Our eating habits are some of the most important habits in our lives.
The food you eat affects your…
- Sex drive
- Energy level
- Physical performance
- Cognitive performance
- Inflammation in your joints and muscles
- Body composition (ratio of lean mass to fat)
… and the list goes on.
But you already know that, right? It’s common sense that our eating habits play a role in our health, energy, and performance.
We just don’t consciously think about these things (or you simply don’t care about yourself) when we are making poor eating decisions.
The problem is our habits overpower reason — and that’s no coincidence, it’s by design.
The purpose of our body’s ability to form habits is to have a system that makes life easier.
All we have to do is create habits that add value to our life and those habits go on autopilot for us.
However, this same system can work against us, as well. Poor habits will also go on autopilot and wreck havoc in your life — if you let them.
If you’re having a hard time controlling your eating habits, you’re probably just sabotaging yourself without consciously thinking about.
After all, whether a habit is beneficial or destructive, it’s going to do what it sets out to do.
Unless, of course, you impose your will and force your habits to change.
Below are nine mistakes you might be making that prevent you from controlling your eating habits.
1. You make exceptions
You can’t have healthy eating habits if you constantly make exceptions to keeping those habits.
Well… that’s not entirely true. You can make exceptions once you already have healthy eating habits.
Once you have a lower body fat percentage, it’s easier to keep the fat off. But when you’re overweight, your body becomes a mass storage facility for body fat and the occasional “exceptions” do more damage.
Plus, when you already have healthy eating habits — an exception truly is an exception.
Because it’s not really an exception if you do it all the time, right?
Here’s what I mean by making exceptions:
- You track your food with MyFitnessPal (or similar), but don’t track everything you eat. You make exceptions for condiments or little snacks that can easily add up to hundreds or thousands of calories.
- You eat healthy during the week, but when the weekend comes around, all hell breaks lose in your stomach and bowels.
- You let excuses like not having enough time, being tired, or having a specific craving persuade you to make an exception. Despite the fact that every single person faces these small challenges.
If you’re making exceptions on a regular basis, they aren’t really exceptions to your eating habits…
The exceptions are your eating habits!
You’re making an exception to your desire for being fit and healthy.
Fit people make an exception to their habits.
Fat people make an exception to their goals.
Read that again and let it sink in.
2. You label foods “good” and “bad”
This mindset makes food choice an emotionally-charged decision when we really want it to be a logical decision.
Creating healthy eating habits is not about being a good little boy or girl.
It’s about being healthy — and you can’t be healthy and have emotional baggage at the same time!
When you label a food as bad and then you eat the “bad food,” you feel negative emotions like guilt, shame, and regret.
On the other hand, when you eat “good food” you feel a sense of satisfaction for doing something that deserves no reward.
If you’re someone who struggles with emotional eating, there’s a good chance that you are adding emotion to your eating habits without thinking about the consequences.
Maybe you wouldn’t be an emotional eater if you didn’t allow your emotions to be involved in the first place.
3. You try to kickstart new eating habits with a cleanse
Detoxes and cleanses are very popular these days and many people are under the false impression that these things actually work or even have any health benefits.
I can understand why. The people marketing these scams are persuasive and they make claims that sound like common sense — but aren’t factual in any way.
For example, they claim that our bodies store toxins that cause harmful diseases and the only way to get rid of those toxins is to cleanse them or perform detox.
Completely ignoring the fact that our bodies already have a system for detoxing.
You know — the liver, kidneys, and lungs…
Here’s what the science geeks at Examine have to say about detoxes:
“Even if a substance really is noxious, a cleanse won’t help. Acute toxicity would likely constitute a medical emergency, while chronic toxicity is best addressed by a well-fed body — not one weakened by a diet of pepper-infused lemonade. The liver, kidneys, lungs, and several other organs work around the clock to remove harmful substances and excrete the waste products of metabolism. They don’t need help from fad diets.
So, no pepper-infused lemonade. But what about commercial products? Unfortunately, a 2009 investigation found that not a single company behind 15 detox supplements could supply any form of evidence for their efficacy (or safety). Worse still, the companies couldn’t even name the toxins targeted by their products or simply agree on a definition for the word ‘detox’.”
The only reason people lose weight from these scams is because they are usually just low-carb diets in disguise.
Like I said, I don’t blame people who are ignorant about nutrition for falling for these tricks. I even know a doctor who’s doing some bullshit no-carb cleanse right now…
And she’s a legally practicing pediatrician that people take health advice from.
