Why are you needing to diet?
I for one really dislike the word diet except in the general sense of all food being discussed as an overall eating practice. For example; does your diet contain all food groups? Or, what do you prefer to include in your daily food intake?
Not, however, as a restrictive practice.
When we think of diets, we tend to generally think – restrictive, painful, deleting food. Maybe you associate it with adding in foods that you really dislike; and overall equate it to all suffering practices? Maybe you recall a chalky shake or plate of Brussel sprouts. These may not make your mouth water and have you thinking YUM.
The dictionary describes ‘Diet’ as “the kinds of foods that a person, animal or community habitually eats” This seems fairly good to me. We can look at what the Japanese eat, what the Mediterranean’s eat and the positive results in both of those practices. In turn, these could act as good models.
But then when we get further along in the dictionary and it reads- “a special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons”.
I don’t know about you, but as soon as the word “restrict” pops up, I want it more. It’s like being told as a kid you can’t touch something, and as a result you automatically want to try it and see what would happen. Or maybe as soon as you think about restricting that one thing you suddenly crave it.
Today I don’t want you to think about diet in any other sense than as a practice. But I do want you to think about why you feel the need to change your eating practices.
Did something trigger you to suddenly increase your intake? Did you become upset and then try and self sooth with food? If so, what exactly set you off?
These would be better questions.
Once we find that trigger we can then address how to change it. Do we need to be away from certain people, circumstances? Maybe if you can’t do that you can change how you react to the trigger. Perhaps instead of turning to food, you go for a walk, read a book or call a friend…
Until we know what the trigger was, we can’t change it. As such, it is harder to make a new habit and alter our established response. However, just recognizing the trigger is already a step forward in growth and making headway towards change.
The next thing I want you to think about is; why you want to diet, is there something internal you are doing to yourself? This is quite a common thing.
For example, we look in the mirror and critique some part of ourselves. We feel imperfect and therefore the only way in our mind is to fix it with a diet. The unfortunate bit about this is, that feeling unhappy with how we appear can lead to hoping a diet will fix it, we are again putting restrictions in.
Fallacy: “If I take this out, I will feel better”.
Now overall, I am doubtful if this is a successful strategy as it doesn’t deal with the underlying problem. Why do you feel less than?
When we give ourselves a negative to focus on instead of a positive, our brain only hears the negative. Let’s try it, for example;
“I feel fat and I need to diet” – the brain hears more of the: I feel fat (not a great feeling)
If we suggest that one needs to cut out chocolate, chips or cheese. The brain will hear, chocolate, chips and cheese, and generally then we begin to think of them. We may imagine tasting them. Our mouths water and we try to come up with reasons why we should eat them one more time. Maybe we will start dieting tomorrow, or Monday or New Year’s Day…… and so on.
Today’s strategy is a bit more about self-love and not self-loathing.
Let’s change the FRAME.
By this I mean instead of the criticism I want you to think about feeling more energetic, alive, vital and content. This will change your emotions. Now what makes you feel this way?
Give it a moment as our conscious minds may try and interrupt here. Remember you have created some pretty unhealthy habits and practices.
You have probably developed a lot of negative self-talk about those habits and some rationales about them, in this case, these are going to want to challenge you.
But if you keep thinking along the lines of “what will make you feel better”, you may realise that you can still have that chocolate, but not every day. Maybe it’s more fun to make it a treat once a week or once a month. After all it’s not a treat or special if we have it all the time.
Maybe you now realize that those portions are a bit big, and that equal enjoyment can be had by a smaller serving. We rarely get extra enjoyment from just increasing the quantity.
Perhaps you can find a different way to reward yourself a massage, new book, a new hobby…. Whatever the reward if it can be distracting, fun and repeatable we can create new happier cravings that not only make us feel good. But can create new associations, and new habits.
We can take out the need to feel like we are denying ourselves. It will give you a different mental focus on the one hand, something to look forward to and on the other it will help you feel heathier without all the negative flagellation. Seems like this is a better way to get healthy.
Self-love instead of restrict, deny and criticise. After all isn’t this what we try and teach our young children? Boundaries with love?
Understand the why, and chose a different behaviour. This if far healthier than a negative thought and subsequent reaction. Initially it may not come automatically so the final suggestion I have is before you react in any way just pause.
Yep take a moment. This is for you, and literally takes a moment. PAUSE. How do I feel right now, how do I want to feel. This is responding and not reacting.
It is giving our mind a little more space, our emotions time to re-calibrate and then we can choose what different thing we will put in.
I will discuss this more at a later date. But for today if you take away the ability to pause and follow the other tips you will be well on the way to feeling healthier and more in control of how you want to be.