Easter was two weeks ago, and it’s usually a time that my clients struggle to stay consistent with their eating habits. Chocolate is everywhere you look, and even after Easter is done and dusted – there’s all those supermarket sales making it way too tempting to buy some more chocolate.
Children go on Easter egg hunts, and eat chocolate for breakfast, and eat all day until they have a tummy ache! But us adults – oh, no – we’re much more restrained than that. We eat our chocolate late at night, when the kids have gone to sleep and hubby is asleep in front of the tv. We promise ourselves just a couple of eggs, but as the guilt washes over us after that tiny bit of indulgence, we decide to have just a bit more. And a bit more. And a little bit more. And before we know it, we too have a tummy ache from all that chocolate.
Except no one knows but us.
And we just sit there feeling guilty, and shameful, and asking ourselves why we have no self-control.
If that scenario sounds way too familiar, you’re not alone. For many years Easter has been a time when I go completely off the rails and fall into bad habits of eating junk food, and craving sugar, and the list goes on. As soon as I had a little bit of chocolate, I’d convince myself that I might as well just “go all out” and eat whatever I wanted, because I’d already ruined my “diet”. I had no idea how to enjoy chocolate in moderation, because I was so consumed by guilt and shame every time I ate it.
And that guilt and shame is what made me continue eating more and more and more.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been through my own experiences with weight loss and poor body image and yo-yo dieting. Well, this Easter just been, I reached another milestone in my journey towards a better relationship with food.
I managed to eat chocolate in moderation, without feeling guilty at all.
And there were a few factors at play here.
Before Easter, I hadn’t been eating a lot of refined sugar, so that definitely helped my taste buds alter. Your taste buds actually adapt to dietary changes, so when I did have a couple of Lindt milk chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday, they tasted so super sweet and I physically couldn’t eat any more!
Tip #1: When you’re eating a diet high in sugar (or fat, or salt, etc) your body gets used to level of taste response. When you minimise your intake, your body adapts to that, so when you do have the food again (whether it’s high-sugar, or high-fat, or high-salt) it will be really intense and you won’t want as much of that food as you used to.
I also asked my partner to get me *less* chocolate, but the good kind! So instead of 10 Red Tulip bunnies, I got a large Lindt egg and a bag of solid Lindt eggs. For me, mindset-wise, it was easier to enjoy Lindt in moderation because it is higher quality. Eating a cheaper, less satisfying chocolate would have felt completely different, and I probably would have been more likely to feel guilty for it. It’s like the difference between drinking a $30 glass of red wine versus a whole sack of goon.
Tip #2: Know what works for you and what will work for your mindset. Plan in advance (like asking your hubby to buy you less chocolate, or only higher quality chocolates) to make it easier for yourself.
And perhaps most importantly, I’ve done a hell of a lot of mindset work. And it’s ongoing. I had 25+ years of being programmed to hate my body and hold onto an unhealthy relationship with food, so it’s definitely still a work in progress. I’m practicing loving and accepting my body just the way it is, right now. I’m seeing food as fuel and nourishment instead of counting calories or worrying about carbs. I’m exercising as an act of self-care rather than an act of self-punishment. Every single day, I am working hard to improve my relationship with my body and with food. (And every single day, I help my clients do the same thing!)
Tip #3: Accept that these changes aren’t going to happen overnight. Impatience in the process will only make it harder for you, and it’s important to acknowledge how far you’ve come – rather than constantly looking ahead at how much further you have to go. Do the work, and little by little, you’ll find yourself changing the way you look at your body and your food.
And one Easter, you’ll be proud of yourself for finding that elusive state of moderation – enjoying chocolate without feeling guilty or shameful or “not strong enough”.
P.S. If you’d like to know more about how I help women do all of the above (without guilt, or shame, or blame) you can learn more about working with me here.