I like to equate the part of my job that involves helping people sort through their struggles with food to the experience of running a marathon. Both feature an end result that is unbelievably rewarding and ultimately life changing, but the process of getting to that magical moment involves inescapable, repetitive pounding and a ridiculous amount of pain.
Repetitive pounding, of course, because it takes countless times of hammering home the same message before someone finally decides to give credence to what you say. And the pain, which is more akin to torture, comes to listening to people’s excuses (or pardon me, “explanations”) about the challenges they face when it comes to eating right (I don’t have the time/I won’t give up wine/I tried that already, etc.) that only further confirms that they’re getting in their own way.
Personally, I have a favorite excusatory one-liner that pretty much sends off firecrackers in my mind’s eye every time I hear it, and it is simply, I have no control. Yes, just those four little words – which typically precede some sort of self-destructive behavior, such as eating a pint of ice cream or devouring a bag of chips – have the power to send my typically rock-bottom blood pressure soaring.
Because here’s my unfiltered, uncensored, it’s-time-to-be-real-about-this-crap, take on the “I have no control” situation: It’s bogus. Completely. Because unless someone has you blindfolded with a gun to your head forcing you to eat that oh-so-forbidden food, the only person in control – and sticking the fork in their mouth – is you. You hear me?
Think about this for a second, because it can be a total game changer if you reframe your relationship with food this way, and I speak from experience because it’s honestly one of the most tried and true strategies I have. By simply reminding myself that I always have 100% control over what I’m eating, I feel empowered to make good decisions. This isn’t about being neurotic or obsessive, but rather knowing I have the capacity to say both no and yes.
Because believe it or not, contrary to what you might want to think, the food you put in your mouth may just be the only thing you can control on certain days of the week. Because in the midst of dodging hurdling curveballs in your professional and personal life, you still have to eat, right? So you might as well be smart about it. Otherwise, you risk adding issues with your health and weight to your already overflowing plate.
So try looking at your meals as opportunities to do something right. To actually rack up some points in the take-care-of-yourself game. It may involve some repeated effort, but it in no way should be painful. You should find it comforting that no one but you has the authority to know when to say when.