Are you bored with what you’re eating?

“A few months ago I was on a roll with healthy eating, and I was feeling so good and losing weight. But I got bored eating the same foods all the time, I couldn’t stick with it. Now I’m trying to get back on track…”

But our brain likes routine and is good at creating habits. It desires efficiency and these habits save us time and energy later. 

So why is this such a problem when it comes to healthy eating?

Consider your everyday routines. Some are so automatic you do them almost without thinking, like brushing your teeth, driving a certain route to work, brewing coffee, or saying grace before a meal. You probably think of these as necessary, not boring.

Other habits require more planning but because you’ve made it part of your routine, you don’t need to exert a lot of effort. This is the case if you exercise regularly. You never ask “should I?” You simply schedule it and do it. Likewise, getting dressed in the morning is automatic, but depending on the degree of pre-planning it may take more or less time. Again, boring isn’t a concern.

Then there are habits we want to stop, but because we’ve been doing them for so long it takes time and effort to undo them.  For some, coming home every night and drinking wine fits that category. You get home from work which triggers the thought “it’s been a busy day and wine relaxes me.” No planning needed. And I’ve never heard someone say “I’m so bored with drinking wine.” 

So why, when implementing a new routine of healthy eating do we use the “boring” excuse? 

healthy eating
Photo by Karolina Grabowska:

Because when you start on the path of planning, preparing and eating healthy food, it takes more time and energy. And maybe you’re not eating many of the foods you used to eat that give you a dopamine high, and you miss that.  

Understand this: your primitive brain will use any means it can to seek pleasure, avoid pain and create ease. A new healthy eating routine is the opposite! It’s  just the thing your toddler brain doesn’t want you to follow through with.

When this thought about the food being boring comes up, pause and sit with it. Remind yourself that your routines are FOR you. They are not punishment. Of course you want your eating plan with healthy foods that you enjoy. When you do that, the adult part of your brain can calm down the toddler and follow through, as planned. I like to think of routines as brilliant, not boring. It’s how I get so much done everyday and achieve my most important goals.

We’re not supposed to call them “bad foods”

If you equate eating bad foods with being “bad,” that’s a problem. Whether or not you eat certain foods has no bearing on you as a moral person. 

But let’s be honest. There are foods that are bad for us!

Why can we call cigarettes bad without thinking someone who smokes is bad, but we can’t do the same with things like ultra-processed foods?

It’s not that one Oreo or one hotdog causes diabetes or heart disease. Just like one cigarette doesn’t lead to lung cancer or emphysema. 

It’s that a steady stream of eating bad foods is wreaking havoc on our health. (Calley Means contends that “11 out of the 12 leading killers of Americans are caused by or worsened by processed food.”) And when we’re told not to demonize foods because it’s the same as demonizing ourselves, we let the bad foods off the hook!

And we say things like, “all foods in moderation.” 

Is anyone promoting cigarettes in moderation?

eating bad foods

Now, whether you use terms like good/bad or healthy/unhealthy to describe foods isn’t important. 

What is important is to decide which foods nourish your body and bring about the health, strength and energy you want. And that you make decisions about food that are deserving of you as a healthy hottie. 

I recommend (just like I do with my clients) that you adopt food standards that you’ll follow, no matter what. And when you go off plan, you do the mindset work to figure out how to get back on plan. Remember that eating bad foods doesn’t mean anything about you. If you struggle with that or you notice a moral tinge to the way you talk about your food decisions, look into coaching with me. It’s the best way I know to achieve the results you want and to feel better faster.

I eat for all the reasons

During a client’s initial session, I asked what she thought she needed to stop doing. She admitted to late-night eating, and suspected that’s a big reason why she was struggling with being overweight. But she didn’t expect what came next.

There’s something about becoming aware. About making changes. About tuning into our habits. We start to notice other things.

During our second session she said, “Heather, I eat for all the reasons!”

It hadn’t occurred to her before.

But I see it all the time. I used to do it a lot. And here’s what I know for sure: if you can stop overeating, you can lose weight and actually keep it off.

So, here are three common reasons my clients and I have experienced for eating too much:

  1. “Everyone else is doing it.” What?! That excuse didn’t work with our mothers, but we use it freely. From our office breakroom to our living room sofa, if other people are eating it’s easy to eat along. Practice letting other people eat without joining in. It’s okay to feel a bit awkward or “left out” at first. Once you get used to it, it feels normal.
  2. “It’s a healthy snack.” Ever notice that this claim miraculously makes a food okay to eat? Are you hungry? Doesn’t matter. As long as it’s healthy, have at it. But extra food is overeating. Period. Substituting root vegetable chips for potato chips isn’t going to tip the scale in our favor.
  3. “I deserve a treat.” Yes, you do. And you can do it without food. Seriously. Cookies and wine are not required at the end of a long day. Mostly because, like Pringles, you can’t stop at just one. Search for new ways to treat yourself well. Really well. Once you figure it out, cookies and wine are suddenly laughable substitutes for what you really want. 😉
During a client’s initial session, I asked what she needed to stop doing. She admitted to late-night eating. But soon she noticed...
Photo by Dids from Pexels

There you have it, three common reasons for overeating.

Have first-hand experience with any of these? Or maybe the conversation spurs an “ah ha” for another reason you notice? Noticing is the first step. Like my client, once she noticed the first one, then she saw “all the reasons.” And then she could go to work on them.

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