Thoughts on restricting

Thinky post today!  I have been reading a lot of different blogs/articles lately and have been ruminating about the use and/or place of the word “restriction” when it comes to eating.

Now right off the bat, you think “NO! Restriction is horrible. It leads to problems with bingeing, etc!”

Is it the actual word ‘restriction’ that sets off that panic feeling or is it something else?  I think that all of us really do recognize that there has to be some restrictions in our diet of some type.  Whatever that is for you, like cutting down calories, lower carbs, reducing fat, reducing Points, portion sizes, etc.  It all comes down to some type of restricting.  That includes intuitive eating styles.  When you try to only eat when hungry, you are really restricting your behaviors.  So, this term isn’t confined to just ‘dieting’.

Now, I am thinking restrictions are not necessarily a bad thing, although they can easily cross the line into Disorderville.  Isn’t restriction really just moderation?  Restriction could just mean restricting overeating to a normal calorie range.  It could also mean restricting to starvation.  I guess it is just a matter of degree.

What word do you think would be better than ‘restricting’ to keep a positive attitude about how you eat?  Is it ‘moderation’?  You know that saying of all things in moderation.

So if you think you are ‘moderating’ your calories, does it seem the same as saying you are restricting them – or different?  And if you say that to someone else, will you be less likely to be lectured about how you are eating?

Does it even really matter what you call it?

So that term has just been rolling around in my noggin lately.

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20 thoughts on “Thoughts on restricting

  1. Andra

    I get what you’re saying. The roots of my disordered eating comes from issues that started when I was 13 years old and what happens when you “restrict” a 13-year old? Mayhem. That’s why I had to use different tactics when thinking and constructing my first real successful attempt at overcoming emotional overeating. I’ve come along way and the verbiage doesn’t come into play as much because part of the journey was helping my inner 13 year old to grow up.
    Andra´s last blog post ..Monday Melange

  2. Lisa

    Great post! I like the thinkers.

    For me, I restricted for 2 years in order to lose my 100 pounds. I tried to stay under 1800 calories a day. After 4 years of maintenance mode, I’ve definitely been LAX with my calories. This is not to say that I’ve been going over them, but it’s more like I am just ok with eating all the calories I burned in the gym. My weight hasn’t changed and I get to eat more than when I was losing.

    That being said, since I’m injured right now and have limited exercises I can do, I am definitely being more diligent and trying to save some calories every day instead of eating them all. I don’t feel like I’m being restrictive, just mindful.
    Lisa´s last blog post ..Season Changes

  3. E. Jane

    I have also rethought significant restricting as a weight loss process, even though when we are cutting calories we are restricting in some way. I am currently trying to cut calories without cutting out everything that I enjoy. It seems to be working quite well, at least for now, and I’m not deprived, so I am hoping not to have that rebound effect when I reach goal. I would say that in the larger scheme of things, I am moderating, and I think that restricting and moderating are quite different. And as for being lectured about it, I think there are people who will find fault with either way, depending on their perspective. In fact, I have had to stop reading a few blogs that single out people for the way in which they approach weight loss. We all have our own way and our own timeline, which should not set anyone up for criticism.

  4. Grace @ Grace Dishes

    I try to think in terms of moderation instead of restriction. Then again when I think about it, the idea is very similar. I feel more in control when I think of food in moderation instead of swearing off foods until x-date.

    When I restrict too much, I ended up binging and feeling miserable the entire time. I realize now there are foods that I can’t eliminate completely from my diet. I will ALWAYS have a sweet tooth but I just have to more choosy of what I put in my mouth.
    Grace @ Grace Dishes´s last blog post ..Balancing Act

  5. debby

    Love the deep thoughts! I completely agree with you and it is exactly what I’ve been thinking about on this vacation. Like, its okay for me to indulge in these treat foods, but IN MODERATION, debby!

  6. Daphne

    Wonderful post!

    I have never really used the words “restricted” before. I say that I am “controlling” my eating now. Which is true, I’m a binge eater and it needs to be controlled. But I also look at it positively, instead of saying “I restrict myself to x calories a day” I prefer to say, “I can have x calories today”. I think having a positive spin might be a key to success!

    And to be honest, I don’t feel restricted in any way with my diet. So maybe that’s why I don’t use the word! 🙂
    Daphne´s last blog post ..As requested, my "must do’s" for weight loss and long term maintenance

  7. Pubsgal

    For me, word choice can make a difference. Sure, what I do (and wish I did better) could be described with either word, but “restriction” is definitely more likely to trigger my rebellious streak. Sort of like saying I can’t have something vs. I choose to have this other thing.
    Pubsgal´s last blog post ..More Hula Happenings

  8. Fran

    I prefer moderation. I don’t restrict myself from anything but try to eat everything in moderation. Especially the food I really like and that isn’t always the best choice. But if I say I can’t have it, you can bet your live savings on it that I will eat it and more than I should.

    I’m not watching my food intake or count calories now and I’ve noticed that when I’m not thinking about “dieting”, what I can or can’t eat, I’m doing better and eat less or nothing of the not so good food.

