4 Tips To Help You Win Back Control Of Your Eating

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Diet Rules: How Helpful Are They?

BY DR EMMA BOLES

“Starting tomorrow I’m going to only eat healthy foods. I’m going to cut junk foods from my diet, stop eating take-out, I’ll cook more, stop snacking, eat less sugar, have fruit and vege at least six times per week, and I’ll exercise daily”

All seemingly good resolutions…but how sustainable are they?

Food rules might help you to feel in control...but are you?

Food rules might help you to feel in control…but are you?

The problem with most diets is that they’re unrealistic. The rules are so strict they’re impossible to stick to. It doesn’t matter how committed or motivated you are, life will always get in the way. Your friend’s birthday dinner, a busy week at work – all of sudden you’re breaking the rules you swore (just a week ago) that this time you’d stick to.

You feel guilty that you’ve eaten foods you said you wouldn’t, disgusted with yourself that you’ve eating more than you wanted to, and ashamed you’ve failed yet again. The more rules you break, the more you beat yourself up, the harder it is to get back on track.

It’s ironic really, but the harder you try to control your diet the more out of control you actually become. So what’s the answer? How do you actually get back in control of your eating? Here are some tips to get you started.

Tip #1: Learn The Facts About Food

See food for what it really is – a source of energy and vital nutrients that keep you alive and functioning – and know what it’s not – a means to control your weight and body size. See food as something that can either make you ‘fat’ or ‘thin’ and you’ll be forever trapped in a battle with food. Eat to fuel your body not to change your body and you’ll regain a healthy relationship with food.

Tip #2: Don’t Compensate

Don’t skip meals to compensate if you feel like you ate to much earlier in the day. This might help to reduce your anxiety or help you to feel more in control in the short-term, but when you deprive your body of food for periods longer than 3-4 hours your blood sugar levels drop. This won’t just make you feel tired and irritable, it will kick-start cravings for foods high in sugar and fat.

Your body is a clever machine and it wants what it wants. Deprive it of fuel and it will manipulate you into eating the very foods you’re trying to avoid because these are the foods that will give it the quickest hit of energy to compensate for your low blood sugar levels. So don’t compensate by skipping meals or over-exercising, instead get back on track by sticking to your usual meal plan.

Tip #3: Be More Flexible

The more diet rules you have the more likely you are to break them. To end your ongoing battle with food you’ll need to be more flexible. Let go of the rigid rules that give you the illusion of control so that you can avoid feeling bad when you break them. It sounds backwards, but the sooner you’re able to accept that it’s impossible to stick to strict food rules, the sooner you’ll stop feeling so out of control.

Tip #4: Change Your Focus

Stop thinking about food in terms of weight. Instead of setting weight goals think about the bigger picture. What do health, wellbeing, energy, and fitness mean to you? Don’t exercise to lose weight, exercise to be stronger, fitter, healthier, and happier. Likewise don’t diet to lose weight, eat healthy foods to fuel your body and treat your body well. It might sound like a small difference, but shifting your focus away from weight loss will help you to break free of your struggle with food.

Dr. Emma Boles is a Clinical Psychologist who enjoys working with children, young people, families, and adults, and specialises in anxiety, depression, stress, self-esteem, perfectionism, and other life issues.


 

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