Think about the last time you had a really great day. You got a promotion or a raise, your child graduated or received an award, you finally finished a project you had been working on for a while, or you just had something you wanted to celebrate. What kind of food did you reach for in that moment or in the final meal of that day?
When you have a great day are you likely to eat a healthy small meal or an indulgent large one? Many of my clients will tell me that when they have a great day or even just a good one, they feel like they deserve to eat something they consider to be a treat or have a few drinks in honor of the day. After all, not all days are good, so we should enjoy the ones that are, right? When good things happen to us there is a tendency for our minds to shift to one that encourages us "to enjoy the moment and live it to the fullest" and for some us that means...eat, drink, and be merry!
Now think about the last time you had a rotten or bad day. You didn't get the promotion, things did not go well at work, your child got in big trouble at school, everything seemed to go wrong all day, you got into an argument with a friend or loved one, or you just felt blah all day. What foods did you gravitate towards that day?
When you have a bad day do you reach for healthy foods in order to heal and repair yourself or do you go for the fatty, fried, sweet, salty, or intoxicating type? I often times hear clients tell me that when things go wrong, unhealthy foods make them feel better (psychologically and emotionally of course). When we have a bad day, our minds tend to shift into a mode that gives us permission to indulge and seek comfort foods.
Why do our minds do this? Think about all of the inputs we had growing up that can influence us to think this way. Got a good report card or did all of your chores? Cookies or candy! Fell down and cut your knee? Cookies! Weddings, birthdays, anniversaries...indulgent food! Broken heart? A container of ice cream! Didn't cry getting a shot? Lollipop! Did cry getting a shot? Lollipop! In countless movies we see people have a rotten day and go straight to the bar to get wasted. The inputs are countless!
Considering the number of ups and downs we have in life, the chances of our minds being in just the right mode to eat healthy may not be in our favor on most days! So the question is whether it is possible to reprogram all of these inputs to think differently? Absolutely!
Great day tips:
1. Find a way to celebrate that does not involve food. Have a list of things you would like to buy or do that are not food related that you can treat yourself to or make a donation to your favorite charity as a way to celebrate a success you have had.
2. Celebrate a great day with a conversation or quality time with a loved one (not at a restaurant)!
3. Think about how eating healthy food will allow you to continue to have great days due to better energy, mood, and outlook...then you can go celebrate with food!
Bad day tips:
1. Find a way to self-indulge and seek comfort without food. Make a list of activities that bring comfort to you that are considered to be healthy or caring.
2. Reach out to someone in your life who will listen to you and help you to feel cared for.
3. Think about how eating healthy will help you to heal and be better prepared for other potentially tough days. Look at healthy food as comforting to the body even though it may not immediately be comforting to your mind.
Finally, be kind and patient with yourself. When you do self-indulge...be aware, analyze what happened, and think about what you could do differently next time. Most importantly, know that you are worth celebrating and comforting and that it is up to you to find the best ways to do that for you!