Lose the Food Drama
Has this ever happened to you? You are sitting in a restaurant, everyone is chit-chatting away about this that and the other thing, and you are helplessly looking at the menu having an argument with yourself about what to order that goes something like this:
- I really want the cheeseburger and fries, but I am not allowed to have that on my diet
- If I eat the cheeseburger this time, I’ll work out extra tomorrow morning
- Oh, wait, I won’t have time tomorrow because I have to get to work early for an 8 o’clock meeting
- So if I eat the cheeseburger, then I’ll just eat super good all weekend
- Oh, but we have that football game we’re going to and there won’t be anything healthy there
- I could order the salad, but everyone else will be eating the cheeseburgers in front of me
- Or maybe I could do something slightly better for me like the chicken sandwich
- But the whole point of my diet was to eat less carbs and that has a bun
- Geez, everyone will make fun of me if I order the salad and they’ll think I’m being goody-two-shoes
- Ugggghhhh!!!! I just can’t decide!!!!!
Let me tell you- this was the conversation I had in my brain at every get together for a long freaking time!!! Many times, it was over whether or not to have wine with dinner, sometimes it was over the food itself, or if someone ordered appetizers I would have a separate conversation with myself over whether to partake or not, sometimes we were in a restaurant that had NOTHING healthy and I was just getting pissed about that because I was “trying” to be “good.” Lots and lots of food drama!!
Let’s call it quits on the food drama, shall we?
There’s one tool that takes ALL of this drama away that you have in your possession at this very moment. Your Pre-Frontal cortex of your brain. It is a powerful, masterful tool but it takes a little practice to get used to. It’s like learning any new skill- you’ll be a beginner for a while- clunky, and awkward. But soon you’ll be using that tool like its one of your own appendages!
Your pre-frontal cortex is the part of the brain that is the executive manager. It’s a newer part of your brain that does the deeper critical thinking, organizing, and developing new ideas. You can use this part of your brain to PLAN AHEAD OF TIME, so that you can make decisions in a clear state of mind versus waiting for situations to arise.
Your prefrontal cortex always has your best interest in mind because it can see further ahead to the consequences of your actions. In the moment of decision when options are aplenty and immediate gratification versus long term results seems so much more rewarding, our primitive brain will be screaming for the instant gratification. The only thing that can override it is the prefrontal. But you have to tap into it BEFOREHAND or else your primitive brain will have the upper hand. It’s louder and quicker than the prefrontal.
PLANNING AHEAD OF TIME
I teach my clients the tools of planning ahead of time to make your life work for you, not against you. You can live a more deliberate life when you can make choices ahead of time, with your best interests in mind, and then honoring those commitments to yourself. Plus if you have already made decisions on your eating, you can direct your attention to the more important things- the connections with those around you and enjoying the experience.
When it comes to food, there are three plans that would help you eat more deliberately and make choices ahead of time:
- Your Food Protocol- this is the outline of how you will eat LONG TERM. You need to design your food protocol to something you can sustain, feels good to you, gives you the energy and nutrients you need to fuel your body, and also gets you your results in the long term. This includes how many exceptions you have, when you typically eat, and your backup plans for when your schedule or plans are not normal.
- You plan the week ahead of time- this allows you to view an entire week at once so you can strategically plan your exceptions.
- You plan the specific food you will eat that day- either the night before or the morning of; Needs to be consistent with your weekly plan or decide if you would like to move around your exception strategically. Your exceptions should always be pre-planned.
As you become more deliberate in your planning, this will likely include checking out menus ahead of time for restaurants as part of your daily planning. If you don’t know where you are going or can’t get a hold of a menu ahead of time, you can still generally plan the type of food- such as salad with grilled chicken or grilled chicken sandwich or soup & salad combination or lean protein entrée with veggies.
Even when you plan to “not plan” at a specific meal, such as if you are going to have an exception meal or “Joy Eat”, notice how much less food drama you would have in the moment if you decided this strategically ahead of time. Just be careful that your overall exception plan and frequency of exceptions still works with your long term results.
BUT, BUT, BUT….
“That’s too much work!”
I know what some of you are thinking– there’s a lot of work in planning, I don’t have time for it. STOP RIGHT THERE! Here’s the beauty of planning- it takes some time up front, which will actually get very easy over time, and then you get to live without decision-making brain drain the rest of the day/week!!! Think about how much time and energy you will save on the backend with less food drama and decision making and how much more you can enjoy your present moments without it!
“I can’t live that restricted”
I know what others are thinking- I don’t like to feel restricted. STOP RIGHT THERE! Making decisions ahead of time puts your best interests in mind, so why not love restriction from a place of love for yourself and your goals and your health? Living “unrestricted” just invites the food drama to continue because you will be making decisions with your primitive brain screaming at you. If this is a serious struggle you want to end, consider loving the deliberate plan.
“I can’t stick to my plan in the moment”
I know what most of you are thinking- I already make plans, but in the moment I always cave. STOP RIGHT THERE! There’s a tool for that too- it’s called ALLOWING AN URGE. I have a blog post about allowing an urge, so visit that for more info. But the gist of it is- you notice that you are having an urge, which is just a desire. Desire is a feeling that won’t kill you that is coming from a thought. So you open up to feeling that urge and let it be without resisting, reacting, or giving into it.
You simply notice and tell your primitive brain, “It’s OK, I’ve got this, we’re going to be OK.” When you can get good at allowing urges, you will lessen that neural pathway that creates the urge in the first place because you are not rewarding it.
Can we say FREEDOM!??
Plan and Allow Urges
There you go- you have two tools to assist in reducing or eliminating food drama- Planning ahead of time and Allowing Urges. They are simple but not necessarily easy. They take time and patience to get good at. But the long-term rewards are phenomenal. You can use these tools for EVERYTHING you want to create- weight loss, fitness regimes, creating a business, writing a book, getting a work project done, etc. You plan ahead of time, commit, honor your plan, and allow urges without reacting. That’s the way to live a deliberate life!