If you are like me, you know that on the one hand, you cannot eat anything, anytime, without unwanted consequences. On the other hand, you know that you will not permanently refrain from eating something you consider unhealthy. In an effort to satisfy our conflicting desires, we attempt to balance our choices; sometimes we will eat healthily and sometimes we will eat whatever we want. While this approach makes sense to us, it hasnít worked. Rather than eating a balanced diet, we vacillate too often between the extremes. Physically, we havenít achieved the weight, health, or energy that we want. Mentally and emotionally, we donít feel in control of what we eat and frequently debate our choices. We are not clear on what we want to achieve with our diet, how we will achieve it, and why our attempts to follow a diet often fail.
As we struggle with our diet, what we have not understood for far too long is that we have attempted to control what we eat by following two flawed strategies: We believe that our diet is all about the food. We think, ďIf I can only find the right diet, I will achieve my goals.Ē In reality, while our food choices are a critical component of our diet, it is our relationship with our food that needs work in order to sustain a dietary change. We wait until we are hungry and then debate our food choices. Hunger can be a very powerful opponent. Unless we prepare mentally and emotionally for the temptation of our comfort-driven eating habits, we will often lose this battle.
The Solution - A Diet Management System
A Diet Management System does not tell us what we should eat. Rather, it is a tool that we can call on monthly, weekly, daily, and hourly if necessary. It will help us more often make choices that lead to the results we want, and less often, make choices based solely on instant gratification. As we practice eating differently, our desire for less healthy foods should diminish as new eating habits are created.
How Does a Diet Management System Work?
If we want to remember our appointments or tasks, we may use a calendar, to-do list, daily planner, or some other type of organizing system. A Diet Management System can work in a similar way. For some people, a method of reminding themselves to follow their diet, plan their meals, and go food shopping may be all that is necessary to change how they eat. For others, a Diet Management System can help alter the thoughts, feelings, or emotions behind undesirable food choices.
To get a better understanding of how your thoughts, feelings, and emotions may influence what you eat, the next time you face a food choice, stop for a moment to ask yourself:
- Am I imagining how good the food will taste? Or am I imagining how great I will look and feel because of the healthy choices I am about to make?
- Do I feel stressed and hope this choice makes me feel better? Or do I realize that there are other ways I can relieve my stress and donít need to deviate from my diet plan?
- Do I feel powerless at the moment as if I have no other choice? Or do I realize that I am about to make an excuse because I always have a choice?
- Am I so hungry that I will eat the first thing I see to quell the hunger? Or do I realize that this would again be another excuse that I am ready to abandon?
While we may not be aware of them, our thoughts, feelings, and emotions always come first and our actions come second. Through a Diet Management System, we can learn to slow down, become more aware of how we process our choices, and break the patterns of behavior that donít work for us.
Commentary by Alan Aronoff, a "Diet Success" coach and author of the book, Diet Success Strategies: 67 Ways to Take Control of Your Food and Your Life.