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I used to say: don’t buy it and you won’t eat it – But is that really necessary for eating well?


It’s a very simplistic statement: if you don’t have it at home, you won’t be tempted to eat it. Kind of makes sense, but I cringe now when I think back about how many people I have told this because what it conveys is that you don’t trust yourself being around food. You feel that certain foods have so much power over you that you would just give in and eat it all if you had it in your cupboard.


No food should have that sort of power over us.


I have learnt about the biological reasons why restriction almost always leads to cravings and bingeing. Our body has a powerful drive to find food when are met with a famine – and it can’t distinguish between self-inflicted famine (dieting/food restriction) and a real famine (food scarcity). Food is essential for life and to eat is self-preservation. Therefore, the body will do whatever it takes to get energy and nourishment.


Black and white photograph of a person of colour with white stripes on face, having a belt wrapped around the back of their neck and looking like they are about to bite into it

This biological mechanism will be sending our hormones and neurotransmitters into overdrive, ramping up our cravings and giving us a feeling of ‘out-of control eating’ when we do finally get some food. By restricting food we are playing right into this mechanism’s purpose.


Looking at it from a psychologically point of view, believing that you can’t trust yourself around food can have a hugely negative impact on your self-esteem and your self-image. Eating foods that you don’t usually allow yourself to eat will likely make you feel bad about yourself and think that you are lacking in willpower and self-control. And craving a food you can’t have will make you feel sad, as well as deprived of something pleasant. All of this will add to the amount of stress you experience. And we all know how detrimental stress can be to our health.


So rather than saying don’t buy it and you won’t eat it, what is the alternative for eating well?


It may sound strange and scary, but this is what works:


buying a lot of it and having it at home and ready for you whenever you fancy it.


If that scares the living daylight out of you, don’t worry. It’s a normal reaction to something that is out of our comfort zone and something we haven’t allowed ourselves to do for so long. You will likely think that if you had all that forbidden food at home you wouldn’t stop eating it. You might even feel you are addicted to it.