I wrote a post two weeks ago about rewriting the “My eating and I are out of control” script. In the post I wrote about how taking responsibility for your actions and choices can at once absolve you from feelings of guilt/shame/sadness AND give you back your long-lost control. By taking charge of your choices and decisions, you reclaim ownership of your body/your goals/your life!
When it comes to treats, though, gauging just how much you can indulge in can feel really daunting and scary, especially if you've already started to lose weight. "What if I eat one cookie and I gain the 5 pounds I lost?" "What if I eat one cookie and I go back to all of my old habits?" "What if I eat one cookie and I grow another head?" How can we make choosing to indulge in treats less scary? I’m glad you asked! Today, we’re going to talk about how the power of data collection — in this case tracking treats — can be the greatest tool to helping you get to your goals.
First, though, let’s go back to that guilt/shame/sadness I mentioned earlier. Over the course of our lives, we’ve learned that eating healthy foods is “good”: “I was good today, I ate a salad for lunch!” We’ve also learned that eating not-so-healthy foods is “bad”: “I was so bad today, I had a burger and fries at lunch.” If you’ve been on and off of the diet “wagon”, you’ve likely felt “bad” more often than “good”. Does that help you get to your goal more easily? NOPE.
Here’s the thing: FOOD HAS NO ETHICAL VALUE. It is neither good nor bad. Eating a fridge full of vegetables every day does not make you Mother Theresa, just like eating a fridge full of chocolate pudding does not make you Charles Manson. The food you eat does not reflect the kind of person you are. I can’t stress this enough. And this is where data collection comes in.
What and how much you are consuming is doing one of three things: Getting you closer to your goal, helping you maintain where you currently are or is getting you further away from your goal.
Here’s how you figure out how many treats you can choose to have depending on your goals:
VIVE LES TREATS!
Have you ever stood at the kitchen counter, eyes wide, realizing that you somehow ate an entire sleeve of cookies? But you don’t even remember having done it? As though the first cookie was laced with some memory-erasing drug that caused you to inhale all of the contents, only wearing off once the evidence of the food having ever existed is gone? I have.
“After the first bite, I couldn’t stop myself. I was out of control. It’s so disgusting.”
Can’t stop myself. I'm out of control. Disgusting. Those are some pretty strong statements laced with feelings of hurt and guilt and shame. And though that is an ENTIRELY separate conversation, I’m here to tell you that behaviors like snacking and overeating are just that — a behavior or a habit — and NOT a reflection of your soul. It doesn’t make you a bad person, just like eating only veggies and lean protein doesn't make you a good person. And over time, with practice, old habits are entirely possible to walk away from as much as new ones are possible to implement.
Here’s the thing: When you put the onus on an outside power or person for your behavior, you take your power away from yourself. But you have a choice. With each bite, you have a choice. And THAT lets you reclaim ownership of your body and health and life. Taking ownership of your actions makes it possible to make long-term changes.
Easier said than done, though, right? As one of my mentors reminded me this week, do not mistake difficulty with impossibility.
Take it one step at a time. The first step toward addressing habits is becoming aware of what’s going on. Without awareness, it’ll be tough to get to the root of the issue. Here are a few questions to ask when you find yourself in either an “I’m really craving some ice cream/wine/Doritos” moment to an “I’M OUT OF CONTROL” situation:
The answers to these questions should lead you to decide whether or not to have that next cookie. If you choose not to have it, great. If you choose to eat it, great. ENJOY it. Own your decision.
Food is not the enemy though it can feel like it when our goals are to look or feel better. The simple act of OWNING your choices, though, can help mend your relationship with food and even help you enjoy it in ways that are kinder to your body.
One of the most empowering gifts you can give yourself — and this goes beyond food choices — is to OWN your decisions and choices. Owning your actions puts YOU in the driver’s seat of your health. An that’s where the magic happens.
Ready to put these thoughts into action?
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