The other day I was craving sweet.
And not 70% dark chocolate sweet– I’m talking milk chocolate M&M, Rolos, Snickers sweet.
I thought about crap candy for hours. All day long.
I thought about it and thought about it.
Until I decided to consciously indulge my craving.
I had three Rolos.
But it felt like I ate a one pound bag.
All because I had been thinking about it for so long.
Even though I only had three tiny Rolos, I spent all day thinking about eating Rolos. So, after I at the end of the day, it felt like I had spent all day eating Rolos. I kept saying to myself “man, I ate SO much chocolate,” and “why did I eat so much chocolate?” And “it feels like I’ve been gorging on chocolate all day.”
But I only had three.
Thinking about Rolos all day made me feel like I had been “bad” all day. Like I have been “blowing my diet” all day long.
When in reality, I didn’t “blow it” at all.
I felt really guilty about those three Rolos…until I snapped to and realized that I’d only had three.
Your brain can play some pretty crazy tricks on you when it comes to food. It’s important to separate the weird food thoughts from your real food reality. Even thought I consider myself to have a pretty good relationship with food, I still let those thoughts about “bad” foods get the best of me.
How you think about food is almost more important than the food itself– even if you’re eating squeaky clean Paleo, if you’re worried about eating bad foods, or if you’re focused too much on the foods that will not make you healthier, it can feel like you’re off track…or failing.
As humans, we’re programmed to focus more on the bad than the good.
We absolutely know when we’re eating something “bad,” and those thoughts tend to make us forget about all of the good things we’re doing for ourselves.
On the day that I ate three Rolos, I also ate three meals of nutrient dense whole foods and had a great workout…but thinking about that one deviation from my usual way of eating made me feel like I had done something terrible.
So, how do you separate what’s going on in your head from what you’re actually doing? How do we start to focus more on the good things we’re doing for ourselves than the bad?
Make a mental (or physical) list and check it twice…
Keeping a food journal can be a good tool when you’re working to change your diet and lifestyle. Not only does it help to pinpoint foods that might not be working for you, it also shows you all of the GOOD foods that you’re eating. Calories and grams of carbs aren’t important– what’s important are the foods themselves, your hunger and satisfaction levels and how you feel about your meal. Having a list of foods you’ve eaten to look back on can help keep everything in perspective. When you have ONE bad day, you’ll have TONS of good days to look back on. In the long run, one bad day isn’t bad at all.
Listen to what the negative voice has to say, and then tell to shut up.
When you take time to actively acknowledge the negative voice, you can take away some of its power. Acknowledge it, and then tell it about all of the good foods that you ate…and then tell it to leave you alone. Usually that negative little voice is only trying to ask for something–it indicates that you have a need that isn’t being met. Take some time to really listen to it and figure out what it wants…and don’t forget to remind it of all of the good things you’re doing for yourself.
Keep on going.
Even when you’ve worked through a lot of your food issues, you’ll still have days where thinking about Rolos brings you back to your old diet mentality. Keep reminding yourself of all of the good things you’re doing (and have done) for yourself. In fact, make another list of all the ways you choose to nourish and take care of yourself. Look at this list often. Just keep moving forward…because that’s the only direction there is.