Let’s face it, most of us have struggled with our weight. We’ve tried the latest fad diets and exercise trends and seen some modest successes but they never maintain over the long term. That is because none of these diets or exercise programs really address the core issue, which is usually tied into our relationship with food.
Our relationship with food is impacted by numerous factors, such as the way we were raised, our dieting history, our stress management abilities, and even the way we view rewards and celebrations. Our relationship with food is made even more complex by the fact that we NEED food. We can’t just quit!
That being said, there are some key questions you can use to talk to yourself and work on changing your relationship with food, and ultimately your weight, health and general well-being. Here are my top 4.
1) Am I Hungry?
It is amazing how often we eat without asking ourselves this simple question. We are driven to eat for numerous reasons other than hunger: boredom, cravings, social activities, stress, celebration, the list goes on and on. And when one of these reasons come up, we never stop to question if we are ACTUALLY hungry! So, next time you go for food, stop and ask yourself this question. And look for the answer. Is my stomach growling? Am I feeling a little empty? Am I feeling like I need fuel? If you ask yourself if you are hungry and the answer is no, DO SOMETHING ELSE! ANYTHING ELSE! Because it is in this moment that you need distraction and re-direction. Take a walk, call a friend, do some push-ups, play with the dog, read a book. Whatever it is, make a new plan so that when cravings or emotions come up, you have a new go-to behavior to replace eating!
2) How Will I Feel After I Eat This?
You know that feeling when you walk past a cinnamon roll shop and become intoxicated by the aroma? It looks and smells delicious and all you can think about is buying and eating that cinnamon roll ASAP! So you buy it, you eat it, you probably enjoy the taste of it, but how do you feel AFTER you eat it? Most people feel gross, full, uncomfortable, bloated, and maybe a little guilty and shameful for over-indulging—not such pleasant feelings. The drive to eat the cinnamon roll and the enjoyment during is fleeting, but that negative feeling after eating it stays with you and can often impact the rest of your day. So, imagine walking by the cinnamon rolls and asking yourself, “How will I feel after I eat this?” If you can remind yourself that you will feel gross, bloated, and generally crappy, you may think twice about that decision to purchase it!
3) How Can I Make This A Little Healthier?
Eating well and focusing on your health and weight doesn’t have to mean restricting and never allowing yourself to indulge. But there are often opportunities to limit to impact of that indulgence or add nutritional content that may otherwise be absent. By asking yourself, “How can I make this a LITTLE healthier?”, you can decide to have a side salad with your burger instead of fries, or to have veggies on your pizza instead of pepperoni. It can also help you choose to order a healthier entrée because you know you want to splurge on dessert. Either way, the idea is simply to make it a tad bit healthier so you can feel good about your indulgence!
4) Am I Content/Satisfied Now?
The reality is that most of us have different sized stomachs and require different amounts of food to hit that ‘satisfied’ point. So, why do we all think we are supposed to eat the same amount of food when we go out? When we order a burrito, we are all getting the same sized burrito. And we just eat it, because someone said that was a portion. Who decided that that was the appropriate portion size for us? Instead of just scarfing down that burrito, take a moment every few bites, to ask yourself, “Am I satisfied now?” Check in with your hunger and fullness throughout your meal and determine when your satisfaction point hits. Then stop eating, and save the rest of that burrito for later!
Keep this questions tucked away as tools that you can ask yourself throughout the day to work on changing your relationship with food and to have a positive long-term impact on your weight and your overall health!