Understanding Psychological Food Deprivation

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Triggering the 'Forbidden Fruit Syndrome'

tOn a psychological level when we restrict or deny ourselves food we trigger the ‘forbidden fruit syndrome’ – we obsess about what we can’t have.  Have you ever noticed when you’re on a diet you do alright for a period of time, but eventually the foods that are off limits are the very foods you end up craving and blowing out on?


Quite often when we are on a diet, eating clean or embark on a ‘health food kick’ the foods we eat can be either tasteless, repetitive, boring and/or not quite enough leaving us constantly hungry.  This constant hunger and deep dissatisfaction creates a need within us – it’s a need to experience fulfilment, satisfaction and pleasure in our eating – these are essential ingredients that are missing from our diet.


We are driven by our unmet needs. Not only do we have a need to eat adequate calories and carbohydrates to keep us alive but we also have a need to receive pleasure from food. Pleasure keeps us satisfied.


If we’re not satisfied we tend to go looking for ‘more’ – be it more food, more water, more attention, more sex, more money, more love…. we will seek out and be driven by whatever is unmet until our needs are met.


When we eat adequate calories and carbohydrates to satisfy our biological needs and when we eat food that is pleasurable and enjoyable to satisfy our psychological needs – we feel satisfied.

When we’re satisfied we stop looking for more

While it takes time to get to this point with food, the ability to give yourself unconditional permission to eat [all food] is a real game changer.


If we know we can have it when we really want it, and it’s okay to have it if we really feel like it, then we gain the power not to have it if we really don’t feel like it. If we think we aren’t allowed to have it, then we are made to want it all the more.

~ Dr Rick Kausman ~


If we tell ourselves that we can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that builds into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing. Likewise, if we’re eating food we’re not really enjoying we’re going to find ourselves constantly thinking about the food we truly desire.

This is known as the Forbidden Fruit Syndrome previously mentioned.

By granting unconditional permission to eat and by eating the foods we truly desire we ease the psychological deprivation and over time we find ourselves no longer driven to binge.

When deprivation no longer drives our desire to eat we regain our power to choose. We develop the ability to choose to eat something, or to choose to not eat something. How different this feels to the uncontrollable urge to eat all the food in sight!


About the author

Amanda is an Intuitive Eating Coach, an Ambassador for the Body Image Movement and former Professional Group Fitness Instructor. Her experience in the fitness industry and her own personal journey with body image has honed her passion for supporting other people to create healthy relationships with eating and exercise.

Amanda works with people to help them understand their own negative beliefs and self-sabotage. With her guidance, her clients develop the skills, knowledge and awareness to end the guilt and negative feelings connected to eating and form a positive mentality around their body and food.