Do you think about food all the time? Do you worry about your obsession with food? Well, you can retrain your brain to have a healthier attitude to what you eat – and I’ve done it!
I can remember standing in front of the mirror in the bedroom at home, on the brink of tears, despairing at what to wear because I had gained so much weight and nothing in my wardrobe fitted. I can remember saying “you big fat cow” out loud to myself and then promising myself that was it. I was not going to buy the next dress size up. I was going to diet and lose weight. Definitely! Now!
Then I went downstairs and, without realising what I was doing, I toasted a round of bread, spread it thickly with butter, topped it with lots of marmalade – and ate it. Then another slice. And then another! At this point I remember coming to my senses and realising what I had done. I was beside myself. I felt I must be going mad. It was frightening.
Well, that was over 30 years ago, but I can remember the feelings of panic as though it was yesterday. I struggled to lose my excess two-and-a-half stone over the following months and battled to keep my weight down for many years thereafter. It was because of those feelings, that I started my own slimming classes to help others who loved food just as much as I did, people who wanted to be slim more than anything in the world and yet, continually carried on sabotaging their attempts.
So, how did I change my thought processes to give me a healthy attitude to food that I have today? I don’t binge anymore. I know what feeling full feels like. I can put my knife and fork down and leave food on the side of my plate without feeling guilty about the starving millions. I can throw leftovers away and not feel bad about it. Here is how I have cracked it.
1. DO NOT KEEP WEIGHING YOURSELF. If you go to a class, weigh yourself there rather than at home. Weighing yourself everyday – and I know some people do several times a day – is madness. It is misleading, unrealistic, really unhelpful.
2. PLAN AHEAD your week’s meals then prepare your shopping list. If you don’t you will be thinking all day “what shall we have tonight?” and food will be too much on your mind. If you know what you are having, and you have the ingredients, you don’t have to think about it at all until you start cooking.
3. SELECT FOODS THAT YOU ENJOY and that fill you up at all three meal times. People choose different cereals for breakfast for various reasons – taste, fibre contents to keep them regular, high bulk/low calorie to give a bigger bowlful. You choose what you want, but select one that will keep you going until lunchtime without snacking.
4. DO NOT SNACK BETWEEN MEALS. Don’t even let it be an option. Providing you know what you are having later, and it’s something that you like, look forward to a good helping of that and tell your brain to tell your stomach that it has to wait! If you are feeling hungry, that’s good. It shows you are burning your fat stores for energy to keep you going!
5. RECOGNISE YOUR TRIGGER FOODS. They are the ones that once you have a taste of them you can’t stop eating them. For me this is definitely Pringles! I “manage” this by only buying a mini pack very occasionally, for instance on holiday, and making sure my husband knows I have bought them so that we can share them. We can still have these foods, but they must be seen as an allowable, occasional treat, not a forbidden food that we binge on because we shouldn’t have them!
6. LEAVING FOOD ON YOUR PLATE IS OK! Portion sizes in restaurants are so huge these days that it is wholly appropriate to leave what you can’t eat. Alternatively, ask for a child’s portion. Allow your brain to listen to your stomach. You do not have to eat everything.
7. FILL UP ON VEGETABLES. If you have a large appetite, then fill up on healthy, low-fat, low-calorie vegetables. Pile them on alongside your meat, fish or chicken, enjoy them and feel full.
8. DON’T PANIC IF YOU CAN’T CHOOSE YOUR FOOD. Sometimes we get invited out and find ourselves presented with food that is wonderful but not low-fat. Don’t worry! Eat it and enjoy it BUT moderate your portion sizes and don’t have second helpings. Be more active the next day.
9. FILL YOURSELF UP WITH A LONG DRINK BEFORE EACH MEAL. It helps you to feel fuller more quickly and will effectively aid your weight-loss or weight-maintenance progress.
10. TRAIN YOUR BRAIN NOT TO THINK ABOUT FOOD. You are in control of your brain and you can train it to change its thought about buying a chocolate bar, tell your brain you can’t do that (just as you tell your brain that you can’t rob that bank or steal that car), then consciously think about something else. You could phone a friend or go for a walk or do an odd job. Whatever it is, just don’t allow your brain to ponder on the temptation of the moment that you know will sabotage your efforts.
So, there you have it, 10 tips to change your attitude towards food. If you can do this, you will be able to relax and enjoy food from the right perspective and, most importantly, do so for the rest of your slim and healthy life. It’s up to you and remember, you CAN do this if you want to badly enough!
This blog was written by Susan Booth of Alive Fitness, Derby for more on Susan and her classes www.alive-fitness.co.uk