Nutritional programs dieting, energy levels, emotional eating, integrative healing, Apr 2021
How many times have you tried to change the way you eat and then fallen off track?
This is so common, but do you know why? Do you beat yourself up for not having enough willpower and think you’re the only one, everyone else can do this, but you can’t?
I’m here to tell you that there is NOTHING wrong with you – it is your brain doing its job, and once you understand this, you can also figure out what you need to be successful!
There are several reasons you might want to change the way you eat:
- Weight loss;
- Food intolerance / sensitivities (whether suspected or shown in a lab test);
- Energy levels;
- Someone told you about a great new diet that worked for them; and/or
- To be more proactive with your health.
And there are three reasons we fall off, which I will explain in more detail below:
- Your brain is trying to keep you “safe”;
- Your emotional self is running the show; and/or
- It’s not the right program and doesn’t work for your body.
You are all excited as you get started with a diet, but it takes longer to cook new meals, you aren’t sure if you’re doing “it” right, and your brain starts questioning whether you know what you are doing, and sends you cravings for food that you are trying to avoid. Your brain is doing this in an effort to keep you “safe,” which is one of the jobs your brain has been tasked with.
Your brain likes to keep you in your comfort zone, because it knows it can keep you safe there… You are alive after all, so it works! But when you start changing habits, your brain notices and isn’t sure where you are going with this, and if it can keep you safe “over there.” So it sends you messages to try and pop you back into your comfort zone.
When you understand this, you can talk back to your brain! For example, “Hey brain, I know you’re trying to keep me safe, but I know what I’m doing, I’ve got this, and pretty soon we’ll be in a new comfort zone, and I’ll be even safer, because I’ll be eating in a new and healthier way.”
And I know, it might feel strange to talk back to your brain, but it’s one of the healthiest things you can do! You have over 50,000 conversations with yourself every day, this is just one of them that is a more conscious conversation!
Another way you can fall off a diet is due to emotional eating – and we’ve all done that right? Ever eaten a whole bag of chips in one sitting, or reached for that tub of ice cream, and wow, suddenly it’s gone? This happens when we eat mindlessly, as we try to sooth something that is missing, hurting inside. The reality is that eating food never resolves emotional struggles, but in the moment it feels like the best choice we have. If, instead, we start to recognize this, and again have a conversation with ourselves, we can circumvent this mindless eating too.
For instance, when you go to reach for the ice cream or chips, or whatever it is, ask yourself, “Am I truly hungry right now, am I experiencing any physical signs of hunger?” If not, you know it’s emotions driving you to reach for food. When that happens, ask yourself, ”What is it I need in this moment? Is it to get out of this space, and change the scenery with a walk? Is it to pick up the phone and have a heart-to-heart with a friend? Is it the warmth and comfort of a bath with some bubbles and a candle?” Or maybe it’s a combination of all of the above. Whatever it is, emotional hunger is never satisfied by food.
Lastly, you may fall off a program because it just isn’t the right one for you – it’s not providing your body the nutrition it needs. When popular diets cut out entire food groups (low fat, or low carbs, or no plant-based foods, for example), your body isn’t getting all the nutrients it needs, and you’ll feel hungry or start to notice other symptoms designed to get you to stop eating in this new way.
So as you can see, sticking with a program can be difficult, and if you fall off, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT! But now that you know all of this, you can work with your brain and emotions to stay on track – but even that can be tricky, and that’s when it’s helpful to work with someone who can provide support as you build this new habit. Not forever, but for a few months.
Working with someone to support these new habits help to simplify the process by providing a framework with recipes, meal plans, and shopping lists, as well as regular support through an app, so you can get your questions answered.
Then you can talk back to your brain and say, “Yes, I am doing this right, thank you very much!” This allows you to stick with the program long enough for your body to start noticing the benefits of what you are doing, and you start to feel better, have more energy, perhaps sleep better, feel lighter, and experience less digestive discomfort – and all those positive changes motivate you to keep going, because now you know you are on the right path!