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Changing Unhealthy Eating

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Cultivate deep awareness of your food and eating habits.

I have written quite a few posts on my views of what a healthy diet is. I have several apps that can serve as starting points for changing your diet. Regardless of which dietary path you choose to follow, I want to underscore the importance of a foundation in REAL WHOLE NUTRIENT DENSE FOOD *AND* THE ELIMINATION OF PROCESSED FOOD AND ADDED SUGAR.

If you are obese or overweight (defined by BMI) and you are struggling with food cravings and what can feel like out of control eating, I strongly suggest you make significant changes to the food you choose to eat and the way you are eating it. I am going to guess the foods you struggle most with are refined and processed. This is a biochemical problem that can not be totally resolved with psychology and mindset alone. Most people struggle initially when making shifts in their eating behavior. This is where I think psychology and mindset strategies can be very helpful.

Unhealthy eating, especially when it’s used as a coping strategy, takes up a lot of your time. It takes time to shop for food, eat it, and then feel bad about eating it. Trying to find a solution to control your eating and lose weight takes up your time too. There are also the physical repercussions of a sugar binge and consumption of an unhealthy diet.

Stress and boredom are two very potent triggers for unhealthy eating. Refined processed carbohydrates are never healthy foods to eat; I strongly suggest eliminating highly processed foods from your home and your life especially if these are the foods to which you tend to gravitate when you are stressed or bored or in the midst of an emotional eating spell. For many people, this very challenging.

Why is it that you feel unable to give up certain objectively unhealthy foods, that life without those foods seems unbearable?

I suggest becoming curious about why you make the choices you do regarding what and how you eat.

Here is an idea:

  1. Think about a recent time you self-sabotaged with food. Maybe it was a snack that turned into an entire afternoon of grazing because you were bored; maybe it was a time you were out with a friend and for whatever reason ordered an unhealthy meal in a restaurant; maybe it was because something happened that stressed you out and you turned to ice cream for comfort and solace.
  2. Write out, or possibly act out, ways you could have responded to that situation without unhealthy food and eating. If you were bored, what other activities were available to you? How could you have handled thoughts and urges to keep eating? If there were social cues, can you socialize without food? Are there healthier options when eating in a restaurant? Can you practice saying no to unhealthy food? If you were stressed, what other ways can you handle stress? Can you problem solve? These are just some examples of questions to consider as you try to formulate healthier alternatives.

As I have noted several times, sometimes the easiest way to begin making changes is to simply not have unhealthy food around. Stop buying your trigger foods. It is easier to say NO once at the grocery store than each time you walk into the kitchen. Satisfy your craving for volume with lots of non starchy veggies, especially leafy greens. Your brain might still demand junk food and you simply don’t give it what it wants; you refocus on something meaningful to you in your real life. Or, if it is a planned meal or snack, choose to eat something nourishing and healthy.

I think it’s really important you become totally committed to your healthy eating goal. If you slip or eat unproductively, get back on track ASAP and try to figure out what happened and what you can do next time to better support yourself. Consider your slips as information: what’s working, what isn’t working, what do you need to focus on and change. Begin to cultivate awareness of what you are doing with food.

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