriction as quickly as possible and we will react by eating more foods than we need to and we won't be reaching for a salad. Because when was the last time you binged on a spinach salad?!

It also affects our behaviour as well. Restriction makes us feel a lot more anxious, depressed and just plain crazy. We fantasize about food and feel anxious about every piece of food we eat in return. We don't make great friends or can even carry much of a conversation, because we are literally consumed with thoughts of food. I can still remember going out to a friend's party and all I did was talk about my plant-based diet, excessively. It was all I cared to talk about, it was all I thought about. I wanted people to bring it up or bring up how great I looked now, because I was smaller.

The University of Minnesota conducted a widely publicized study on the affects of starvation on our mind and body. The results indicated that starvation drove men to the 'threshold of insanity'.

On a physical level, it also affects our own energy level. If we aren't adequately nourishing ourselves, how can we have energy to do the things we normally would do? We become irritable and unmotivated and as such feel worse about ourselves in the long run.

holding a bowl of oatmeal

What to Focus on Instead:

How about instead of focusing all (or majority) of our thoughts on food and restriction, we focus on other things? Where focus goes, energy flows. When we are consumed with what we are eating, we don't create enough space to focus on other (more important) things. And I guarantee you, there are so many other things that deserve your attention.

Rather than focusing on quantitative numbers such as calories, fat and other nutritional information, change that to simply enjoying the food you are eating. Yes, the quality of food is important and something that I think about, but it isn't everything. And my life isn't consumed with thoughts of food either. I found the joy in cooking again and love creating recipes in the kitchen, but not from a place of obsession anymore.

Once you are able to stop restricting, it can be hard to adjust and we don't just go back to normal after. Our bodies and our minds are powerful entities and they can suffer long term consequences. If they are used to restriction, they will still want to binge later on because subconsciously they fear the food will be taken away again. It is of course possible to develop a healthier relationship to food again, but it will take time. And working with a professional to help you along the way is highly recommended so that you can develop healthier habits around food.  The key is learning to rebuild that trust around food and with your body again.

sprinkling shredded coconut on oats

How to Learn to Love Your Body, As Is & Express Gratitude:

Learning to love our bodies is something that takes A LOT of time and work. It is still something that I work on, but I am so much better at it now. But at age 35, I am just starting to appreciate my body more now than ever before.

I think it is a very individual thing to learn to love your body and also something that requires a lot of time and patience. Because self love and body acceptance aren't always linear. You can think you are making great progress and then something happens to derail that. But knowing that bad days and good days are all a part of the process makes it a little easier.

If you have found yourself caught up in dieting for too long or just want to change your relationship to food and your body, share with me in the comments. Or if you have found yourself caught up in the binge restrict cycle, how did you deal with it?


