The difficult part of having a food addiction is that it is not an addiction you can quit cold turkey. You must always have food in your life and this presents the challenge:
How do we focus on food in a healthy way that serves us as opposed to focusing on food in a way that leads us astray and back to our addictive ways?
In my daily practices I have come up with five distinct mindsets you should have and 5 that you shouldn’t have that will help to change your relationship with food.
The wrong way to focus on food:
- Don’t focus on food as a way to have fun. When it’s time for you to think about something fun, you should not immediately go to food. As my LMWL coach, Sarah Jenks, says, “your life should be more interesting than your food”
- Don’t focus on food based on its calorie content. You should not make your eating decisions based on how many calories are in the meal. Ignoring your taste buds and your cravings will only make you rebel later in unhealthy ways
- Don’t focus on the next meal. So many times my obsession with food has left me unable to enjoy the meal I’m eating at the moment because I’m so focused on what’s next. Always what’s next, never what’s right in front of me right now.
- Don’t focus on the last mistake you made. You can not fix your last mistake by skipping a meal or ignoring what you really want and eating well below the caloric amount you know you need. The best thing you can do when you feel you’ve made a mistake with your eating or your exercise is simply to move on. Make better choices the very next opportunity you get but DO NOT try to make up for what has already transpired. Let it go. Trying to make up for it will leave you wanting more which will lead to sabotaging and “messing up” AGAIN and then you’re back to the same vicious cycle.
- Don’t focus on delayed gratification. So often I’ve skipped something I wanted in that moment because I was saving my calories for something else later. Unless that something later is truly unique or you only get it in a certain town or during the holiday, don’t save it. Have what you want now. No delays. If you delay you’ll probably eat more of the later food to compensate for what you missed out on earlier. If you watch what you want in the moment and you still want that other thing later, have it. I’ll bet you’ll end up eating a smaller portion and it’ll all shake out in the end . Or better yet, you’ll find it wasn’t all that important to you in the first to place and you let your imagination make it into something it wasn’t.
The Right way to focus on food:
- DO focus only on the food you’re eating right now. You need to focus on the meal you’re eating when you’re actually eating it. Part of feeling satisfied is fully experiencing the meal in the moment. So if you’re texting or watching television or reading then you’re not fully participating in the meal and so you’ll miss some of the satisfaction and go seeking it in snacks later on
- DO focus on always eating food that is real. Don’t eat fake, processed crap. That will leave you craving the real ingredient that the fake food was substituting for. Splenda makes you want more sugar. So find a healthy way to have the real sugar straight up the first time. If you don’t, you’ll end up eating twice as much in the end.
- DO focus on how you want to feel. I got this one from the Live More Weigh Less course. It’s totally genius. Focus on the way you want to feel right after the meal you’re about to eat and then eat accordingly. If you’re on your lunch break and you know you have a meeting afterward that you end to be alert for and you know bread in the middle of the day makes you sleepy then you probably don’t want to have a sandwich for lunch. See how easy that is? When making your choices at each meal focus on how you want to feel.
- DO focus on how you feel right after a meal. We need to get to know our bodies better. We need to understand how we react to different things. You can’t be good at rule#3 if you’re not in tune with what foods make you feel what ways. So figure it out. Focus on how you feel right after eating certain foods and take note. Then you can make better choices the next time.
- DO focus on the speed of the meal. Overeaters are often champion speed eaters, myself included. We need to give our bodies a chance to acknowledge that we’ve eaten a meal before we go shoveling in the next course. Give your body a chance to digest. Slow down!
I write these rules because I know from experience that they work. When I focus on those five Don’t’s instead of those five Do’s I gain weight and I feel unsatisfied. When I focus on the five Do’s I lose weight and I feel fulfilled. We can’t ignore food and hope it goes away and leaves us alone. Sadly, that’s not how it works. Food is here to stay so the only recourse we have is to change the relationship we have with it. That’s what FoodLoveMe/FoodHateMe is all about. Let’s focus on food the right way and move from the hate side of the relationship to the love side.
Did this post resonate with you? Did you notice some of your own behaviors listed here? Do you have some areas you really need to work on? What are you struggling with? I would love to help you work through it. Leave a comment in this post or email me if you’d prefer to discuss privately.