I used to have an all or nothing attitude when it came to my diet and the food that I ate, I either ate really well or really bad with nothing in between. So, when I was good, I thought I was being good – in fact it was the opposite of that. I restricted calories, skipped meals and exercised to excess. Guess what, it didn’t last long. I would feel low in energy, moody, lethargic, weak, couldn’t concentrate or focus on anything and generally felt miserable. The way I was eating was unsustainable long term and deep down I knew it. I would literally crash and burn and end up going on a massive binge, eating everything I had previously restricted myself from eating. I craved sugar and refined carbohydrates for energy. The initial rush of energy would feel good for a day or two until the guilt set in! The negative feelings I had about myself became worse I would feel like a failure and the horrible cycle of the yo-yo diet would start all over again.
Why would anyone want to put themselves through all that? Life is hard enough as it is juggling family, work and social commitments so why add self-torture (which is what this mentality is) to the list. I lived my life with the attitude that if I was being good then having a treat would undo all my hard work. My attitude was to hell with it, let’s just eat the entire cake, pizza, sweets, chocolate and anything else I could get my hands on. I would believe I had failed and ruined everything I had achieved so far, so why not! That attempt at one treat would turn into a month-long binge! I was self-sabotaging by falling into the mindset that I was only allowed to be good or bad never finding that healthy balance. This led me to a poor relationship food. Something I now see often in so many of my clients.
The biggest turning point for me was when I finally accepted that what I was eating and why I was eating the way I was, was down to so many factors. Stress, emotional eating and mindless eating all impact greatly on my day to day food choices. Not to mention hormones and lack of sleep to add to it! This is why it was important that I worked through those emotions, built new healthy non-restrictive habits that made me feel healthy and positively in control of my nutrition.
Creating the perfect plan for me meant that I had to no longer see myself following any kind of diet. SPOILER: Diets DO NOT work long term! I now eat the foods my body needs for overall health and wellbeing. I no longer view a treat as a disaster, finding a healthy balance and knowing that consistency is what brings positive change, not perfection. For me now my diet is healthy 80% of the time. Generally, I eat well Monday to Friday and will enjoy a treat at the weekend. It’s not the entire weekend, maybe a pizza on a Saturday night with a bottle of wine. We can do a lot of damage over a weekend which can really impact your goals so you must be realistic. However, if on a random Tuesday afternoon, I fancied a treat or a glass of wine with my evening meal then I enjoy it, own it and move on. It is all about a healthy balance, with no damage done.
I now have the freedom to enjoy all foods from all food groups without the guilt. My mind is at ease and food is no longer all I think about anymore. I no longer feel anxious or nervous around food. I have the confidence now to make the best choices for me. Choosing food that makes me feel good! Food is meant to nourish our bodies, fuel us with the calories we need to function as human beings. It is not meant to be used as a way to punish ourselves through starvation or bingeing both of which have serious long-term side effects.
I recommend to all my clients to practice mindful eating as part of their journey to help overcome all the negative diet habits that develop over time some of which can be seriously deep routed. This is what really helped me find the healthy balance so I know it works.
So, what is Mindful Eating?
- a peaceful eating relationship with food according to your body’s needs
- eating to support your body’s natural healthy state
- balance, choice, wisdom, and acceptance
- eating consciously in a way to make our bodies feel well
- being aware of our surroundings, mind, body, and spirit
- being “in the moment”
Mindful eating is NOT about:
- measuring or weighing food
- restricting or avoiding foods
- counting fat grams or calories
- worrying about body size or the number on the scale’
Be aware of what your habits and mindless eating triggers are. We all have them. Maybe it’s a stash of sweets in your desk drawer or eating while at your computer or on the phone. Maybe it’s when you come home from work and grab a bag of crisps or when you sit down to relax and watch a show on T.V. It could also be a trigger when you’re bored. Think about what the triggers are for you, acknowledge it and make a plan to work on it.
For most of us, triggers come down to the habits that we have formed over the years. Many habits have us on autopilot without being consciously aware of the decisions we’re making. This is a great time to take a step back and evaluate which habits you’d like to change that will be more in alignment with your goals.
Mindful eating is an awareness that can take some time to acquire. It certainly does not come automatically for most of us. Our environment is definitely working against us here, and so is the hectic pace so many of us are keeping. Maybe this is a good time to evaluate some things that are causing a lot of stress and find ways to reduce it. Stress affects us on every level – emotional, mental and physical. By taking steps to eat more mindfully, we can at least know that a few times each day we get to slow down and do something good for ourselves, our health and our bodies.
Do you suffer from self-sabotage? Are you stuck in the YO-YO diet revolving door?
As always if you need help and support to get away from the diet mentality then let me know. You can book a nutrition package with one to one personal support or simply book a free consultation call to discuss your situation and find out what tools I have in place to help you make that positive shift.