For this week’s continuing blog about weight loss I thought it would be useful to examine what on the surface appears to be one of the more straight forward issues to handle. For some people there are no deep emotional traumas and comfort eating is not really a big deal and yet they are still an unhealthy weight.
So what is the problem?
The answer is simple “habit”! As a society western culture experiences several decades where health was not on the agenda, convenience and building a sense of luxury was much more important. Enter the rise of processed food! Food was designed to have a long shelf life and be easy to prepare. For many households this represented a new sense of freedom and abundance providing a stark contrast in Europe to the shortages during and post World War II.
Sadly the problems with this kind of food were not even recognised in the early days and by the time we became culturally more nutritionally intelligent for many the habits were firmly in place. If you grew up in a home that consisted mainly of fast and/or convenience food your taste buds will have become conditioned to particular tastes. This can often make switching to more healthier options feel like a punishment.
Add to this the higher cost often attached to fresh and organic foods and the challenges mount up. In the USA feeding a family on take out food is often cheaper than making a meal from fresh produce. Commercially I think things are beginning to change. Certainly in the UK I have noticed a gradually normalising of organic products. They are still more expensive but not as much of a margin as they used to be. As demand for healthier options grows hopefully this trend will continue.
What do you do if your issue is about habit and conditioned taste buds?
One option is to “white knuckle ride” the changes. What I mean by this is just do it, go cold turkey on those old unhealthy choices! Please excuse the food related pun I couldn’t resist it! Just doing it does work for some people however again support is helpful and it is much easier if a whole household makes the change. If only one person in a household changes their eating habits the likelihood is that unhealthy food will be sitting in the cupboard. This provides an unhelpful environment, in my experience certain foods seem to be able to call my name enticingly (metaphorically speaking only ofcourse).
This first option can be quite stressful and can leave a feeling of injustice and deprivation.
So what alternatives are there?
My suggestion is to look at one of my favourite sources of change work tools, NLP. Many of the interventions can help change both habits and food preferences. For example to change a habit you could experience a technique called “Scrambling”. In this technique the practitioner identifies your thinking strategy associated with a particular eating habit. Having identified it the practitioner takes you through a process that in effect wrecks the strategy. To replace this unhelpful pattern the NLP Practitioner can then help you design and install a more appropriate healthy strategy.
You could invest in the excellent book “Heart of the mind” by Steve & Connirae Andreas. In one of the chapters you will find a description of a technique called the “Slender Eating Strategy”. This is a process modelled on how naturally slender people make their eating choices.
A third idea would be to identify what we call the sub-modalities of how you store various food types in your internal representational system. We tend to store foods we enjoy and foods we dislike for example in different ways mentally. If you have knowledge of NLP already you can change the sub-modalities of foods you wish to stop eating with foods you dislike. Equally you can store food you know is good for you but don’t like in the way you have coded your favourite foods.
For those of you knew to NLP I would recommend you ask for help with the above idea and there is some technical knowhow required.
My final idea for today is to consider using NLP to set up revulsion reflexes on any food that you know you need to cut out of your diet. I brief warning here, make sure you really want to get rid of a particular food. This technique is very dramatic and immediate! Again this one is best done with assistance particularly if NLP is known to you. For those of you who are practitioners it is possible to do this for yourself if you think through the steps first.
If you would like to find out more about how to train as an NLP Practitioner do contact me direct or check out my website:
You can start your NLP journey by downloading my free MP3 audio taken from one of my workshops on self-esteem and then attend a free two day introduction to NLP. We offer training right up to NLP Trainer’s Training and Master Trainer apprenticeships.