As much as we want to believe that weight loss and dieting is easy, it's not. From my own personal experiences and listening to my clients, I've identified five of the most stubborn habits that can keep you locked in an unhealthy relationship with food:
1."If I don't eat that slice of cake, someone else will and I'll miss out".
Ah yes, the large family syndrome. I recall sitting around the table with my 6 siblings and eye-balling each other's plates. When you eat just because food is available and looks tasty, you are missing out on the opportunity to take care of yourself. You are eating food that your body does not need or want. When you eat when you are not hungry, you do not taste the food fully. You are only half there. It is like being in conversation with someone, but not really listening and being engaged. If you do not eat that cake that looks so delicious, your world will not fall apart. Remind yourself that you can have it the next time you are hungry for it.
2. "I'll start being healthy once all the unhealthy food is gone from the kitchen (so I'll just eat my way through it first)".
Clearing away remaining junk food by eating it means that you're treating yourself like a dustbin. You're also giving yourself permission to continue being unhealthy. Maybe it's time to pause and ask yourself, "Is eating this food the best way to care for myself?" Remember, you either throw the food out or throw it into you. Either way, it turns into waste inside you or outside you!
3. "The food calls out to me. I swear those Jaffa cakes have my name on them".
Do you ponder anxiously about all the little tasks ahead of you- emails to send, phone calls to make, school runs etc? I often find myself staring at my to-do list but not wanting want to do anything on it, and my mind wanders to the contents of the biscuit tin. It can help to remind yourself, "I am a competent adult and I can cope. I do have a choice around food. If I still want the Jaffa cake in an hour, I'll have it then". Being mindful and aware means that you are putting yourself in charge and making conscious decisions around food. This is a world away from mindlessly seeking refuge in the biscuit tin and feeling out of control around food.
4."I hover around the kitchen waiting until everyone is gone so I can eat all I want".
The most awful part of eating in secret is the shame. Eating bowls of cornflakes when no-one was in the kitchen and sneaking packets of crisps made me feel like a cheat and a fraud. The secrecy around eating reinforces the guilt, torment and shame. A Heyday client, Anna, recently mentioned that she now asks herself, "Would I eat like this is someone was watching me or could see me?"
5."I deserve something nice"
Do you eat to celebrate, to reward or treat yourself? Or you might subconsciously think, "no-one else is going to be nice to me, so eating this food will make me feel good". The irony here is that you're not really treating well by filling yourself with sugar and processed food. Food is only meant to satisfy physical hunger. All the chocolate in the world cannot make you feel better about yourself. There is a least one other thing you can do besides eating, something that will take better care of you than food does.
Let's take the focus off diets and food plans, and start addressing the habits, emotions and situations that lead to unhealthy eating. Let's start a dialogue that empowers you to develop a healthy relationship with food and weight.