Every unintended food choice is an opportunity to problem solve
One of the biggest challenges that my clients face in achieving their weight loss goals is navigating their daily food environment. We are surrounded by food temptations 24/7, whether it’s cookies on the kitchen counter, doughnuts in the office break room, or passing your favorite coffee/fast food outlet on your drive home. We are constantly wrestling with our food choices as we move through our days.
For many individuals, one “bad” decision affects how they feel about themselves the rest of the day. Does this sound familiar to you?
I am here to tell you that you CAN achieve your weight loss goals without eating perfectly every day. It starts with a change in mindset.
I propose an experiment.
Step way from rigid dieting and strict food rules. If these have not worked for you thus far, chances are they are not the answer. I challenge you to approach your weight loss goals through a new lens.
Every unintended food choice presents you with an opportunity to problem solve. Identifying your problem spots and building a new skill set to deal with these can be the key to achieving your weight goal in a sustainable way.
The next time you catch yourself in a negative feed back loop over a food misstep, take a step back and ask yourself, "What problem do I need to solve?"
Here are my top 3
#1: Was I hungry? This is a big one. Allowing your hunger to get out of control by intentionally or unintentionally skipping meals sets the stage for poor choices later on. As blood sugar drops, your body’s self-protection mechanisms kick in and your brain will drive you towards calorie dense foods (like a quick stop for a calorie-loaded coffee drink). Instead of chastising yourself for your lack of discipline, focus instead a solution to set yourself up for success. Manage hunger with a loose plan for meals during the day (set an alarm if you have to remind you to stop for lunch) and keep whole food snacks nearby to refuel (fruit + a cupped palmful of nuts, cut veggies paired with single servings of hummus).
#2: Is there a food cue in my environment? Do you drive past your favorite takeout place on the way home from work? Plan a new route. Does the presence of your favorite cookie in the house call to you the minute you walk in the door? Don't buy them, or keep them out of sight so they are not visually cuing you when you walk in the room. Focus on building an environment for success. Keep a few pieces of fresh fruit, and roasted pumpkin seeds in a glass jar on the counter. Stock Greek yogurt, boiled eggs, cut up veggies, yummy dinner leftovers in the refrigerator at eye level. These will be the first things you see when the urge to nourish yourself strikes.
#3: Am I stressed (emotional/bored)? If this is your trigger, then take some time to reflect on a non-food, first response. Ideally you want to choose an action that will help you process your feelings so that the need for food as comfort becomes less urgent over time once you build new coping skills.Does listening to music or a podcast give you some perspective? How about a 10 minute walk outside after work, or writing down your thoughts at the days end. What works will be very individual to you.
Commit to a judgment free zone. When things don’t go as planned, watch for the slip back into negative self-talk. Remind yourself that you are cultivating a new mindset around eating. Grant yourself permission to make mistakes. Mistakes are an opportunities to identify problems and to learn what you need. Ultimately problem solving will help you resolve the underlying barriers to meeting your weigh loss goals.
If this post speaks to you, and you would like additional support on your journey towards sustainable weight loss, contact me. Together we can map your way forward.
If you need ideas or inspirations about what to eat check out the latest recipes added to my site or Sign up for a FREE trial of my meal plans to access more recipes for a health-supporting, plant-focused plate.