Do you struggle to eat healthy?
If you’re like most people, you probably give in to the temptation of ice cream, chips, cookies and fast food more often than you’d like.
After you give in to those temptations, you feel guilty. So you eat healthy for a few days—maybe a week, even. Then your self-control lets you down again and you finish a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting.
The cycle repeats itself. I’m guessing that you can relate at least partially to this?
For me, my weakness is dessert. I could eat dessert at every meal, every day. Chocolates, cakes, puddings, brownies—you name the dessert and I’ll eat it.
I’ve since won my epic battle with desserts, so I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned.
The Root Cause
The root cause of our lack of discipline when it comes to food is this: We associate food with our emotional state.
Feeling happy? It’s time for delicious food. Feeling sad? It’s time for even more delicious food.
Whether it’s time to celebrate or time to grieve, we find a reason to eat. If you want to take complete control over your eating habits, you need to create some distance between your diet and your emotions.
Once you do this, eating right will no longer pose such a daunting challenge to you.
I’ve discovered the three key decisions you have to make if you want to establish this emotional separation:
1. Decide to be normal, not average.
It’s average to eat a lot of junk food, to be overweight, and to be at risk for diabetes and heart disease.
But is that normal? No!
It’s normal to eat right, to be lean, and not to have any chronic health problems.
All of us want to be normal. We just need to raise our standards of what we consider normal. Don’t let the people around you tell you what “normal” is.
“Average” is relative. “Normal” isn’t. Don’t confuse what is average with what is normal. That’s the first step to overcoming your unhealthy eating habits.
2. Decide that your diet is a mini-representation of your life.
Whenever you put food into your mouth, you’re either getting stronger and healthier, or weaker and flabbier. There’s very little middle ground.
Eat broccoli and chicken breast, and you’re becoming stronger. Eat pizza and Doritos, and you’re becoming weaker.
In a similar way, whenever you choose to spend your time in a certain way, you’re either growing as an individual or you’re regressing.
When you attend an educational seminar, you’re learning and growing. But when you spend an entire afternoon reading a trashy magazine, you’re regressing.
Once you start seeing the food you eat as a mini-representation of your life, your dietary habits take on new meaning and significance. Food isn’t just food anymore. It’s a tool you can use to grow as a person.
When you eat healthy, you’re choosing to become more disciplined and focused. You’re choosing to become a person of greater character.
Start thinking about food this way and I guarantee that you’ll find it easier to eat right.
3. Decide that you want health more than you want pleasure.
If you want to change your behavior, it boils down to desire. Which do you desire more: the long-term health benefits of eating right, or the temporary pleasure of eating junk food?
It’s more effective to focus on increasing your desire for health, rather than on decreasing your desire for pleasure.
To make eating healthy more appealing, I invite you to answer the following questions:
- Do you want to have a good quality of life, especially in old age?
- Do you want to feel more energetic?
- Do you want to lose body fat?
- Do you want to fall sick less often?
- Do you want to avoid suffering from chronic health problems?
I’m sure you answered “yes” to all of those questions.
We’re driven by our desires. Cultivate a burning desire to be healthy, and you won’t have a problem saying “no” to unhealthy food.
I didn’t write this post for your information. I wrote it for your action.
Will you make these three simple decisions today and take charge of your unhealthy eating habits?
Daniel Wong is passionate about helping young adults to maximize their education, career and life. He is the author of The Happy Student, which will be published by Morgan James Publishing by early 2012. You can read his blog at Living Large and find him on Twitter.
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