What Is Restrictive Eating?

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At the forefront, let me be clear that what I’m labeling as “restrictive eating” should not be confused with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) — an entirely different matter altogether.

When you’re eating in a restrictive way, as I call it, you’re placing all of the value on what it is you can’t have. This, of course, means that all you can focus on are the FOODS TO AVOID list.

And what exactly is my definition of eating in a restrictive manner?

It’s when you’ve made up some arbitrary rule around your food / diet:

  • I won’t eat anything over 15g of carbohydrates!
  • Fruit has too much sugar!
  • Dairy is bad!”
Restrictive Eating Is About Arbitrary Rules

But here’s the caveat… you’re not preaching any of the above due to how your body is impacted.


You’ve just convinced yourself of these “rules” because you’ve read it in someone’s book or the newest trendy healthy blog. Or, perhaps, you belong to a “food tribe” like,

  • I’m keto for life!
  • Paleo is how we’re supposed to eat!”
  • Veganism is the purest form of eating.”

When you adhere to these “truths” in regard to your diet, you’re really coming from a place of identity more than anything else. You’re not taking into account how any of these foods actually impact you.

Hence, my definition of restrictive.

It doesn’t end there, though…

  • Maybe you’re so afraid of having somebody else prepare your food because you need to know how many ounces of whatever are in it.
  • Your children notice you can’t eat the things they do (because of how you label foods).
  • You bring your own “healthy” dressing to a restaurant.

Now, I’m not sitting here telling you whether this is all uniformly good or bad —but it’s certainly not very freeing. To be frank, it’s a tough place to operate from.

Restrictive Eating Isn't A Healthy Place To Operate From

Look, I know it’s all especially tough when we’re inundated with certain images in social media on a daily basis.

“We all did — insert diet — for 14 days! Check us out now!”

Don’t forget to remind yourself that even if you have to do those things because it’s part of your business/brand, do it from an informed perspective.

I ask those of you who are health coaches, nutritionists and personal trainers to have faith in the people you lead and work with. Believe that they’re smart enough to understand what it is their body needs. Educate them (and yourself). Allow people grace to make their own decisions.

Let’s remove the morality we have around food. If I hear “clean meal” or  “cheat meal” one more time! Those terms are so demoralizing. And sure, I used them in the past, too. But when we know better we do better.

Think about it…

So many people wake up and think, “Well, I’m going to be clean today!

What does that even mean, really? 

Health is so much more than how we’re eating.

Health Is So Much More Than Restrictive Eating

This blog was inspired by a direct message I received on Instagram from a podcast listener who posed a very relatable question. In the episode below, you’ll hear me explain, in detail, intuitive and informed eating. And how they relate to a restrictive diet mentality.

In reality, most of us are following some form of restrictive eating, but should be striving toward informed eating — as I describe it — at all times.

Subscribe to The Chalene Show here!

And follow Podcast Show Notes here!


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