“I just don’t know what to eat, can’t you just give me a Meal Plan?”
This is an extremely common request I get from new clients, or family members, or friends, or mutual friends, or fellow guests at a wedding…..
Whilst I can empathise with these individuals frustrations, it is a baldfaced lie.
You DO know what to eat.
My guess is that you follow at least 100 accounts on Instagram that provide you with information on Lean Sources of Protein, talk about the Benefits of Fruits, Vegetables and Fibre and give you example Meal Plans, Recipes and Portion sizes.
You’ve also never eaten a Domino’s pizza because you believed it was the healthiest option.
So what DON’T you actually know? (and why has nobody told you this before?!)
WDYK = What Don’t You Know
WDYK 1 — You DON’T realise you are “Ambivalent” to Change
Being Ambivalent is essentially having mixed or contradictory feelings about something.
When it comes to changing your Diet an example of Ambivalence could be this:
“I know I need to eat better for my health but I don’t want to have to give up Chocolate or going out for Drinks at the weekend”.
A part of you wants to change but another part is resistant to the idea of it.
This Ambivalence occurs when your VALUES and your ACTIONS don’t align. You want to do Value X but you’re worried about it’s effect on Action Y.
Rather than sidestep around these conflicts you need to face them head on.
What worries you about not being able to drink as much alcohol at the weekend?
Are you worried it will impact your Social life?
Is there a way you can still stay Social whilst limiting your intake?
Do you really need to give up Chocolate?
What could you do to still make it a moderate part of your diet?
WDYK 2— You DON’T know how to manage Emotions and Eating
Nearly 40% of Americans surveyed by the American Psychological Association said that they had “eaten or overeaten unhealthy foods in the past month because of Stress”.
We’ve all been there…
You’ve had the WORST day, it’s late, you’re feeling stressed and right now the joy you know you’ll get from that tub of Ice Cream is pretty much the only thing keeping you going.
Now a precedent has been set:
1. You feel Stressed
2. You eat a whole tub of Ice Cream
3. You feel better briefly
4. You now feel bad so you reach for the Chocolate….
5. You feel like you’ve messed up your Diet
6. Return to Point 1
This is what is known as a “Negative Feedback Loop” and is an extremely common behavioural habit amongst those who suffer issues with Emotional Eating.
The issue is not that you felt Stressed/Emotional in the first place, it’s how those emtions were dealt with.
Is there a different behaviour that you could display to deal with Stress? Something that you could call upon in the future?
A good film?
A great book?
An amazing Album?
Seeing Family or Friends?
WDYK 3— You DON’T have the right Environment for Change
The World is working against you…..
Turn a TV on during meal-times and you’ll be bombarded by adverts for all manner of Food Delivery services giving you the option to order in with just the tap of a button on an App.
Walk into the Office and you’ll likely be surrounded by Buffets, Sweet Jars and Sandra from Accounts Birthday Cake.
Head into town and you’ll walk past endless Costa’s, Starbucks and Cafe Nero’s pouring out incredible smells of 300 Calorie Coffee’s and 500 Calorie Muffins.
Being able to set our Food Environment up for success will go a long way towards leaving you with less decisions to make about what you consume and therefore depleting your Willpower to a lesser extent.
On average you make close to 200 Food Related Decisions each day!
It’s no wonder you struggle to make all of them positive ones.
WDYK 4— You’re stuck in a BINGE & RESTRICT Pattern
“I’m good from Monday to Thursday but then it all goes to shit at the Weekends”
Social occasions often call for Food and Alcohol, this is an undeniable fact of life and not one to be avoided.
However often the restriction of Monday to Thursday to account for the excesses of Friday to Sunday can promote unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Food is no longer a source of Nutrition.
It becomes a measure of time to let you know what Day of the Week it is.
Eating a Pizza? Oh it must be Friday.
Drinking a bottle of Wine? Oh it must be Saturday.
Eating a Chicken Salad? Oh it’s definitely Monday.
Have a think about how this approach makes you feel? Is it something you are able to manage and still achieve your Health and Fitness Goals? Or are you finding it constantly derailing your ability to achieve what you Value?
There is no right answer, and certainly no need to feel guilty about it. But simply by asking the question and contemplating the answer you can go a long way towards understanding what it is you actually DON’T know.