Food plays an important role in our lives. For most of us, it is more than just a means of sustenance. For some, it is a source of great pleasure. For others, it is a source of painful consequences. And for many, it is both.
If you are like me, you know that on one hand, we cannot eat anything, any time, without unwanted consequences. On the other hand, we know that we will not permanently refrain from eating food that we consider unhealthy. In an effort to satisfy our conflicting desires, we attempt to balance our choices: Sometimes we eat healthily, and sometimes we eat whatever we want.
Rather than eating a balanced diet, we vacillate too often between the extremes. Physically, we haven’t achieved the weight, health, or energy that we want. Mentally and emotionally, we don’t feel in control of what we eat, and we frequently debate our choices. We are not clear on what we want to achieve with our diet, how we will achieve it, and why our attempts to follow a diet often fail.
As we struggle with our diet, what we often fail to understand is that we are attempting to control what we eat by following two flawed strategies:
• We believe that our diet is all about the food. We think, “If I can only find the right diet, I will achieve my goals.” In reality, while our food choices are a critical component of our diet, it is our relationship with our food that needs work in order to sustain a dietary change.
• We wait until we are hungry and then debate our food choices. Hunger can be a very powerful opponent. Unless we prepare mentally and emotionally for the temptation of our comfort-driven eating habits, we will often lose this battle.
The Solution: A Diet Management System
A Diet Management System does not tell us what we should eat. Rather, it is a tool that we can call on monthly, weekly, daily, and hourly if necessary. It helps us more often make choices that lead to the results we want, and less often make choices based solely on instant gratification. When we practice eating differently, our desire for less healthy foods should diminish as new eating habits are created.
How Does a Diet Management System Work?
If we want to remember our appointments or tasks, we may use a calendar, to-do list, daily planner, or other type of organizing system. A Diet Management System can work in a similar way. For some people, a method of reminding themselves to follow their diet, plan their meals, and go food shopping may be all that is necessary to change how they eat. For others, a Diet Management System can help alter the thoughts, feelings, and emotions behind undesirable food choices.
To gain a better understanding of how your thoughts, feelings, and emotions may influence what you eat, the next time you face a food choice, stop for a moment to ask yourself the following questions:
· Am I imagining how good the food will taste? Or am I imagining how great I will look and feel because of the healthy choices I am about to make?
· Do I feel stressed and hope that this choice will make me feel better? Or do I realize that there are other ways I can relieve my stress and that I don’t need to deviate from my diet plan?
· Do I feel powerless at the moment, as if I have no other choice? Or do I realize that I am about to make an excuse because I always have a choice?
· Am I so hungry that I will eat the first thing I see to quell the hunger? Or do I realize that this is just another excuse that I am now ready to abandon?
Although we may not be aware of them, our thoughts, feelings, and emotions always come first, and our actions come second. Through a Diet Management System, we can learn to slow down, become more aware of how we process our choices, and break the patterns of behavior that don’t work for us.
Alan Aronoff is a Diet Success Coach and author of the book Diet Success Strategies-67 Ways to Take Control of Your Food and Your Life. For more information, visit www.DietSuccessStrategies.com.