I guess we can all agree on one thing: we are different. There are multiple ramifications stemming from this statement:
- we have different triggers
- we possess diverse passions
- we acquire various habits
- we are motivated differently
- we enjoy different activities and things
and so on. I would like to focus on the first 2 – triggers and passions. But first, here are a few ways to trick your brain and stay on a diet.
Trick your mind
As smart as the mind may be, it’s so easy to trick. When talking about diets, there are a bunch of ways to trick your mind. It does depend on what you want to achieve. Let’s say you want to follow a particular diet and avoid junk food. The methods that I’ve used on myself and my clients are:
Shift perspective by attaching a different meaning to words.
The mind is sensitive to words. When you use words like diet, hard, hunger, weight loss, not allowed, limit, avoid, at first you think that you’ll be the most amazing and powerful person for going on a weight loss diet. And then, a few moments, hours, days in, your mind starts to fire up. All these thoughts pop up trying to get you out of the diet. The mind’s job is to protect you even if you don’t want to be protected or not in the way that the mind does it.
The solution is simple. It does resemble positive thinking or positive talk but it’s more than that. Whenever you want to go on a diet, don’t make such a big deal out of it. Just start eating less or different foods. If you need to go out with friends, just tell them that you are in the mood for a lighter meal. Suppose they ask you whether you’re on a diet, just tell them that you are doing an experiment to see how your body works. Tell them you are trying to listen to your body and its needs.
Replace the words that make your mind’s radar turn on with more neutral or ambiguous terms:
- diet = experiment
- hard = challenging
- weight loss = energizing and toning
- not allowed = not part of the experiment
- limit = maybe later
- avoid = not now
Think about a dish that you enjoy, a healthy one and use that thought every time you go shopping.
Tell yourself that you’re going to prepare that dish when you get home so there’s no need to buy junk food. For instance, I love double-baked crispy potatoes. They have successfully replaced commercial potato chips and french fries. Read my answer to the question With what can I eat my potato for weight loss for more ideas on potato cooking and food combination to lose weight.
Count calories but be wrong about it.
If you are looking to consume a certain amount of calories, your mind will assign a limit to that number. Whenever you reach that limit, it will tell your body to hang on to the difference. If you are under that limit, it might begin to stress out and believe you are not eating enough.
One way to trick your mind is to up the quantities of foods you are recording but not actually eating those quantities. Let’s say you eat a small banana, enter a large banana when tracking your calories. Thus, the number will go up without you actually consuming that many calories. Then, you’ll feel like you actually had that large banana. At the end of the day, you’ll be on a caloric deficit and your body/mind won’t even notice.
Junk Food Triggers
In the beginning, I was talking about how different we all are. Therefore, we have different triggers. Take my story, for instance, there were times when I would go shopping and I would fight against my thoughts to get ice cream, chips, and energy drinks. One day, I spent an entire hour going back and forth passing by the packages that screamed comfort. But I also listened to the opposing thoughts: you’ll get no energy; you’ll forget about the taste in a second; your body will ask for them again and again; do you really want these foods; they feed you nothing but artificial ingredients and empty promises of comfort.
I stood there until the battle was over. There was no boom at the end, nothing to announce the winning side. Everything just got quiet. And I walked out. I took a breath of fresh air and went home lighter.
I wanted to share that with you before I dive into the triggers. Based on my experience, there are many triggers that may ruin your diet.
Handy junk food.
Either in the house or at the nearby supermarket, handy junk food seems like it’s calling your name. There’s a great quote I like to use “Out of sight, out of mind”. It works wonders. And you’ll only have to go through just a few battles until junk food won’t even have the guts to challenge you next time.
Fun with friends.
This is a tough one. Or is it? On the one hand, you want to be strong and follow through. On the other hand, you want to have fun with your friends. When someone suggests getting an ice cream, you don’t want to be the odd one out. So you ignore your wishes and give in to temptation. Although, truth be told, at that moment you begin to convince yourself that what you wish is what your friends want.
Temptation is nothing more than a different option. The choice is still yours.
The other one (not junk food) might be more tempting if you think about it. By the way, do you really think that your friends lay in bed at night thinking about ways to ignore you just because you did not do what they did? If they do, they’re not your friends and it’s a good thing you tested them.
Boredom & emotions.
When you are bored and have food around, it’s easy to believe that eating will carry you out of that state. The same goes for emotions. Whether you feel sad, happy, lonely, betrayed, overwhelmed, food might sound like a great idea. It’s there, cheap, triggers some pleasure, convenient and non-judgmental.
I would like you to do an experiment and commit to what you promise to yourself. If you are an emotional eater, notice whether the food really changes your mood in the long term. Observe how long it takes until you need the next dose of food. If you still feel the same a few moments after having eaten, then please consider a different method to overcome those emotional states.
If you notice other triggers that make you give in to junk food, please share that in a comment. I am happy to help with a piece of advice if I can. Before we finish talking about mindset tricks, there’s one trick that might be the missing piece of the puzzle.
It never gets old to find a passion and do it all day long. Or when you get the time. You’ll always be in the mood for doing what you love. When you want to stop thinking about junk food, begin to think about what you enjoy doing. I am sure there’s more to you than simply giving in to foods that don’t nourish your body.
Find a passion. It might not last a lifetime but do what you enjoy until it’s no longer enjoyable. Then, move on to the next one. When your mind, body, time are occupied with activities you love, there’s no room for overeating.
You’ll want to have more energy and more time to do what you enjoy. This 2-step Strategy to Free your Mind – Focus on Weight Loss might help shed more light on how to find your passion.
What is your passion? What makes you forget that time exists?