How do you speak to yourself about your eating habits?
Do you eat a piece of chocolate and then feel bad about it?
Or do you indulge at a work morning tea and feel like your entire ‘diet’ is ruined?
The truth though, is that you don’t need to feel bad and you most certainly haven’t undone all your hard work.
Which is why we need to talk about self talk.
There’s a long list of words and phrases I’d like to remove from the vocabulary of anyone trying to lose weight, the top ones being:
First of all, diets are a waste of time. Whether you’re counting calories, avoiding carbs, trying to stay in ketosis or forcing yourself to fast, most of these things are not sustainable lifestyle habits for most people. Sure, many of them will work for a while, but they are difficult to maintain because eating is a social activity, its supposed to be pleasurable, and diets are restrictive. And then you go back to your old way of eating and the weight piles on, plus some. Sustainable weight loss is about taking care of yourself, understanding what your body needs and understanding what your personal triggers are that reinforce your less desirable habits.
Secondly, treats are for pets. I give my dog a treat when he rolls over on command. I don’t give my kids a treat when they complete a desired activity and I certainly don’t reward myself with food for anything. I have decided on a new word I’d like to use instead of ‘treat’ or ‘I ruined my whole diet and now I need to start again’ because life isn’t black and white and sometimes I just choose to have a cookie because its what I genuinely feel like. So what if we talk about ‘blips’ instead? Intentional or circumstantial, blips just sound much less judgy. Because in reality, that’s what we are doing- judging ourselves for our food choices, or judging a behaviour and deciding whether to reward it. But food isn’t a reward. So let’s talk about blips instead. Then its just one moment in time, or one decision, and you can move on to the next part of your day.
Cheat days… I have a couple of clients who definitely find it easier to be more balanced in their eating through the week because they have their day or their meal that they look forward to. Typically that ‘cheat meal’ has some special food they really love but know isn’t compatible with a healthy lifestyle with any regularity. If that’s you – go for it. What I don’t like about cheat days, however, is when they become a binge day. What could you do instead? For starters, stop calling yourself a cheat. If its your weekly burger or an ice cream, call it what it is – “on Friday nights I look forward to pizza night.”
Simple changes to your mindset can make a huge difference to your health and your goals.