Ever get that feeling that life and food is happening TO you. That you’re spinning around-and-around between work and home and social commitments. That you’re just managing to get to each event with your head still attached let alone thinking about packing food and being prepared. You’re not alone.
For most people, the pace of life and the stressors we face make it very difficult to think clearly about food. It’s all about surviving. Getting through the day.
But that state of ‘survival’ often means that our diet quality suffers. We opt for the quick and convenient option and we don’t have the capacity to make changes for health and wellbeing.
So, if you are feeling out of control here are 4 things you can do THIS WEEK to get back in the driver seat.
- SET SOME TIME ASIDE
Life is crazy! There’s no way around it. And the problem of feeling out of control with food isn’t going to go away until you give yourself some time to problem solve. Think about how you handle any other problem at work, at home, with friends. You take the time to identify what’s going wrong and you make a plan to change it. We all need the time and headspace to do this with food as well. Otherwise what we allow will continue.
But this time won’t appear in your schedule by itself. There are always tasks to get done and errands to run. Or those little breaks that do appear get swallowed by social media and reading online articles (you have my full permission to put this article down and use this time if you like).
So pull out your calendar or your planner and book in a 15 minute date with yourself to make a plan for food.
- PICK 1 THING
On of the biggest mistakes I see people make with food and planning is that they go too big, try to do too much and set themselves up to fail. Getting in control of your food does not mean you need to create a master plan and have every ingredient planned perfectly.
Ain’t nobody got time for that!
You need to start small. And I mean REALLY small. So small that it almost feels too easy. The aim is not to overhaul your diet and food choices (You don’t have the time or energy for that). The aim is to help you feel a little bit more in control.
So, while one piece of fruit a day does not a healthy diet make, at least it’s something you CAN control.
Here are some options for that 1 thing you can change:
- Having a vegetable with lunch each day
- Eating 2 pieces of fruit each day
- Packing a vegetable snack
- Sticking to 1 treat food a day
- Deciding on your afternoon snack before you get home from work.
- Packing my lunch the night before
- Getting my breakfast things out the night before
- Use my 5 steps (link to previous article) to plan out dinner or lunch for next week
- TICK IT OFF YOUR LIST .. EVERY DAY
In the field of psychology there is a concept called self-efficacy, which is all about whether we believe we can achieve something or not. A high self-efficacy means that you feel confident that you can nail something, and often means you are more likely to do it. A low self-efficacy means that you’re a bit unsure about whether you can do it. In this case you will usually avoid the task or do a half-arsed effort and fail.
By setting really small goals and ticking them off over and over (and over and over and over) again, we build our own self-efficacy. We prove to ourselves, ‘YES I CAN DO THIS!’. That builds momentum and helps us to keep going.
As a list-lover, I get an disproportionate amount of satisfaction from ticking something off. So I often put things on my list just so that I can tick it off. While not everyone functions with lists, I challenge you go give this a try.
Put the 1 thing you chose in the step above, as a daily or weekly task in your to-do list/planner/calendar and TICK THAT BAD-BOY OFF!!! Even if you don’t get it every day, you’ll become more consistent and you’ll feel more in control.
- STOP READING ABOUT HEALTHY EATING
I have spoken about this before in my article on how do reduce food anxiety. The fact is, there is too much nutrition information out there and much of it isn’t accurate.
Honestly, it is not worth your time. Even if it means you stop reading this article RIGHT NOW… I will not be offended. (Wow, that’s the second time I’ve told you to stop reading … whoops)
As many of my clients tell me ‘I know what I should be eating, I just don’t do it’. We can know that we need to eat more veg or plan out meals but we keep looking for the next NEW SHINY thing. We keep searching for that silver bullet. If I am the first one to break this to you, I’m sorry. There is no silver bullet.
There isn’t one thing that will change your relationship with food or make you reach your wellbeing goals. These things only happen when we consistently plan, prepare and make mindful food choices.
So rather than wasting your time and energy looking at another magazine which tells you that blueberries are a great source of ‘x’ or that the ‘y’ diet will revolutionise your life, take a step back and focus on doing the basics over and over (and over and over and over) again.
Healthy eating is a skill and we can help you.