Reframing Your Mindset Around Food

January 14, 2019

We’ve all been there! Setting ourselves an inspiring goal and committing to a new healthy lifestyle. ✨

You say to yourself: "This time I believe it will be different, this time I am going to stay committed and achieve the results that I desire!"

However, before you know it, you find yourself reaching into the fridge and grabbing the first bar of chocolate that you see. 🍫


But why is this? Why are we so bad at sticking to our goal?


Eating Triggers ❌:

"With change comes challenge."

The reason that change is difficult is due to our previously ingrained habits. Each of us has various habits (positive and negative) that have slowly embedded over the years. 

Even though we are trying to create new and empowering habits, the old habits will fire-up any time we are emotionally triggered.

These triggers will cause us to revert to our old habits, which is why we're going to take a look an effective reframing technique that will allow you to take back control and make better food choices throughout your journey.


There are five main triggers that can cause you to fall off the wagon 😟:

1. Stress 😌: 

Often we'll reach for comfort food when we're facing stressful situations. 

Most parents will often try to relieve the children's suffering by offering them sweets or unhealthy snacks, saying: “It’s okay Johnny... here have some Haribo’s.”

From a young age, we have been taught to associate pleasurable food with stress relief. Which is why as an adult; overwhelmed, stress or anxiety can easily trigger an unwanted eating pattern.


2. Loneliness 🙅🏻‍♀️: 

Having a lack of supportive relationships can increase the difficulty of us committing to our long-term goals. It’s often the support of those around us that will keep us pushing forward, even when we want to quit.

However, if there is no one around for us to share our achievements with, then we can often feel that the goal that we have set for ourselves is lacking purpose and meaning.

This lack of purpose can leave you saying to yourself: "What's the point! I have no one to share my successes with anyway."


3. Anger 😡: 

Anger is a heightened emotion that can leave us feeling out of control. When we find ourselves becoming frustrated by a situation, we can easily find fall into a pattern of emotional eating. After all, if we're out of control with our emotions then it's not to difficult to imagine a lack of control when it comes to our long-term commitments.

People who are angry and frustrated will often say something like: “screw it! I’m having a bad day; I’ll eat what I want!”


4. Boredom 🤷🏻‍♀️: 

Boredom was previously my trigger. When I’m busy, I can easily take control of my eating habits. However, when I’m bored I’ll often find myself snacking on food just because it’s something to do. 

Eating when bored was a pattern that I learned to break a long time ago, but I still have to put the same coping strategies in place when I’m following a strict health plan.


5. Tiredness 😴: 

For many people when they are tired, they are depleted of mental energy. In other words, their will-power significantly reduced the more tired they become. The lower your will-power, the higher the likelihood that you will snack on unhealthy food.


Breaking the cycle ✅:

Habits come from our automatic response system meaning that they happen unconsciously. we'll often find ourselves going with the flow and regretting it later.

Which is why we want to break the triggers that are causing us to eat unhealthily.  We can do this by actively engaging the conscious part of our brain, rather than allowing the unconscious habits to take hold.

A powerful way of doing this is to use a simple reframing technique. 

Practicing this technique as often as you can, the more you do it, the faster it will become a new habit and significantly increase the chances of you succeeding at your long-term goal.


Action steps 🚶🏻‍♀️:

1. Awareness 👍🏼:

You can become consciously aware by saying statements to yourself whenever you are about to eat some food.

– "I’m opening the fridge and about to eat some cheese."

- "I’m opening the bread bin and about to have a slice of bread."

– "I'm in Tesco’s and I’m about to buy a slice of cake."

By having an internal dialogue running, stating what you are about to do allows your brain to switch from the ‘default mode network’ into the ‘executive network’; In other words, taking it from automatic habits into conscious awareness.


2. Questioning 🤔: 

Once you are aware of your action (reaching for food), stop and ask yourself: "why am I doing this?"


 Questions such as:

- "Am I doing this just because I’m stressed?"

- "Am I doing this just because I’m lonely?"

- "Am I doing this just because I’m angry?"

- "Am I doing this just because I'm bored?"

- "Am I doing this just because I’m tired?"


More often than not, we eat to manage our emotions not because we’re hungry. So you need to identify the real reason behind your unhealthy food choice. 


3. Reframe Your Actions 💁🏻‍♀️: 

Reframing is merely a technique that will allow you to gain a different perspective on your thoughts and your actions.

When you learn how to turn the negative thought into positive action, it’ll give you back the control that you need to make better choices for yourself.



Original Thought: "I’m tired and can’t be bothered to cook, I'll have that pizza in the fridge."

Reframed Thought: "I may be tired, but I am the one who’s in control of my thoughts and actions! So I’m going to choose a healthy snack instead!"


Original Thought: "I’ve had a rubbish day, just one bar of chocolate won't hurt."

Reframed Thought: "Today may have been tough, but I'm strong and resilient. I’m going to have an apple instead."


Original Thought: "I’m so bored, what is there to eat? Those biscuits will do!"

Reframed Thought: "I’m only going to have those because I’m bored. I don’t need to eat!  I'm going to find something else to do instead."


Summary ✅:

Reframing maybe a straightforward technique but it's also a powerful one, once you put it into practice. Learning to recognise your old negative patterns and being proactive in breaking those patterns will help you in all areas of your life.

Most of the time you’re not eating because you're genuinely hungry, you're eating due to one of the five triggers. Recognise which trigger is causing you to reach out for food and then break that cycle by reframing your actions from negative into a positive.

The more you do this the easier this will become in the long run. Your brain will start to learn this new empowering habit, allowing you to eat when you’re hungry rather than when you’re trying to manage your emotions.


I hope this 'Reframing your Mindset around Food' blog will help you stick to achieving your goals ✨


👉🏽 For more advice & tips get started on Results with Lucy today with a free trial 👈🏽


Jeff Spires. 🙋🏻‍♂️

High-Performance Coach and Author

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