Have you ever wondered why you try so hard to lose weight and eat healthy and then end up sabotaging your own efforts? The common theme I am seeing with my clients is the classic 'red light, green light' scenario where they are either all in or all out when it comes to nutrition. There doesn't seem to be an in between. I'm no psychologist and I'm certainly not about to change the face of how we associate with food but here is what I've seen over the last 4 years with my clients and even in myself.
You have strong family ties to food. My boyfriend is Italian, need I say more. At least once a week it's pasta, schnitzels and bread... lots of bread! Whenever his family come to visit, they bring bottles of pasta sauce and sweets and they always insist on leaving us with the leftovers! I'm not complaining, don't get me wrong but my point is that this is very normal in Italian culture. You don't say things like 'I'll just have the meat and no pasta' (believe me I've tried) and now I always associate family gatherings with vast amounts of food and wine.
You have an emotional tie to food from a past event or experience. Have you ever failed a test or had a bad day at work and decided the best way to deal with it was a pit stop at 7/11 to buy a family sized block of chocolate? Yes sugar produces dopamine that makes us feel good but what really drives you to make that decision? Habit. That's what you have done in this situation before and your brain knows that for a moment, eating this chocolate will make you feel better.
Your partner isn't a healthy eater. I've been on many diets in my lifetime (more than I care to admit) but when my partner isn't being healthy and exercising, it makes a HUGE difference to my motivation. Why would I order chicken and salad when he is having a burger and chips? Food envy much? There is also people that have a food driven relationship with their partner so maybe they bond over a pizza and wine on a Friday night. What happens when that pizza is gone? Can you still bond over a salad and sparkling water?
Low self esteem. It's the age old catch 22. We eat because we are unhappy and we are unhappy because we eat. Every person has a different experience with weight loss and I know that some of my clients have a really hard time losing weight, no matter how hard they try. Results can be the best motivation but when you struggle and struggle to get some movement on the scales, it can be very frustrating.
I see trainers that hand over a diet of chicken and broccoli and can't understand why their clients won't stick to it. The fact is, eating is not just physical but it's also emotional. My advice to clients is to stick to a healthy diet most of the time and then enjoy the foods they love when they really feel like it or on an occasion. Just not all the time. Unless you are hell bent on getting a six pack then you can have balance in your life especially if you are doing an adequate amount of exercise as part of your routine. We scold ourselves too much for making a 'bad' nutritional choice and that tends to lead to bingeing or falling off the wagon completely. Food has strong emotional ties so dealing with that is step one in choosing to eat healthy.