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Pam Licht
September 15, 2023
Thank you so much for this article. I love tofu but I’m still trying to learn how to use it. I tried the air fryer method but it came out very dry and rubbery. I did spray it with olive oil and spiced it. Maybe frozen tofu isn’t appropriate for air frying. I’m trying to cut back on oils but I’ll try your way! Thank you again ‼️
September 12, 2023
Hi Bridgette! Yes, you can use regular all purpose flour. Enjoy :)
September 5, 2023
Can you just use regular flour ?
August 21, 2023
My husband and I really enjoyed this! I had to sub thick spaghetti but otherwise followed the recipe. Such a fun, different pasta recipe!
August 20, 2023
This is a delicious decadent cake! Do much like a flourless chocolate torte. Only subs I made was a flax egg, and solid heavy coconut cream for the coconut butter. Definitely keep this recipe!
May 21, 2023
This is the one! I don’t know how many of these I’ve tried, but this one nailed it! Used dried dill and Kewpie Mayo and it was so good. I found you at last!
April 7, 2023
SO YUMMY!!! I've finally made a good baked oats with following your recipe :'). I didn't add the maple syrup or banana, instead a banana flavoured GoGoSqueeze lol! I believe adding the egg is the game changer, thank you for sharing!
March 27, 2023
Hi! That would be psyllium husk powder.
March 13, 2023
Psyllium husk or psyllium husk powder?
February 28, 2023
Thank you so much for this article. I will be 65 on March 4th and have have a struggled with my weight since age 8, my parents divorce. I have had disordered eating, anorexia, & BDD just to name a few. I have gained 45pounds in 2 years after leaving a toxic marriage of 30 Years. I am also embarking on a journey of self exploration & I am enough and not let the scales define my day or life.
February 15, 2023
This is a game changer! I always throw my tofu in the freezer when I buy it… but rarely remember to thaw it on time. And have always soaked it in hot water the sink, it takes f o r e v e r. Giving this a try right now - thank you!
Justine Louise
January 24, 2023
These turned out so good! I am excited to have quick and easy breakfasts that are not toast and bagels. Thanks for such a great recipe!
January 13, 2023
Hi Venetia! LOL, they definitely flatten a bit on the bottom as they cook, but that's kinda part of the charm I suppose haha
January 13, 2023
How do you keep the ball shape? Mine turned out like turkey igloos !!
January 8, 2023
Hi Michele. You add it in step #2 just to season the chicken a little.
Michele Baptiste
January 8, 2023
At what point did you add the kosher salt?
January 7, 2023
I love these recipes, cant wait to start cooking! Thank you for sharing!
January 7, 2023
wow, these pancakes look so delicious and yummy. I just love this recipe. thanks for sharing this wonderful article with us.<a href="">jukitchen</a>
December 23, 2022
Thank you for this recipe. I modified it a bit because I wanted to have it for breakfast. I only used 1 1/2 tsp of sugar and used oat flour in place of AP flour. I omitted the chocolate chips and topped with an all fruit jam after it finished cooking. Delicious and nutritious. Love it!
Lisa kinnaird
December 10, 2022
Am going to make your Thai Meatballs in Red Curry Sauce!!
Gary And Debbie Houck
November 30, 2022
Great stuff!
November 19, 2022
I replaced the chorizo with the impossible sausage, and it was still delicious! Thanks for the recipe!
November 14, 2022
Thank you so much for sharing Jeanette! Aren't easy meals that look fancy the best ;)
November 14, 2022
Thanks Alexandra! My husband loves it too and he loves his cheese lol.
November 14, 2022
Thanks so much for sharing Josh! It's such a great weeknight meal. Enjoy it tonight :)
November 14, 2022
This recipe slays... since you've posted, I've made variations on it at least four times. Going to make it again for dinner tonight.
Alexandra bull
November 10, 2022
Made this recipe for my boyfriend and I on Halloween! It is the perfect fall dish. It is easy to make vegan, nut & gluten free if you use gluten free pasta and do the sunflower seed substitute. My non-vegan boyfriend loved it so much they have asked me to make it again! It is so creamy & has the perfect crunch with the sage and pumpkin seeds.
November 2, 2022
Very easy, directions are clear, like recommended product names. Making this for dinner. Pre-dinner tasting fantastic flavours♥️♥️
September 21, 2022
Hi Marnie! You could use about 3 to 4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast instead of parmesan.
September 21, 2022
Hi, how much nutritional yeast would you suggest instead of cheese?
September 21, 2022
Absolutely LOVE this recipe - it's delicious (especially for those that like a hint of spice)!! My finance and I are obsessed and it's become part of our weeknight recipe rotation. It has a limited number of ingredients, it's quick to make/cook, but despite all of that - looks and tastes like much more time was spent! Thanks for the great recipe Jaclyn!
September 3, 2022
Do these burgers taste at all like beef? Thank you.
September 1, 2022
Just tried your recipe. Holly Hanna..... was that good! I know how to cook but you must try this one. I'm new to the this way of cooking but now I'm a believer. Keep them coming and I'll be trying them. Thanks ! G
August 2, 2022
This was delicious!!! It takes some prep time but each portion is packed with flavour! Will definitely make again ❤️
July 31, 2022
I made this yesterday and HOLY MOLY it hit the spot!!! It’s been so hot and muggy out here, so I was craving something light, cool, and filling. This recipe did not disappoint. The flavor of the peanut sauce was delicious. It had been a while since I prepared something with such color and flavor, which made eating it that much better. I will definitely make this again and try your other recipes too!! 😍🙏🏻❤️
July 25, 2022
Hi Henrik! Thanks for letting me know you made them. Depending on the size of your food processor, it can be a lot to pulse all at once, so maybe working in batches is better. I'm glad you liked them and they firmed up for you :) Enjoy the rest!
