Whilst chatting to a slimmer, we were discussing behaviours and looking at how self destructing our behaviours can be. When I say self-destructing, I mean in the sense that it goes against the grain of what we are trying to achieve. For example, a slimmer may be trying to lose weight by actively consuming his/her food packs during the day. Yet something will happen to that slimmer that will lead them away from what their goal and in that split second of eating that something they will forget the reasons why they chose to lose weight in the first place, how they feel about themselves and will choose food over desired goals.
Why do we do this?
There’s lots of reasons why we behave in such a self-sabotaging way that sometimes it can be too complex to just simply say it’s because of A,B,C.
However, a very common reason why is due to habitual eating.
Lets look at filling up our cars with petrol for example. One day you may be queuing to pay for your petrol and you see those confectionary bars just sitting there in a row calling your name. ‘One won’t hurt’ you think to yourself so before you know it, you are adding it to your bill. However, next time you go to the petrol station, you will find that the same thought pattern and behaviour may enter your mind. Before you know it, you have started off a sequence of events that you will link subconsciously with buying petrol.
Buying petrol = treat for me!
This quickly turns into a habit and you will find that unless you break that cycle (maybe by paying at pump instead) you will always start thinking of buying confectionery when you fill up your car. It may have seemed like a quick fix treat at the time, but this quick treat can turn into a stone gain in no time at all when you think about it.
Lets look at another example of habitual eating. You can’t sleep so you get up to watch tv and whilst watching tv you are distracting yourself by eating. You may find yourself automatically getting up night after night and indulging in this behaviour. Mainly because you have set up this pattern for yourself.
Now, having studied counselling (cbt in particular), I tend to look things in a lot more depth rather than just thinking ‘he/she is eating because he/she is hungry’. There is normally a reason why we behave in a certain way. For example, a lot of people really aren’t that great at dealing with their emotions (mainly that head in the sand approach known as denial) so they use food as a way of dealing (or not dealing with their feelings more importantly) They would rather keep their feelings locked away so they ‘eat their feelings’
Learning to deal with emotions can be a difficult subject and a lot of slimmers do not know where to start when it comes to this behaviour. I always talk about the thought cycle with my slimmers as it is such an important tool in recognising behaviours and your journey to self-discovery.
The first thing we need to do is look at acceptance. A lot of people who are using food as a way of coping with emotions are in denial. In fact many people don’t realise they have any issues with food. I often hear, ‘I’m overweight as I just like my food’ that is a number 1 denial excuse right there.
Yes I agree that it’s lovely to eat nice food however, when eating gets in the way of daily life and how you feel about yourself in general, it’s obvious that your ‘relationship’ with food isn’t what it could be.
Talking of relationships with food…… since when did we put this emotional attachment on eating and food in general? Yet think about it because we do! When we are sad, we get the choccies out, when we are ill, that food our parents used to make us to help us feel better there’s so many emotional attachments to food no wonder we (dis)comfort eat!
Habits are easily formed but can be harder to break and the same goes with the idea of habitual eating. I really dislike it when people say just eat less and you will lose weight. It truly isn’t that easy!
If you believe you suffer from habitual eating, I would suggest the following resources:
The first is a blog post designed to help you look at how your thoughts affect your behaviour
This article helps you look at your behaviours and how you will go through certain patterns when it comes to your future weight loss and weight management - http://thesmldiet.com/2013/11/29/the-slimmers-cycle-of-change-a-model-for-behavioural-change/