What's Your Experience with Last Supper Eating?

Some years ago, I went to see a naturopath about some health challenges I was having. As part of my treatment, she asked me to eliminate some foods from my diet, including gluten. Desperate to feel better, I agreed to do so.

I gave myself one last week to eat all my favorite gluten-containing foods.

During those last few days, I vividly recall feasting on artisanal sourdough loaves from my beloved local bread maker.

I also raided all my favorite bakeries loading up on blueberry scones, chocolate-chip cookies, veggie focaccia and chocolate-fudge cake.

The idea of future deprivation drove this intense phase of one-last-shot, now-or-never eating. I happily gorged on gluten while simultaneously grieving the end of our relationship.

Can you relate to this behavior?

It’s called Last Supper Eating.

Farewell-to-Food Feast
Before embarking on a new diet, plan or program, have you ever found yourself eating everything in sight, especially the foods that will soon be forbidden?

Or perhaps you planned one last elaborate meal featuring all the dishes that would be off limits starting tomorrow.

If you’re a yo-yo dieter, you’re likely very familiar with this pre-dieting ritual.

Like many of my clients, you may view this period of intense, frantic consumption—which is often followed by overwhelming guilt—as “proof” that you need to restrict your eating because you simply can’t control yourself around food.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The threat of food restriction can naturally trigger a farewell-to-food feast. It’s human nature to respond this way to deprivation.

Yet, it’s so easy to go into self-blame and shame.

How to End Last Supper Eating
Intuitive Eating puts an end to Last Supper Eating.

With Intuitive Eating, there is no deprivation. You have unconditional permission to eat whatever looks good, tastes good, and feels good in your body.

Instead of depriving yourself and eating according to a set of rules, you ask yourself: Do I like the taste of this food? Do I like how this food makes my body feel? Would I choose to eat this again or feel this way again?

What Works for Me
When I started reclaiming my Intuitive Eater, I asked myself if I actually liked the gluten-free foods I was eating.

The gluten-free bread, for example, was tolerable. It wasn’t delicious; it was simply an expensive vehicle for nut butter.

Since it wasn’t medically necessary for me to eliminate gluten (i.e., I don’t have celiac disease), I experimented with eating my beloved breads again, along with other gluten-containing foods—and my body felt just fine.

Although well intentioned, the diet the naturopath put me on didn’t improve my health condition. It just left me feeling deprived and unsatisfied, which always backfires.

As an Intuitive Eater, I now determine what works best for me by staying attuned to the messages my body sends.

If I skip a particular food because I don’t like how it tastes or feels in my body, I don’t view it as deprivation but rather as self-care and body kindness.

It feels really good to know I’ve had my last Last Supper.

Do You Lick Your Peanut Butter Knife?

I remember years ago watching a weight-loss episode on a popular talk show. One of the calorie-cutting tips given was to never lick your peanut butter knife.

This made me sad. Very sad.

Who doesn’t love to lick their knife clean after making a PB&J sandwich, almond-butter toast, or bagel with cream cheese?

It’s fun! It’s yummy! It’s super satisfying!

Harmful, Not Helpful
Every day, we’re bombarded with messages like these that are often more harmful than helpful.

They cause us to be hyper-vigilant about our eating. They result in pointless food rules, restriction and rigidity. They lead to unnecessary fear, stress, shame and suffering.

If you bought into the “no knife-licking” rule, yet failed to follow it (which, if you’re like me, is highly likely!), your thoughts may sound something like this:

  • Licking this knife is a big no-no—you know that!

  • I am being bad, and naughty, and reckless.

  • I have no willpower or self-control. No wonder I look the way I do.

  • What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I follow one freaking simple rule?

  • Ugh, I really hope no one saw me do that.

  • I can’t be trusted with peanut butter; I’m going to stop buying it.

  • I feel guilty and need to make up for this food sin. No dessert for me tonight!

  • I really want to double-dip my knife back into the jar and lick it again.

  • Screw it. I’ve come this far, I might as well keep going back for more!

  • I shouldn’t do this, but licking the knife clean is so much easier than getting peanut butter off my dishcloth!

Does any of this sound familiar?

Challenge Your Food Rules
I spend a lot of time helping my clients identify and investigate their food rules

We deconstruct and challenge them, exploring questions, such as: Where did this rule come from? Is it true? Is it reasonable, sustainable and pleasurable? How do you feel and act when you break it? Is it helpful or harmful?

About 99.9 percent of the time, my clients determine their food rules are causing them far more harm than good.

They realize how their rules are creating an unhealthy relationship with food and negatively impacting their physical, mental, emotional and social health.

As my clients start to shed their food rules, a sense of freedom, empowerment, peace and ease surfaces.

Instead of listening to external sources, they begin trusting their intuition, body wisdom and direct experience to guide them.

And they start licking their peanut butter knife again.