If you’ve ever tried to change what you eat, you might have noticed that it’s hard to do. We eat what we like, and we like what we eat.
Our food choices are affected by many things, including what we ate as a child, which foods are comfort foods and which are not, health and cost considerations, and what we think we should eat.
Many textbooks, research projects and scientific articles have been published trying to explain why people have so much trouble changing what they eat. This is an ongoing area of research with no real answers or solutions.
People often find that when they try to change their diet it actually works in reverse, making them feel anxious and eating more of the foods they are trying to avoid. For example, if you really love ice cream and are told you shouldn’t eat ice cream, you may find that all you can think about is ice cream. That’s my personal experience, too.
Having talked with and counseled hundreds of people over my 50+ year career as a Registered Dietitian, I’ve learned that people often slip back into old habits. I’ve recently been reminded of this, having been advised by a health care provider to change my own diet.
My first reaction was “I can’t possibly do that!”-- even though the rational side of me says, “Sure, let’s try that.” As I’ve thought about it, and considered each proposed change, I’ve found that I don’t really want to do most of them, and honestly I don’t think I can. It’s just too uncomfortable for me to make the proposed changes. The power of food and patterns of eating are just too powerful.
One approach to considering changing your diet is to think about how you will feel physically, emotionally and even spiritually after you eat certain foods. You can learn about how foods make you feel by tracking your responses in these areas over time. This can be done in writing, if you wish, noting the time you eat, what and how much you eat and how you feel after eating. If writing it all down doesn’t feel manageable, just think about it. Notice how your body feels after eating and one or two hours later.
Check in with your body and emotions. Perhaps you feel overly full, have heartburn, or just generally don’t feel good. Some people feel uncomfortable after eating a high fat meal. Others notice certain foods give them gas, burping or nausea. You might be able to pinpoint the types of food, amounts or combination of foods that left you feeling uncomfortable.
People also tell me they feel guilty after eating certain foods. Guilt means you did something wrong, something that goes against your values. Unless you have a medical reason for not eating these foods, guilt is not necessary. Many of us have decided that certain types and amounts of food are forbidden and breaking those “rules” makes us wrong.
You can examine these beliefs, check them out with a dietitian to see if your guilt is warranted, or do some research yourself about it. I would be happy to hear from you if you have questions or want to discuss any of this with me.
Ellen Glovsky is a Key Biscayne resident, published author and Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach. Her work focuses on helping people explore and enhance their relationship with food, using a “Health At Every Size” approach. She is also involved in the island community with her work on KBCF’s Women’s Giving Circle. To learn more, visit nutrition-coach.com
To read Ellen Glovksy's last Taste of KB, click here.
To read the last Taste of Key Biscayne, click here.