The Rebel Self Rebels: Another Reason Healthy Eating Can Backfire

"War requires at least two sides. When you decide that you will listen to yourself and
not to your calorie counter or your fears, there is nothing to rebel against.
There is nothing you can’t have tomorrow so there is no reason to eat it all today."
~Breaking Free by Geneen Roth

"[Wom]en seldom, or rather never for a length of time and deliberately,
rebel against anything that does not deserve rebelling against." ~ Thomas Carlyle

Do you believe life would be better if you just followed the food rules—eat only healthy foods, no preservatives, in the correct amounts? In fact, isn't that what the food police (and other food "experts") tell you to do; making sure you understand you cannot be trusted to handle your own food, that you are not capable of making up your own mind or of having control over your eating? Of course you believe you need these rules!

So you follow these rules and prepare to become healthy and attractive. 


But these very rules end up making you feel out of control. The more you tell yourself, "No!", the more interested you become in those foods. You may crave these foods, and feel preoccupied with them. You may sneak eat these foods. You may even binge on them, and find your weight going up.

No one is telling you what about these the food rules causes this backlash; so, it's no wonder that when you break the rules, you believe you need to shore up your resolve and get back to it, or find new guidelines that will (finally) work. 

For many, the food rules become increasingly stringent while you become increasingly fearful that there is no alternative.

But there is something going on in the background that you may not realize -- you have a deeper knowing self that rebels against these food rules! This Rebel Self hates those imposed rules, hates the constraint, and hates the disrespect of these simplistic solutions. This Rebel Self knows that those rules are based on false "facts" presented as truths and is insulted that those rules are not connected to our true needs. This Rebel Self is tired of the disrespect implied in, "Just follow this rule, it’s easy to get healthy or lose 10 pounds." 


The Rebel Self will rebel:

"This is not what I need. I don’t want to do this. I’m not going to do it. In fact, I’m going to do the opposite."

This Rebel Self, which often feels destructive, is actually in tune with our internal guidance systems. This Rebel Self knows -- better than any food rules, better than any professional -- exactly what and how much you need to eat and when to stop. This Rebel Self knows that self and body trust is not only possible, but also the only sane approach to eating. "I know I’m full now. I need to figure out how to cope with these difficult feelings without using food."

So, although it may seem easier to follow the food rules or other healthy eating guidelines, and although the rebel self may overreact with overeating out of spite sometimes, the core of its reaction is "Don’t insult me with imposed rules." And that is worth listening to.

Stay Attuned Tip


This week, tune into your "gut" reactions to choices and decisions you make with food, in relationships, at work. Can you hear your Rebel Self? What truths about your needs and feelings is the rebel declaring?

Try on this Affirmation

"My rebel self is wise and worth listening to."

(If this blog has left you wondering how you will ever manage your eating and weight, make sure to check out the online courses at Consider reading the book Intuitive Eating by Tribole and Resch.)

About Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, LDN, SEP

Karin is a registered and licensed nutritionist in private practice in Gainesville, FL. Her passion is to help you escape food and body angst and learn to manage your eating and weight intuitively and naturally. Visit for free handouts, online courses and more tips on mindful, intuitive eating and healing disordered eating.

© 2018 Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, LDN. Adapted from the work of Amy Tuttle RD, LCSW and Karin Kratina.