Thoughts on Dieting PTSD

Hello, friends!

I promised you guys a post on my thoughts of the 21-Day SP Cleanse I did last month and well, it looks like I’ve finally found a way to string all those thoughts all together. First off, I just want to say that I am not making light of post-traumatic stress disorder. I mean that title in the most serious way possible. But before I get to that, let’s back up a bit…oh and I’ll just warn you, this post maybe be a little TMI in some parts. 😯

I started the detox completely level-headed with a promise to listen to my body and give it all up if I started to feel it was too restrictive. In the nine days that I was cleansing, there were some ups and downs…mostly due to the incredible amount of bloating that I experienced from the overabundance of vegetables, but I never thought I felt deprived.


I’ve known for a while that my body doesn’t process fiber like everyone else. Even after experimenting with the types of fiber I consume and being sure to stay hydrated, I’ve never been what some would call “regular”. I thought with the complete body reset that this cleanse boasted, that somehow things would be different…but they weren’t. In the week and a half, I had maybe two “normal” bowel movements. On the night of day four, bloated to the point of looking six months pregnant, I decided I would throw in the towel in the morning, but for some odd reason, I woke up feeling amazing…with absolutely no bloat. Still not sure about that one. Maybe the fiber fairies came in my sleep? 😉

Anywho…I went for the NEXT four days feeling excited about food. The creative juices were flowing through me. I was coming up with new food combos. I was rediscovering old foodie flames. But then the bloat came back.

Womp womp.

Eggs & Toast

So that’s when I said “fuck it”, came home from work, and scrambled up some eggs with toast because I felt like it was just going to be an endless (and painful) cycle…and well, let’s face it, I was pretty sick of carrying around an air freshener in my back pocket, if you know what I mean!

Some things I learned:

1. My body does NOT tolerate green lentils…though I’m fine with red ones.
2. RAW cruciferous veggies do horrible things to my system.
3. Just like Laura, I feel that without an ample amount of protein, my energy is incredibly low.

But the biggest thing, and the thing I didn’t realize until just last week…

4. No matter the level of restriction, a cleanse/detox/anything that regards any food as “off-limits” brings back the dieting mentality in me.

Arman explained it really well in his recap of the Whole 30 program. Even though he too tailored it to his needs, he mentioned that it started to bring back some old thought patterns. It wasn’t until I did some journaling this past weekend, that I was able to see MY old thoughts that had been trickling back in…

Party Spread

Starting with the first night of “real” food post cleanse. At the bestie’s party where I was bombarded with so.many.CARBS! I had to have them…ALL! Of course, at the time, I wasn’t in tune with my body enough to know what was going on in my head. At the time, I chocked it up to my history with the big bad buffet, but in hindsight I see that I obviously was having a dieting flashback where the once “forbidden” food was now free game!

This happened again with my second trip to the Indian buffet last weekend. It was not just an “oops I overdid it” moment. After coming home from the restaurant, I polished off an entire bag of cinnamon sugar pita chips. It was not a proud moment for me. Just like they mentioned in Intuitive Eating, this was a classic moment of using food as punishment.

The previous week had been a series of bingeing…”get back on track”…and bingeing again. I guess now you can see what I meant by the teeter totter reference in yesterday’s post. I couldn’t see it at the time, but every time I binged, I allowed myself to feel guilt and every time I promised to “do better” the next day, I allowed myself to cling to that dieting mentality again.

After journaling and also getting some advice from a very dear blend, I’ve learned even more…

1. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve started labeling foods as good and bad again. If I’m going to get back to a place of balance and moderation, I HAVE to focus on the food and how it makes me feel…both physically and mentally.
2. I’m a lot more comfortable “indulging” when I’m with someone else who’s doing the same, but alone, the feeling is totally different.
3. I need to put more thought into preparing MEALS instead of throwing something together quickly that may or may not fill me up.
4. Eggs, eggs, EGGS!

