4 Mindset Shifts for New Eating Habits to Stick
Let me start with a little hard love – most people WANT to eat better so they can feel better and get better health to avoid disease, but most people DON’T end up taking the actions they need to.
Why? Because before they even start they are destined to fail, in a sense. I don’t want to be too glum, but we know what we need to do in most cases but never are able to make the actions stick. This happens because it starts with mindset.
To know if changing your mindset is going to help you, answer these questions about eating:
What are you eating mostly?
- Processed food
- Minimally processed food and/or whole and non processed food
Are you comparing your health or eating to others?
Have you tried in the last six months to start a new eating habit and ended up with lackluster results? (gone back to your old eating habit or didn’t achieve what you wanted?)
If you answered “1.” to any of these, then cultivating a mindset for eating better will help you.
I know you are in this for the long haul; you don’t want to eat better just to fit into a new dress or for an upcoming reunion. You want the real deal – your body working in top shape so you feel amazing and you shock your doctor with your health checkup results every year! You want to live a full life being an active player in your life from sunup to sundown.
First, eating better and for health is not easy. I don’t want to make it sound like this is something we all should be able to do without help. Instead, I want to help you get through some of the blocks that have been holding you back all these years. I want you to tap into why are not consistently eating how you want and find out what is truly getting in the way.
Here is my own story. I have not always eaten like I teach and do now. I know many people think it is easy for people in the nutrition field to eat well, but not so. When I was living in Los Angeles sharing apartments with different roommates I ate a lot of no fat food, not fruits and vegetables, instead, no fat packaged food. It was mostly things like half a loaf of French bread plain, fat free yogurt, popcorn and fat free cookies.
I would think about eating while at work, when at home and just before going to sleep and when I got up. I wanted to eat better, but had a mental block on how to do it. My weight was fine, even though I was hungry a lot of the time, I just fought it. So people did not know the mental battles going on inside my head.
On the outside, things looked good. I had a great job at a prestigious hospital in the Los Angeles area in management. I loved my work and would work long hours pouring myself into my work. On weekends, when I could carve out time, I would go to the boardwalk, this is a pedestrian path along the beach, and roller blade. I kept putting everything else in front of changing my eating habits. I knew I needed to do something about my health and would think about it every day, but everything else was more important and I never actively did anything about it.
Thankfully I switched apartments and roommates. My new roomie did some jogging, a couple miles daily. She encouraged me to join her, so I did. We also did aerobics in our apartment together and we started to cook meals together. Over time, my eating habits became better and I felt better and thought about food less and less.
Your story is probably different than mine, but I can guess you have encountered some of the same obstacles I did. Things are probably taking your attention away and you are not focusing on investing in your self, in your health, in your eating so you feel great today and tomorrow.
I want to help you face your blocks and do whatever is needed to move beyond them.
I know you can’t switch apartments or roommates like I did, but you can face the music of what is holding you back from taking action, from intentionally eating the way you truly want to.
I have this free bonus for you. It will help uncover the obstacles that are holding you back from eating better. It is a four-questions worksheet. Just by writing down your answers it will become clearer where your blocks are. Click on the image to get the worksheet.
There are four major mindset shifts that need to take place before you can begin new eating habits that will stick.
Keep in mind as you read these that success is 80% mindset and 20% mechanics. This is why starting with mindset must be part of your foundation for habits that last.
What are you doing right now that is more important than feeling great and having excellent health so you don’t have to take sick days or end up with a chronic disease diagnosis?
I need you to really think honestly and hard. What are you putting ahead of your health? Many people will say health is a priority, but if you take a look at their investment in time and energy, health actions are not taking place, they are then not an acted on priority.
Is that true for you?
Are you making time and energy for eating better? If not, what are you putting ahead of your health? Your work? Helping other people? Your family? Hobbies? I don’t want you to think I am giving you advice on how to line up your priorities, instead, I want you to take an honest look at whether your actions are supporting your desires for feeling extraordinary, having more energy and being healthy.
If you are a recovering people pleaser this is especially hard. You will have to toughen up here and say “yes” to taking care of yourself and “no” to anything else that is non-essential. Recognize that you WILL have to say “no” to people to make health a priority. If you aren’t saying “no” then health is not yet a priority.
