By: Nutritionist S. Keith Klein IV CN CCN
In the quest for better health and weight loss, many people turn to diets and strict food rules. However, this approach often leads to frustration, failure, and disordered eating. This article explores a different strategy – changing your mindset about food. By focusing on managing your thoughts about food, rather than only controlling what you eat, you can develop a healthier relationship with food that lasts a lifetime. We provide tips for improving your food habits and suggestions for reframing negative self-talk. By making these changes, you can improve your health and well-being without the stress and frustration of dieting.
Everybody thinks they want to get control of their food, but that’s flawed thinking; it’s the wrong strategy. You see, what a person really has to get control of is their mindset and change their thoughts about dieting and food first. Without understanding that, there’s no way, anyone will gain control over their food. So how does one do that? Well, first, you have to quit thinking that you’re going to go on another diet and instead focus on how you will begin controlling how you feel about managing food. It’s just like you would manage anything else in your life; the key here is you will manage your food and not diet by being too restrictive or omissive. For example, identify the leading causes of your weight issues, and list them all. Look at the list and pick one or two things you can improve. So if you listed that you overeat red meat to lose weight, don’t start by cutting it out, but rather adjust the frequency and maybe the amount of red meat you eat. For example, If you’re eating red meat 5 times a week, could you live with eating it once or twice weekly? And if you usually eat 16 ounces, could you live with eating 8-10 ounces instead? See, making little changes like that allows you to avoid a feeling of deprivation, yet, at the same time, significantly impacts your caloric and fat intake. Give yourself two weeks to get that in place so it feels like the new normal. Then pick the next thing you would feel good about changing, and so on.
To illustrate how significant these little changes can be, suppose you’re drinking just two regular sodas every day, seven days a week. But since you want your body and health back under your control, you decide to switch to drinking two diet sodas a day instead. Since one regular can of soda contains ten packets of sugar, and you were drinking two every day, did you realize that you were consuming one hundred and forty packets of sugar every week? And by making that one small change of switching to diet sodas, you now cut it down to zero sugar packets! Taking it a step further by making that switch, you’ve stopped drinking five hundred and sixty packets of sugar each month! And clearly, cutting out 1620 packets of sugar a year from your diet has to move the dial on your weight and your health.
Understand that you may or may not lose weight immediately, as weight shouldn’t be your only focus. The weight will eventually go down; it has to. Your focus should be on changing your bad habits into good ones that you know you can do for the rest of your life. You can change as many or as few things at one time that makes you comfortable. But remember, there should be joy attached to this process without creating stressful feelings. Your focus should shift onto how much healthier these new habits will make you, along with reducing many disease states. You will see things like cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, blood pressure, and other health parameters changing when you do this. By keeping track of those parameters, you’ll find it highly motivating to know you are becoming healthier within, even as you lose weight externally. The added bonus over time is you’ll fit into smaller clothes and generally feel better all over. Small changes in our daily habits can significantly improve our health and well-being over time, which is what most dieters fail to understand. They think they’ll get a more significant change by changing everything all at once. But what good is a more enormous change upfront if you cannot sustain those changes?
And while you’re working on those food changes, start working on your self-talk and internal dialog. Try to weed out negative self-talk and replace it with more positive, self-directing thoughts. Focus on the fact that you’re making better bad choices, and don’t get fixated on what you’re doing wrong. To turn negative thinking into positive, stop and ask yourself, what am I doing right? Instead of saying, “I can’t have that,” replace it with, “I don’t eat that anymore.” Thoughts like, I can always make a better bad choice, or perfectionistic eating leads to more cheating, don’t slit the other three tires, do I “need this” or do I “want this,” and understanding the anatomy of a binge, are all statements designed to give you the first step in reframing your thoughts about what you’re doing with food. Don’t stop there. Come up with as many as possible to help you master your thoughts on food. Soon you’ll discover that by changing your thought patterns, you will change your relationship with food and move from an unhealthy one to a much healthier relationship. Food isn’t the enemy; dieting is.
Copyright 2023 S. Keith Klein IV CN CCN