7 Common Causes Of An Unhealthy Eating Mindset
If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy weight and are constantly battling yourself to eat well, then it’s probably due to one of these. Read on to discover how to change your mindset – and start loving your food. Weight Watchers. Atkins. . Paleo. Vegan. The 5:2 Diet. The Zone Diet. Blood Typing. Metabolic Typing. Biosignature.
The list of approaches out there is pretty much endless. And if you’re anything like many of my clients, you’ve already tried 99% of the above.
The truth is, there is evidence that most do work. We’ve all heard of someone that lost 3 stone on Weight Watchers, has changed their life with Paleo and dropped to under 10% body fat with Biosignature.
Yet many people still fail to maintain healthy eating habits. Instead, food is an infinite cycle of stop-start. Of diets, regimes and the latest juice detox.
If so, it’s time to take a good look at your current mindset: read on to find out 7 ways of thinking that may be holding you back from a healthy lifestyle.
The 7 Common Causes
#1: Your focus is too short-term
I get it; you’re impatient. In this world of instant access, instant validation and instant gratification, we all want everything to be done yesterday. We want overnight success, sudden stardom and immediate results. We sacrifice health and lifelong benefits for a slimmer waist and an unhealthy glow.
We want it NOW!
But the truth is, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. For real, long-lasting benefits, you must focus on the long-term.
Because going on a 21-day-only-air-and-water diet before returning to your normal Ben & Jerry’s TV dinner is like a recipe for messing up pretty much every aspect of your health.
Because “suddenly” remembering to take care of your body with the sole purpose of fitting in to that bridesmaids dress is like ignoring your friends for months then asking them money.
Because putting a deadline on your healthy eating habits is like telling yourself you’re only worthy of temporary care – and that deep down you never deserved to be slim anyway.
For optimal health, fat loss, energy and happiness, you must make a commitment to nurture your body as well as you can – for the rest of your life. A puppy isn’t just for Christmas, and nor is your wellbeing.
#2: You don’t know what’s right for you
One question I always ask anyone starting a specific diet is: “how do you know that it is right for you?” Many people start new eating habits without considering their own individual needs.
You see, each cell in your body is completely different to each cell in my body. Therefore our needs are completely different too.
Changing your eating habits without first considering your body type can lead you further away from your desired result. As the saying goes, “Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.”
So rather than jumping on the latest craze, doubling your protein intake or cutting all your carbs out, do some research first. Find out what you’re deficient in, what your body will respond to, what intolerances you have etc.
Go and see a Kinesiologist, get a blood test, talk to your trainer. And above all, listen to your body: it will tell you if you’re eating right or not. Eating right will make you feel satisfied, happy and energetic. If you’re lethargic, bloated or downright irritable, that’s a sign you need to make some adjustments. Try different combinations of foods and check in to see how they make you feel.
#3: You’re being unrealistic
I’ve struggled for many years with a perfectionist belief: the idea that what I present to the world, the way I express myself, the way I live my life, etc. should be P-E-R-F-E-C-T.
Down to my eating and training habits. If I’m wasn’t eating 100% Paleo then it was as good as eating Burger King and I shouldn’t even bother – my inner voice would say to me (my inner voice can be very passive aggressive at times).
And so I would bring myself down day in day out. My self-esteem would be linked to how perfectly I could control my life and my diet. To how much of my forward thinking I could make reality.
The days that I ate what I considered good were “good” days. The days I caved in to my cravings or unhealthy habits became my “bad” days. It was a vicious cycle. Until I learnt to separate the two: my behaviors do not define who I am anymore.
The more people I coach and meet, the more I see that this perfectionist belief is as common as a cake binge after a day of fasting.
Many approaches and diets do not take this into account. Instead, they expect you to eat EXACTLY as they preach. No room for mistakes. No space for failure. One cheat day a week only - if you’re lucky.
Don’t expect to have a 100% perfect diet 100% of the time. No one does. Not even us Personal Trainers, I can tell you that! The more of us crazies I meet, the more I’m coming to realize that almost all of us have a pretty messed up relationship with food and our bodies.
Be realistic: if you’re eating healthily 30% of the time to start with, don’t expect to jump straight to 90%. Start with 50, then 60.
Aim for the 85/15 split: eat the not-so-healthy foods you LOVE 15% of the time – but make sure you treat yourself: go all out and get high-quality stuff!
#4: You’re trying to do too much in one go
Try this for a second: cross your arms the OPPOSITE way of how you would normally. Notice how uncomfortable that is?
