What Is Rigid Eating? Food and Black and White Thinking

Written by: Ankita Kathad – MA (Psychology)

Last updated date : September 23, 2022

Table of Contents Article title – Binge eating disorder
  1. Chapter 1
  2. Chapter 2
  3. Chapter 3
  4. Chapter 4
  5. Chapter 5
  6. Chapter 6
  7. Chapter 7
  8. Chapter 8

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If you are a rigid eater, you will eat food in a rigid scheduled manner. People who eat rigidly have a fixed routine and a fixed plan about what they have to eat. This article answers the question, what is rigid eating. We also explore the effects of black and white thinking about food.

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Chapter 1:

What Is Rigid Eating?

Hailey has been following a diet to become lean. She religiously follows her diet plan. Not only this, she goes to lengths and breadths to eat only what is on the plan. She diets much more than required. She slashed calories at the expense of starvation. Moreover, she does everything that takes to become lean. She has stopped going to social events. Hailey avoids desserts, junk food, or even a small amount of fatty food. She has stopped meeting friends who overeat.

What is Hailey doing right now? She is eating rigidly. To be precise, she is a rigid eater. While some amount of rigidity is good. It helps you stay on track and focused. When dieting or wanting to lose weight, it is important to say no to cravings and distractions. However, as the old saying goes, “Everything is good in moderation. Extremism is harmful.” Dieting or eating patterns, when they become rigid, they are harmful.

Rigid eaters are focused on food quality and food quantity. They go to the extent of measuring every calorie that they consume. Moreover, they are very conscious of what they eat. To an extent, they even become anxious at the thought of eating unhealthy.

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Chapter 2:

Are You a Rigid Eater?

Do you want to know if you are a rigid eater? Here are some signs of rigid eating.

  1. You go against your personal preferences or food choices. That is to say that you are willing to eat things that you hate for your diet.
  2. You are so fixated on what you eat that you check every item that goes in your mouth. You look for nutritional labels, quality checks, and the content. For instance, you will spend a lot of time checking for sugar content, fats, or preservatives.
  3. Your life revolves around the number of calories you have consumed. You become so occupied with the food content that it becomes an obsession.
  4. Additionally, you start avoiding food parties or food groups. You don’t meet people who engage in high-calorie eating.
  5. You start labeling food as ‘good’ food and ‘unclean’ food.

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Chapter 3:

What is Black and White Thinking about Food?

This refers to rating food into extremes. For instance ‘good’ food and ‘very bad food’. Some people may have opinions such as ‘clean’ food and ‘unclean’ food. When people take up a diet regime, they either follow the flexible route or a rigid route. The rigid eating or rigid diet regime involves an ‘All or none’ thinking or ‘black and white thinking about food.

Maintaining healthy body weight is a challenge for many of us. We adopt a lot of restraints to avoid gaining fat. In the black and white thinking dietary regime, people tend to think in extremes. So if they break even a minor rule, their black and white thinking about food makes them feel very guilty. This guilt is often so immense that they end up blaming themselves for hours. They end up quitting the entire diet plan. In contrast, people who are flexible about their diet bounce back quickly even if a small diversion is taken from their regular diet plan.

People who indulge in black and white thinking about food often create strict routines. They spend a lot of time on the net to determine healthy foods. They are more prone to abandoning a diet plan if there is a minor mistake on their part. People who wish to lose weight and were rigid dieters often end up gaining more weight. This is because the black and white thinking about food makes them indulge in very strict regimes. So when they break the rules, they end up self-blaming and dropping the diet plan. This is because they see their efforts to lose weight in terms of ‘complete’ success or ‘complete’ failure.

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Chapter 4:

Does Rigid Eating Help?

In the long run, rigid eating doesn’t always work. This is because people who engage in rigid eating do not relax when they break a rule. They think they have failed. Most of us find it difficult to keep a commitment. It is because we have many other things to deal with in life. For instance, it is difficult to avoid junk food at an office party. When we want to socialize, it is difficult to avoid certain kinds of food. Therefore a ‘black and white’ thought process for food will do more harm than good.

Some amount of restraint for any kind of commitment is necessary. When we want to lose weight, or maintain healthy body weight, having some amount of rigidity helps us stay away from temptations. However, a healthy diet involves an understanding that even if a minor rule is broken, it does not mean an end. Therefore the key to healthy eating is consistency. No matter the setback, consistent people will continue their efforts. They are not bothered by one or two cheat days.

Rigid eating can also lead to a lot of stress. When you refrain from eating your preferred food for too long, you eventually break down. Too much stress can lead to depression. When you don’t allow yourselves some amount of flexibility, you can feel overburdened. This is because you see many people around you enjoying their meals while you are just beating yourself up with some rigid eating habits.->

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Chapter 5:

A Healthy Way of Eating

The problem with rigid eating is not a lack of discipline. It is an overdose of discipline that harms them. The black and white thinking about food makes them feel awful whenever they break a rule. An ideal way or healthy way of eating would be the one that involves mindful eating. It is not about how much you eat. It is about how consciously you eat.

Extreme forms of discipline may not be useful in diet plans. This is because sometimes, becoming lean or maintaining a healthy body weight is dependent on several factors such as stress, hormones, or climate even. Therefore engaging in rigid forms of diet can only harm.

A good way of eating would be to ensure that you are not overeating any type of food. Consciously cutting down on saturated fats and sugar can benefit you. Moreover, engaging in home-cooked food and exercising daily can help you remain fit. Do not over-eat or under-eat. Everything is good in moderation. Therefore, if you feel that you have eaten too much at a party, make sure to take a light meal the next time. You can exercise daily to burn the fats you have gained.

A food journal is a good way to eat mindfully. Eating at least two to three hours before sleeping, taking good rest, and not eating local fruits and vegetables that don’t contain preservatives is a mindful way of eating. A food journal will also help you keep a track of the sugar or fatty content you have consumed.

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Chapter 6:

Endnote

Rigid eating can be a result of black and white thinking as discussed. It can result from childhood trauma or unrealistic parental expectations. Sometimes, rigid eating can be a result of an unhealthy body image. There can be inner beliefs that if a person eats little more than the prescribed amount, they will become very fat. This belief leads to an ‘all or none’ thinking pattern. At Epsychonline, there are courses such as a course on Binge eating Or Body image concerns. These courses focus on helping individuals overcome a negative body image. These courses are self-help and curated by experts. There are many articles that focus on various eating disorders such as binge eating or anorexia nervosa. Do check them out. 

Reviews 4.1

How to stop binge eating? Learn about evidence based scientific

72 Lessons

4 hours

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

€9.00 €12.00

25% discount