One of the hardest things I do is to point out to people what is wrong! Because in the “eating world” what I am really pointing out is how the person is thinking wrong!!! And let’s face it no one likes to be told he or she is thinking wrong!!!
First off it is normal to “flounder” when it comes to change...especially when it comes to trying to break old eating behaviors!! Just because we flounder does not mean we aren’t awesome people!!! I know many crazy awesome people, people I admire for many reasons who “flounder.”
We all pretty much know what we should eat, we all know if we eat hypercaloric foods we will not lose weight. We all know we should eat more veggies, more fiber. We all want to be a role model for patients, for kids...we know all these things, we want all these things!!
So why is knowing something not translating into actions?? Why is this knowledge not translating into the effort, into work, into motivation?
We tell ourselves what to do, but then we don’t do it, or we don’t do it long enough to create change.
“What is our problem???” “What is wrong with me??”
I honestly think asking these 2 questions is in itself part of the problem!!! As my answer would be, “you have no problem, nothing is wrong with you.” And I am not trying to blow good feelings up places it does not belong. I BELIEVE THIS. NOTHING IS WRONG WITH YOU. The only thing that is really wrong is thinking you are the problem.
The real issue is likely your "practice." Would a dermatologist be prescribing a statin(high cholesterol drug), would a cardiologist be taking out a hot appendix. No! Do some people need to be placed on a statin, or have their appendix out, yes. BUT, each specialty “practices” medicine based on what is right for their specialty, their background. One practice will work for a cardiologist, but would be out of the scope practice by derm...but this does not mean the cardiologist is wrong.
This concept of medical practice also applies to our “lifestyle practice.” There are many many ways to live life, there are many ways to treat cholesterol, there are many ways to view food, many food behaviors to practice also!!
So it is not that something is wrong with you, it’s more you just have not found the right practice for you, and then….practiced the new practice!!!
Next issue with “what is wrong with me,” “why can’t I do it, everyone else is doing it,” “what is my problem I just can’t do it.”
There is no self-love here!! I know “self-love” sounds so hoaky, but it really comes into play on all kinds of different levels. Labeling this as some issue specific to yourself, isolating yourself, taking a sense of power away from yourself ultimately leads to bad places, especially when it can lead to a sense of loss of control.
Did anyone become a practicing physician in 3 months, 1 year, 5 years? No at the minimum it took 7 years. And even then I can guarantee your “practice” is still dynamic and changing based on many things. Based on your experience, based on your patient population, them aging, you aging, and new evidence that comes out all the time!
Not only that what did we do work, work, more work and repeat!! Repetition is key to making a change. Having a bad “nutritional” day, and then going to sleep thinking tomorrow will be different based on no work the day before, no repetition, no practice... will that plan ever work? Has that plan ever worked? When you think about it does that seem logical, that one night’s sleep will change you? Or is change really created by practicing doing a wanted behavior?
I would challenge you to look at your stress eating practices? Is your practice, again this is for people who are feeling that sense of floundering/trying all the time but never able to actually do, more about talking yourself into reasons to eat, is your practice good at arguing for justifications?
Just to clarify, this is not about the actual food choices. We already know the difference in macros, what’s inflammatory, what will make insulin/glucose spike, etc etc. This is about thought practices. What thoughts are being built that lead to eating and not caring about what we eat.
Thought: I’ve had a long day, I have charts left over, I am tired...I don’t even care, I am too tired.
Action based off justifying thoughts: order out
This is about changing and practicing thoughts that are more productive. Thought practices that can lead us to physically being healthy. I’m not talking exercise, literally physically continuing to stand up and cook a meal that in line with your ultimate goals, despite the truth that we are tired and stressed.
When you are reaching for something you know will not help your goal, what are you thinking? What was the conversation you just had the moment you reached for the item? At this point, it probably was a quick one-liners, because at this point you are likely pretty practiced and negotiating or justifying with yourself. I mean the ability to very quickly fall back on “I’m tired” “effit” “I am stressed” “I deserve this” is likely so practiced you almost don't even hear the whole sentence in your head, as it likely has been boiled down into more of a feeling.
