Do you find yourself obsessing over food? Like, a lot? Yep, me too. Or at least I used to… My relationship with food has always been a rocky one. I never really felt in control around food. It was associated with either guilt and regret, or fear and restriction.
The hamster wheel of dieting is a real thing. And I was fed up. It’s exhausting to get caught up in the diet cycle over and over again. It robs you of your sanity and steals your focus from the things that are truly important. But here’s the thing…taking control around food is not as hard as you might think. You just need to shift how you look at food. In fact, the tips I’m about to share might even seem too simple, but I promise if you follow through with them, it will become a game-changer in your journey toward creating a healthier, happier version of yourself.
If I could pick one phrase that gets repeated the most by women we’ve worked with, it’s that they don’t trust themselves around food. They usually insist that strict restriction is the only thing that gets results because they cannot be trusted around their favorite foods, which is why weekends are for “starting over” and family barbecues “ruin the diet”.
What would happen if you let go of the “shouldn’t eats” and the “can’t haves” and just trusted yourself?
Try this little exercise. Sit down in front of something you love to eat. It can be whatever you want. Let’s pretend it’s a donut. Now, before you dive in, take a deep breath and close your eyes. You can smell it, right? The frosting, the fried dough, it’s already so good your mouth is watering. Now tell yourself…I can eat this. It’s not bad and I’m not bad for eating it. Then take a bite and chew it slowly. Really taste it. Get into the sensation of the flavor of this particular food.
Now here is the trick…there comes a point when you’re body says, “okay I’m good.” It KNOWS when it has had enough. If you really listen and learn, you’ll tune into when that is before it is too late. Usually, the part of your brain that says “uh, oh, I shouldn’t be eating this” or “I may never get to eat this again” overrides your bodies cues to stop, so you keep eating until you’ve had too much. The result: feeling gross, guilty and shameful.
But if you’re paying attention and honoring yourself in that moment, you can enjoy the pleasure of food AND know when to stop. You’ll come away from the experience feeling satisfied. If you’re laughing right now because you don’t think you have this kind of self-control…I dare you to try it. You might actually surprise yourself. You might actually notice that enjoying food in the moment releases the need to eat it ALL right then and there…and you get to take control of your feelings around food again. It does take some practice to become confident at this more intuitive approach, but the more you do it the better you will get at trusting yourself with food.
Remove and Replace
Remove one bad habit by replacing it with a good one. When we take away something we love, we feel deprived and become focused on what is missing. Think of what would happen if you snatched a sucker out of a child’s hand mid-lick. They’d lose it right? And that sucker would have their complete focused attention for the foreseeable future until they get it back, OR until you distract them with something else. We’re not so different from our toddler-selves.
If you just decide to stop drinking soda every day without replacing it with an acceptable distraction, you’ll just become hyper-aware of the fact that you’re NOT DRINKING SODA. So instead of replacing it with plain water. Find a way to flavor your water with something tasty that feels like you’re getting something yummy. You could add fruit, a calorie-free hydration stick, or diluted BCAAS for example. You’re getting hydrated, curbing a craving, and changing your habits for the better.
Setting new habits has to be satisfying and rewarding so make sure you are giving yourself something to look forward to. There is no rule that says getting healthy should be tasteless and boring. On the contrary. Find as many ways as possible to make it a positive experience for yourself. The more rewarding, the better your chances at success and the more you will feel in control around food and exercise.
Make one small change at a time and don’t move on until that small change has become a normal part of your life. Let’s go back to the soda example. If you want to remove soda from your diet and decide to replace it with plain water, that’s boring and you’ll be so much less likely to stick to it long term, so apply a “one-up.” First start by adding flavor to your water (see above examples) and then each day dilute it a little more until eventually plain water tastes good and has become the new habit.
The trick to building better habits is not in the habit itself, its in the consistency. Something is always better than nothing.
Here is another example: If you want to start a workout program and went from never exercising to 60 minutes a day…you’ll burnout in a week. But if you started by doing 5 minutes per day 5 days a week…now THAT is doable. Then each week add another 5 minutes to your daily workout. Within a month you’ll be doing 20 minutes of exercise a day and it will have become a normal part of your routine.
Truth: You won’t see results as quickly when you apply this principle, but they WILL stick around long-term. Slow and steady guarantees you’ll get across the finish line without burning out, and that should be your goal. Lifelong healthy habits are worth SO MUCH MORE than a quick fix weight drop every time.
If you want things to BE different, you have to DO it differently. Period. That’s just the way it is. But that doesn’t mean you have to DO IT ALL right now. Choose to make small changes that will bring big long-term results. You can keep telling that girl in the mirror that things need to change, but won’t do anything about it. You have to start with ONE step. Remember, losing weight isn’t the thing…taking action is the thing. Moving forward with one small step is the thing.
If you’re still feeling intimidated or overwhelmed with where to start, we can help. Our Live Diet-Free Program teaches you through a 6-week program, easing you into creating healthy habits that last a lifetime, without extreme restriction or starving yourself.