How to motivate yourself to eat better
This is the time of year many people with those lofty New Year’s resolutions and big goals have now become harder to keep focusing on. This challenge may be the reason you feel like you can’t stop eating your favorite food. For many people, chocolate is that one favorite food!
Staying connected to your priorities and goals is a challenge at times, isn’t it? I get it! I used to struggle with making choices that helped my body feel better physically, and emotionally, as well as kept me connected with my core desires in life.
That is one of the reasons you will love the tips that will help you stay focused on becoming healthier and feeling better in your body. The challenge is finding ways that set you up for success when you feel you have lost your motivation. You know, the times when you say to yourself, “I wonder why I can’t stop eating!”
What to do when your motivation to eat better is lost
Clients come to me wanting to improve their health and with lots of motivation, in the beginning. You know how it goes, you start a new diet plan, and you say:
“This is going to be the one”
“No more, this is the last time I do this, again”
“This time will be different!”
But what happens after the “honeymoon” is over? or during the holidays? or when there is a major life event like a death in the family? You may feel like you just can’t stop eating that one favorite food. The challenging times in life are when you resort to the trusty practices you know help you to feel better, at least temporarily.
In order to find a way to stick to your goals and continue to stay motivated, you must first understand why you have a drive to “go to” your favorite foods and find a solution that helps with long-term motivation.
Finding your balance so you are not overwhelmed helps keep motivation. Too far on both ends of the spectrum feels unstable. You know you can’t eat your favorite food all the time as that practice does not feel right.
At the same time, if you are rarely consuming your favorite foods, this restriction is not realistic long-term. Intuitive eating is a long-term approach that helps with balancing, for more information see “What is Intuitive Eating.”
Everyone has unique reasons to why they eat
People never get the full picture of a person’s unique reasons as to why they eat without getting an in-depth assessment. Willpower is such a misused term. The reason you fall off a diet plan or your goals is not your “willpower.”
Brief conversations usually don’t provide the depth needed to understand why a person consumes food or chooses the health behaviors for them.
Shoot, some of the work I do with clients takes a bit to get down to the nitty-gritty. You must first feel comfortable disclosing information about your private eating habits. You know, the ones you hide because you think it doesn’t matter.
While you may think “if I just do better with a plan, the late-night behaviors will go away,” this is not usually the case. In reality, that avoidance of the real issue just digs your behaviors deeper.
Once clients realize they won’t be judged and overcome the shameful feeling about their food use, they are more open and see I can help connect to the why they choose foods.
While each client is different with unique experiences, there are 4 main themes clients struggle with food in some form.
The common reasons I see clients feel like they can’t stop eating that one favorite food:
- Waiting until too hungry to eat. When you are famished, you tend to eat quickly and do not pay attention to satisfaction and fullness cues.
- Banning the food item when on a health kick. The banning of food and only allowing the item when you are “off” the strict plan or on a “cheat day” sets the person up for an overeating or binge episode.
- A lack of adequate self-care practices. When important and essential self-care activities are lacking, favorite foods are used to “fill” the need or replace the needed practice.
- Labeling the item as “bad food” and giving the food more power because of the label. You know, when you end up eating the so-called “bad food,” you might as well keep going because you’ve already blown it. See more here on “Why there is no good food or bad food.”
You probably connect with 1 or all of the themes. Let’s look at an example of why you may feel like you can’t stop eating chocolate.
Why you feel like you can’t stop eating that one favorite food
When you find that you can’t stop eating a particular food, like chocolate, that can feel uncomfortable. You wonder why chocolate has such a pull on you and you lose the motivation for eating better.
These more challenging times of eating too much of your favorite food are when real change can happen. These are the times when gimmicks, fads, and impractical diet tactics fail you! When you want your chocolate, no tasteless protein shake will really satisfy you. Remember, “chocolate fits in a “healthy meal” plan”.
While there is more difficulty in continuing practices that support your health and improved eating habits after the excitement of a change wears off and life’s struggles hit, you are not doomed.
You can still eat your favorite food and keep your goal long-term while supporting your emotional and physical health. Many clients find that when their health goals rely on practices that remove their favorite food altogether, they are challenged. You know, when replacement foods for their favorite foods are used all the time, without allowing their favorite foods at all.
Let’s look at an example by exploring using protein shakes instead of chocolate
Having a variety of foods like protein shakes is helpful and convenient so you do not always go to chocolate. This helps with variety and getting more nutrient-rich foods in the diet. However, if chocolate was your favorite food and you never allow a piece of chocolate every now and then, eventually, you will find yourself eating chocolate.
When you finally give in, the chocolate piece often becomes an all-out binge where you feel out of control and uncomfortable afterward. Finding your balance with your favorite food helps.
When you find your sweet spot of balance and are not feeling overwhelmed at either end of the food spectrum, this helps keep motivation.
Too far on both ends of the spectrum feels unstable. You know you can’t eat your favorite food all the time as that practice does not feel right. At the same time, if you are rarely consuming your favorite foods, this restriction is not sustainable long-term.
Your realistic plan to help with motivation to eat better
A realistic approach that helps with motivation addresses both your love of specific foods and finds a balance with goals.
Motivation to eat better comes with a balance of your goals and a love of specific foods.
This approach must find the connections between your favorite foods. Change starts when you link the emotional connection, along with understanding what emotional purpose the food serves for you. Then you can have the food item worked into your wellness plan on some level.
People who take the time to process challenges do better with finding the balance of their favorite foods in a way that supports their goals.
If you do not have a trusted nutrition professional who you feel comfortable enough to disclose your private food experiences with, find someone you can connect with, like me! Schedule time to discuss how we can support your goals.
The big picture that includes motivation to eat better comes with a balance.
Try balancing your goals with your love of specific foods.
The real key to finding a realistic plan and sticking with your motivation is to include your favorite food into your eating plan in a realistic way that allows satisfaction. Remember that this food can never fill a self-care need.
By considering how you talk to yourself about your favorite food and loss of motivation, you can feel more comfortable and find a realistic long-term plan.
You’ve got to address your love of foods with a balance. That balance is one that finds a way you can eat your favorite foods regularly enough to feel satisfied and truly enjoy the food.
At the same time, a plan that nourishes your body and mind in a way that works towards your goals is how you find your balance. Being more mindful with your food, such as with intuitive eating, is a great way to connect with and enjoy your favorite foods.