We are not looking to run a marathon on day two of training….we have to practice, practice and practice again. Anticipate being able to eat more mindfully, away from emotional urges, will take time. There is nothing wrong with you yourself, that’s like getting mad at a 2nd year med student for not being able to do a c-section. Could that same med student get a baby out in t-minus 60 seconds 4 year from now? Sure, but ultimately it depends upon the repetition, it depends on the number of exposure to the practice of a c-section.
***Key: number of exposures #practice***
Emotional Eating practice tips:
Here the repetition will likely first be just learning to pause..just pause! Even if just for second while reaching for some item. #increasingawarenesstoabehavior
Then comes the repetition of thinking and identifying what is happening? Why am I reaching for this food? #increasingawarenessmore
Then Identifying truths(plural): is the reason you just discovered causing you to reach for the food true!! Yes I know it seems like this would have been part of the step just above this, but it is not. Especially if you are a person who has gotten really good at creating multiple truth’s!! Afterall what is truth, but our own reality we create. So here it more is about acknowledging multiple truths and weeding out fake truths.
The scene: Standing in pantry reaching for cookies, 10:30pm, after a long work day.
The initial pause: Hand reached out, “wait what am I doing here, really?”
Identify what is happening: “I am tired, I am stressed, I don’t care”
I am tired:
Will this cookie wake me up? No, not actually that’s not how energy and alertness work, the only thing that would actually wake me up is caffeine, a stimulant, ingesting sugar itself will not make me feel energized.”
So now we can kick out “I am tired” as that is not a truth causing me to ear.
I am stressed:
Ok this food will acutely help me, it will release some good feeling hormones. You got me, but...
But another truth is every time I use food to treat my stress I am only creating maladaptive patterns.
So now we have at least two truths to be had here. I can now acknowledge mindfully more, take into account more, and guide myself better.
I don’t care:
What do I not care about?
I don’t care about losing weight...not true.
I don’t care about staying on this diet? Immediately maybe true, but this is really more related to the stress? I only don’t care about this choice because if the stress? So we can kick this thought out, it does nothing to add to the basket leading towards eating.
I don’t care about my family?
I don’t care about having more time on earth?
I don’t care about prevention of disease some foods can cause?
---probably all answers to this are untruths.
Not true...likely what is truer “I don’t want to.” So then “what else is do you want?”
Then after addressing your initial thought that brought you to the pantry, go deeper. Finding and see other truths:
“Will I be tired tomorrow, won’t I always have charts?”
“When will I start finding a more adaptive way to handle this stress?”
“If not now, when?”
“Every time I eat to treat my stress I am only reinforcing this habit?”
“What am I missing, what am I not thinking of?”
“Will this create other problems?”
“Am I kicking the can down the street?”
Now that you see all the different truths now the empowerment!! Stand up straight, pull the shoulders back, take a big breath in and out. And then make a more mindful decision if that hand is going to leave with food in hand, or are you going to spin around and just leave? If you leave with food, fine...the inactive person is not going to run a marathon. #practiceyourpractice
The beauty about this is…..there is no shopping, no planning, no grocery lists to take more of your time. This really is about practicing...no prepping. This is not an all or nothing thing. A person who has not walked a mile in years is not going to wake up and run a marathon. Just thinking about walking a mile or running a marathon will never translate into the action of running a marathon. Shoot even just buying new activity clothes will not do it. Only after actually practicing will they get closer to a goal.
Note: I am going to think that some of my posts might seem a bit redundant, but this is purposeful, as I am a creature of repetition. I think for these issues saying things in different ways, even the same things many times is the only way it can seed our brains and really work. Hearing about these concepts just once, in one manner, I don’t think will have many benefits.
As always these posts are meant to add a perspective out into the world. They are not intended to or be a source of medical advise. If you need medical or psychological advice please consult your professional provider. This information does not substitute for advice to be had from your personal provider.