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GUEST POST BY KEZIA THOMAS
Are you sabotaging your healthy eating? Here’s how to take back control
If you’ve ever committed to losing weight or starting to eat more healthily, but invariably end up elbow-deep in cookie crumbs wondering what went wrong, then you’re no stranger to the idea of self-sabotage.
You know what you want. You know what you SHOULD be doing. But somehow, you always end up veering off-track and with a sigh you tell yourself “I’ll try again tomorrow.”
If you’re confused by your seeming lack of commitment, frustrated with yourself and want to know how to change, then keep reading. I’m going to tell you how to put things right.
Why do you do things that stop you achieving your weight and health goals?
Overeating is a side effect of a high-achieving, busy lifestyle. When you break it down, food is a convenient way to comfort yourself: if you need instant stress relief or reward, grabbing chocolate or having a glass of wine can give you the immediate pleasure you’re looking for. Eating sugar and carbs is pleasurable, and it’s fast. It’s easy. It doesn’t bother anyone else.
But here’s the plot twist: it’s not really about the food.
What do I mean by that? Well, you may feel like you struggle to control yourself around food. That you can’t stop eating. You might have convinced yourself food is irresistible. But have you ever wondered why?
It’s almost always because you’ve been using food as a coping mechanism.
It probably wasn’t a conscious thing. It’s something that’s happened over a long period of time. For me, it was always chocolate and it was always when I was stressed. What you feel could be boredom, loneliness, or something else completely: but chances are you’re using food as a way to feed a totally different kind of hunger. You’re trying to soothe or numb an emotion that you don’t want to feel.
Sit with that for a moment. Does that feel true for you?
If you think about when you tend to struggle with cravings, or when your last diet fell apart, or even just when you usually go to the kitchen… what are the triggers that start you eating?
Unless you set yourself up with another way of coping, taking away those comforting foods is going to feel incredibly difficult. Your brain will panic if you throw away the crutches and don’t give it anything else to cling on to! Even if you resist for a while, when those emotions get too strong then you’ll give in and start eating.
And it’s really not your fault. It’s no wonder you keep going back to the cupboard (even if you ‘know’ you shouldn’t). You’re just trying to escape whatever pain (stress, anxiety, boredom) you were feeling, and this is the best way you know to do it!
How can you stop this self-sabotage?
The simplest way is to teach yourself a new way of coping with the problems that you’re currently trying to manage with food.
Try these three steps to start:
- Become more self-aware
The key here is learning to be aware of what’s really going on WITHOUT passing judgment on yourself. And this is the hard part! If what I said earlier resonated with you, then think about the areas in your life where you’re using food to manage another problem. When you uncover something, try and stay open to the idea and dig deeper. You could say something like: “I’m noticing that I use food to reward myself. That’s really interesting. What would be something else I could do for myself that would be a better reward?”
- Identify triggers
Start looking with curiosity at what’s really happening next time you start craving cake or cookies. What set you off on that path? Did you just put down the phone after an argument with your sister? Maybe you were putting off starting the accounts? Is it at the end of every meal? Whatever you start to notice about your triggers, you’ll see patterns to your behaviours. This is useful in helping you understand what is flicking the switch to ignite those cravings, and also makes it easier to find ways to manage and let go of the triggers moving forward.
- Make choices that feel good and easy
Once you’ve started getting to grips with the underlying problems, you can start making appropriate changes. Often our choices around food feel hard when they’re too restrictive: so find ways to take smaller steps, achieve balance, and do things in a way that works for you. If you’re going to stick with new habits, they need to feel achievable and comfortable, so whatever decisions you make, always ask yourself: Do I feel good when doing this? Do I enjoy doing this? Does this make me feel empowered? When you can always answer ‘yes’ you’ll know it will be a positive change to start making.
Overcoming self-sabotage can feel difficult at first, but you can quickly start changing through exploring patterns and being willing to dive deeper and really explore other things that are happening in your life.
If you’re interested in finding a permanent strategy to manage food cravings so you never have to worry about self-sabotage getting in the way of your healthy eating, then I’d love for you to join me for my FREE 5 day challenge. You can find out more below!