How Our Excuses to Eat Define Our Eating Habits

When we’re trying to establish good eating habits, we can find ourselves making excuses and justifications to eat certain things at certain times, hampering our good intentions. These excuses and justifications can become so automatic that we don’t even know we’re using them, and they can contribute significantly towards poor eating habits. Like any physical habit or behaviour, our mindset can become established into a ‘default’ position, making any excuses we use to eat hard to shift out of, as they become second nature and slip off the tongue so easily. One useful way of improving our eating habits is to simply become more aware of our mindset and the excuses that we are regularly using to eat. Food is powerful, and the drive to eat, apart from fulfilling feelings of hunger, can be very strong, be it pressure from others or our emotions. The mind will come up with all sorts of excuses, and there are some very common ones that it’s worth being aware of.

Excuses To Put Off The Diet

If you have a tendency to put yourself on very strict diets that involve a lot of deprivation, both food-wise and socially, it can stop us from taking action to lose weight. We therefore tend to procrastinate and put off starting that diet, prolonging poor eating habits. So if someone offers a piece of cake and we were due to start a diet that day, me might think that because a large slice of cake is off-limits when dieting, we then tell ourselves we’ll start the diet tomorrow instead, because we might not want just a small portion of cake- this is very common ‘all or nothing’ thinking. Having a more flexible approach to weight loss can make losing weight more comfortable, and you’re less likely to keep putting it off if you’re embarking on a less strict regime.

How Our Excuses To Eat Define Our Eating HabitsI’ve Ruined It Anyway

Linked to ‘all or nothing’ thinking, where we are either fully indulging in food or following a strict diet, it’s easy to be a perfectionist when trying to lose weight, and avoid all ‘bad’ foods at all costs. But in situations where you might have less choice over what you eat, such as being offered a piece of birthday cake which you feel would be rude to refuse because it’s a birthday, that one piece of cake can be seen as a disaster- after eating it, you might feel that you’ve completely ruined your diet, leading to an attitude of ‘What the heck, I’ve ruined it now so I might as well eat what I like for the rest of the day’. Think about whether you have a tendency to be a perfectionist when trying to lose weight, as it can be a real obstacle to weight loss.

I’m Too Busy

We all lead very busy lives, and it can be so easy to keep coming up with the excuse that we’re too busy, either to eat properly or to get physically active. It can be easy to neglect yourself, especially when you have others to consider, such as children or partners. It’s really important to keep in touch with your own needs from time to time- try to make time for yourself in whatever way you can, to help establish better eating habits and a better quality of life overall.

I’m Too Tired

Busy lives often mean that many of us prioritise daily tasks over sleep. This can mean that we have less energy to focus on our eating habits. Eating is necessary for survival and to give us fuel, and sometimes it’s easy to cram any food in no matter what it is, just to give ourselves an energy boost. If you find yourself getting constantly frustrated with yourself because you’re grazing on sweet foods and not achieving the healthy eating habits you want, then it’s really important that you look at how you can fit more rest and sleep into your routine.

I Can’t Waste This Food

Many people struggle to leave food on their plate- it’s easy to feel guilty if we don’t eat what’s on the plate, and this commonly stems from childhood, where we were told by parents that we must ‘eat up’. Food might also be in the form of leftovers from an excess of food you’ve prepared. If you find yourself using excuses to eat seconds or leftovers in the pan, thinking about making less food to start with, or freeze it.

It’s Okay Just This Once

Healthy EatingIt’s so easy to eat because you feel that a certain food available is a one-off opportunity, and for that reason it’s easy to succumb to pressure from others, or even from yourself, with the message that ‘It’s a one off/how often do we see each other? Let’s go for it!’. The problem with this is that these one-off isolated events probably happen more than you think- we are all confronted with social occasions and it’s easy to think that they happen less often than they do. Remember that all such moments add up, so if you’re regularly justifying eating something because it’s a one-off, think again. Another issue with social eating is that it’s easy to feel you’re missing out if everyone else is having some- be wary of using an excuse to eat that is based on what others are eating.

Attaching A Sense Of Deservedness To Food

It’s very easy to attach a sense of deservedness to food, such as ‘I need this, I’ve had such a stressful day’, or ‘It’s Friday, I deserve to eat this after the week I’ve had’, or ’I was really good at lunch so I’m having this dessert tonight’. Try to become aware of your excuses to eat based on deservedness, to establish just how much they might be influencing your eating habits.

Regularly using different excuses and justifications to eat particular foods can be a big barrier to achieving good eating habits. If you really want to improve your eating habits, it’s essential to start valuing yourself more and prioritising what is important. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re trying to lose weight- strict diets are unsustainable. This is where a flexible eating plan that is enjoyable, realistic and not too rigid comes in. Remember that you will always be confronted by food every day, and so becoming more aware of what and why you’re eating can be a really helpful tool for adopting and maintaining good eating habits.

If you feel you could benefit from my Mindful Eating service, give me a call (Emma Randall) on 07961 423120, or email me: info@mindfuleating.org.uk. I am based in Lightwater, Surrey. Skype sessions are also available.

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