I write a lot about “healthy” choices. You hear it all the time when it comes to food, nutrition and diet. As I was face to face with the choice of a cookie or my cottage cheese that I enjoy, I thankfully chose the cottage cheese but it made me think about what helps us to be able to make those healthy choices.
Sometimes when we make food choices, it doesn’t register with us that we’re making choices. We open the refrigerator and find the empty plate or empty wrapper of something we ate before we even are aware what happened. We’ll go to a restaurant and know that we will forgo the dessert yet find ourselves finishing off the piece of fudgy gooey cake. Huh?
What happened? Where did our decision and resolve go? We need to give these types of situations our attention. It isn’t about the food - it is about us and why we make the decisions that we do. When we are aware of what happens, we can be in charge of those choices rather than feeling like the urge, drive, food controls our decisions, compulsive eating or emotional eating.
For me, I walked in the kitchen with no other thoughts than eating my cottage cheese. I pulled it out of the refrigerator, turned around and saw a couple of leftover cookies that weren’t even my favorites. All sorts of thoughts immediately clouded my thinking in a split second. “Oh, those look good, I shouldn’t eat those, think how much sugar is in just one of those cookies not to mention the calories, fat and zero nutrition…. don’t give in, don’t eat it, it isn’t worth it.” Immediately after that line of thinking, I got into “It’s just one, no big deal, one own’t hurt, and I’ll stop at one.” Just as an angel and devil sitting on opposite shoulders, I have this tennis match regarding a silly choice of a cookie. Before I knew it, I tossed the cookie in the trash and ate my cottage cheese but it was a moment that caused a great deal of reflection and thought.
Yes, I overcame this time but there have been others. There have been times that I made a different choice and couldn’t even remember eating the food. Is that unconscious or what?? I have that same back and forth discussion to the point of whiplash going back and forth. Sometimes, before the conscious decision is made, the cookie would be eaten quickly because I was already feeling guilt and shame, unable to enjoy and acknowledge what I was eating. Even as I type this, it sounds crazy!
In order to conquer and win the inner tennis match that leads to the struggle and can lead to unhealthy food choices it is mandatory to become aware of these thoughts. Awareness is critically important because we need to be able to recognize and check in to them as they are happening. Check in to the messages you’re giving to yourself. When you are aware of this process that contains these automatic thoughts, we can focus on what is going on inside us with the struggle and get out of it to make healthy choices. Avoid going unconscious by staying aware of the struggle. When you are face to face with a cookie and the process begins, stay aware and focused on your goals and how this choice will move you forward to your goal or move you away further from it.
I’ve written before about Stop-Look-Listen. This is a great tool to use. When you feel the urge, STOP. Stop yourself and check in. When you’ve stopped the process, LOOK. Look inside yourself to see what is going on. Are you feeling stressed, bored, troubled over a situation or need to feel calm and nurtured? After you’ve looked at what you are experiencing, then LISTEN. Listen to what you need. If you’re experiencing an uncomfortable emotion, sort it out, distract yourself, call a friend - do something to assist you feel better in a non-food way. Once you have done this a few times, it will then become your new automatic response rather than reaching for food.
When you’ve become aware as you reach for a food choice and decide if this choice will help you to reach your weight loss goals or put you further behind, then you STOP-LOOK-LISTEN, you’ll make those healthy choices easier and without the inner struggle.
Believe In Yourself, Cathy, CLC Certified Life Coach, Weight Loss Surgery Coach Certified Back On Track Facilitator