Let me give you a scenario;
Monday rolls round you tell yourself this is it I am going to be good this week! The healthy shop has been bought, meals have been prepared and all junk food is out the cupboards! The beginning of the week flies by and all the “bad” food you have cut from your diet is a distant memory! Thursday comes, and someone has brought sweets into work, you politely decline saying you can’t have one you’re on a diet. As the day wares on the sweets silently taunt you until eventually you give in and eat one. You then have feelings of guilt and shame and think you have ruined your diet so might as well have another, then two turns to three, three to four, four to buying a packet of biscuits on the way home from work and then a weekend full of binging on all the “junk” you cut out before, feeling so guilty that on Sunday you vow to be “on it” again!
Does this sound familiar? I paint a vivid picture because I have lived that struggle. I know first hand the feelings of disgust and shame after a binge on high-sugar, high-fat foods. Some will know this about me and some will probably be so surprised when you hear that I struggle with binge eating. I am the “healthy” one at work, never seen to eat the cake on the staff room table or indulge in the night shift crisps and dip! Why? Not because I am trying to lose weight or look a certain way but because I have worked hard towards changing how I view food. When someone offers me food and I refuse it, it’s because I genuinely don’t want to eat it! If I did, then I would. Let me explain:
Do you label foods good and bad? Tell yourself that you’re going to be ‘good’ so cut out all the ‘bad’ foods and tell yourself you ‘can’t’ have them?
Our brains are clever little things! If I ask you not to think about a big pink elephant what are you thinking about?! It is the same with food, if we resist something sooner or later we will end up succumbing to the craving and binging on the forbidden food. Instead, if we allowed ourselves a little bit to begin with we would have satisfied the craving and moved on.
Labelling foods as good or bad could cause a bad relationship with food. Instead neutralise food and see it as abundantly available to you. When you do this, you remove the label and the food loses its novelty or specialness. It will not consume your thoughts as you can have it whenever you want, and chances are you will not even want it anymore as it has lost its appeal.
Take note of what you are resisting, you will notice it by hearing yourself say ‘I shouldn’t’, ‘I’m trying not to’, ‘I can’t stop’, ‘I am trying to stop’ etc. Usually what we are resisting is a feeling; boredom, anger, sadness, loneliness, failure. It is ok to have these feelings, so acknowledge them and have some strategies to help deal with them. I like to put on some music, read a book, stretch, go outside and get some fresh air. Finding what works for you is key.
If your goal is to drop body fat, but you experience some of the thoughts I have described, then (in my opinion) a conservative approach to reducing calories is much more manageable. What I mean by this is instead of decreasing calories drastically from the start, reduce them slightly and when progress starts to plateau reduce them a little more. Success will come when consistency NOT perfection is met.
If you have any questions or comments, then feel free to get in touch.
Heather Moffat - CFS Nutrition Mentor