Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sabatoged By Your Thoughts

Today, I was talking to a client about her recent problems she was having with her fat loss efforts. Over the past six months she was steadily lowering her body fat, but more recently she gained some back. She said that she was following my Food Rules, but on the weekend she felt she would lose control and eat way too much. She knew it was setting herself back and she didn't like how she felt afterwords, but couldn't stop herself. Does this behavior pattern sound familiar?

Her thoughts were sabatoging her efforts. We all have that "self talk" when we are in a situation where we need to decide what to eat. My client did fine eating during the week at home, but when she was in more social situations, like on the weekends, she would convince herself that it was ok to eat the foods that would cause her to eat out of control. The emotional part of her brain was convincing the intellectual part of her brain that it was fine to eat these foods. This leads to out of control eating, even if it only happens on the weekend.

I reminded her that you should shoot for a 90% rate of application with the Food Rules. Not 100%. That means every tenth time you eat, you can have some food that doesn't follow the food rules (processed carbohydrates, sugars). But, you must tell yourself, that you are "enjoying" this one food item, and you are still following the Food Rules. The emotional part of your brain can't take over. The intellectual part of your brain should stay in control.

After you have "enjoyed" some of these non-Food Rule foods and are still in these social situations, you must make sure the intellectual part of your brain is still running the show. You may see and even crave eating more of these non-Food Rules foods, but must tell yourself that you are still following the Food Rules. Tell yourself you will be full and satisfied by the Food Rule foods. You know intellectually that you will. You just can't let the emtional part of your brain override what you know intellectually is true. I recommend having a mantra to say to yourself when these emotional eating thoughts try to sabotage your fat lose efforts, such as "I am still following The Food Rules and I will feel better with myself when I don't give into emotional eating."


Jo said...

Great post. The hardest part about telling your intellectual part of your brain to stay in control is having a part of the brain in charge of actually saying it. And, there is so much packed into social and emotional eating. Social eating is soooo hard to even keep track of what goes into the mouth - a little here, a bite there, and most is in munchable, tiny bite-sized pieces...and I've learned (not very easily) to always get a plate and really mentally measure what I am eating. We used to just put stuff out that could be picked up by fingers...50 times over - like nuts and M&Ms and pretzels....we don't do that much at all any more. Having a mantra is great. I personally like something shorter - something I can even quickly right on my napkin - or tape to my lipstick or something - even just "food rules" would be enuf. Then I could say to myself, "It's ok to enjoy a little now and feel much better later." Or whatever it is that is loving and kind to yourself.

Dan: nice high level approach to a topic that is potentially very deep.

Julie said...

Dan—I understand what you’re saying about the 90/100 standard. However, I do think it’s worth mentioning that it can go a little deeper than intellect versus emotion. When a person sabotages his intended goal, it is often because there is an underlying commitment to something else. To use the goal of improved diet as an example…Someone may verbalize his nutritional goal and take some actions at achieving it. Nonetheless, if he self-sabotages by eating an order of supersized French Fries, he needs to stop and evaluate his true commitment. Is he committed to the purported goal of a healthy diet? Or is he committed to something else…a need to feel like a failure, fear of achievement, a belief that he is not good enough, or the need to feel badly about himself? The subconscious mind takes underlying commitments seriously. If someone has negative beliefs about himself, those beliefs/commitments will override intended goals. Without addressing those core commitments, we often find ourselves on roller-coasters of success/failure----whether we are talking about health, relationships, employment. Negative underlying commitments must be acknowledged and let go before we can truly fly in any aspect of our lives.

Dan Hubbard, M.Ed. said...

Jo & Julie,
thanks for the great comments! You both added a lot of good perspectives and helped expand on the topic. This obviously can turn into a whole book. I will have to write a follow-up post.