What is the number one reason diets fail? Fear of deprivation that leads to defiance. It isn’t a lack of willpower that causes you to “cheat” on your latest diet. You aren’t a failure. You aren’t weak. Your brain is hardwired to avoid food deprivation and diets create brain panic because there are so many food rules and forbidden foods. The fastest way to get from diet to binge is making a food off limits. If we are told we can have any food in the world except a cookie, we will think about cookies until we eat them, even if we don’t like cookies. So, if we want to make food choices that will benefit our body, what do we do instead?
- Never make a food off limits. Forbidden food is a surefire path to misery and overeating due to fear of deprivation.
- Allow yourself to have all foods in moderation if that is what you truly want. Often we will try to substitute healthier alternatives to what we want and then end up overeating because the desire just isn’t met.
- Ask yourself what you are hoping to feel by eating a certain food. Are you hungry or are you trying to use the food to deal with emotion? If hunger isn’t the problem, food will never be the solution.
- Ask yourself how you will feel 30 minutes or an hour after eating something. If I eat something loaded with sugar as a snack, I feel a huge energy crash 30-60 minutes later. However, if I have a small treat as part of a more substantial meal or snack, I feel just fine later. Pay attention to how food impacts your body.
- Identify the difference between can’t and don’t. I never choose not to eat a food because I can’t eat it. My choice is never based off a food rule because it is a “bad” food or I “shouldn’t” eat it. Instead, I carefully evaluate what I want the food to do for me, how I want it to taste or what my body will feel like. Then, I choose. Either I will eat it, or I won’t, but that will be because I am in control of my choices and I don’t want to eat the food. No one chooses for me.
These might seem like common sense or subtle steps, but it is part of the path of taking back your power when it comes to food and eating. As an adult, you are in the driver seat. You choose what, where and when you eat. We don’t want anyone to have that kind of control over us, yet we often allow food rules to take our control. By paying attention, you take this control back!