[I first published this post on A More Perfect Union, an uplifting blog belonging to the fabulous Hope Mirlis -- check out her gratitudes and musings over at perfectunionny.blogspot.com]
There are countless factors in play when it comes to how we eat. Making a change to diet or lifestyle can be daunting; so much so, in fact, that most of us elect to remain inactive, opting for ease and familiarity rather than challenge or change.
For many, the desire to make a change is rooted in "what things will be like" on the other side. Inaction is the paralyzing fear that the sacrifice, the work, the effort won't be worth it. That we will fail, or worse, miss out on something good -- and that won't be worth it either.
If these worries are holding you back, consider instead the impact of making this change across our entire life. What will making this change mean for you? What will you gain from it?
Do you want to lose 10 pounds? Do you want more energy? Do you want to prevent disease? Do you want to be able to run up the stairs or pick up your kids or finally rid yourself of digestive upset? You can. You just need that ONE CLEAR REASON in mind to push you forward. What will that change mean for you? What will it add to your life? Moments of envy, frustration, doubt, or desire will be far more bearable when we have a big-picture motivator to keep us moving in the direction we intend.
In my practice, I work a great deal with people looking to overcome emotional eating and rebuild their relationship with food. Changing food habits means we need to get in touch with why we eat the way we do. This means considering why we associate certain foods with certain situations, looking at the connection between food and mood, and tuning into the signals our bodies provide. It can be overwhelming. There is a lot of information there, both physically and emotionally. When we start to look closely at our choices – really give ourselves space to think about why we make the ones we do – we begin to find opportunities hidden in our patterns that will permit us to break through. The key is taking a step off the ledge, acknowledging that we wish to make a change, and choosing to actively do so.
Keeping that goal in the forefront provides constant motivation and a rubric against which we can assess our choices: is this in line with where I want to go and who I want to be? Will this choice guide me closer to that goal? Know that you can make any change you want to, and that your reasons for doing so are valid, strong, and impactful.
If you’re looking for a clear place to start, these five ideas may help to stay motivated when it comes to making changes to your food patterns:
- identify your trigger foods: these are the things you can't turn down and the ones that usually leave you feeling less than great. Start to make the connection between mind, body, and food.
- find substitutions you enjoy: the more good stuff there is in your diet – and your life in general – the less room there is for the more undesirable stuff. ‘Crowd out’ foods that don’t fuel your body with a variety of ones that do (and ones you enjoy).
- keep your big picture goal in mind:
post it somewhere you will see it often (perhaps the wallpaper on your smartphone)
- don't deprive yourself: when you choose to partake in a treat, allow yourself to enjoy it fully. Guilt only exacerbates feelings of deprivation – and that’s not what we’re after! Flexibility and balance will serve you far more effectively.
- surround yourself with people and situations that support you: again, ‘crowd out’ negativity with as much positive energy as you can find. How do these interactions nourish you in ways food cannot?
- be open to new things: embrace adventure and exploration with your food.
- remember that there is not one diet that works for everyone: be open to tapping into your body’s intuition. It will tell you what it needs.
Every action begins with two decisions: the decision to act, and the decision to act in a specific way. Set that big-picture intention, keep it in mind, and let it guide the decisions you make. Then let things unfold as they will and revel in how great you feel for doing it.
Looking to delve deeper into your food and your habits? Book your first Choose to Grow session with me here and let's see where a little tweak might take you!