It’s 8pm, you’ve been “good” all day and you’re just sitting down to watch your favorite Netflix series. It’s “you” time. The day is wrapping up and you are unwinding, you should get a treat. Heck, you DESERVE a treat. What’s one scoop, errrr pint of ice cream? A glass, errr bottle of wine?A bag of popcorn? What will it matter?!
Does this sound familiar?
For many of us we find ourselves stuck in the habit of eating our feelings, emotions, stress, etc. at night. It can definitely happen any time of day but this seems to be the hardest time for many of my clients. We can get through the day most days just fine, unless of course our coworker who likes to bake brings in her 10 different types of Christmas cookies, then all bets are off. Then we get home, go through all the to-dos and by the time we get to our couch, we decide we no longer care how “good” we were all day, it’s time to treat yo self!
“Good” All Day
Let’s back up for one second. When I talk about diet (you can read more here), I don’t love using the word good or bad. After all, what does good or bad even mean?! What’s good for you could be bad for someone else, or vice versa. So to call yourself “good” all day could just mean that you were restricting yourself which later could lead to some type of binge, or feeling like you’re out of control as it relates to food.
The problem with being “good” means that we have the potential to be “bad.” Our diet doesn’t need these labels, because once we label our diet as such, we run the risk of going off track and causing ourselves to feel so much guilt. This guilt then leads to more restriction, followed by more bingeing, and more guilt. See how this cycle continues? This is how you are sabotaging your diet. Being “good” isn’t’ doing you any good.
Habits or Hunger?
This vicious cycle of being “good”, followed by going off track and being “bad”, can become so for many reasons. I think the main reason we get into this cycle is because we believe that to reach our goals we must be“good” and if we are “bad” we are sabotaging ourselves and we know that if we just stopped we’d be golden. The problem is that along the way we develop a habit, and not in a good way.
We start losing touch with our hunger cues and instead we follow habits that continue this cycle. We eat a small breakfast, a slightly bigger than small lunch, a normal dinner, and then let all hell break loose at night when we’re tired, hungry, and downright miserable from not eating enough all day.
We also create this habit of eating when we are not hungry but instead when we are happy, sad, stressed, bored, angry, etc. We feed emotions not hunger. At the end of your day you don’t have the power to say NO anymore so you give into the emotions. Now, there could be some hunger there but we cannot tell the difference between the hunger or the emotion anymore.
Before you eat, you should be hungry, after you eat, you should be not-hungry. It’s that simple, or so it should be. Read more about intuitive eating here, and start trying to listen to hunger not emotions, and it may start to help break the cycle of sabotage.
How to Stop Sabotaging
Now that we have acknowledged that we do, in fact, sabotage ourselves, let’s try and find a way out of the vicious cycle. If you are reading this and are having feelings of regret, guilt, or shame, stop right now, and recognize you’re human, it happens, but we can do something about it, okay?!
Okay, here you go, some tips on how to stop sabotaging your diet:
Start talking positively about your food.
Instead of “good” think of all food as good, instead of“bad” think of that food as treats. The more negatively you talk about your food, the more guilt, shame, and regret you will create and the sabotage cycle will continue on.
Stop talking negatively about yourself.
Instead of thinking poorly about yourself, start finding ways to think positively. When we talk negatively about ourselves, it opens the doors to feed our feelings. Learn to say at least 1 nice thing about yourself daily.
Stop restricting food in the beginning of the day, thinking that it’s going to help later when you go off the rails. Instead eat whole, real foods, at all meals & snacks so that you feel satisfied. Name of the game: eat when hungry.
Create a List
Make a list of foods that you will eat with no stopping. For me? It’s tortilla chips or cookies. If you can, do NOT bring these foods into the house, instead enjoy them outside of the house at restaurants & special occasions. If you must keep them in the house to keep the peace, put them in a place where they are off limits (i.e. a shelf, drawer, etc.)
Stock Up Smart!
Keep foods in the house that are convenient to eat but are not going to make you lose control. Maybe its baby carrots & hummus, apples & almonds, or some other healthy convenient food. Be honest with yourself and find foods that are enjoyable but not destructive. Love peanut butter but have no control? Maybe peanuts are a better idea, or maybe packets of peanut butter so that you have a logical stopping point.
At the end of the day we are all human, and emotional eating happens. However, we can stop the sabotage, we just have to be more aware and find out how to break out of the habit of sabotaging. If you can’t go it alone, find someone who can help you!
Do you sabotage your diet?! If so, what’s the #1 way you do?