Updated: May 7, 2021
So, you are ready to drop some fat and you pick up a book on the latest diet that states they have the answer to losing fat. It gives you a detailed outline of what you should be eating which includes weekly diet plans and a food list you can take with you to the grocery store. This book also talks about physical activities and how it is beneficial as well, to loosing fat. You read the book from front to back and think to yourself, I can totally do this, so you start on it. You start off great, drop a great deal in the first 2 weeks, then the weight loss starts to slow down. You get frustrated or get stressed from life events and start eating foods which are not on the list and start eating too much food. Weight loss stops and you give up. What next? You try another diet. Then another one.
So how do we stop this cycle? Well, the biggest issue with most diet plans out there is that they do not address the mental side of a diet. They may give you the right food plan and workout routine, but they don’t address trigger foods, cravings, stress eating and your relationship with foods. These things can have a major impact on whether or not you achieve your fat loss goal.
What is Your Relationship with Food?
This is defiantly important for you to be aware of when you are tackling any kind if diet. Why? Because this is what may sink you as you are trying to achieve your goals. Example, if you are a stress eater and tend to have stressful days at work, then no matter what diet you are on, you’re going to struggle. You’ll come home from work and grab whatever sounds good which you think will make you feel better. More often than not, these foods you will reach for will be what people call “comfort foods”, and are more than likely will not be on the diet plan you are following.
What about trigger foods? Say you are a potato chip addict, love to munch on them, then all of a sudden there is a bag in the house. You can’t resist and it’s been so long. Boom! The bag is gone by the end of the day. Oh, by the way, this one is me especially when it comes to certain brands.
Self-awareness is Key!
So, how do you examine your relationship with foods and how do you conquer some of those not so healthy habits. Yes, some of what I mentioned above are actually the results of habits. Well, first thing first, in order to change up your habits so you may achieve your goals, you need to be aware of them. Self-awareness is key. Start paying attention to your actions around foods and the emotions connected to them. This may take practice thus some time and don’t worry if you can’t stop that negative behavior at that time. The key here is just becoming more aware of what you are doing in that moment.
For instance, I have a habit of going to the fridge whenever I am tired even though I am not hungry. It actually took me a while to figure this out because I always thought it was due to being bored. The more I paid attention to my body when I was doing this, the more I realized it was because I was tired. So, I thought, it was because my body was telling me it needed energy as in energy from a food source.
For me, this wasn’t the case as eating more food didn’t actually help with the fatigue and usually led to a full stomach which made me even more tired. Side note, I think my tiredness is connected to hormonal changes which is another episode. Anyways, I have yet to figure out a solution to the tiredness, but now when I go to the fridge and realize I’m tired, I do a little self-talk and walk away.
After You Become More Aware
Okay, you start becoming aware of what you are doing, then comes the self-talk. As you reach for food which may not be part of your eating plan, ask yourself the following questions, then answer them:
Do I really want this?
Why do I want this?
How am I feeling emotionally at this moment?
Am I even hungry?
Once you start attaching a thought process to your unwanted eating habits, you can move on to answering the next question, which is “what can I do instead of eating?” This is something you will have to figure out for yourself as what works for others, may not work for you. However, I will give just a few examples to get you thinking. If you are not hungry, but reaching for food out of habit, what can you replace with that habit? Can you take a walk? How about getting something done around the house which will keep your hands busy? How about a hobby which you can work on?
If you are stressed, how about a hot bath or shower to relax? Do you need to turn off the TV and turn on some music? This one comes from the fact that there are quite a few people who have a habit of munching mindlessly when the TV is on. Now, take some time and start thinking about what you can do and have several activities in mind. I like to tell people to have what I call “A bag of tricks”. No one activity will work in every situation, thus having many to choose from will help increase your chances of success.
Now, at the end of the day, you don’t need to deprive yourself of your favorite foods. Like I have said before, food is not bad. What is bad is the amount that you eat. So, if you have tried a few distracting techniques and still wanting the food you originally went for, have some. Just don’t go crazy over it. Take your time with it and enjoy it!
This actually brings me to trigger foods. You may need to approach these in a different way. Sometimes, you may just need to keep the food out of your home. For instance, when it comes to my potato chip cravings, I know I can’t have a whole bag in the house. So, I have learned, when I want some, I go out and get the snack size in it and allow myself to enjoy it.
As for ice-cream, yes, my other major trigger food, I either split a pint with my boyfriend, go to Baskin Robbins and get a single scoop or, and this I found out recently, I can go get an ice-cream bar from the corner store. Okay, those are what works for me, but what will work for you? If you are not sure, start doing some research on the internet and see what others have done. Try something, if it doesn’t work, try something else. Don’t give up, you will find what works for you.
Remember, Food Is Not Bad!
Now, there is so much more to this topic as there are so many different aspects of it, you can really go deep with it. I just covered to top layer of it to get you started thinking about your relationship with foods and habits surrounding them. Hopefully this will help you get moving in the direction you would like and remember, food is not bad, what is bad is the quantity.