Kabocha + Eggs + BBQ PB&J

Eating more savory…with a little sweet mixed in…is the BEST way to pull myself out of a funk and get me back to feeling normal again. Ok, so maybe that’s nothing NEW but c’mon, these babies are just too gorgeous not to share again!

No questions today, just your thoughts!
Though please be gentle…this post was not easy to publish. 😕

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54 Responses to Thoughts on Dieting PTSD

  1. It’s a journey! I think everyone has an easier time over indulging in a group setting. It’s like food group-think. Same with booze. Or even risk taking. It’s the “everybody is doing it mentality.” We all fall victim, no matter how strong of a personality you have. The best thing – I find – is to know it happens, don’t beat yourself up if and when it does, and remember every second is an opportunity to reset. Love you.

    Now I have to go scratch my balls after all this thinking and feeling crap… 😉

  2. Brittany says:

    Cruciferous veggies in general killll me. And beans. I don’t do well with restrictions, I like just eating what I feel like (as long as it doesn’t have my food intolerances of course). I don’t like having any off limit foods, it just makes me want it more! hah

  3. Oh girl, I know exactly what you feel. (Well, maybe not exactly, but I’m with you all the same.) And I’m not just talking about BLOAT–girl, my body does not process food ‘normally’ either, I swear. [Sidenote: Dr. Oz was entirely about bloating yesterday. He also recommended magnesium…]

    But seriously, I find myself falling back into diet mentalities and ‘punishment’ of guilt feelings or thinking I “should do” this or that. I really have to NOT think about food to be ‘normal’ with it. It’s part of the reason I don’t really read any blogs any more. Being too into food makes me obsess about it. I fall back into the calorie counting, too. And wanting to beat myself up when I’m hungry. Or eating just because I’m bored. Etc.

    Anyways, I can just ramble on and on, but I, too, am avoiding lentils and broccoli. 😉 [Oh, and KABOCHA. Lordy. I may never be able to eat that again.]

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      “I really have to NOT think about food to be ‘normal’ with it.” <- Omg, YES! I've noticed that when I back away from blog reading AND INSTAGRAM STALKING, then I have a much healthier outlook on food...and I just eat to eat! Yep, that's definitely one to jot down for your next presentation! 😉 No kabocha?! Say it isn't so?! It's many people say they have trouble with it, but I've never had a single issue!

  4. I’m the same way – I just can’t eat a ton of vegetables because my stomach won’t digest them well. Especially those cruciferous ones! I can’t even eat a big salad without feeling super bloated, which is why I try to cook all my veggies before eating them if I can. I also totally understand what you mean by Dieting PTSD – I have it too. Any time I feel restricted I react by bingeing.

  5. Emily says:

    Raw veggies in general can rip me apart if I eat too many of them– especially in Winter, which I think is because I’m a strong “vata” from the ayurvedic perspective, and thus need more cooked, warm, oily things, especially if I’m eating high-fiber stuff. I feel the best when I get a lot of fat and protein and some complex carbs. Sugar kills me, raw veggies too many days in a row do too. You’re not alone in having to sort through what conventional wisdom works… there seems to be more and more evidence in my life that there is NO one size fits all kind of eating, and that you will always feel the best when you listen to your body and ask it what it needs most. <3 Thank you for your openness. You're helping a lot of people!!!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      “There is NO one size fits all kind of eating” <- AaaaaaaaMEN! What's amazing/crazy is how many people DON'T see that! And it only makes it harder for those of us who do because they feel the need to comment/judge us. We just have to remember that we're obviously ahead of the curve! 😉 Thank you so much for your comment and your understanding, Emily! 🙂

  6. Ha I say I have PTSD from dieting all the time. I now have a “fear” of leabing food behind because I was so hungry during dieting! I can only put on my plate what I should be eating because if I go out and the portion is huge no matter how full I feel I still have the need to eat it all!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      I used to be that way too. It really helped when I read Intuitive Eating to understand how to tap into my hunger/satiety cues more and realize that I could actually hang up my membership to the “clean your plate club”. For me, it’s all about keeping that reality fresh that I can eat whenever I want…so if I’m full and don’t finish my meal, but I’m hungry an hour or so later, then that’s OK, but it definitely took me a while to learn that lesson.

