Eating is a Habit and a Mindset - The Life You Love

Eating is a Habit and a Mindset

As a little bit of background, I've struggled to take care of my physical health for years.  I didn't drink enough water, eat enough fruits and veggies, exercise, eat on a schedule, or eat enough calories.  Instead, I chugged a lot of coffee and soda, snacked on candy and potato chips, told myself I didn't need to exercise because I was skinny, never ate breakfast, rarely ate lunch, and tended to binge on snacks after dinner.

I convinced myself that I could do anything I wanted to when it came to food and exercise because I was skinny.  And skinny somehow equaled healthy in my mind.  I would literally go days without drinking water or even looking at a vegetable, but it was fine because I liked the number on the scale and I liked how I looked in the mirror.

Recently, I asked my therapist about my eating habits because I was actually feeling pretty concerned with my habits.  That's when she reminded me that eating, just like anything else, really is a habit.  Not only that, but it's totally connected to how you feel and what you think.  We talked about the basics of what we know about habits, such as:

  • It's easier to replace a habit than to completely stop a habit.
  • It takes time to change your habits (a lot of people will tell you 21 days, but there's research that says it can take up to 200ish days!).
  • You will feel uncomfortable while changing your habits because it's abnormal for your body.

We also talked about eating as being all about your mindset about food.  I know, I know - it sounds kind of weird.  But trust me, it actually helps you.  My therapist and I use my sessions to brainstorm "homework" for the time between our next session.  The homework that I'm working on is keeping a food journal.  In my journal, I've been including:

  • Everything I eat.
  • Total calorie count.
  • Step count.
  • Energy level.
  • Mood.
  • How I feel about food.
  • How I feel about exercise.
  • How I feel about my body.

I track my food and activity through my FitBit app, but I feel that writing it down makes it feel a little more personal.  I may also start using the 21 Day Fix format to help me get more vegetables and fruit into my diet.  It helps me to have a visualization and examples of what I should be eating to keep my body healthy.  I also plan to address my current eating habits by slowly replacing them with new and improved habits.  Right now, that means small steps like replacing chips with snacks like rice cakes, creating a meal plan in the morning and sticking to it throughout the day, and writing in my food journal.  

Obviously, I'm currently replacing my old snacking habits with better habits.  I'm using the daily meal plan to keep myself present in the moment and to remind myself that it takes one day at a time to change a habit.  Plus, using a daily meal plan allows me to listen to what my body wants and needs, which will help with those discomfort levels.  By keeping a journal, I'm reinforcing my habits and I have something that keeps me accountable.  I'm also using my journal to reflect upon how I feel about food, exercise, and my body.

After reading my story, how do you feel about your mindset about food?  How do you feel about your habits surrounding food?  What can you do to improve both your food mindset and your eating habits?  If you want to dig a little deeper, I recommend using this free Mindful Eating Quiz worksheet from Spotebi. And for your journalers out there, I found this list of 30 prompts about your relationship with food, which they refer to as emotional eating. Emotions and thoughts are a huge part of any behavior, even if you don't always realize it.

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