You walk by the candy bowl at 3:00 and try to resist it but what the heck? After all that you’ve accomplished you think, “I Deserve it!” and grab a handful of chocolate candy. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing “bad” about having a handful of chocolate. What isn’t ideal is when regret and guilt kick in because you feel like you have sabotaged your healthy eating efforts.
When you feel you deserve to eat something, it can feel innocent at first. However, if it feels like a pattern you can’t seem to break and isn’t completely serving you, there could be some conflict arising between what you want and what you’re actually doing. If you find yourself saying ‘I deserve it’, stop to check in to see if any of these describe your situation:
Are you tired?: You may think you have so much on your plate but you just have to push through. As a result you can’t wait to be by yourself for a glass or two of wine at night to unwind.
What you say to yourself:“Few! I made it through another day.”
Are you anxious or uncertain?– You get frustrating feedback at work that surprised you, which made you feel defeated.
What you say to yourself: “I deserve pizza after this.”
Are you feeling inadequate?– You didn’t eat the way you intended and feel bad about your food choices.
What you say to yourself:“I’ve already blown it so I’m entitled to eat some ice cream.”
Are you lonely or isolated?– You come home from work to an empty house and feel bad about the fact that other people are out socializing while you’re sitting at home alone.
What you say to yourself: “Everyone else is out having a good time. I deserve to order a Chinese food feast instead of cooking.”
We are often in automatic pilot and may not realize why we’re making the food choices at the time, even after these types of situations happen. The food can feel comfortable and safe and is therefore how we cope once we’re triggered with any of these situations. The reason it can feel innocent is because we’re rewarding ourselves for something and tend to justify our choices. The point is not to deprive ourselves of what we’re craving. The first step is to understand what is really leading to the craving as most likely it isn’t about the food itself.
When you’re able to identify what is really happening, you can then determine what you really want or need in a situation. For example, if you’re feeling inadequate that you haven’t been able to stick with your healthy eating efforts, it can be helpful to check in to see if you have a clear and realistic goal. Once you identify your goal, what are some small steps you can take to reach them? Just by gaining some clarity of what you’re working towards can relieve some of the pressure.
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