So many people come into my office, frustrated by lack of weight loss, but only sometimes lack of knowledge. Most of the time, what I find is that people are pretty well educated on what choices are best for them, but their biggest fight is not physical, but mental. When I get down to the bottom of why many people struggle with their weight, I find that most of them have dysfunctional thought processes related to food. I have found that it is often the perspective on the food that leads to the choices (that, as we have learned in earlier articles, lead to a cascading effect of hormonal disruption causing cravings and often out of control eating). Our thought processes (perspective) control our choices.
- I can’t live without my treats.
Replacement Thought: Stop telling yourself this lifestyle change is all or nothing. Changing your life to include more healthier choices absolutely leaves room for the occasional treat. It is when you tell yourself that a certain food is “forbidden” that you start to develop an insatiable craving for it. Food is not always/never.
- I’ll just start tomorrow. Today is just going to be one of those days.
Replacement Thought: Even though I think that will work, I will feel so much worse tomorrow if I just keep going like a runaway train. If I quit while I’m ahead, I can salvage the rest of the day and maybe even create some victory in doing so. I need to celebrate the moments when I can turn around my choices in the middle of the day. Those are moments of victory!
- This is just inconvenient.
Replacement Thought: Yes, any lifestyle is inconvenient. If I choose to make only “convenient” choices, then I will have the inconvenience of feeling bad, carrying excess weight, and sickness. I want to choose the lifestyle that gives me long term “convenience” of feeling good, having energy, sleeping well, etc. Also, consider that it doesn’t take any more time to steam broccoli and bake some chicken than it does to drive to a restaurant, sit, and order food. Often, what we think is convenient actually takes more time than spending a few minutes in the kitchen.
- Why shouldn’t I be able to have what everyone else is having?
Replacement Thought: I have no idea what is going on in their heads. They might be making those choices but questioning themselves too! (and I have seen enough clients to validate that so many more people are struggling internally than you might think based on how they look on the outside). Your choices have to work for YOU! Try not to worry about the choices other people are making, and make the ones that work for you. If all of your friends drove really expensive cars, would you pinch all of your pennies to buy one even though you really couldn’t afford it? Probably not. The scenario is similar. Just because a choice works for someone else doesn’t mean it is the best choice for you.
- I’m just too busy to make good choice.
Replacement Thought: If you consider yourself too busy to make good choices, eventually the consequences will catch up with you, causing you to be sick, tired, or at least slowed down. Remember that making a crock pot meal should only take 5 minutes, and EVERYONE can find 5 minutes. Put the leftovers in the freezer for future days when you think you are too busy.
- Life really isn’t much fun without the foods I like.
Replacement Thought: Yes, food is enjoyable, and we should definitely find a way to fit in the foods that we like along with the foods we “should” eat, but our basis for happiness in life should be based somewhere other than food. It is a dangerous place to find all of our “fun” in food.
One really good strategy that I use with a lot of my clients is the “bring the black cloud” mentality. When you look at an enticing food, it tends to bring about feelings of excitement and longing, drawing you toward it…..enter the thought processes listed above and the resulting hormonal changes…..voila….loss of control…..shame/guilt. Lather, rinse, repeat. Bringing the black cloud involves learning to see those foods for what they really are, foods that have STOLEN from you. Whether they have stolen your thought processes/sanity, or your ability to enjoy life because of weight related physical issues, those foods are not what they seem. Try making a list of what things that an unhealthier lifestyle have stolen from you. Next time you are confronted with a food that is tempting to you, go over that list and put those attributes on the food. Pizza just doesn’t have the same appeal when you are thinking about how uncomfortable and frustrated you feel because of it. Not every strategy is perfect, but learning to see these foods for what they really are can be a powerful tool in the quest for a sustainable, healthier lifestyle.
If you are already living a sustainable and healthy lifestyle, free from the chains of these types of thought patterns, send this to someone who might be struggling. Helping them get to the bottom of their perspectives on food can be key to helping them achieve long tern success.
STEP(S) FOR THIS WEEK:
- Consider your perspective. Above is a short list of common thought patterns I hear in my practice. I want you to really take some time this week to examine your perspective on food. Is food your savior, the thing that rescues you from feeling emotions? Is food the thing you tell yourself will solve your problems? The true answer is finding comfort somewhere other than food and learning to put food in its proper place.....on the table and not in your head. Food has become something that plagues people and often distracts them from their true purpose in life. So this week, really take a good look at your thought patterns regarding food. Have faulty thought patterns become the norm for you? Has food become something that permeates your thoughts or controls you in some way? If so, consider meeting with a wellness coach or health professional to help you get to the bottom of your thought patterns. At the end of the day, a bowl of ice cream is just a bowl of ice cream. It does not have the power to make you feel guilt and shame.....only if you give it that power. If instead, you look at the occasional treat as just that, food with now power, then it has been stripped of its grip on you. Imagine, the occasional treat with your family with no "chatter" inside your head and no guilt and shame. The alternative is very freeing!!!......food for thought.