Do you ‘eat well’ during the week only to fall off the wagon in the weekend? This is one of the biggest frustrations I hear from clients. They WANT to eat well. They want to stay on track but they just keep going around in circles.
The scenario I see often goes like this:
I was so good all week but as soon as the weekend hit, I went way off track and fell off the wagon. I only meant to have a slither of cake but it ended up being 3 pieces, then I had popcorn and ice cream at the movies and I kinda thought well it’s already ruined so we had takeaways for dinner and then I polished off a packet of Tim Tams even though I wasn’t even hungry. I’m so mad at myself.
Why do we keep falling off the wagon even when we don’t want to?
Here’s the simple answer.
Because the wagon is really a diet or some sort of dieting behaviour. Even if you think you’re not a diet, chances are you are without even knowing it. Dieting behaviour is often hidden under the guise of healthy lifestyles, but if you’re banning foods, moralising food, using meal replacements, cutting out food groups that provide nutritional value for no good reason then these are dieting behaviours.
So how does this relate to ‘falling off’ the wagon?
When you actively restrict your food intake in some shape or form, psychologically you experience changes that increase the drive to want that food. It’s the nature of scarcity. If you think you can’t have it, you want it even more. Remember when there was a marmite shortage? People went crazy buying up marmite – the mere thought of missing out meant everyone wanted it. The same thing happens when we think we shouldn’t eat something. It becomes even more desirable and eventually we’ll have it when we can. Then those thoughts of ‘being bad’ kick in, followed by thoughts of ‘what the hell, it’s ruined’ and before you know it you’ve eaten more than you actually felt like.
Help – how do I stop?
The best way to stop falling off the wagon is to stop getting on it! That means to stop restricting, stop following food rules and stopping feeling good/bad about food and your eating. Learn to become an intuitive eater and eat the foods that you want to eat. This doesn’t mean just eating everything and anything – it’s about responding to what you want to eat when you are hungry to eat it. And I promise that won’t mean all you want to eat is chocolate, burgers and fries. You will want to eat the foods that make you feel good most of the time, with a little of the things you love to eat.
I know because I’ve been there and research also tells us that intuitive eating is a way out from this type of behaviour.
I used to be jumping on and off that wagon more often than tourists were bungee jumping in Queenstown. It was seriously a daily struggle. But once I improved my relationship with food, there wasn’t anything to stop and start anymore. Sure some days I might eat more high sugar foods than others, but it no longer sends me into a frenzy of panic. I’m not driven by those thoughts of “I MUST be good again tomorrow’. I naturally want to eat foods that make me feel the best – and that’s mostly nutrient dense foods but also includes foods that make my soul feel good, foods that I love and enjoy.
By finding balance, you’ll stop falling off the wagon – because there will be no wagon to fall off!