This is more from Geneen Roth's WOMEN, FOOD, AND GOD.
When I stopped dieting I mistakenly assumed that all compulsive eaters craved rules, guidelines, order until they rebelled against them and binged. But about ten years ago, my dietician friend Francie White told me that some people hate diets. Some people rebel the second--not three weeks after--they are given a food plan. Their lives are like one long binge.
As I explored this with my students, I discovered that roughly half of them had never been successful on a diet. They weren't interested in rules or order or being told what to do. They told me about the nether world of glazy-dazy eating uninterrupted by restriction. The world of finding themselves at the refrigerator without understanding how they got there. Of finishing a cake before they remembered eating the first bite. It became clear that no all bingeing is driven by deprivation; in half of emotional eaters, bingeing (or, at the very least, consistent overeating) is a way of life punctuated by sleep, work, time with family. Which led me to the conclusion there there are two kinds of compulsive eaters: Restrictors and Permitters.
Restrictors believe in control. Of themselves, their food intake, their environments. And whenever possible, they'd also like to control the entire world. Restrictors operate on the conviction that chaos is imminent and steps need to be taken now to minimize its impact.
For a Restrictor, deprivation is comforting because it provides a sense of control. If I limit my food intake, I limit my body size. If I limit my body size, I (believe I can) limit my suffering. If I limit my suffering, I can control my life. I make sure that bad things don't happen. That chaos stays away.
The extreme pole of restriction blooms into anorexia--life-threatening starvation--but all Restrictors believe in deprivation, restriction and containment as guiding principles. When we eat together at my retreats, I know the Restrictors immediately: there is more space on their plates than food.
One of their core beliefs is that less is more. If less of me shows, that's less to get hurt. If I cut myself off at the knees, then I won't have too far to fall when someone else brings out their sword. Eating less--and therefore being thin--is equated with being safe.
When calories were the measurement of the day, Restrictors knew how many calories were in a small apple, a dish of ice cream, an Oreo cookie. When the au courant measurement switched to the glycemic index, they knew how many grams of fat, protein, and carbohydrates were in a piece of toast, a teaspoon of olive oil, a blueberry muffin. What's that, you say? Oat bran is the newest miracle food? Great, I'll put it in everything I eat for the next 10 years. Oh? Oat bran causes cancer? Okay, I'll stop eating it immediately. Since restriction/deprivation is translated as control, and since control means safety and safety means survival, any prospect of deprivation elicits relief: Tell me what, when, and how much to eat. Give me lists to memorize. Give me the rules and I will be yours forever. My life depends on it.
Since Restrictors are constantly trying to contain the wild energy stomping to be released--the full moon, after all, is always only days away--they can never truly relax. Since they are trying to stave off the inevitable, they have to work very hard, and since they have to work so hard, they have convinced themselves that suffering is noble. And if it's not hard, it's not worth doing.
They are not exactly a laugh a minute, but laughter and fun are not their goals. For fun (or what passes for it), we turn to their sisters, the Permitters.
My next post will describe the Permitter. (I'm tired - worked out of Cincinnati again - 12 hour day).