Yo-Yo Dieting (part 4): Combating self-sabotage
Whether you're interested in defeating yo-yo dieting or just trying to stick to a healthy food regime, I think the points in this post can be applied to either. It’s definitely a topic for If not now, when thinking.
What is it about food that gives it such a grip on the free-will of otherwise sensible and logical people like me and like you? Is it because the pharmaceutical industry has developed medications for just about everything? Do we assume they've got our backs, so we don't have to manage our own health through more logical means, such as food and exercise?
If so, we assume wrong. Animals know they must eat food that keeps them healthy. Why don't we apply that to our lives?
I mean... if we are the most intelligent species, why are we the only species with eating and weight disorders? Oh, you might argue that your dog is fat, but unfortunately our pets learn their eating habits from us. They are most often fat because we feed them too much.
Part of the problem, as we've discussed before, is the food industry. It has processed the nutrition out of many of our foods and added in fat, salt, and sugar that make those "foods" irresistible, fattening, and unhealthy.
Due to the influence of processed food and our cravings, we tend to talk ourselves out of nutrition that is good for our weight efforts and our health issues. In addition, other opportunities arise weekly, if not daily, for us to stray from our plan to eat for our health. For example, something great happens and you want to celebrate, or you're feeling sorry for yourself and a snack to pick you up would be nice, or you did your exercise this morning and think you deserve a reward, or you just NEED to eat. You'll meet dozens of seemingly valid reasons to sabotage your plans for eating for health. The question is whether you can identify them and cancel them before you sabotage yourself.
Obviously, it doesn't work to just set up a diet plan and start it. If that worked, someone offering you a doughnut could not tempt you. Diets don't work. They don't seem to touch emotional eating, mindless eating , stress eating, or even celebratory eating.
If dieting works for you, great. Make that decision and stick with it. You are one of the lucky ones. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for 95% of us.
Is food your friend?
For too many of us, food has become our friend and companion, hasn't it?. A friend who never fails us -- except for the down side that it either makes us fat or eats away at our health or, most likely, both.
Do you engage in self-sabotage because you are afraid of losing your friend?
Does your friend calm you down when you're upset?
Does your friend help you celebrate when no one else is there or even when others are there?
Does your friend magically numb you when you are sad, stressed, afraid, etc.?
If you take a good look, you might find that every emotion leads back to your trusty friend. I have spent many hours trying to figure out why I rationalize eating in so many situations. If I accepted the premise that life would be better or our health would be better if we ate a healthy diet and/or lost weight, I'd do it, wouldn't I? It seems logical, but apparently not.
Logic is a difficult habit to apply.
I don’t have the answer to these questions except to say that it all seems so logical and logic must be a difficult habit to apply to our lives. I have found, however, it is very helpful to think through all of this so we know where we stand and increase our chances of making good decisions, rather than plowing ahead with mindless eating.
To get started thinking about this area, here are a few questions to consider:
What are the reasons being overweight is not good for you (or what are the reasons eating an unhealthy diet is not good for you)?
How would your life be better if you weren't overweight/unhealthy (with diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure, etc.)
What rewards would you expect if you lost weight or ate a healthier diet? Any of these apply to you?
better health (fewer doctor visits, fewer medications, etc)
clothes fit better
play with your children or grandchildren
more enjoyment in all activities
the end of self-recriminations surrounding your size and your health due to not taking care of yourself.
We may not think about this often enough, but every bite we eat determines our weight loss, our weight gain, and/or whether our health improves or declines. We know this and, as frustrating as it is, we continue to eat willy-nilly as if starting a good plan another day will be soon enough.
I offer this not to solve this dilemma for you. I wish I could. I offer it to give you some ways to think about this area and maybe think up ways that will work for you to eat a more healthy diet. After all, self recrimination and trying to live by a certain set of rules set by someone else is not the goal here. The goal is to identify areas we might want to add to our self care regime in our quest to be the healthiest versions of ourselves.
Please feel free to comment about this. Self sabotage is a difficult topic to address and a difficult behavior to extinguish. It would be great to hear about ways people have found to successfully transition into being satisfied with eating for fuel.