That very small change is pretty hard to maintain right? It would be so much easier just to keep doing what you’ve always been doing, and cross your arms the NORMAL way!
Most of us try and do at least a dozen of these changes at once. We want to exercise more, meditate everyday, do yoga twice a week, take more photos, have more sex, sleep more, eat 3 pieces of fruit a day, have protein for breakfast, take our spirulina pills in the evening – all at the same time!
Changing your habits is not an easy feat.
Sure, once you change your beliefs and the way you feel about yourself, making the choices that nurture your mind and your body will become more natural. But in many cases new behaviors seem alien – until we have repeated them a few times and our brain has become used to it.
For long-term change to happen, only focus on 1 habit at a time. Repeat it for 3-4 weeks until it feels natural. THEN add a new one.
#5: You’re only tacking your behaviours
My friend Lloyd Burnett from the radio show Go Deeper Go Lighter (http://www.godeepergetlighter.com) has the sound advice “it’s not WHAT you eat, it’s HOW you eat it”.
What does he mean by that?
That noticing the way you eat and the way you think about food is even more important than changing what you’re eating is.
That changing your deeper beliefs about food, and noticing the thoughts and feelings that arise from them is far more powerful than any bestselling regime.
All approaches have this in common: they only tackle WHAT you eat, not WHY you eat or HOW you eat.
We all know what is right for us. We all know which behaviors are damaging. And yet we continue to make the choices that harm us.
The fact is, your behaviors are only the tip of the iceberg. The last domino in the chain. They are the result of a series of beliefs that are hidden well below the surface.
By “forcing” a new behavior, you’re overlooking the key part of your eating habits: what stories you are telling yourself about love, your life and the world that are causing you to eat unhealthy food in the first place.
Tackle the deeper stuff first. Then changing your behaviors will be a piece of pie.
Look at how you eat your food: is it mindless or mindful? Explore the reasons behind your eating habits: notice what feelings or emotions you might be numbing out or avoiding.
#6: You’re using a system – and trying to cheat it
If you haven’t explored your mindset about food first, then you’ll likely fall into this trap. You’ll latch on to the latest fad diet – then try to cheat it.
Take Weight Watchers for example. One of my clients once told me that he’d met some ladies who starved themselves all day so they could have enough points to polish off a bottle of wine in the evening.
Or the 5:2 diet: I hear stories all the time about people stuffing their faces with cake and ice cream on the days they are not fasting.
See what’s wrong with this picture?
If you’re constantly trying to cheat the system, then you obviously need to reassess your approach to said system. Explore your beliefs and feelings first – then create a method around your needs, your lifestyle and your own goals.
It’s time to go back to basics.
The nutrition and food world has been the subject of human interest for centuries. And for good reason: after breathing, it’s our most important basic need.
But where most current approaches fail is their focus only on WHAT you eat, not the HOW or WHY.
That’s where the love:Fitness method comes in.
How can you use it to improve your eating habits? Let’s take a closer look at the 5 components.
- Intrinsic Motivation: in order for the change to be long-term and consistent, it must be with the right intention – to take care of YOU. See every single mouthful as a way to express your joy for yourself, your life and your body. Learn to enjoy the process: find great recipes – and fall in love with your food.
- Positive Attitude: you must explore your deep-seated stories about yourself in order to understand your relationship with food. Releasing your limiting beliefs and developing a more loving relationship with yourself with automatically encourage you to eat healthier foods.
- Emotional Awareness: becoming more present and mindful will allow you to see when your subconscious, emotion-led autopilot behaviours are in control, and you’ll be able to make a conscious choice to replace them with new, supportive ones.
- Solid Structures: learn to plan your meals and schedule your days, until it becomes automatic. The more structure you can create, the more freedom you’ll have to really enjoy the foods you LOVE.
- Insightful Knowledge: understanding what is right for your own specific body types, needs and desires will point you in the right direction. Knowing which types of foods trigger your body’s fat storage facilities for example will make you more mindful of your everyday choices.
Identify which cause(s) of unhealthy eating habits you’ve been repeating. Then use the 5 components of the love:Fitness system and write down 5 new practices you can start to implement to heal it. Leave a comment with your answers – as always I’d love to hear from you ☺
Are you ready to upgrade your body and mind - and live a healthy life you love?
If you answered "Hell YES!" to that question, then you may well be the ideal candidate for my love:Fitness coaching . Please drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll arrange a time to meet/chat :)
Love & Health, Will x