The last month I have spent the a significant amount of time learning about eating behaviours, neural patterning, and the real psychology behind why and how people eat. I find it so interesting about how we can be our own harshest critic because we don’t get the outcome we want with our body composition, training, in work or even in relationships. How we treat and talk to ourselves significantly impacts how we behave, think and eat, whether you are aware of it or not.
So how do we identify if what we are doing is a consequence of how we think?
These unhelpful thinking styles are just a few that can affect how we eat
All or nothing thinking: This is going with one extreme or the other. You either train and eat at 100% or if you injure yourself or motivation goes out the window, so does your eating habits, because what is the point if you cannot do both?
Mental filters: Only filtering in the negatives and not listening to the positive changes you have made in the past.
Jumping to conclusions: That you know what someone thinks of you, that they think you are fat, or you make assumptions of what will happen in the future. That you have struggled to lose weight in the past and you always will. Or you are addicted to chocolate or alcohol and you always will be.
Catastrophising: Blowing situations out of proportion and view the situation as something that is completely uncontrollable and one of the worst things you have gone through, but in reality is something you will forget about the next day or can be solved easily.
Shoulding and musting: Something that puts a significant amount of pressure on yourself to reach a task. I should already be 5kgs lighter after a couple weeks or that I must look a certain way.
Labelling: How do you speak about yourself? Do you mentally call yourself fat or feel like other people are? What are the other names and self loathe that creep in?
Magnification and Minimisation: this looks at magnifying the great attributes of other and minimising your own. I know I do this all the time especially with my own training.
These are many thinking styles that I have gone through myself and watched many, many people think throughout my short career.
But the question is how do you change?
How do you stop sabotaging yourself and pull yourself out of this rut. Unfortunately the answer isn’t as simple as you want to be and it takes time. But breaking habits are never easy. It takes at least 66 days to concrete a habit into our daily routine, not 21 but 66 – 12 weeks.
My first advice is to start writing in a diary.
Find the link between the triggering events, with how you feel and what you do next.
For example it could be a stressful day at work or someone said something mindless which was confronting. These events made you feel worthless, or frustrated. At this point would you go to the vending machine and pick something out to eat or drink to help make you feel better for that moment? Or would you go home and binge on a number of different food items? Once you consume something sweet, dopamine is released from the brain which signals almost a calming relief and basically makes you feel good. However, once you begin to associate the stressful day at work, or anxiety about being around a certain person, will that then trigger you to eat that extra food? This is how a habit is formed, and until you are aware of the triggers that set off how you act, then it will be very hard to change, which will lead to another failed diet or weight drop or regain.
So my first tip is to identify those triggers that set you off, which could be in your environment, friends around you, work, stress or training, or just the need to reward yourself for being so good.
Next find some strategies that work best for you to distract yourself from eating.
Go for a walk/exercise, call a friend, set an alarm for the next time to eat, watch a movie or TV show, or learn to sit there with the issue and calm yourself; the pain will only be temporary and be as painful as you continue to make it. It will get better, but feeding yourself with something that is only temporarily relief will make you feel worse in the long run. Decide what the pro’s and con’s of eating that food will be.
If you need help, that is what I am here for. I want to challenge your thoughts and replace them with new ones that will realistically help you reach your goals. We can break it down into small steps and work toward those changes.
The psychology behind why we eat is so much stronger than what most may think, but it is something to address and realise that we all need help in setting our mindset in the right direction.