It really does seem like the brain is working against us sometimes, doesn’t it.
But really, it’s just doing what it’s supposed to do. Helping us survive.
It’s just had some bad training and that means we need to understand it and find ways to retrain it.
Do you believe that losing weight is just about changing what you eat or how much you eat?
In reality, it’s not as simple as that. But, I’m sure you know that already, right?
Losing weight is more about changing your mindset, your brain, and your thinking processes. Dieting doesn’t work. Not until you’re prepared to handle your negative, limiting beliefs about food, eating and your body.
I’m sure that you would prefer to establish lasting changes to your health and drop your weight permanently, am I right? Then you’re going to have to understand all the mental barriers that keep causing your dieting attempts to fail.
It’s difficult, I know, to make changes to your eating habits. Eating is something we MUST do. It’s completely built into our habitual survival mechanisms. Of course, unhealthy habits, like smoking or drinking aren’t things you need for your survival. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Dieting just doesn’t work for long periods of time. It’s too restrictive. Our bodies demand food and will do almost anything to get it. Our minds have a lot of influence over our ability to focus and enjoy life when we don’t listen to these body cues.
Logic and reason go out the window when it comes to food choices. We’re driven by cravings brought about by brain chemistry, habits, and addictions to food. Triggers in the environment can set off cravings. Most of the time we have no idea about these triggers. They’re subconscious.
It’s our emotions that motivate us the most. So stress, anxiety, depression, and other feelings influence our food choices. Then we begin to rationalize our failure to maintain a particular way of eating.
The Human Brain is a Master at Creating Excuses
It would be great if the brain was completely reasonable and worked on logic 100% of the time. But, this is a pipe dream. I’m sure it’s the way it should be and this would make life a whole lot easier. But alas, we’ve inherited a brain that’s more like an unruly child than a highly advanced computer.
Because of all these other factors I mentioned earlier, your will weakens over the course of any given day. So your ability to stay committed to new habits and change your patterns of behavior is hopeless.
It’s totally amazing just how far we humans will go to rationalize our unhealthy choices or explain our less than optimal eating habits.
On the other hand, understanding and being aware of this freaky power of your brain can be of great benefit in overcoming this unfortunate reality we find ourselves in.
Food Cues Are Everywhere
The body is a remarkable survival machine. When you feel hungry, the body will release a concoction of hormones to make you notice food more. Courtesy of evolution, it’s a response designed to keep you alive. The trouble is, we’re not in that old tooth-and-claw world anymore where food was scarce and could well, run much faster than us.
These days there’s so much food abundance, you couldn’t ignore food no matter how hard you try. The smells alone in a food court are enough to drive a hungry little human wild.
It wouldn’t be too bad if these cravings and desires were for healthy foods. But oh no, we want those fatty, sugary, carby morsels that cause our calorie counters to see red.
That bakery will be absolutely glowing and might as well have flashing lights and fireworks going off. The salad bar? What salad bar? It’s invisible to us crave-struck folks.
For us poor souls who are trying to lose weight, these cues are very, very hard to overcome.
Depriving Yourself Releases the Craving Kraken
Have you noticed that as soon you decide that a certain food or type of food is off-limits, you suddenly crave it? If not right away then very soon after.
And, if it doesn’t get it, your brain will turn up the heat until you can think about nothing else than that food. Maybe your willpower is high at that time and you resist. But believe me, the mind is very patient. One day, your willpower will wane, and then game over!
You’ll more than likely binge eat and overindulge.
Restrictive dieting doesn’t work. Not for very long anyway.
You Need to Forsake Your “All or Nothing” Rules
Rigid rules are not the way to go. It’s too restrictive and also too easy to give up on something that’s working reasonably well. Mistakes happen or we sometimes go off our plan a little. There’s really no good reason to throw in the towel just because of that.
But, if we’re stuck in that all-or-nothing kind of mentality, we do. The right thing to do is to just keep going. Adjust as needed and keep going.
To fix this kind of mindset, you’re going to have to accept that you have it. That’s the first step. Then make a firm decision to drop that kind of all-or-nothing mindset and adopt a new one. That you’re not going to overreact anymore to these slight failures in your plan. Make a resolution to focus on the bigger picture so you keep yourself pointed in the right direction.
There are many people that start thirty-day weight loss challenges only to find themselves unable to stick with it after a week or two. So they stop and continue with their normal diet until they can restart their healthier food choices at the beginning of the next month.
They can only think in terms of all or nothing, black or white. It’s not useful. Why? Because no matter how great we are, we’re always going to make mistakes. It’s human nature. Sad, but true.
Just having this small piece of knowledge about how your brain works, and the rules that govern your thinking can be helpful in overcoming your stuck mindset. It can successfully help you change your eating habits.