Everyone knows that diets don’t work but we can’t seem to escape the urge to want to start the latest one. I remember not too long ago some co-workers were talking about a new 7-day “cleanse”. They would tell me how each day was different but they were limited to very specific foods. I think on one day they could only eat bananas. Strange, right? Well, I was curious at the time even though I never wound up actually doing it.
I think what’s exciting about that new diet isn’t so much the diet itself but rather the idea that maybe this will be the thing that will help me lose the weight. I know I’m not alone either because studies show that 90% – 95% of all Americans who go on a diet gain most, if not all the lost weight back in 1 – 5 years! So how do we keep allowing ourselves to live in this vicious cycle?
How many books are out there telling us what we should be eating? Eat this, don’t eat that…eat this at this time but not at that time…combine this food with that food but not that food…and the advice goes on and on.
Interestingly enough though, if I asked you what you “should” be eating to have a healthy life you’d probably respond like everyone else. You’d probably tell me that you should have a good-sized breakfast full of healthy proteins, carbs, and fats. In fact, other than not going longer than 2 to 3 hours between meals/snacks and staying hydrated not much else would change throughout your day. Of course, you’d probably tell me to avoid sugars, processed foods (breads, crackers, chips), and anything with a high glycemic index.
My point is, we all know what we should eat. It’s really not a secret what we should eat to have a healthy and fit body. We all also know exactly what we need to do for exercise as well. If asked, I’m sure you’d tell me that I should go for a 30-minute jog/walk a day. Perhaps you’d tell me to go to the gym, go for a bike ride, or even a swim. Again, we all know exactly what we need to do to exercise.
So why do we keep searching and searching and searching for that right diet that will tell us what to eat and how to work out?
Well, what if we changed our question from “What do I need to eat?” to “Why do I eat?”.
I believe this is where the answer to our health problems lie. I believe when we answer the why and not the what we begin to discover the real culprit to our unhealthy lifestyle. The way I see it, we eat primarily for 3 different reasons. We either eat to nourish our body (ie; we’re hungry), for pleasure (some foods are just enjoyable), and as a means to cope with feelings we don’t want to acknowledge and feel.
I think a healthy lifestyle would include 80% of our “Why” in the nourishment department (eating healthy moderate foods) and the other 20% in the pleasure department (a Caribbean Coconut Gelato is just pleasurable every now and then!). Notice I don’t leave any room here for eating to cope with feelings.
I would venture to say (I know it’s been true for me) that the vast majority of us are eating 80% in the coping department/pleasure department and 20% in the nourishment department. Now there are many of you that read this blog and listen to my podcast who are very conscious of what you put into your body but I know many others are still finding it a challenge. It’s been a challenge for me and it’s something I’m still working on.
I once read a book called Super Brain written by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi. I highly recommend you check it out! They had an amazing suggestion in there that you can try at home! It involves the following scenario:
The next time you find yourself going to the kitchen cabinet for something to eat ask yourself how you’re feeling. Are you feeling bored, sad, angry, disappointed, anxious, happy? Notice if you’re actually hungry. Now that you’ve identified the feeling(s) you have, go ahead and eat! This is the part I thought was genius! You’d think they would tell you not to eat, right? Well, the goal is to train your brain to understand WHY you are eating! Eventually, you’ll go to the cabinet, know you’re feeling bored, and make the conscious choice to not become a victim to your feeling.
I genuinely believe if you spend some time this week really becoming aware of your feelings and what actions follow you’ll begin to develop an even deeper understanding into your habits. I know this has worked for me and although I’m not perfect at eating (by far) I’m very aware now of why I do eat. Instead of fooling myself into thinking I’m unhealthy because I don’t know what to eat, I can now find the real answer by answering the why I eat.
Should you choose to accept it, this is your weekly challenge!
Step 1: The next time you go to eat ask yourself how you’re feeling
Step 2: See where in your body you are feeling that feeling
Step 3: Say Hello to the feeling. Acknowledge you are not the feeling.
Step 4: Choose to eat anyway, acknowledging that the feeling is making the choice NOT YOU
I highly encourage you to take 30-minutes and listen to the podcast on this. There’s so much more in the podcast and I really think you’ll find some great value in there. If you do enjoy the podcast I would be forever grateful if you left a written review on iTunes. Doing so will help move the show higher in the search rankings. This will allow others, like yourself to find the show more easily.
With Gratitude and Appreciation,