  7. Missy says:

    THANK you for writing this post and I want to say most of all for coining the term “Dieting PTSD.”

    Because… for real though!

    I constantly CONSTANTLY (and again) have to remind myself/smack myself with the fact that I’m “allergic” to dieting.
    I have a well worn path in my brain (a deep deep trench) that I have managed to climb out of (for the most part) and I’m walking a different path now. Working on a new rut in my brain/thought patterns.

    But just one “sniff” of a new diet/elimination/cleanse whatever and I easily get back on my old path –but OH WAIT it’s a MF trench. I fall right back in. Deep style.

    I need to wait a LONG while — give that trench some time to fill in a little, let Mother Nature and Time do its thang and cover it up — before I can really do any kind of diety deal. Because I am allergic. Even just a little can cause the reaction.

    So yeah. Dieting PTSD. Or Post Dieting Stress Disorder PDSD.
    Hastah that. Amen.

    You are so dope, girl.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Omg, seriously?! Best comment EVER! Yes!! Allergic to dieting…omg, how freaking true IS that?! I love the way your mind works, Missy! 🙂

  8. I really love that you put your thoughts down here for others to read! It is a journey to figure out what is best for you & what will NOT hurt you or bring up bad responses to food. I learned a little late but at least I learned that saying I can’t eat certain things was not good for me! 🙂 I just work it out for what is right for me. 🙂

  9. Kate says:

    I feel for ya on this topic. I am the exact same way…no matter how “healthy” the diet is. I can’t do ANYTHING that restricts ANYTHING. I am Type A to the max, all-or-nothing, and so I have a strong urge to do everything perfectly, which means driving myself crazy, especially when it comes to food rules.

    I am still working on getting back to a normal mindset on food. It’s hard and some days I feel like all hope is lost, but others I feel like I am really making progress. To be honest, I feel the greatest when I have yoga in my life. It seems to calm me down and allows me to focus on what is most important in life…NOT food!

    I am glad that you are loving yoga so much. I hope you stick with it! 🙂

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Yes, that is TOTALLY me too! I have to be the best at everything! And I agree so much with what you said about yoga. When I’m focussing on my practice and looking inward, life starts to have more “flow”! 😀

  10. Ashley says:

    I had a similar experience when I went raw in February. I really loved how I felt at first–light, refreshed–but by the end of the month I was dealing with digestive issues every single day. I was never bloated but I was definitely feeling sick to my stomach on a daily basis and I knew something was wrong. Not only that, but I was limiting myself so much for the sake of being “raw vegan”. I’ve always handled beans well, but I couldn’t eat them since they must be cooked. And sweet potatoes were out too. I really felt mostly great eating raw and I’d like to try it again but go about it in a less restrictive way, like allowing myself some unprocessed cooked foods and go easy on the raw nuts. But I think having a restrictive mindset at all can really mess with your head, so I know I need to be really careful with that! So you’re definitely not alone!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      “I think having a restrictive mindset at all can really mess with your head” <- AMEN! It's all about how you go into it. If you try just thinking about it in a way of incorporating more raw foods and experimenting with your diet instead of making that your primary focus, I'm suer it would make SUCH a difference. Once we start seeing things as black and white, that's where we get our heads all messed up!

  11. Bah, I’m right there with you with the dieting mentality – I’ve learned that putting myself in any position where food becomes ‘off-limits’ is just no bueno for me mentally. It’s why even after reading the Whole 30 book I won’t do it – I know with my history, anything restrictive is a bad idea. These sorts of experiences are all about learning – this just reaffirmed what you know works best for you. You recognized that your mentality was going in a bad place, so you pulled yourself out of it, which is exactly what you need to do! It’s easy to fall victim to dieting mentality, so don’t be too hard on yourself hun <3