henrik bechmann
July 25, 2022
Yep, they firmed up nicely. I'm freezing four, and looking forward to having the other four, dressed with sauerkraut, pickles, mustard, vegan mayo, onions, banana chiles, and maybe even ketchup. Yum!
henrik bechmann
July 25, 2022
Well I ended up baking them for 23 minutes (@400F). They're delicious! A bit soft, but I'm hoping they'll firm up when they cool. Texture is good too. Thanks for this!
henrik bechmann
July 24, 2022
Seems like a good and tasty recipe. But I had to add a generous half cup of water to get any kind of movement in the food processor. I substituted flax seeds for hemp (what I had). The mixture was a bit loose because of the water, but still formed nicely into patties. Baking for 15 min at 400F. Looking forward to them!
July 23, 2022
Hi Roxanne! So for the meatballs photos with feta, I just used regular olive oil. But for the one photo with the red looking oil, that was olive oil mixed with fried green onions and Aleppo pepper. I have that recipe in full on my Instagram account - if you head over there, you'll see it -
July 21, 2022
Hi! The topping on your whipped feta looked delicious. It appeared to be more than olive oil. Or maybe an infused olive oil? Do you mind sharing that recipe? I can’t wait to make this recipe. Appreciate the tip on room temp feta.
July 19, 2022
Make these now! Once you buy your ingredients, this is the easiest recipe to's so hands off! I started the beef in the instant pot an hour before we wanted to eat and prepped the toppings while all of that was cooking. I used stewing beef and a home-made taco seasoning. I didn't have any beef broth so I used half of a bouillon cube - worked just fine! The enchilada sauce was store bought (Frontera brand) and it was delicious. Highly recommend the Monteray jack cheese - I used some Violife mozzarella that I happened to have at home but I can see how the sharp taste would add to the overall flavour.
July 18, 2022
Hi Carolyn! I'm so glad you are loving my recipes, thank you so much for taking the time to let me know. I don't provide nutritional information as it doesn't align with my brand or how I personally choose to live my life, having had a disordered relationship to food in the past. I hope you understand :)
July 13, 2022
I love your recipes and have tried them! What would be GREAT is if you could include the nutritional value with calories. It would be beneficial to those of us trying to lose weight. Thank you, Carolyn
July 11, 2022
Just made this for my family today. I can’t have gluten or dairy but they can and this got a RESOUNDING stamp of approval! Love the simple ingredients and it tasted fabulous! Thanks for such nourishing recipes ❤️ 😊
July 3, 2022
Thanks for this! I came across this recipe very late in life, at a family meal. I liked it better than my mother's potato salad of my childhood, and better than my sister's which came from her in-laws. DH likes it very much. Win, win, win! Tip: if you don't want to steam up your summer kitchen nor fight the mosquitoes for the grill, pressure cook the potatoes!
May 12, 2022
I am on a short vacation and came across this recipe, looking forward in making this. It looks really good. Can’t wait.
Whitney Mullenax
April 22, 2022
I have these cookies in the oven right now (2nd time making them in a few weeks). They are perfection and will be a great gift for some coworkers tomorrow. I made the recipe as is, great texture! I saved some for me too, don't worry ;)
Olivia Garcia
April 15, 2022
I love the ingredients in these recipes… Can’t wait to start them all!!
April 14, 2022
Don’t sleep on this wing recipe. It is soooo good! I can see this being a staple for game days, casual dinners or honestly…any day. Such a crowd pleaser as well. Oh and please don’t skip the dip. It’s unreal stuff! I was grabbing random things in my kitchen to eat it with once the wings were done.
Christa Campbell
March 28, 2022
The simplest recipe to make a delicious desert! I left out the cacao and just made vanilla coconut flavor and it was heavenly. I plan to add different flavors in the future; cacao with Orange or raspberry essence, vanilla salted, caramel flour de sel- the options are endless. Glad to find a keto friendly treat that can be made easily at home.
March 24, 2022
When do you add the mushrooms back in the pot?
February 13, 2022
These were good! I've been curious to try making a miso dessert for a little while now, but wanted it to be grain free. I've found that almond flour based chocolate chip cookies always have some kind of nut butter, and since I just use peanut butter, it's like a PB cookie. The miso did a great job replacing nut butter and achieved a great, chewy consistency! It's definitely strong, although I'm sure white miso would have been more mild. I used dashi miso, which in hindsight sounds pretty gross.. the cookies were not at all fishy tasting, but just bold and kind of salty/savory. I think next time I'll try a little less miso. I have a tendency to use less sugar than a recipe calls for, but I definitely needed it in this one to balance the miso flavor. I just used regular butter too, not ghee.
Susan Renee Hennings
January 12, 2022
Yes, I like it a lot. Lentils are nutritious and inexpensive.
January 2, 2022
I’m just learning about adaptogens and trying to incorporate them into my “healthy arsenal”. Thanks for the info!
December 27, 2021
This is the first cinnamon roll recipe i've actually gotten to work! I let the dough rest in the fridge for 4-5 hours and then rolled and filled it, then let it rest in the fridge over night and it worked great for an early morning bake. I looked through the whole recipe and you never mention what temperature to bake at. It just says "place in your preheated oven to bake" I baked at 350. Also it would be really nice if the caramel sauce recipe was included here. All in all totally delicious, worth the effort, and I will be making this again.