Updated: Dec 3, 2020
I think most of us have asked this question many times over. I know I have. Most of us have a good idea of the foods we should avoid (sugary, white floury, processed with lots of chemicals, fast and fried foods etc) and the things we should eat more of (high quality veggies, fruits, lean protein and whole grains). Why then, do we eat what we eat when we know what we know? Here’s a list of some of the reasons I’ve discovered in my 20+ years of health education and coaching:
1. You see eating better as giving up something, usually the foods that bring you “comfort” (also called emotional eating)
2. You are ambivalent about what you will gain. If you haven’t tried giving up sugar or eating more veggies, you might not realize how much better you will feel. Or you might not understand the real health implications in eating too much sugar and not enough veggies.
3. You are afraid you might fail, making you feel bad about your self (we’ve all been there before!)
4. You lack self-confidence and/or self-love and may need some help to build up those things. If you are not content with your life and don’t love yourself enough, you are likely to eat for comfort.
5. You use food to deal with Stress (back to emotional eating)
6. You think you lack time to prepare good food (see #7)
7. You think eating well (or exercising or prioritizing sleep and stress management) is not a priority. Other things like work, caring for family or housekeeping are more important.
8. You lack knowledge of how to buy, prepare and cook appetizing foods.
9. You crave certain foods. Many of us are addicted to sugar, which we know is as addicting as nicotine or cocaine.
10. You lack support from family and friends. If the people you live with insist on having unhealthy food in the house when you are trying to avoid it, this creates a difficult situation!
There are many things we can do to overcome these challenges, build up our self-confidence and start to slowly change our eating habits. Here are a few key things:
1. Weigh the Pros and Cons of each change in eating habit you are considering. What will you lose and gain from reducing your sugar for example? This is fundamental to building motivation for changing habits.
2. Be very Mindful of your thoughts and feelings when you are tempted to eat unhealthy food or are resisting the healthy. Journal or talk with someone about what you notice. This is one of the cornerstones of Health Coaching…helping people notice their thoughts and feelings with No-Judgement, with Compassion and with Curiosity about what is happening. These are ways to reduce stress and build confidence. It’s also a way to address food cravings.
3. There is no such thing as failure. There is only goal setting, working towards the goal and learning from what went well and not so well! This is really important!!! Keep goals small and achievable.
5. Work on any mental or behavioral health issues, such as depression or anxiety, as these can get in the way of healthy behaviors. Eating better (and exercising, sleeping and managing stress) can significantly improve these issues.
6. Food prep is key. Make the time to prepare good food for the week. If you don’t know how to buy or cook food, invest some time in a class, YouTube video, cookbook etc. I often help clients with grocery store tours, food prep and lots of recipes.
7. Enlist the support of family and friends. Share with them why you are motivated to eat better and what you need from them. Stand firm in what you are doing and ask for what you want, such as “no sugary products in the house”. If they are resistant to this, brainstorm ideas with a friend or your Health Coach😊
Hope this is helpful. Please reach out here if you want to chat about any of these challenges or key solutions.