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      It IS easy, isn’t it? I think it’s because it’s such a common way of thinking for most people these days…since it’s more of the “norm”, you don’t realize that you’re actually getting sucked into it until you’re knee-deep! I can be really hard on myself (especially when it comes to things like this) so thank you. Thank you for reminding me that it’s ok! *hugs*

  12. Aw buddy, I’m sorry to read this, but I’m so glad you reached out to someone for support. I’m also proud of you for recognizing what was happening and really taking stock of the situation. That shit is hard to do, especially when you’re knee dip in it. Good for you; you’ll get things back on track in no time. I have complete faith in you.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Thanks girlie! I only wish I had had a bit more grace…and it hadn’t taken me so long to pull myself out of that knee-deep pit! But hey, at least I’m back to being me again…no matter how long (or how many temper tantrums) it took! 😉

  13. Oh girl I HEAR ya.
    After I did my raw food cleanse for 5 days, I died. I totally beat the shit out of myself for eating yogurt (can I PLEASE say yoghurt?), veggie chips, or even string cheese bc they were from a package. Yeah. Um, yeah. I dunno.
    I am doing better now but those few days after the cleanse were like a mental boxing ring.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      You can DEFINITELY say yoghurt…and favourite…and colour! Haha! But seriously, thank you…so glad I’m not the only one beating myself up over “silly” things like this. Really thank you for everything…the texts, the emails over the last week or so. You are such an amazing friend and I love you! God, I miss you so much! Can’t wait to see you in LESS than a month! xoxo

  14. I totally hear you on the bloat – too many veggies in one setting is never a good time for me, especially those dang cruciferous veggies! One time a few weeks ago I made zucchini noodles with lentil marinara sauce from Oh She Glows’ cookbook, and it was delicious… but I was in pain for the next TWO days. It was awful lol.

    The diet mentality is a tricky thing… it’s so easy to fall back into over and over again. But it’s great that you’re learning what kinds of things make you fall into it so that you can more easily avoid it going forward!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Oh nooooo! That’s awful! And here I am coveting all the spiralizers I see on Instagram…yeah, I think I’ll be reconsidering that now! I most definitely do NOT have the stomach of steel that some of those vegetarians do!

  15. Girl you know, I understand every single word you say here – I really get it. When I did the Whole30 I could literally WATCH myself going back into disordered habits/thoughts – I started to hear ‘the voice’ again (‘you can’t have that/you shouldn’t eat this/this is bad for you/you failed). I think it is a sign of how far you have come that you realized what’s going on. That you didn’t force yourself through and end up unhappy – even though there were binges. Binges are a signal and you obviously understood how to take it and to stop yourself from letting these thoughts stress you out.
    So proud of you lady!! Keep it up, you’re amazing!!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Thank you, Lucie! I only wish I had been more graceful in recognizing that signal and doing what needed to be done to get back to feeling myself. Those binge cycles can be a real bitch tho. I’m just really lucky to have some amazing people in my life to help support me and pull me out of my head and friends like you who totally “get” me! Love you girlie! xoxo

  16. It’s such a journey, isn’t it? I remember not being able to believe it when someone first told me that it could take upwards of 5 years to recover from an eating disorder, but after having gone through it, I can definitely attest to the truth in that. The good news is that there’s a lot of progress during those years, and even slip ups and mistakes serve to teach us something. It’s so great that you’re able to realize these things , hun! With my restrictive past, I definitely can’t go on any sort of diets or cleanses. And you do NOT want to be around me if I eat too many veggies. Heck, even I wish that I could jump out of my skin at those times 😆

    Love you tonnes <3 xox

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Thank you, Amanda! I really need to remember not to compare my journey to others, but it’s hard sometimes when I see friends who were having issues with food about the same time as me and now they seem “fully recovered”. I also need to remember (and luckily I had someone smack me in the head with it this week) that slip ups and mistakes do NOT put me back at the starting point!

      Thank you so much for all your support and for just “getting” me! Love you so much girlie and can’t wait to see you innnnnnnnnnnn less than a month! Omg!

