Can you change your self talk and manage cravings better?

Dec 08, 2022

You often hear me talk about how for so long I associated my food with my worth. Eating “good” meant I was good and eating “bad” meant I had something to be ashamed about.


When it comes to health habits, we often think in terms of "good" and "bad" behavior. This can lead to a troubling relationship with food, leading to cravings, food obsession, hyper-fixation on certain foods or ingredients, and down the road…binges.


If this is left unchecked, this type of all-or-nothing thinking leads to self-esteem issues and ultimately worse choices in the long run.


Starting now, you can make it a point to catch yourself every time you have a restrictive mindset with food.


And when you notice yourself thinking in terms of denying or punishing yourself with an intense workout after that cake, try to spin your self-talk to a more balanced attitude toward food.


How to do that? Here’s an example:


Restrictive mindset: "I'm being bad today."

Self-care mindset: "I'm making a different choice today."


Categorizing foods as "bad" or "good" creates judgment, and it's not a healthy practice to praise or punish yourself multiple times daily for what you chose to eat. Beating yourself up over one meal or treat doesn't make sense when you look at the bigger picture because you always have a new opportunity for something to nourish your body at the next meal. And foods that you’re likely labeling as “bad” DO have some value to offer you... you may just not notice it. Does that brownie bring you pleasure? Does it connect you with loved ones? Is it comforting?


Those are REAL reasons to eat too.


If you're making an effort to eat more nutritiously often, one piece of cake isn't going to derail your goals. The key is to focus on how you're feeling, not on what you're eating. 


Restrictive mindset: "I can't have that, I'm on a diet."

Self-care mindset: "I can eat anything I want, and I'm just making this healthier choice."


When you put inflexible restrictions around what you're eating, you create a situation where you crave all the foods l outside of your plans. For some people, this can turn into an obsession.


Restrictive mindset: "I'm missing out on the fun."

Self-care mindset: "I'm choosing foods that make me feel strong and healthy."


The whole point of self-care is to identify and meet your needs in a way that FEELS GOOD. When it comes to food, that means making choices that make YOU feel good, both physically and emotionally.


Sure, that might feel like you're missing out when you first start choosing more nutritious options more often but try to remember your WHY. Your goals can help keep everything in perspective.


Restrictive mindset: "It's my guilty pleasure."

Self-care mindset: "Being disciplined allows me to enjoy occasional treats more and allows me to feel physically better in my body."

(Sugar causes anxiety, weight gain, and microbiome disruption)


So let me ask you this... If you ate cake every day, would it still be special for an occasion? Probably not. Any food can start to feel normal and expected when you overindulge.


So, if it's been a while since you've had something that's a little on the indulgent side, you may find that you enjoy it more when you do decide to have some.

And that's a good thing! Savor every bite and know that you're still on track toward your goals.


Restrictive mindset: "These foods are healthy and those foods are bad for me."

Self-care mindset: "These foods work for me right now and these don't work for me right now."


Labeling foods "good" or "bad" introduces judgment to what should be a judgment-free zone.


If you describe what you ate in a way that suggests you deserve praise or punishment, you're probably not in the best food mindset.


Restrictive mindset: "I'm being so good today."

Self-care mindset: "I'm making choices that allow me to feel my best."


While both of these statements are positive, one implies that certain foods are off-limits. A little perspective shift takes the judgment out of it.


Restrictive mindset: "I have to work out to make up for what I ate."

Self-care mindset: "I love how movement makes me feel. I choose to move given my body’s energy levels, not how much I ate.”


If your workout is a punishment, you’re never going to feel like you enjoy it.

Move your body because it makes you feel good in both the short term and it makes you stronger in the long term.


Restrictive mindset: "I'm never going to be able to eat what I want."

Self-care mindset: "I can eat anything I want, but some choices make me feel better than others."


The difference here lies within the flexibility of each statement. The first is rigid and sends the message that you're not in control of your life. Spinning your thoughts to say that you choose these behaviors for these reasons allows you to feel empowered.


Try these shifts and notice whether you feel differently about food and your body.