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Escape the ‘overly restrictive rules’

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to a healthy relationship with food, is the food rules trap. Unless you have allergies or intolerances to certain foods, an overly restrictive attitude can set you up for failure.  This is especially true over the holiday period when food forms such a big part of many social gatherings.

Do you find yourself using words like “should”, “have to”, “always” or “never” in relation to food and exercise? Talking in absolutes like this can add additional stress especially when you evaluate yourself against unrealistic benchmarks.

Did you know that only 10% of your mind represents your conscious mind? That is where you reason and make decisions, it’s where your willpower is stored. The other 90% represents your subconscious mind. This is your auto function and the area that makes you breathe, manages your body and your emotions. This is where your beliefs, automatic responses and habits reside, as well as your primitive ‘fight or flight’ response.

Many of our beliefs are formed in our early years from what we see, hear and experience. As a child, you are ‘programmed’ for your adult years during the developmental phase, and it is this subconscious ‘programming’ that will run 95 % of your adult life. So, if your subconscious mind has been taught ‘eating is comfort’ or ‘I can’t exercise’, that is what 90% of your mind will steer you to do. The conscious 10% that does not hold that believe (your willpower) must contend with the 90% and it becomes a tug of war.

To escape the ‘overly restrictive rules’ trap, you must first change your mindset. A behavioural counsellor can assist you by:

  • Identifying your personal diet traps

During this phase you need to identify those personal stumbling blocks that hold you back. Are you an emotional eater? Is it hard to say ‘no’ in social or family situations? Do you travel a lot for work; or are weekends and holidays your personal pitfall?  Are you self-critical or an ‘all or nothing’ thinker?

The focus is on identifying your reasons for being overweight, for “emotional eating”, and not caring for yourself or making yourself a priority in your life. You need to look at all the aspects of weight loss – diet and exercise, as well as the emotional issues, fears, beliefs and a life script that might be getting in the way of helping you achieve your goals.

  • Overcoming barriers

It’s important to recognise the difference between the physical feeling of being hungry as opposed to emotional hunger. You also need to develop strategies to overcome the typical stress traps – life is too busy to make time to prepare healthy meals; using food to relax after a hectic day; or having overly restrictive rules about food.

  • Tools for success

There are cognitive strategies that you can use to change your mindset; psychological strategies that help you deal with emotional eating and stress; behavioural strategies that encourage the formation of new healthy eating and exercise habits; and problem-solving strategies that give you the tools to conquer the daily diet challenges that everyday life throws at you.

If you’re struggling with ‘unreasonable rules’, contact us to find out how we can help you.