Intuitive Eating: Break the Diet, Binge, Guilt Cycle

You start a diet on Monday.
Restrict yourself all week.
Binge on Friday because you can’t take the restriction anymore.
Feel guilty and shameful over the weekend because of binging.
Start over on Monday.

Sound familiar?

4 Easy Steps to Stop the Diet/Binge Cycle.

This pattern is destructive if you don’t put a stop to it. I know first hand because I did this for years.

You certainly won’t make any progress if you continue like this. But even more importantly you’ll develop strong negative associations with food. So every time you think about food, you’ll automatically think “guilt and shame.”

Feeling guilt and shame about how you eat isn’t motivating. Feeling guilt and shame about ANYTHING isn’t motivating.

Food is supposed to be pleasurable.
Feelings of joy and pleasure are rewarding.
You’re not going to feel motivated if you always feel guilt and shame around food.
See the connect there?

So we need to stop thinking: “The only way I’ll succeed is if I starve myself, but when I fail, I feel horribly and curse myself for being bad.”

To a new model of: “I’m never going to eat perfectly. So I’m better off eating foods that make me feel physically well instead of creating rules about what I should or shouldn’t eat, which I equate to being a good or bad person.

Eating a piece of cheesecake doesn’t make you a bad person. KILLING somebody makes you a bad person.

Solving the diet/binge cycle takes time but can be done. There are multiple layers that need addressing but here’s one simple strategy to get the ball rolling.

Get GLAD before you eat. GLAD is an acronym to work through while eating.

G — Get hungry.

Before you eat, pause for a moment and ask yourself if you’re hungry. If you’re not hungry, what emotion are you feeling?

Are you stressed? Tired? Lonely? If so, go deal with that emotion in an emotional way, rather than using food which is physical.

L— Loosen up.

Stress is the number one reason why we eat when we’re not hungry.

You must feel calm when you eat so that you start equating food with relaxation rather than stress.

When you’re stressed your body pumps out cortisol and too much cortisol tells your body to store fat. In order to properly assimilate and absorb the nutrients in your meals you must be relaxed, otherwise you risk storing food (even healthy food!) as fat.

So sit down when you eat. Sitting = calm. Standing = anxious.

A — Avoid distractions.

Get rid of distractions.
Turn off the TV and stop multi-tasking.
Focus on your food.

By avoiding distractions and focusing on your food, it sends a signal to your brain that hunger should go away.

Have you ever watched a movie with a tub of popcorn only to get to the bottom and think, “How’d that happen?” Tuning into your food keeps this from happening.

D — Delight in your food.

The takeaway? Enjoy your food no matter what!

When we take the pleasure away from something that’s supposed to be pleasurable we act out by binge eating.

So if you eat a piece of cake, enjoy it. Honor it. Because if you don’t then you didn’t really enjoy the cake because you shamed yourself after eating it. See? It’s a never ending cycle.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any helpful tips for intuitive eating.

Cheers to your health,


  1. Joy

    I’m so GLAD for this post-excellent advice! My favorite is D-delight in your food. As a family, I can tell when we rush our meals, the food just doesn’t taste as good and the kids are crazier. It’s much better when we sit and talk and enjoy the meal. Thank you for your insights.

    • Mariah Dolan

      MUCH agreed Joy! I know for sure if I don’t sloooooow down, I finish eating and didn’t even realize I ATE! So important to give the food we eat some respect, right? Enjoy it. Be thankful that we have it…and that alone will work wonders.



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