What excuses might be creeping in and taking you away from eating to feel better? The top ones I hear are:
Eating healthy is expensive. Not true. We like to convince ourselves of this by saying things like “I can’t afford organic foods.” Or “fresh produce would make me go over my budget.” Eating for health doesn’t have to break the bank and I have budgeted healthy foods for my family ten years ago when my ex lost his brick and mortar business, and then again when I started out on my own single with four kids to feed.
If you spend a lot on your food budget, that is a choice you make, but eating healthy does not have to be pricey.
I don’t have time. This is the number one excuse I hear. And yes, if you set aside no time, then you will not be able to have the health you want. That is true, but saying you have no time means you will not make the little investment in time needed.
Making good for you food choices takes a small amount of time that includes planning and setting up the habits so you won’t have to think about it or spend extra time on it. It actually is a relief when done this way because eating nourishing foods becomes automatic. I love not having to make a decision about dinner – I just look at my menu on the refrigerator. I also have on hand at least two meals at all times that are less than 15 minutes prep for hectic evenings where I don’t have time for meal prep.
I have time before my health goes downhill. How lucky are you with the lottery? This really is more of an odds and risk excuse. If you are in your twenty’s, yes, you have more time statistically before a diagnosis of cancer or heart disease or diabetes. However, all of these chronic diseases take decades to develop so even your habits in your twenty’s effects your health in your fifty’s and beyond.
Also, there is the sick time and time just feeling yucky that can be done away with better eating habits. I am wimpy and when I get any type of pain I want to curl up in bed. To avoid feeling this way, I invest in myself. I am not perfect with my eating or my other lifestyle habits, but I make it a priority by giving it time and energy.
▣ Today is the best time to start! ▣
3. Sense of self
Is your ego showing up in your life and derailing you from your desired new eating habits? Are you creating obstacles ahead of giving yourself a fair chance at the new eating behavior?
This one may surprise you. Often people that are very successful in life struggle in eating and health. This is because it is easy to get nervous about the health habit goals we set for ourselves. A way of self-protection is self-sabotage. This can happen when goals are way too big or unrealistic like losing 50 pounds, eating 7 fruits and vegetable every day, or stopping eating out entirely.
This also happens if someone has encountered numerous failed attempts with changing eating habits in the past and their confidence is on the brink of teetering downwards at the first site of a missed goal. If you find yourself comparing your health or failed attempts with eating to others, your sense of self is getting in the way.
▣ If you have a checkered past with eating – you may be self-sabotaging. ▣
It isn’t unusual for people to self-sabotage unconsciously. Some believe it is a self-protection we do without realizing it. It also stems from not understanding how to set up eating habits for success. Things like taking too big of steps or going at it the wrong direction or making it harder than it needs to be can create the feeling that “I am going to fail” from the start when putting together new habits.
Also, stop comparing to others. You never know how much work and how many hurdles internal and external another person did to get to where they are. Be compassionate with yourself, your journey is your own and not like anyone else’s.
Are you telling yourself you deserve that piece of chocolate cake? Or double cheeseburger? Or special ice cream malt?
Food should not be used as a reward or something you deserve. Both these words are like playing with landmines that have the potential to explode at any moment.
The psychology behind “You deserve it” is very strong for two reasons: it tells us that you did something right, offering you recognition that each one of us craves and secondly, it transforms the food item into a reward, adding emotional value to its attributes.
It is fine to eat something because you enjoy it. Food is meant to be enjoyed! What you want to steer clear of is using what may sound like a logical statement in your head, but if you say it outloud, it carries emotional meaning.
You are telling yourself something to make it feel okay, which is rationalizing, but in truth, it is inconsistent with your goal of eating for better health.
The problem is not the eating of the food item, but the reasons you are giving yourself. To say you deserve it or it is a reward is blocking what is really going on. You are trying to make it okay to eat but it isn’t supporting your goals.
In many cases reward and deserve eating lead to a vicious cycle of shame, blame and guilt.
▣ The words “reward” and “deserve” carry emotional meaning. ▣
These four mindset shifts are really key to facing head on, being honest with yourself and taking the time to get your head in the right space before taking on any new eating habits, no matter how high your willpower.
I want you to get clear about where you are now and where you need to take your mindset to get where it needs to be for success.
Your health is part of your self-care, your investment in yourself and many believe (including myself) is one of the most important investments in yourself. Give your health your time, your attention, your energy and your compassion.
Download the inquiry worksheet to help you tap into what is holding you back. Get clear about where you are and get your mindset where it needs to be to get success.