  17. betty says:

    love this. and i can totally relate. AS SOON as i put something in the “off limits” category, its like the need to binge comes back tenfold. ugh. boo. glad you’re getting to know yourself better. love reading these posts from you!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Thanks, girlie! And yes, EXACTLY! It’s so crazy the whirlwind I found myself in…and in such a short amount of time. I’m so glad that I’ve been able to take a step back over the last week or so and realize that I had not lost all my progress. I’m feeling “normal” again and getting to enjoy my NO limits foods in peace! 🙂

  18. Thank you for sharing this. I also appreciate it so much when you do these kinds of posts.

    It’s so easy to internalize those restrictive messages and get them all twisted up. When I was living with a vegetarian, I had a really difficult time establishing a good balance for myself and it was so frustrating to still have that voice in my head after we broke up. I’d be scanning a restaurant menu thinking about lamb and I’d hear him making sheep noises at me or lecturing on the evils of meat. It took well over a year for that to go away, but I’ve re-learned that my body needs animal protein, and I’m okay with that.

    This winter, I went to a conference where basically every speaker demonized carbs, and it really messed with my head for a few weeks after. Even now, in MAY, I’ll be making a bowl of oatmeal and laughing to myself, “OMG, better call the grain police.” Of course, it’s funny to me because on some deep, dark level, it’s true—and I’m a fucking dietitian! My conscious brain says, “Jess, you know better and you’re awesome for honoring your personal needs,” but then that inner child who just wants to be liked by the grain-free cool kids is nervous that someone’s going to give her a hard time.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      OMG! Are you kidding me? He would make animal noises AT you?! That is ridiculous! One thing I’ve always believed is that we should never ever judge anyone based on their food choices, but after going through my journey in intuitive eating, I feel that much stronger about it. People don’t realize how much damage their words can cause. Hell, even someone saying, “you’re eating THAT?!” when I had a candy bar at work one day just about sent me over the edge. Like, “YES, sometimes I eat foods that aren’t GREEN!” 😛 In the end, we just have to own up to our choices and stand up against the haters out there because WE know what’s best for OUR bodies!

      I’m sorry, but can I get a fist pump right here? I feel it’s necessary! 😉

  19. I can relate to this post on so many levels.
    Heather, you are one of the strongest, bravest bloggers I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with. While there are those who post something strong and significant, many will pretend later that post never existed. But, not you. You own up to everything and that is why so many people read your words. You empower, you encourage. You, are wonderful. You show us people are human, make mistakes, and that it is all OK. *hugs*

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Oh Chrystal! You are making me tear up over here! Thank you so SO much for all your kind words. It was hard for me to start sharing things on a more personal level here on the blog, but I knew that when I decided to do it, that I would own each and every word…it’s the only way to stay true to myself!

      And can I just say that your new avatar is GORGEOUS?! Love it!

  20. You never cease to amaze me and I am SO glad we BOTH were able to realise the potential pitfalls we were creating for ourselves by doing something ‘right’- even with the amendments or adjusting things to suit ourselves. I think subconsciously, we both ‘knew’ going into our respective challenges that there was potential but glossed over it.

    Cruciferous vegetables are a killer- I never do them raw, and the key for me is when I cook them, to cook the eff out of them 😉 it may lose their nutrients or whatever shit that is but hey, it’s easier to digest and damn tasty! Keep being awesome!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Thanks, Arman! And yeah, I totally thought I could just go into this “level-headed” but now I realize that with my history, that’s just something I’m never going to be able to do. I blame my “all or nothing” mentality. But hey, lesson learned, right?

