This is the deal. Food is good for you. Food has been demonized to a point where you cannot look at something without wondering if you will gain weight and without asking yourself whether you "should" or you "shouldn't."
The problem is that every time you deny yourself of something, the brain will start going into scarcity mode, or tell you will not be or have enough resources in the future to live. This is as opposed to sufficiency mode, where your brain assumes you will be okay in the future--you will be enough and have enough.
In scarcity mode, your fear response is triggered. This means adrenalin, cortisol and other chemicals and substances fly through your mind and body, signaling that you are in stress. The result is negative physiological changes that eat up your serotonin and dopamine, so that now you are craving comfort and stress relief.
Now, if you were aware of this, and maintained healthy behaviors, you could choose from a variety of methods to increase your serotonin and dopamine levels. These include exercise, meditation, adequate sleep, connecting with those you love and who can support you, connecting to nature or your spiritual beliefs, laughing as loud as you can, or simply appreciating rather than finding fault or negativity with all that is around you (especially yourself).
So, you turn to guess what? Yes, comfort food. Those carbs and fats help you feel better because serotonin is temporarily released. The key word here is "temporarily," because these same foods also turn on the stress or fear response. Of course, the shame or guilt you feel by eating these foods doubles the negative effect. So you eat more. As this cycle continues, the normal mechanisms that signal you to stop eating because you are full, no longer work.
The more you can't stick to your diet, the worse you feel about yourself. All those self care behaviors go right out the window. The more you dislike yourself, the more you turn to the self destructive behaviors. And the cycle goes on.
If at your core, you do not truly love yourself, self-destructive behaviors will always take over.
So recognize that you are in a stressful world and that you are in need of stress reduction and comfort. Do the following:
Once you do this, your unconscious beliefs can begin to be reprogrammed, and the behaviors will change accordingly.
Follow Eva M. Selhub, M.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrEvaSelhub