Growing up, I didn’t have a concept of healthy eating habits beyond the obligatory vegetable on my dinner plate. Like any child, I wished broccoli would taste like chocolate brownies. Then as I got older, I wished brownies were just 45 calories and contained the cancer-fighting properties of the cruciferous broccoli.
Even up to a few years ago, healthy eating had a whiff of deprivation for me. But that changed when I started to look at all the foods I “get” to eat. Have you ever had those little orange tomatoes fresh from the farmers market? If I’d had those as a kid I may never have “needed” so much chocolate.
Of course you can think about all the energy you’ll have, and how great that pair of jeans will fit if you can just stick with your healthy eating habits. Creating a clear picture of how fit and strong you’re becoming, imagining yourself looking and feeling fantastic, is great motivation.
But there’s that part of our brain that likes instant satisfaction, and thinking about those results can feel too vague and certainly not “instant.” So thinking about all of the delicious healthy foods we get to eat provides that spark of immediate enjoyment.
And I learned not to expect a sweet, juicy strawberry to give me the same feel-good dopamine spike as mint chocolate chip ice cream. It’s a different level of satisfaction. Like the difference between marriage and that initial dating phase.
Staying on track with healthy eating habits requires balancing brain chatter and temptation with your desire for losing weight, and this is one strategy that really helps me and my clients. When you not only focus on the healthy foods that you really like, but make sure to have them readily available and incorporate them regularly into your daily fare, you will feel more satisfied. And the more satisfied you feel, the less you feel deprived.
In fact, I can’t remember the last time I felt like I was missing out.