Thursday, 06 October 2016 21:38

Why It's So Freaking Hard To Eat Healthy

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Why It's So Freaking Hard To Eat Healthy Image credit: John De Boer

Most people have a hard time shifting to a healthier diet, and they don’t realize what’s going on.

Why? Because many of us use foods to meet many of our needs, and taking the food away means that you have no way of dealing with some difficult issues.

Food is a coping mechanism for most people, and to improve our health, we need to adopt new ways of coping.

Some examples of how we use food to deal with life:

  • We eat when we’re stressed.
  • We eat when we’re sad or depressed.
  • We eat as a reward when we’ve done something good.
  • We eat to socialize.
  • We eat because we’re bored.
  • We eat because we’re angry
  • We eat for pleasure.
  • We eat for love. We often associate food with love (our moms might have given us food lovingly as kids, or our lover used it to romance us), and so eating becomes a substitute for love.

All of these (and more) are real desires. We all need love and pleasure and rewards, and ways of dealing with stress, boredom, sadness, loneliness, anger and frustration. For many of us, food has become the easy way of meeting all those needs — and we can’t just take away the food without finding a healthier replacement. If we do, we’ll quickly plunge back into our old habits.

It takes a lot of self-awareness to figure this out and to slowly build new, healthier habits to deal with all of these needs. We have to consciously build up some standby methods that will work better for you and without the self-sabotage and the guilt.

Some things that have worked for me (your mileage will vary):

  • Exercise – a great way to deal with stress, boredom, anger.
  • Meditation – excellent way of calming the mind.
  • Tea – also great for stress, boredom, and anger.
  • People – I’ve learned to get my love from friends and family, and to use them as ways of dealing with my tougher emotions — talking with them, working out with them, simply spending time with them.
  • Cleaning – decluttering.
  • Solitude – Solitude is a great way to deal with tougher emotions (you learn to work out your problems instead of avoiding them by eating food), and solitude can be a reward as well.

These are just a few suggestions, and what works best for you will be highly personal. The notion is to figure out what you’ll do beforehand — before the need arises, or it’ll be too late — and then learn to be aware of these emotional triggers as they happen. When they do happen, very consciously do the new habit instead of the old. It’ll take practice to form the new habit, especially as you’ll probably forget sometimes.

Food has become so many things to us, as individual people and as a society. It’s how we socialize, celebrate holidays, watch sports, show love, find comfort, and deal with pain. And yet, that’s not always healthy: we are getting fatter and fatter because of this addiction, and it’s time we rethink this strategy for coping and loving.

I should note that this idea is the same for any other addiction: biting your nails, smoking, drugs, alcohol, etc. We use them as crutches to cope with our demands, and to beat them we need to find healthier methods of coping and meeting our needs.

Last modified on Thursday, 20 October 2016 11:37
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