My thoughts on deprivation – why is it a bad thing??

I really, really, really hate the words “deprive”, “deprived” and “deprivation” and it is used A LOT on the OH boards, Facebook groups that I’m a member of, and in blogs that I follow. Deprivation is the denial of the possession or use of something. So, I have to ask – why do people treat deprivation as such a bad thing when it relates to depriving themselves of food?

I deprive myself all the time. This weekend I went shopping and I wanted to buy SO many things, but I knew I shouldn’t be spending too much money on clothing (or anything for that matter) because I don’t have endless money, so what did I do? I deprived myself.

I really love to gamble. I’m a Black Jack enthusiast. Whenever I travel for work, I always seem to find myself within driving distance of a casino. When I find myself bored during a weekend, I think about driving to the nearest casino and having some fun! But, do I? No! It’s not a fiscally or mentally healthy activity to engage in all the time, so what did I do? I deprived myself.

Last night, I really had to finish a freelance project before I went to sleep. What I really, really, really wanted to do was to go to bed; however, I stayed up later than normal to finish my work because I had a responsibility and obligation to do so. When I wanted extra sleep, what did I do? I deprived myself.

We deprive ourselves of things all the time and we probably don’t even give it a second thought. We deprive ourselves because it’s not healthy for us to indulge in all of our “wants” or because we have certain obligations and responsibilities that force us to make the decision to “go without” something.

That’s why I have such a hard time wrapping my head around why people treat depriving themselves of food that led to our obesity as such a terrible thing. People will say, “I did not have this surgery so that I would feel deprived. I will still eat the foods I love, just less of it” or “I refuse to deprive myself… because then I’ll just want it more, give in, and then eat a lot of it.” The way I see it, I didn’t deprive myself much of anything for a long time and it led me to be 444 lbs. I really needed to “do some depriving!”

I have a problem with food. This is something I’ve learned about myself in the past year through self-reflection and lots of therapy. I want to get to the point where saying no to a piece of cake feels exactly the same way as saying no to the extra sweater that I wanted to buy on Saturday. I say that because “depriving” myself of the extra sweater on Saturday does NOT make me feel like when I do buy the next sweater, I need to buy 5 of them! So, when I say no to the piece of cake, I don’t want to have a reaction where it just makes me want to eat 5 pieces of cake when I finally do have some. When I feel like I’ve worked on myself enough to where deprivation of food feels like deprivation of other things, then I know that will be the time to start adding certain things back into my diet. I don’t feel like I’m there yet though.

These are just my thoughts. Just because I can’t understand a way of thinking that many other people agree with, doesn’t mean that I am judging or saying that you’re wrong, so let’s not start that BS! There are many ways of thinking about things in this world that I don’t understand in which I am in the minority, so that’s ok. No matter what your opinion is on this, I’m curious to know what you think? Why do you think we treat deprivation so differently when it comes to food and the deprivation of other things is no big deal? Isn’t that just an indicator that we’ve still got a problem with food and we should probably keep a lid on eating certain things until we’ve got a handle on it?


6 thoughts on “My thoughts on deprivation – why is it a bad thing??

  1. So interesting. I don’t think deprivation as you describe it is a problem. But what you’re calling deprivation is known as moderation in the eating disorder recovery community–have a piece of cake, be satisfied, be done, probably don’t need cake for awhile. Extreme deprivation is where problems with disordered eating come up–e.g. Cutting out entire food groups or never allowing yourself to eat a food that you like. So you’re right, a little deprivation never hurt anyone, but extreme deprivation hurts people all the time, and there’s a distinction between them.

  2. For me my mind set has changed the further and further I go. I don’t consider it deprivation, I consider it control. For soo many years we were out of control and food controlled us, now at least for me when I say no to something bad I feel like I have the control, because really I don’t want it. I think food is often described within deprivation terms because it’s one of those things that is an instant physical and psychological gratification. Maybe that’s a deadly combo lol. I know that I don’t physically desire bad foods anymore and not really mentally, most of the time when I want to eat it’s just to be mindless for awhile, but I don’t because I don’t want to deal that way anymore. I think if people just give it time, it gets easier as you go and you won’t really feel “deprived”, you’ll feel in control 🙂

    • Great thoughts! I completely agree with what you’re saying. I have to say though that at this time of year, “depriving” myself or “having control” is getting more and more difficult as the days go by lol!

  3. Gosh I feel like such a stalker looking through your old posts, but I REALLY needed to hear this today. I had surgery almost 9 months ago and up until yesterday hadn’t had one bite of dessert of any kind. Yesterday I ate a cookie and felt sooo horribly guilty about it. It has been all I can think about today, like I let myself down. I think it is ok for me to feel guilty about it! I could have easily ate more than one yesterday and that is NOT who I am anymore. I am mad at myself for craving that cookie today as well. So, I totally agree with you that it is ok to deprive yourself if you know that it is a trigger food. I need to practice a little more deprivation in the chip area as well! 🙂 You are amazing and I appreciate your honesty!!

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