The thoughts behind the eating.

What a shitty day that was…I need some chocolate.

We’ve all been there haven’t we? If it’s not chocolate for you maybe it’s ice cream. If it’s not ice cream for you maybe it’s chips. If it’s not chips for you maybe it’s lollies. No matter what our fine female palate’s enjoy, we all every now and again, indulge in a food or drink to help pacify our feelings. The psychology of eating runs deeper and further back than you think and those late night binges aren’t always simply a by-product of losing motivation. 

The link between what our brain’s are trained to do and what we put in our mouths have been connected since the beginning of our time. On a base level, we as humans eat and drink for survival. It is intrinsically built into our operating system (our brain) to seek nourishment in order to stay alive. For our ancestors, this worked well. Their primary focus was to seek out the food and water they would need in order to provide the vital energy and nutrients they required to survive and survive well. Nowadays, however, in a privileged environment where we do not need to hunt for our food, we do not need to ration our portions and we do not need to walk km’s for fresh water, our brains fight contradicting signals which tell us to consume. Food and drink is cheap, plentiful and used as a rewarding behaviour.

Gone are the days in which we simply rely on the complex interaction of our body’s processes telling our brain we need food. Along with this we’ve also overridden the processes that tell us consumption should be stopped once we’ve eaten enough. The regulation of our eating is continuously challenged by ‘triggers’ that cause us to want to eat in the absence of hunger and continue eating once we are full.

Some instances in which this occurs:

Social Factors

  • You’re full after finishing a meal with friends but all the others want to order dessert so you do as well.
  • You don’t feel like drinking this weekend but there’s an event on and you don’t want to have to explain why you’re not drinking so you just have a couple.

Environmental Factors

  • You’re not hungry at all but you walk past an ice cream shop with fun colours and great lighting and suddenly feel the urge to have an ice cream.
  • You’re watching a movie and someone drinks a glass of wine and suddenly you feel consumed by your desire to have a drink.

Emotional Factors

  • You’ve had a terrible night’s sleep and your brain is telling you that you need energy so you look for that energy in food.
  • You’ve had a shitty day at work and your brain links sugar with it’s reward system so you reward yourself with some chocolate. 

Now after reading through that table, try to avoid telling yourself ‘Well I’m totally fucked then’. Yes the link between our brain’s psychology and our eating is deeply ingrained, however, it is possible to use awareness around this link to our advantage. Awareness is the first step in breaking a habit and that’s exactly what your brain is doing with your psychology and eating, it’s forming habits.

How to use awareness around this link to our advantage with the four steps to success!

1: Now that you have taken the time to increase your knowledge around your eating habits, write down all of the ‘trigger’s you believe are in control of your consumption.

Example:

Step 1: Social – Feeling the need to eat out and drink every weekend with friends because I feel peer pressure. 
Environmental – I definitely fall for the fun packaged chocolates at the checkout aisle 11/10 times. 
Emotional – I know when I’m overloaded at work and feel like I’m doing so much towards my career that I deserve a reward. That generally comes in the form of a bottle of red!

2: Find the intention behind the behaviour for each of your triggers.

Example:

Step 2: Peer Pressure – If I break it down I guess it comes down to acceptance and feeling as though I’m more accepted if I do what the group is doing rather than challenge it. My intention is to be accepted.
Grabbing the fun packaged sweets – I think this comes down to pure and utter FOMO (Fear of missing out). When I grab it it’s like my brain goes ‘I HAVE to have this’ rather than I’m choosing to. My intention is to satisfy my wants.
Bottle of red after a hard day’s work – It’s pretty clear to me with this one that I indulge in a drink when I feel like I’ve ‘earned’ it or I ‘deserve’ it. I’ve put up with shit in my day and got through it so I reward myself with a glass or 3 of wine. My intention is to feel balanced.

3: Strategise a way you can still implement your intention but change your action.

Example:

Step 3: Intention – Acceptance: I actually don’t believe my friends wouldn’t accept me if I made different choices every now and again. Maybe I could organise different outings with my friends that allowed me to feel more acceptance with them so that when we did go out I wouldn’t feel the need to do everything they’re doing.
Intention -Satisfying my wants: I could put the money I save from not buying the treats into a jar and when I have enough money I can buy that dress I’ve been eyeing off.
Intention – Feel balanced:I think finding a work/home/life balance is what I’m really after. I could put a plan in place to ensure that I’m getting enough time for me and the things I want out of life.

4: Put a plan in place to take ACTION!

Example:

Step 4: Intention – Acceptance: Organise catch ups with friends that don’t involve drinking. Plan at least one catch up per month that involves a breakfast or walk or beach date or other activity that won’t contradict the habit I’m trying to break. I can also message my closest friends and let them know what habit I’m breaking so they can support me and reiterate for me that I’m accepted for who I am rather than what I do.
Intention -Satisfying my wants: I will open up a new bank account called ‘Splurge’. Every time I say no to a treat I will transfer the exact dollar amount to that account. Once I have enough for something I really want but don’t necessarily need, like a new dress or a new bag, I will buy it guilt free.
Intention – Feel balanced: I will do up a weekly plan and ensure that each week I am getting in self care time and time for what’s important to me. I will schedule it in the same way I schedule in work hours. It will be a non negotiable that on at least 2 work nights I get 45 minutes of me time.

Remember the 4 steps to success don’t work unless you do. Try to avoid discovering your triggers but continuing to allow them to carve your path. Take control knowing that your brain is there to work in YOUR best interest and use your increased awareness to help it better understand what you really want.

Last but not least, as always, if you are having trouble with any of your 4 steps to success, don’t hesitate to contact me through our contact page on this site or our socials. 

When women support each other, incredible things happen.

Jx

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