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Rigidity vs. Routine

A common question that may come up as you work on your relationship to food is “is this rigidity (that is not helpful) or routine (that can be helpful)?”.

So what is rigidity? Rigidity with food can include inflexibility with eating schedule, foods/ingredients consumed, and attending activities that may include eating experiences. It can oftentimes truly feel debilitating to the person experiencing this. With all of this considered, for someone who is struggling with disordered eating/an eating disorder (ED), rigidity might feel that it is helpful as it can quell the angry and mean thoughts from the ED; however this provides a short-term, pseudo type of relief and is ultimately not conducive to healing a relationship with food and achieving true recovery.

What is the difference then compared to a more “routine'' pattern of eating that actually can be helpful to someone? Well for starters, when navigating many aspects of recovery and your relationship to food, it can be important to consider what is the intention behind this decision? For example, if someone decides to pack the same lunch every day for a week because this is the most affordable and realistic way to get their nutrition needs met, but they can be flexible if a coworker asks them to go out for lunch one day, this would likely be “routine” that is supportive of staying nourished! Now juxtaposed with someone packing the same lunch every day because they are only comfortable with these certain foods and there’s no flexibility to go out to lunch or eat a catered lunch served at work, for example, then this falls under the category of rigidity.

Additionally, when considering “routine”, as above, other aspects come into play with food decisions such as what’s available and affordable. Coming away from rigidity can allow someone to view the bigger picture of nutrition, and consider these other factors as well. Oftentimes clients share that when it comes to rigidity, this can be expensive as the “safe” foods may be pricier options at the store or if you can’t find a specific item you may find yourself driving all over town stopping at different stores to try to find this “safe” item. So try to remember this as you navigate this tricky process! Check in with your “why” behind decisions you are making, and if you feel like you are struggling with rigidity, know that you are worthy of support to try to combat this.


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