You know those days when you want to throw in the towel. I had one of those days for a whole week not long ago. I got to the end of each day and felt drained, frustrated and defeated. When feeling that way, not only did I avoid thinking about ‘healthy eating’ but I was actively seeking out food (and wine) to treat myself. I found myself thinking ‘Go and get some chocolate on the way home’, ‘Just eat another biscuit, who cares’, ‘Tonight is going to be a wine night…..YOU DESERVE IT!!’
We’re all human and it’s normal to go through a funk, lose motivation and want to escape the daily grind. But if feeling down makes you eat poorly and then feel worse, it’s bound to become a vicious and unhealthy cycle.
I actually think it’s really important to treat yourself.
Gretchen Rubin is the author of several books on happiness and good habits (and I am a bit obsessed with her). She has a really nice perspective on the topic: ‘If I give more to myself, I can ask more from myself.’ Rubin suggest that when we feel deprived, we are more likely to feel entitled to try and correct the imbalance. We find ourselves saying ‘I need this’, ‘I have earned this’ or …. ‘I deserve this’ (hmmm, sounds familiar).
I can see this in my own life ALL THE TIME. I love working with people in many day-to-day consultations, but by the end of the week I feel pretty pooped. I am ‘on’ the whole time. If my weekend is then booked up with chores and errands I can get tired and irritable. I start to feel like the monotony of adult life is never ending and I start to resent the work involved or positive things in my life (my house, social events, the dog, etc.). When that happens I end up looking for unhealthy ‘treats’ to make up for this feeling.
When I take even a little bit of time to do something that I REALLY want to do, I am then a much more pleasant Clare to be around. Taking 20 minutes to read in the sun or go for a walk while listening to a podcast or even having a cup of coffee with something sweet in a quiet room. These things let me feel like I have had some much needed down time. After doing something restful or when I know I have this down time too look forward to, I am much happier to get stuck into all the must-do tasks that make life run smoothly (meal planning, groceries, cleaning, getting ready for a social event etc.)
While I find that it’s valuable to do nice things for yourself, there is a difference between truly treating yourself and overindulging. Our brain is very good at confusing the two.
If you walk away from a treat and think, ‘dammit, I have stuffed it up’, it’s not really a very good treat. A treat should be enjoyable at the time AND be something you can look back at with revelry, not regret.
Food is one of the most common ways we treat ourselves because eating is quick, easy and genuinely makes us feel good. When we eat something high in energy, fat, salt and/or sugar, our brain releases the neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine. These lovely chemicals cause you to feel pleasure and reinforce the premise that eating these foods will make me feel better.
Because of this chemical reinforcement, our brain can often default to food as the way to pick ourselves up when we’re tired, stressed and down. Our brain also convinces us that if a little bit is good, more must be better. Treating ourselves with food often means going back for that 4th or 5th biscuit or finishing the packet of chips.
That’s certainly what happened to me the other week.
There is nothing wrong with treating yourself with something delicious, the trick is to pick something you will genuinely enjoy now and afterwards. A treat that you walk away from and say ‘Wow that was really good and I am happy with my choice’.
It you are looking for a snack to be that ‘pick-me-up’ remember that you are an adult! You can eat anything you want. So, what do you really want?
- How hungry am I?
- What do I REALLY feel like?
- What would feel like a good choice without overdoing it?
Honestly answering these questions may help to change that default of over-indulging.
THESE ARE SOME SNACKS THAT I FIND GIVE ME A BOOST, WITHOUT THE #REGRET
A biscuit with a glass of milk
Blue cheese on apple slices
SOMETHING ELSE …
If you find that using food as a treat is a slippery slope of self control, remember there are so many other ways to do something nice for yourself. Plan something in and TREAT YO’SELF!!!
- Give yourself permission to have a nap (for me, this feels like the most luxurious thing. There’s something magical about sleeping during the day)
- Allocate some time to play some of your fave music on and browse the internet (for me, that’s Pinterest)
- Sit outside in the sun (in a sun-smart way, of course)
- Listen to a podcast
- Make a wish list for when your next birthday comes up
- Get a massage
- Do a home yoga session
- Play a phone or computer game
- Go to a movie in the middle of the day.
If you need some advice on how to stay motivated during your healthy eating journey, then we can help!
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