Well January or “Banuary” if you are on the wagon has arrived. As is tradition a lot us make resolutions to kick start our year.
This years’ most popular resolution according to statisticbrain.com is to ‘lose weight’.
So with that in mind, over the next four weeks I’ll be giving you tips and hints on how to get your weight under control without the need for a restrictive diet.
This week I want to talk to you about the language we use around food. Although this may seem like an unlikely place to start it is essential to understand how altering our language can change our attitude to healthy eating.
Let’s start with the basics. How many of these sound familiar?
I want to lose weight
I have to restrict myself to…. calories
I can’t have….
I can only have…. of that
I’ve been naughty/good this week.
I know I shouldn’t
I’ve given up eating….
I’m on a diet
Maybe just one….
There are two themes that run through the majority of language that we use around weight management.
Restriction and why it doesn’t work.
The first is based on restriction – I can’t, I mustn’t, I shouldn’t, I can only have, I ought to, I need to, maybe just one etc.
When you consider them as a collective they don’t seem very attractive do they? Our unconscious mind is always working on moving us towards pleasure and away from pain so it’s not surprising that we struggle to maintain our motivation when we consistently feel denied.
The emotional consequence of food why we need to change it.
The second theme is emotive. Naughty foods, good foods, a treat, give up, loss, comfort food. Whether we realise it or not emotive language changes the way we feel about what we are doing. If chocolate is regarded as a ‘treat’ rather than just being chocolate, whenever we feel we need a boost it becomes something that fulfils that need.
So how do we talk about food in a non emotive way? Actually it’s very difficult, what we can do though is to change the emotive language to fit what we are trying to achieve.
I often ask my clients to think of food in terms of nutritional value. It may seem strange at first, but if your aim is to become healthier then talking in terms of nutrition can focus you naturally on the foods that will meet that need.
Why not give it a try and see how many times you can catch yourself using language that is either based on restriction or emotion and have a go at changing it to your advantage.
Imagine telling yourself that you can eat an abundance of food until you are completely satisfied – that sounds better doesn’t it? Now think about the types of nutritionally valuable foods that will enable you to do that.
Next week how mindfulness can support you in your weight management goals.