Restriction vs Food Freedom

Tuesday May 17

Aren’t you fed up with diet culture and attaining the ideal body? These things change SO often, too. Last year, the ideal body amongst young women was thin and lean, and now we’re moving into the idea of curves and bigger butts. When will this cycle end?

“Don’t eat carbs, definitely do not have dessert, eat chicken, rice and broccoli for every meal, oh and you don’t need breakfast. Intermittent fasting is good! Are you eating at this time, but it’s past 8pm! Don’t you dare eat take out or fast food, and don’t eat dairy or high-calorie foods. Eat salads with out any dressing, stay away from processed foods. You’re a failure – you skipped the gym today! You should be doing cardio and HIIT training every single day!”

These are all just a glimpse into the many ‘rules’ that diet culture breeds. It’s too hard to keep up with them all the time. One day we’re told to skip breakfast, because who eats that early in the day? The next we’re told we have to have 3-5 meals a day, because who likes to starve? It’s a vicious cycle that we must begin to change and intervene. Let’s stop diet culture for good.


What is food freedom?
Food freedom is the idea of ditching all diet culture, fads and restrictive eating patterns, to allow food to be a part of your life without controlling it or fearing it.

Brenna O’Malley, creator of the health blog The Wellful, believes that food freedom is being in a place with your body and with your relationship to food, which puts you back in control, and making choices of what you eat without fear of loss of control of the fear of food itself.


These two concepts battle each other in the world of health and fitness. We shouldn’t have to choose between the two, ever.

Having suffered with an eating disorder for a while now, I constantly face this battle. I restricted myself for so long and only now am I finding the courage to stand up and fight for food freedom as I know that that is the only way to achieve a pure and good relationship with myself, my body and food. I no longer want to be in the position where I am out with my friends drinking or at a restaurant and panic if they don’t have any “healthy” options on the menu – something which has been made a lot harder to challenge recently thanks to the “ingenuity” of the government in deciding to add calories to menus. Thanks, Boris.

Online we see so many posts and opinions about how we should eat, when we should eat, what foods are deemed as “good or bad”. But something I’ve learned just as I start the recovery journey with the goal of food freedom, is that no foods are “good” or “bad”. As soon as you start to label foods like that, restriction starts up so easily. This is why social media can quickly become all too toxic. From a young age we are exposed to an infinite amount of people online, sharing their ‘tips and tricks on how to lose weight’, or the ‘perfect ab routine for the sixpack abs for the summer.’ No wonder the rate of eating disorders among younger people has increased in recent years.

Diet culture refers to a rigid set of expectations about valuing thinness and attractiveness over physical health and emotional well-being. Diet culture often emphasises “good” versus “bad” foods, focuses on calorie restriction, and normalises self-deprecating talk. All these things tied up just leads to one big mess: restriction, and often eating disorders. It takes a long time to understand the toxicity of diet culture, especially when we have been brought up in a world that seems to applaud it.


Food freedom should be lauded over any other form of eating habits. Food freedom indeed gives you this sense of freedom of controlling what you eat in a sustainable way. Craving something which is deemed as “bad” like an ice cream or pizza or pasta or bread or carbs or anything beige? Eat it. There are no bad foods. Your body digests it the same way as anything else! Everything in moderation, but feed up and allow your body to tell you what it wants: listen to your body. There are no right or wrong ways to eat, right or wrong times to eat, or right or wrong foods to eat. There are no rules.

It’s so hard to come to terms with this, especially as someone who has lived on diet rules and tough restrictions for so long. However, it does come. And the feeling you get afterwards, is amazing.

I give you a challenge for the day: whatever you are craving right now, be it a snack or a meal, go get it and enjoy it. Challenge your thoughts around eating and restriction and what you should be eating vs what you shouldn’t. No one should ever feel the need to restrict or think badly about foods based on what they picked up on the news or in the environment around them. Those silly little rules we hear are just that: silly.

Learn to accept yourself and eat all the foods you want. I’m doing it with you right now. Today I woke up feeling quite off and achy and ill, and straight away my ED thoughts kicked in and said “aha! You can use this as an excuse to not eat today and restrict!”. I went on a walk and told myself “no, we don’t do that anymore“. And I’ve just eaten breakfast and will go on with my day, with more relaxing and rest, just as I would any other day and not allow myself to restrict. Just in that moment, I am challenging my ED. And that feeling is empowering.


Pepetoe love ❤

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