You already know WHAT to eat.
What you don’t know is – WHY you don’t eat what you plan to eat.
Why do you plan on eating a filling, healthy dinner but then end up snacking on chocolate, cookies and more on the couch after dinner?
Why do you have all the knowledge about ‘healthy eating’ but can’t put together more than a few days of healthy eating?
Maybe, just maybe, it’s because of those TOP TWO INCHES.
Your Top Two Inches – How You Think Impacts Your Eating
When it comes to sport we know an athlete’s mental strength impacts their performance.
“Oh, he choked!”
Most famously, perhaps, was Jean Van De Velde who dropped a 3 stroke lead standing on the final hole at the famous British Golf Open, to ultimately lose the open.
Tennis players choke.
Goal shoots choke.
Football players choke at shoot-outs.
But here’s the thing – we choke in life too. And we do a tonne of other crazy mind-stuff that metaphorically trips us up on our journey to a healthy relationship with food and eating. Starting with this:
1. Black & White Thinking
Cookies are so BAD…
I’m so BAD, I ate a cookie…
No you’re not “BAD” because you ate a cookie. There are no good or bad foods. And you are not good or bad depending on what you eat. (You didn’t burn down an orphanage Karen! It’s just a friggin’ cookie!).
Black and white thinking – or dichotomous thinking (the technical term) is the tendency to think of things in terms of binary opposites or extremes. So, from extreme appraisals of food – an apple is ‘good’ but chocolate is ‘bad’, to extreme appraisals of our healthy diet – the diet is ‘on’, the diet is ‘off’. And even our emotions – being ‘happy’ is good, being ‘sad’ is bad.
It’s pretty common nowadays for people to think and talk in black and white terms when it comes to eating – classifying food as good or bad, or our behaviour as good or bad – based on what we’re eating or have eaten. Many popular diets, for example, have a list of ‘banned’ or ‘bad’ foods.
But thinking like this is harmful to our mental wellbeing and our eating habits.
ANY food can be part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s all about what you eat over 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. NOT one individual food item at one meal.
TIP: Instead of thinking in black and white, look for the shades of grey in the world. You don’t need to “eat healthy” in an all or nothing way. Allow yourself to eat the foods you’ve always restricted. Once they’re not restricted they’ll become less appealing (trust me, and thousands of other intuitive eaters).
2. Absolute Thinking
I HAVE to eat salad for lunch every day or I’ll NEVER get in shape…
Absolutist thinkers believe that one behavior will absolutely, positively result in a second behaviour.
That is, they must eat salad EVERY day to lose weight and get in shape. Therefore if they ever eat ANYTHING other than salad for lunch, they will not get in shape.
It’s simply not true. Life is not that simplistic. And your body doesn’t follow these types of rules. It’ll settle at the weight and shape it’s naturally designed to be, when you eat intuitively.
TIP: Get rid of the musts, oughts, shoulds, need to’s, have to’s and replace them with can, is okay, and may. Give yourself permission to eat in a relaxed way and recognise that eating and living in this absolutist way is no guarantee that you’ll get the result you desire.
3. Catastrophic Thinking
I’ll NEVER be thin…
I’ve eaten 3 cookies, I’ve ruined my diet completely now…
I’ll never get a boyfriend when I’m this fat…
Catastrophic thinking is basically thinking in exaggerated ways, it’s the dieters equivalent of “the fish was this big!” (spread arms as wide as possible).
There’s really nothing helpful at all about catastrophic thinking. There is no proof that your catastrophic thought is true. In fact, there’s undoubtedly more evidence that it’s NOT true.
Worse still, you may be feeling unhappy now about certain things about your eating or body, but speaking out catastrophic thoughts is only going to upset you more and leave you feeling devastated.
TIP: Replace exaggerated thoughts with more positive and accurate thoughts. “Many overweight women find partners who love them,” and “Yes I’ve eaten a few cookies, but I also had a lovely nourishing breakfast of fruit, muesli and yoghurt.”
4. Glass Half-Full Thinking
I OVERATE so much this week…
It’s pessimistic thinking or negative thinking at it’s worst. Basically it’s a blinkered view of the world that only seeks out the negatives, while unhelpfully ignoring everything positive that’s happened.
Sure you overate a few times week, but that’s quite normal when you’re relearning how to eat intuitively AND you also honoured your hunger several times successfully, as well as honouring your fullness a couple of times too.
TIP: Consciously catch yourself saying the glass half-full thought and correct it with more positive words. Make it a habit to correct yourself, by looking for the positives in your life, until it becomes a habit to automatically SAY the positives. If you enjoy writing, you might also benefit from journalling a list of positives from each day in the evening, to remind yourself about the progress you’re making. Speaking of which….
5. Linear Thinking
I need to lose 1 kg per week for 12 weeks…
Diet thinking is linear thinking in action. It’s this belief that we can lose a set amount of weight each week and hit our target in X weeks or months. The belief that it’s this linear path we’ll follow to “weight loss success”.
Of course, then these mysterious “weight plateaus” occur, which aren’t part of the plan. And neither is the weight being regained after the diet (plus more).
Linear thinking can sabotage your efforts to become an intuitive eater too, e.g. “I’ve been doing this intuitive eating for 3 months now and I’m still not an Intuitive Eater!”
Our eating habits and relationship with food isn’t a linear relationship. We don’t start at A and finish at B with food.
Instead it’s more helpful to approach our food and eating as a process thinker. Understanding that you are learning and growing through the learning.
Each step and process is a useful thing in, and of, itself. You don’t need to reach an endpoint such as “X kilograms weighloss” or “became successful intuitive eater” to have achieved something this week, or today.
TIP: Start thinking in terms of what you can learn along the way each day, and accept the many ups and downs, instead of focusing on an endpoint. If you’ve had a rough week, then remind yourself what new things that you learnt during that week that will help you make changes in the future. Many clouds have a silver lining.
Your life and mindset is not set in concrete, you can change. So give it a try – starting challenging that old thinking and see how it effects your eating too.
P.S. Want to fast-forward your progress with intuitive eating? And want a simple method? Check out my online training programme Zest: