When I review my life and how often food has been on my mind, I’m rather disgusted! Why and how did I end up thinking and thinking about food all the time? I don’t have a clear answer on that question yet, but when I do I’ll let you know! (You’re just holding your breath waiting, aren’t you!!) 😉
Anyway, can you relate to any of these thoughts??
- As a kid I remember distinctly being anxious about meal time. Like, I couldn’t wait!! I snuck food quite a lot…I thought about how I could eat things without anyone knowing. I was embarrassed that I wanted said food, and seemingly that wanted it all the time.
- As a teen and in my early twenties, I watched very closely what other girls around me ate. I made certain I didn’t eat more than any other girl did even if I was still hungry. I was that girl that wouldn’t eat when I went on dates. Eat in front of a guy??? Holy shit, no! Worse yet…eat AS MUCH as a guy??? Double holy shit, no!!
- Into my professional life and before kids I followed a couple of big-name weight loss programs and became even more obsessive about what I ate. It was part of the process really (obsession that is) as it was required to record your food and slot what you ate into little boxes of nourishment. When I wanted to eat things that didn’t slot into “what you are supposed to eat” I felt very guilty. I wasn’t following directions and I was going to pay for it come weigh-in time!
- Then I hit the moment where I accepted changing my health and losing weight was going to be a lengthy process done according to my own rules. I learned, I struggled, I ate MUCH MORE nourishing food than junk, and I created new habits. All the while though I was food-focused…and I felt I had to be (and I still believe now looking back, that I had to be). I had habits to break/implement. I had emotions surrounding food that needed exploring and changing. I had to determine what certain fuels made my body feel. I simply HAD to be focused on the fuel so I could make changes!
Here I am today, in this moment, and I’m tired of thinking about food. I’ve done the really hard work and changed my habits and some of my emotions relative to food. But I’m ready for the next part…which is living healthfully WITHOUT always thinking about what goes in my mouth!
So how do you do that? Is it even possible?
It IS possible, but it takes conscious effort and time…just like any other change in our behavior. Here are my suggestions, three of the four which I do personally, to help get food off your mind!
1. Be aware of what you actually eat in an objective, not punitive, manner.
I advocate that my clients journal. There is value in figuring out your patterns with food and what you are ACTUALLY eating. It’s easy to forget that you had lunch out on Monday, a sundae after dinner on Tuesday, cookies in the break room on Wednesday, and a venti Mocha from Starbucks on Thursday. You need to learn your patterns and be honest with yourself about what you are ACTUALLY eating.
In the past, I’ve had my clients journal and keep track of calories in order to see what they are eating. However, these days I am advocating that my clients journal in a different way: keep track of food categories instead of every morsel eaten. This approach will give you a much better OVERALL view of what you are eating…and it’s a helluva lot quicker, too. See this FB post for what I mean!
2. Strive to get FUEL consistently, so the FUN stuff doesn’t feel like a derailment.
Every meal or snack doesn’t have to be nutrient packed. Work at getting good FUEL daily. This means each day make sure you get good quality protein more meals than not (be it 3 squares or 5-6 mini meals). What does “more meals than not mean?” If you eat three meals per day, that would mean two of the three will be nutrient packed. If you eat 6 mini meals that would mean at least four will be nutrient packed.
This is a guideline!! Will there be days you have less meals nutrient packed than is ideal? Yes! But again, if you have roughly 30 days in the month to work with…you want roughly, at least 20 of those days to be MORE nutrient packed than not.
If you are being consistent with all that great fuel, then when you do opt for the indulgences it won’t feel like you are derailing your health efforts.
3. Review and preview your week when opting for FUN food.
When you are thinking about having that drink with friends or taking your kids out for ice cream, try this:
First…REVIEW your week so far and recall what FUN food you’ve had already
then…PREVIEW what is coming up in your week and consider what FUN food you may choose coming up.
Your end game is consistency…which I talk about in #2.
Example: You are taking the kids for ice cream tonight. Will you have a cone or dish to yourself? Hmmmm…
When you REVIEW your earlier week you remember you had doughnuts at the office and then an indulgent dinner out since you didn’t want to make dinner. Then when you PREVIEW the remainder of your week you know you have a wedding where you’ll be having drinks and cake and likely eating a lunch out as well. You decide to opt for a few spoonfuls of what your kids get rather than a full serving of your own…to maintain consistency of MORE nutrient packed food than not.
4. Begin to learn to disengage from the good food vs. bad food mentality or view the eating of certain things as cheating.
You can eat anything!
Are there more nutritionally-sound choices than others? You know the answer!
Are there better choices than others to meet certain health goals you may have? Again, you know the answer already!
Is there only a straight line from Point A (how you eat right this moment) to Point B (how you want to eat in the future)…with absolutely no room for veering off path? Right again!! You know this stuff!!
Nurture the idea that you can choose ANY food, but that all foods are not created equal. You want to consistently (there’s that word again!) eat more of the foods that fuel your body to get run efficiently…while allowing room to satisfy your indulgent side.
Eating ice cream or pizza isn’t cheating! Cheating means breaking the rules. There aren’t rules about food…there is only WWFY!
It takes directed effort and conscious thought to break away from our patterns around food. And it won’t happen in 21 or 30 days either! Change is one of those things that sneaks up on you. You’ll be head down working at it day after day after day, then when you least expect it, you’ll realize you are there…that you’ve made the change and it has become part of you!
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