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Why Does It Feel So Hard To Make Good Food Choices On Bad Days?

 

On a good day when we are feeling confident, happy and in control it is easy to make the best food choices. The ones that will make us feel proud of ourselves, enhance our eyes, skin and hair and give us looser waistbands.

On a good day, it is easy to wander around the shops contented and un-tempted by the high sugar, high salt, frankly high rubbish, quick foods and sweets on offer.  On a good day, we don’t need to raise our hands to form the sign of a cross and hiss, “Temptation get behind me”.  Instead, although we see these “treats” as we pass by, all brightly packaged and maybe even on three for two offers, they don’t call to us. They might gently whisper or nudge at our consciousness, but on the whole, it is fairly easy to give ourselves a mental shake and move on to the real foods, the sweet, juicy fruits, fresh veg and unprocessed meats that we know will, a) make a delicious, nourishing meal in next to no time, b) keep us on our weight and health track, and c) actually enhance all our good feelings, both physically and mentally.  So, on a good day, healthy eating really does seem to be an easy no brainer.

Then comes a bad day.  A bad day can take many forms. Disturbed night’s sleep, stress at work, argument with husband/partner/kids – it is usually men though isn’t it (or maybe that’s just me). The car breaks down, you don’t get the job you went for, maybe the cat becomes worryingly unwell or something truly devastating happens.

What do we do then?  How does this affect our food choices, and more importantly why?

Well, we usually look for comfort and support.  Something to make us feel better, to fill the “hole” the bad day has created within us.  And our go to “hole” filler is usually sugar and fat saturated food products and/or drink, be it an overwhelmingly sweet latte with syrup and sugar or alcohol. Anything in fact that takes our minds off our distress/tiredness whatever is getting us down.  Then as we wander around the shops, feeling upset or low, the very same brightly packaged food products, sweets and so-called treats seem to jump straight into our line of vision and suddenly we crave them.

We want to feel better quickly and we think that these are the perfect quick fix solutions to all our woes. So, we buy the rubbish and eat the rubbish,  usually in a much larger quantity than is our norm, and expect to feel better.  But then how do we feel? In my experience with clients they feel exactly the opposite of what they were longing for.  They feel sick, more upset, depressed, disappointed, completely derailed and hopeless.  Basically, feeling as rubbish as the food products they have eaten.  They never, ever feel better, so mission is definitely NOT accomplished.

This is my absolute area of expertise, and my understanding is unique. As a former alcoholic, I also used to view booze as an answer.  Actually, the answer to everything.  I drank to feel better, happier, more confident, to help me sleep, to get me through the day, the tough times, whatever I didn’t want to deal with.  And I thought, like my clients who feel the same way about their food choices,  that I could never stop.  And then I did.  It took one simple thought shift.  I stopped thinking about what I thought it gave me, and focused on what it took away.  I suddenly knew that what I drank only ever made a situation worse.  No bad day was ever brightened by my drinking, instead it was darkened.

From the moment I understood this, I was able, after 27 years to stop drinking.

I get my clients to view food in the same way.  I ask them, “Did that slab of cake, ice cream, glass of wine, ready meal make you feel better?”. “Did it make your day happier? Did you feel more able to cope? Did it take you back to the contented confident feelings you have on a good day?  Ultimately, did it make your day better or worse?”  Never once has a client said “Yes, it did” to even one of those questions, let alone all of them.

There is no connection between a bad day and making a bad food choice.  None. Nada, Zilch.  We allow ourselves to justify our poor food choices – “I need something nice to eat/drink to cheer me up”, on a bad day, but they are just excuses which harm us.  They are choices that will make you feel worse, which then promotes further poor food choices because we feel discouraged and so give up on ourselves. Conversely, on a good day when you make good food choices, you are spurred on by the way you look and feel to make even better ones.

Once we break the connection between rubbish days and rubbish food, making healthier choices becomes easier, plus those healthier choices can actually make a rubbish day better, even if it’s just that you feel in control of at least one area.  Your food.

Certainly, a good food choice on a bad day will make it easier to cope with a bad day, because you will be giving your greatest support in life, your body, the fuel it needs to fight all your good fights. You just have to stop in the rubbish food aisle and ask yourself, “How will I feel after I have eaten this? Will I feel better 30 minutes after? Will my day seem brighter? Will my problems have gone away or will they feel worse? How will eating this improve any aspect of my day” If you answer any and all of these questions honestly, the answer will be NO!

Don’t let a bad day tip you into food chaos. Once in, it can be hard to get out.  If you do make a poorer choice, look at in as a one off, dust your self down and commit to making better choices for the rest of the day.

Contact me if you would like to chat about your bad day and bad food choices and let’s see how I can do to help you x