Chapter 4: Understanding the cycle

Trapped in the cycle

I know that the reason you’re here is that you’re either currently trapped in the diet-binge (+ purge) cycle and you want to break free or you’re stuck in the hell hole of restriction and food rules. If you’re not experiencing bingeing, it’s still worth going through this module as there’ll be golden nuggets of information along the way that will benefit you.

Also, I’d like to add that purging doesn’t only mean making yourself sick. Purging behaviors range from induced vomiting, abusing laxatives, over-exercising, and severely restricting in an attempt to compensate for the binge. Any binge eating with purging behavior is bulimia.

So you may be wondering why there is any point in taking the time to understand exactly how the diet-binge cycle works…🤔

You cannot change something if you don’t know what caused you to end up there in the first place!

So let’s take a few moments together to truly understand WHY you are in the position you’re in now, to fully understand the HOW to break free. The HOW is the contents of this program (which is why you’re here) It is not hidden in a couple of modules, your key to breaking free from the food & body prison you’re currently in is in all of this program.

Alright, I know that you have invested in yourself and trusted me to show you the way to freedom and I am beyond grateful and honored that you’re here! Trust the process because this absolutely “works” – this is THE key 🗝️ to food freedom and body love, so get excited!

Ready? Let’s go!

Characteristics of the Diet Cycle 

You probably know this by now… if you go on a weight loss diet that is strict and extreme, then chances are that you will eventually find yourself trapped in a vicious cycle of dietary restriction, binge eating, and body shame. 

In order to commit to change and fully break out of this cycle, you first need to understand the key processes that are involved in maintaining this cycle.

The vast majority of people who adopt a strict and extreme diet report going through a cycle that more or less resembles this. 

Let’s briefly discuss each of the individual factors that perpetuate the diet cycle.


Factor 1: Body Shame

Body shame, or negative attitudes, beliefs, or feelings towards your body, is usually the first factor involved in kick-starting the cycle because it directly causes the desire to start a strict diet.

Why are rates of body shame at an all-time high worldwide?

Because we now live in a society that pressures men and women to look a certain way.

Men are expected to be lean and muscular.

Women are expected to be slender with little body fat. 😠

These expectations are what we call appearance ideals, and there is a deep-seated belief that achieving these ideals will make you a happy, successful, and worthy human.

However, these appearance ideals are largely unrealistic and almost impossible to achieve, so many people find themselves feeling ashamed or unhappy with their bodies.

These negative feelings, coupled with the relentless desire to achieve an idealized figure, are what prompt many people to commence a strict diet because it is perceived to be the solution.

Factor 2: Operation Restrictive Diet 

Diets are considered to be the solution to eliminating your body shame, “fixing” your body and achieving that idealized appearance or goal weight that you have always dreamed of.

Whether someone chooses a strict and extreme diet, however, usually depends on the level of body shame they experience.

In other words, the more shame you experience, the more likely you are to adopt a strict and extreme diet. (Sound familiar…?)

Factor 3: Feelings of Deprivation 

You can only restrict for so long (unless you have the genetics for anorexia which triggers the migration response).

Sure, you might be able to successfully restrict your eating for a week or two, maybe even a few months, but soon after feelings of physical and psychological deprivation will set in.

These feelings of deprivation usually begin during a significant event.

For example, many people begin experiencing the psychological deprivation associated with a diet when they are at a celebratory event, watching their loved ones eating cake and drinking champagne.

We are not machines. ❌ 🤖

We are not designed to be so regimented or calculated with what we put into our bodies every single day.

These feelings of deprivation are usually a very good predictor of whether someone will rebel against their diet rules shortly after. 

Factor 4: Rebel

In this context, rebelling simply means “breaking” one of your many diet rules. 🖕

Prior to this rebellion, you begin to question why you have decided to go on a diet in the first place. The cravings or the urge to eat something you shouldn’t are just too intense.

And to ease the tension, you give in to these cravings.

The consequence of this rebellion kicks in almost immediately.

It leads to the all-or-none mentality. You know, the Fu*k it button!

Factor 5: All-Or-None Mentality

This mentality kicks in almost immediately after you have rebelled against one of your many extreme diet rules.

Once you have a brief moment to think about your behavior and how it has “ruined” all of your week’s progress, you begin to feel demoralized.

Feelings of anger, frustration, and despair kick in because you were adamant that this time was going to be different.

You were going to successfully stick to the plan.

The interpretation of your diet rule break is one of failure. By giving in to the cravings, you hold the belief that your attempt to diet was unsuccessful.

This cognitive distortion is called dichotomous thinking. “I’m sorry, what?” ⬇️

It means that there is no in-between.

You either succeeded or failed.

You won or lost.

It is precisely this pattern of thinking that causes you to lose control and binge on all of the foods you were trying to avoid.

Factor 6: Binge Eat

An episode of binge eating is the last link in the chain.

It is the consequence of the all-or-none reaction.

At the root, binges are due to restriction. Full stop. So when you have binged, instead of asking yourself “Why have I done that?”! ask yourself “Where have I been restricting?” (there is more to come in future modules around the different types of restriction).

There are many different features and types of binge eating episodes that you can be aware of, but they all happen due to some form of restriction and they all have one thing in common – the person feels bad and terrible about what they have just done.

Ultimately, dieting is not an action, it is a state of mind. And I don’t care what you put in your mouth, I care how you feel about it!

The Cycle Continues

The episode(s) of binge eating only intensifies body shame and ignites other associated behaviors such as constant body checking or total avoidance of mirrors, putting your life on hold until you feel better about yourself, etc.

People who end up binge eating usually feel disgusted and ashamed of themselves. This has a profound impact on the sense of self and overall self-worth. 

The anxiety of the potential of gaining immediate weight becomes difficult to handle. 

Eventually, a commitment is made to go on an even stricter diet the next day to counteract the effects of the excess calories consumed during this binge episode. 

This is when the cycle repeats itself. 


Why diets fail you

Suggested Reading

Do ‘Diets’ Really Just Make You Fatter? (please ignore all the weight loss adverts that spam you when reading this 😂 it’s definitely worth it!)

Why diets make us fatter