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  22. lindsay says:

    oh girl, i can only eat certain veggies. Low FODMAP is the usually keep to bloat and gas for me, but that’s because of my digestive history. I’m glad you realized the mental aspect of it and know what’s best now. NO dieting brains cells, yes!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      I keep meaning to look into that FODMAP thing…I need to do a little experimenting to find out which ones seem to bother me the most so I don’t surprise myself at the worst possible time. Nothing like getting a bad case of gas when you’re out on a date or something! Lol

  23. Cassie says:

    Brave post! I totally get it… my body only works on certain things (but mine happens to be veggies, complex carbs and A LOT of protein). Before I realized what worked I just always felt terrible. I do still have a bad habit of labeling whole food groups bad but lately I’ve been better and eating things on the “bad” list and not feeling guilty about it!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Thank you, Cassie! And that’s great! I’ve noticed that I do better with not feeling guilt from eating “bad” foods when I incorporate them into meals…like adding chocolate chips to oatmeal or cookies on top of Greek yogurt versus just eating a handful of chocolate on its own. I guess it also helps regulate the insulin spike I normally get from eating sweets too. 🙂

  24. Anna says:

    I’m not going to lie…i strictly read this post because of the title! I thought it was creative and oh so true. Dieting flashbacks are so painful. And the road to recovery is a journey. Sometimes you take a few giant steps forward, and then seemingly fall back or veer off course. However, the ups, downs, and sideways’ are all part of the process! Thanks for sharing. And also….I’m with you on the veggie bloat. #1 reason why I could NEVER be a vegetarian or vegan.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Thank you so much, Anna! I’m glad you liked the post. You are so right…it is definitely a journey…never a straight line. And even though it’s hard to remember that sometimes those bumps in the road are bigger than others, we have to focus on how far we’ve come! 🙂

  25. Calee says:

    Raw and I do not mix. Period. I know people are “eat raw because it’s more nutritious” … well if I’m not digesting the food, it’s not giving me ANY nutrition. I had a few medical professionals tell me to just cook everything. It kind of sucks, but I don’t have the bloat. Also, knowing food allergies / sensitivities has been supremely helpful. I can eat most of my allergens, so I do sometimes, but I know they will make me uncomfortable (still no tomato, onion, pineapple, and most nuts … boo. hiss).

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Hey, in the end, it’s all about what works for YOUR body, right? Glad to know I’m not the only one who suffers from rawism (raw + racism…go with it!) 😉 Sometimes I think I know which ones are the main culprits, but other times they catch me by surprise. I’ve actually considered getting that test done that Laura did…the ALCAT? But I want to do some more self-experimentation first. Wow, THAT sounds super creepy/weird! Lol

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  27. You are one of the most wonderful and inspiring people I know. THANK YOU for being so transparent about your entire “journey” — both successes and struggles. Basically, you’re fucking amazing and I miss ya!

    I know what you mean about diet PTSD. Even if I tell myself in my head that I need to eat a little healthier for the week, I get an intense urge to rebel and stuff my face with straight up junk! I’ve been pretty tempted to do certain cleanses or diets or detoxes, but I know myself, and I know that I have to avoid them.

    Love you!

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Seriously girl? Thank YOU! And I love you MORE! I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve read something you’ve written and felt like you took the words straight from my mouth! And it helps me feel a LOT better knowing I’m not the only one who is hyper-sensitive to any thoughts that even HINT toward dieting…honestly, I just can’t believe how quickly I seemed to pick that up…now to just get rid of it!

  28. Girl from Iceland says:

    Hi there, I just stumbled upon your blog and love your writing style, I will be following from here on out.

    I can so relate to this post!!! I finished a Whole30 – actually I didnt finish, I went crazy on day 15 and ate everything in sight! I felt that the strict restrictions of this “whole, healthy” diet brought back disordered eating thoughts and habits on a massive scale. And ofcourse this “journey” of mine ended in massive binging – restricting diet vicious cycle.

    Your post inspires me and I will strive to be more aware of the dangers of restricting my diet – I hate this diet mentality and obsession with food, HATE it.

    Stay strong babe.

    • kissmybroccoli says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a heartfelt comment…it’s times like these, when I know that someone truly understands what it’s like to dig their way out of that lifestyle, that gives me strength when times get tough. It’s so easy to get sucked back into the dieting mentality without even realizing it…especially for those of us who have taken it to extremes, but the important part is to just remember to respect your body and forgive yourself for any “slip ups” so you can move on. Because when it comes down to it, there is SO much more to life than food, right? 🙂

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