Nobody likes to feel deprived, yet many of us have felt this way with food. Often it goes like this: You are out with your friends or at a party and have decided to make healthy choices. Suddenly, you notice that everyone around you is enjoying the nachos and wings while you’re reaching for the carrots. They seem to be having so much fun and don’t seem worried about watching what they eat. Why is it that they can eat whatever they want? It always seems as though you are the only one who is struggling with this. How come it feels like you are being punished?
From there, it often spins into you feeling “broken” and maybe even jealous. Now you’re REALLY not having fun at the party! These feelings can easily sabotage even the most sincere weight loss efforts.
The real issue isn’t the food itself, rather the story we’re telling ourselves about it.
Shifting your eating habits can be challenging at first, however, shifting your perspective can eliminate much of the struggle.
Here are a few simple steps that can help you feel more empowered in making these changes:
- It’s always your choice. When you say “no” to the food, you are actually saying “yes” to looking and feeling your best… and feeling good about your choice. Take a deep breath and refocus on why you made the decision to eat healthy in the first place. What suffers when you don’t follow through? Do you waste a day beating yourself up? Are you shorter with loved ones? Remembering that it’s a choice and not a necessity allows you to decide what decisions feel right for you, and avoids a night-long exhausting battle.
- Check in with yourself. Did you plan accordingly knowing there would be party food around? Eating a healthy meal that includes protein before heading to an event can prevent you from overindulging. These situations take added energy until your new habits become natural. However, planning ahead is an important step in your success.
- Don’t compare yourself to everyone else. We assume that other people have it easier; that they can eat whatever they want and not worry about their health or their weight. After almost 20 years of working in this field, I can tell you that’s not the case. None of us can eat poorly all the time without it affecting our health, and likely our weight. Perhaps these people are using the 80/20 rule and have made this is their “20”, eating healthy the other 80% of the time. Maybe they’re having smaller portions than it appears, or perhaps they too will feel badly about their choices tomorrow (but aren’t comfortable sharing those feelings). We all have our own unique challenges, but comparing yourself to others only leads to unrealistic expectations.
- Dig down deeper. What are you deprived of… really? Chances are it’s not the taste of nachos, because one innocent bite would take care of that. Rather, it’s a feeling of freedom or comfort or sometimes even fun. Often our relationship with food reveals where we aren’t feeling fulfilled elsewhere. Focusing in on what area you REALLY feel deprived in helps to fill the void. Are you getting enough self-care? Do you feel fulfilled at work? Ask yourself what’s missing and what you can do to help fill that void.
Day by day and moment by moment we are making the choices that are shaping our lives. If we continue to make the same choices, we’ll continue to get the same results. New habits take energy and effort until they become second nature. But the payoff is more than worth it!