Here’s some common sense for you — doing a detox or cleanse that makes you feel tired and miserable, while simultaneously being a huge fucking hassle and preventing you from eating anything remotely pleasurable is more likely to make you binge eat than simply counting your calories.
4. You aren’t mindful of your willpower
Willpower is a limited resource and our willpower is typically weakest at night.
Around what time of day would you say you make the worst food decisions?
Our willpower fluctuates based on our circumstances. Your willpower will be weaker on days where you have a lot of stress, physical and mental demands, or anything else that requires you to use your willpower.
We have to be mindful of situations where we know our willpower will be lowered to ensure we maintain healthy eating habits.
That means preparing a meal or bringing a snack to prevent yourself from getting fast food after work. That also means recognizing when you’re feeling tired and weak, and not giving into resistance.
5. You view eating habits as a means to an end
Looking sexy AF isn’t the point of having healthy eating habits — it’s just one of the many awesome benefits.
Eating healthy isn’t the means to an end — it is the end.
Eating healthy for the sake of being healthy is the point.
Ok, maybe you don’t care about your health as much as your looks. Fair enough. Try this on, instead…
The difference between losing fat temporarily and staying in shape permanently is the difference between a diet and healthy eating habits.
You’ll never have healthy eating habits when you follow a diet. As cliche as it sounds, healthy eating habits are a lifestyle, not a diet or temporary phase.
Being in great shape is going to be very difficult until you come to terms with the fact that you have to stick with your healthy eating habits forever.
Which is why it’s better to create eating habits that you can actually stick with…
6. You try to create overly restrictive eating habits
It’s very difficult to build eating habits around a diet that’s too restrictive in one or more areas.
What do I mean?
Obviously, you need to be in a caloric deficit, but you don’t need to starve yourself or restrict any particular macronutrient to lose fat.
Unless you have a specific condition that requires doing so, avoiding one of the three major macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) is generally not very productive in the long-run.
A low-carb or ketogenic (no carbs) diet is a very useful tool to lose fat quickly. However, it’s not useful for living a high-energy lifestyle or simply feeling good.
To form healthy eating habits you need to practice a diet that you can actually sustain. Or else, what’s the point?
Don’t get me wrong, plenty of people do very well on a low-carb diet.
The problem is that most people don’t — and the fitness industry promotes all these different bullshit ideas like…
- You shouldn’t eat sugar
- Carbs make you fat, but fat doesn’t
If you really want to restrict your diet to foods that will make you healthy, help you build muscle, and make it easy to burn fat…
Try restricting processed foods.
Exclusively eating whole foods is the restrictive diet that always has and always will work.
Otherwise, enjoy your carbs and just make sure you’re in a caloric deficit.
You don’t need to worry about restricting a particular macronutrient until you’re already fit and you want to get lean or ripped.
7. You ignore the need for physical activity
When it comes to losing fat, diet is more important than exercise — but you still need both.
Not only is exercise necessary for maintaining strong bones, joints, and muscles, it also helps your body use one of its natural detox systems — sweating.
The more active you are, the more relaxed your eating habits can be.
The more you sit on your ass, the more strict your eating habits have to be to keep the fat off.
8. You justify your eating habits with comparisons to mediocrity
Here are a few ways people try to justify their shameful actions:
Well, I only drink diet soda…
Well, I eat better than all my friends…
Well, at least I don’t eat fast food every day…
Well, the average person does [fill in the blank]…
Well, other people are addicted to drugs and I only need a Dr. Pepper every day…
The biggest problem with these justifications is that they rely on the mediocrity of the average person for comparison. As if being slightly above average is anything to feel good about.
The second biggest problem is that there are unlimited potential justifications.
If you eat one twinkie you can say “at least I didn’t eat two.”
Justifying your actions based on the actions of someone else is just a way to avoid accepting personal responsibility.
9. You’re not consistent
Like everything in life, controlling your eating habits comes down to consistency.
All of the mistakes listed in this article do the same thing — throw you off track and break up the consistency of healthy eating habits.
Habits require consistency by their nature — that’s what makes them a habit.
There will always be things that come up and we’ll always feel like we’re short on time.
Being consistent requires commitment despite the circumstances.
When you dig deep to the core of it all, you can’t control your eating habits if you can’t control your habits in general.
Just ask yourself…
Have you seriously tried to take charge of your habits?
Have you ever made it a point to have full control over yourself and your actions?
Would you like to set your mind to something and do it without question, no matter what comes up?
You can’t expect yourself to have control over your eating habits if you don’t have control over your habits at all.
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What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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