Three Mindset Shifts That Support Eating Habit Changes
Were you one of the many, many people who have put in place some eating habit changes since New Year's? If so, you're not alone—it's the most common resolution (of course).
Unfortunately, it's also one that has a slim chance of sticking around past February—something you may know from personal experience. What you may not know, however, is why this keeps happening to you. It's maddening! Why can't you get any traction with your new habits? It's not like you haven't been trying!
If you're struggling to make an eating habit change, it's not because you're lazy—it's because your process is faulty.
For lots of people, a lack of results is a recipe for giving up. As a registered #dietitian, #mindful eating instructor and eating #habits coach, it pains me to see so many people lose hope of ever getting their eating habits turned around (or at least improved). I ran a beta-test for my eating habits course last summer and these kinds of statements kept cropping up in group coaching sessions at the beginning of the program: "I guess I'm just too lazy to make it happen," or "I can't keep up with it because I'm lazy and tired," or "This just proves I'm lazy I suppose." Nope. Not at all.
Sure, you may indeed be tired, but I am positive that each of my course participants showed up for themselves and the people they care about in many other ways. And I bet you do, too.
So what does that mean? It means your process is faulty. There is something about the way you're trying to change that isn't working. There's no need to make a moral judgment about yourself if you are struggling with habit change! Instead, focus on your issue like a puzzle you need to solve and you'll be much closer to the course-correction that you're needing.
Here are 3 things to think about and DO to help turn around your eating habit change process so you can start making some progress:
1. Start thinking of yourself as a learner
When someone is learning to do something new, nobody expects him or her to be good at it right out of the gate. When children are learning to walk, do we chide the for falling? Of course not, they're just learning! Each time they fall, they are learning about what they need to do to avoid falling next time. They are gaining strength and skill and confidence. And that's what you'll be getting if you give yourself the gift of a learning period.
We are all learners when we're trying to change our habits. Stop talking to yourself in a negative way simply because you are still trying to get the hang of a new habit. Instead, try some statements like as "I am learning to drink more water," or "I am learning how to get in tune with my hunger and fullness." Saying these things out loud is empowering, but even just thinking them to yourself is helpful. We are our own best cheerleaders when it comes to habit change.
Saying that you "don't" do something or "don't choose to" implies that you have a choice—and you do!
2. Empower yourself by reframing "can't" to "don't"
If you are working on changing a habit by stopping a particular behavior, frame your self-talk in a way that shows you're in charge. One way to do that is by using a "don't" statement. The word "don't" comes with power that the word "can't" will never have. Saying that you "don't" do something or "don't choose to" implies that you have a choice—and you do! Saying you "can't" casts a shadow of weakness over the situation, as if you're not the one making the rules for your own nourishment. You're not at the mercy of your eating habits. Which sounds more empowering to you? "I don't choose eat after dinnertime anymore," or "I can't help eating after dinnertime." See how much the first statement not only reinforces your choice in the situation (and is therefore self-supportive), it also puts you in charge—as you should be.
3. Stop thinking of your habits, food choices or yourself as "bad"
The food you choose to eat is not "good" or "bad," it's only supportive of your goals or not. Same with your eating habits. Are you a better person because you ate a salad and your friend ate a brownie? Of course not. Labeling things this way not only isn't helpful, it only serves to foster shame and encourage judgment. Trying to shame yourself into eating better doesn't work, and usually just makes things worse.
Learning to be our own best cheerleaders can make a world of difference by casting a positive light over the entire process of eating habit change. When you stumble along the way to changing your habits, talking to yourself in a way that empowers you, encourages you and supports you can be a game-changer. It costs nothing, takes next to no time to do and is a powerful tool for our habit change toolbox.
If you're interested in working on your eating habits, consider joining my new FaceBook Group called Eating Habits Lab. It's a free community of like-minded folks who are there to support and encourage each other along the path to improved eating habits. I support the group through video trainings, free resources and materials, and quick live coaching talks that happen about once a week. We welcome new lab partners; join us here, answer a couple quick questions and we'll see you in the Lab!