  9. Lisa

    For me the words are self control. I practice self control when I plan what I’m going to eat before I get to a restaurant, when I choose items that are healthy to eat, and when I eat normal portion sizes. Losing self control means ordering whatever I want at that moment when at a restaurant, eating items that may taste good but are bad for me, and eating until I feel full. Practicing self control is what I am doing now. I don’t want to be restricted, but my desire to be a healthier person is helping me to practice more self control.

  10. Helen

    What I say to myself (because I really don’t like the words diet or dieting or restriction) is that I’m watching what I eat. For me that means being conscientious of the choices I’m making. Because if I go on a free for all, I’m not thinking, I’m just shoveling food into my mouth.

    I think there’s something in me that rears up against negative sounding words – it’s probably the same reason why, when I’m watching what I’m eating, and I’m going to have something extra I refer to it as a treat rather than a cheat.

    Love the thinky posts, especially from a maintainer, as they make me think as well!
    Helen´s last blog post ..Portion Control

  11. Shelley B

    I don’t like that word – probably comes from negative associations back to childhood, when my next-door neighbor would get in trouble and be restricted – that meant she couldn’t come out and play with me, which was a bummer. I counted calories when I was actively dieting, and kept it to a certain number, but didn’t consider it restricting myself. Tomato, ToMAto?
    Shelley B´s last blog post ..Friday Mishmash

  12. Roz@weightingfor50

    Interesting post Lori. For me, “restricting” means something is completely off limits. “Moderation” means nothing is off limits, but whatever is in question (either food or exercise etc) need to be monitored. I guess its all open to interpretation. Have a great Friday.
    Roz@weightingfor50´s last blog post ..Duck and Cover!

  13. Taryl

    I don’t use the word restricting, but I can’t think of a particular reason why. I, too, say ‘self control’. And she. It comes to moderation, I have seasons where I need to be more strict and seasons where moderation is a better choice, so I just adjust accordingly 🙂

  14. Joanne

    I think “watching” is a good word. Because we want to “watch” whats on food packages. We need to “watch” the amount of quality nutrition vs. empty nutrition in our diet but not necessarily going without since sometimes a nice little cheat is ok. So the word “watch” doesn’t set limits and it doesn’t set off any restrictions, it simply means to pay attention to your diet and health and make sure you’re getting the best out of the foods you eat.
    Joanne´s last blog post ..Nutrient Profiling for Your Own Table

  15. Jody - Fit at 54

    Great post Lori!!!!! I try not to get into this discussion too often on my blog even though it is a great one because I do know that certain words & phrases do turn people off. Like restricting or willpower or lifestyle….

    Honestly, I lost my weight years ago – I changed the way I ate & moved. I restricted at times or just ate differently & yes, I told myself I had great will power to do this – or willingness as MizFit says & I like that word cause it makes sense….

    What is comes down to for me – I don’t get hung up on the words…. I changed my life, I knew I would have to for life even way back then….. it was not like lose it & go back to what I did previously… it was about changing my life & the way I eat & move….

    I think a post for this – can I & link back to you????
    Jody – Fit at 54´s last blog post ..Breast Cancer Awareness/Healing Thoughts Appreciated; Workout Clothes & Charity

    1. Lori Post author

      Sure – you can link to it. I was just throwing a thought out there about word meaning and if it really matters.

  16. Sharon

    I try not to get hung up on words, but prefer to think of it as making choices. I “choose” to do this in order to have that. But in some ways, I think we need to realize that losing/maintaining weight is just part of living (for us) and guess what, living involves restrictions. I am “restricted” by the amount of money I have in the bank. I am “restricted” by laws which are here to protect me. When I pull up to a red light, I consider it a “restriction” that I have to stop, but that restriction is there for my own good. All of life involves restrictions or choices. My “choice” is to try and not get all hung up in the details.
    Sharon´s last blog post ..Totally Random Thoughts

  17. Tami @Nutmeg Notebook

    I try to be a thoughtful eater with a focus on a balanced food plan, exercise and trying to make healthy choices. Like many others I like the word moderation over restriction.

    The word restriction is so rigid! I spent way too many years yo yo dieting because I had that all or nothing thinking – which meant I was either eating a very restricted diet or if I went outside the boundaries all bets were off and I ate whatever didn’t eat me first!

    I know it’s just words but it’s funny how much power they have over us.

    I like your random thoughts Lori!

  18. Leah

    I think when we read or hear the term “restriction” the inner rebellious child in all of us comes out; however, if we’re honest with ourself, just like that rebellious child needs discipline so do we. I’m with you that saying moderation sounds nicer, but it’s pretty much the same thing as restricting. I guess maybe we feel better saying, “I’m going to eat a small serving of _____.” (moderation) than saying, “I’m not going to have a large serving of _________” (restriction).

    I don’t know…I jus totally get what you’re saying and I think I’m agreeing. I guess it shouldn’t really matter, because restrictions are only rules and boundaries that help us stay in line, just like laws of the land keep our society from going crazy. They are a must, whether you like the word for it or not??

    Good post. 🙂
    Leah´s last blog post ..Weigh-In – Faux Hot 100 .. Finish Strong

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