What Do You Want?–Getting to the Root of Your Food Motivations

What do you want?

Girl chocolate

Has the prospect of lavish family feasts, all-you-can-eat mini-eggs and chocolate by the pound ever terrified you? Have you ever wondered how you’re going survive an entire weekend of mouthwatering food and favourite dishes without gorging your face and feeling like a total failure? There’s just too many temptations, and try as you might, there’s absolutely zero chance of getting through the weekend without your stretchy pants. But have you ever considered the fact that maybe you’ve been lying to yourself? Maybe it’s not that you can’t stop but that you don’t want to. And knowing what you really want—your subconscious motivations and drives—are powerful predictors of your behaviour, which in turn determines the fate of your health, confidence, and well-being. All you need are a few deep questions and a lot of brutal honesty. Just keep asking yourself “why?”

Question Your Fear Until It Leads You to What Caused It:

Q: Why do large, mouth-watering meals and unlimited dessert scare you?
A: Because I’m afraid I won’t be able to stop eating. I know I’m going to lose control and then regret it after.
Q. Why have you pre-decided you’re going to fail? What lies are you believing that make you want to give in?
A. I believe that eating healthy over the holidays will make me feel miserable and deprived. I’ll be missing out on all the good food and dessert.

Once You find the Root of the Issue, Follow Where THAT Came From: 

Q. What past occurrences or behaviours made you feel this way?
A. I know from experience because last time I only had one helping, and though it was enough, I really wanted more. I never feel satisfied when I stop at “the right amount”, and I always feel frustrated and cheated at the end.
Q. How did it make you feel when you stopped at the right amount but still wasn’t satisfied?
A. It made me feel sad, angry, and powerless. I ate really fast because it was so good, and then it was gone, and I couldn’t have any more, which made me angry.
Q. How about a different time when you overate? Did it make you satisfied to eat more than you knew you should have?
A. No, when I overate, I felt the exact same way, depressed, and frustrated. I was angry that I set myself back on my goals, and I hated the guilt and the full, bloated feeling. Though the extra helping tasted good, it was gone in two minutes, and then I still wanted more and felt even more cheated.

Discover the Lie that was Harming You, and Replace it With a Truth that will Help You Instead:

Q. Since both eating the right amount and over-eating can be infuriating and unsatisfying, is it possible that it’s not the food itself that’s the problem, but your perception and experience of the food? And if you could change that perception from a negative to a positive, is it possible that you would be able to find satisfaction and joy in being healthy and eating the right amount?
A. I’m listening.
Q. Can you acknowledge that it isn’t eating the food or not eating the food that makes you happy, but what you decide to believe about it?
A. So you’re saying it’s all in my head? That the food is really only secondary to how I decide to feel about it? If I choose to feel satisfied, are you saying that I will?
Q. With some practice, yes. Because your feelings are not determined by food. You decide how to feel. But as long as you’re believing lies, you’ll be trapped in a cycle of endless cravings. Only once you recognize your own lies can you free yourself from their power over you. Remember, you always have a choice. It’s all about having the right mindset.

Three Practical Ways to Get the Right Mindset:

1. Protect the First Gate at all Costs
The First Gate: When you have had just enough to eat and feel light and agile without that full, sleepy feeling. It almost feels like you haven’t eaten at all, and initially it’s a strange sensation to stop there when you’re so used to barrelling through to the bloated fulness beyond. Strange as it is to get used to, the First Gate is both guilt-free and empowering, and defending it against your cravings will keep you from falling into the pain and regret of the Food Haze.

2. Eat from the Inside Out
Instead of spontaneously deciding what or when to eat based on what you see in front of you, base your decisions on how you feel on the inside. Are you actually hungry, or does that lasagna just look really good? Will that second piece benefit you or push you past the First Gate? Nothing is more important than you right now, not the scarcity of that special, delectable Easter bread you only get once a year. Your well-being and happiness is more important, and the actions and decisions you make in critical moments like these is what will shape your life perceptions and habits. And that’s a lot bigger than a slice of bread.

3. Use Words as Weapons
What you decide to tell yourself and what you choose to believe will have a direct effect on how you react to challenges, whether it be the buffet table or your own kitchen. Know the lies that trip you up so you can be prepared to defend against them. Tell yourself the truth even when you don’t want to hear it: Those mini eggs will not make me happy. I can be content with the right amount by slowing down and breathing and really tasting the food and letting myself enjoy it. Have a mantra you can repeat to yourself when you’re tempted to have more. Become your own strongest ally, and make sure every word and thought supports that goal.

Whether it’s Easter Sunday or a regular Monday morning, the food around you doesn’t have to control you. You can be free from its power. But you have to want to.

So what do you want?

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