A nutrition client of mine recently said “Eating a salad for lunch shows the world that you are unhappy about your body.”
I questioned – “But do you like salad?”
“Yes! The crunchy salty coolness of a caesar salad with a pile of chicken is so tasty and satisfying!”
“So F(swear word)K what your lunch friends think, if you need to, tell them you eat it because it’s delicious.”
How often does social pressure affect your eating habits? Do you eat what’s placed in front of you even if you don’t like it, want it, or it’s more than you need, just because someone else gave it to you? Do you struggle with peer pressure around food and perceived judgment from those around you? Does your mom push seconds on you during family dinners? Does your partner give you the same size portion that he serves himself?
Here are 2 strategies for meal decision making to help you take control of your nutrition.
- Build a new habit at the start of meal times. Pause, take a breath, look at your plate, express gratitude for the meal and make a decision about how much you are going to eat and use your knife and fork to create a portion for yourself. You decide what you put in your mouth.
- Why does it work? Habits are triggered by events, and we can create new habits by tying our desired behavior to an anchoring event (the CUE!). By taking a breath, and expressing gratitude we create a moment where we can make a proactive decision rather than a reactive response. When you win by following through, you give your brain a taste of success and it wants more of it.
There are so many studies about the profound effect of gratitude on our mindset and subsequent actions. If you can create a new pattern at the start of meals when you are eating alone, you can carry it into more stressful situations and create wins there as well.
- Practice a script of what you’ll say if you need to. Food is fuel that your body needs, but food is so much more than fuel. Meal times are points of connection. Holidays are marked by the foods that celebrate them. AND what we eat or don’t can also be a battle for control in families. Anchor your script in an “I FEEL” statement. Your feelings are yours, they are not a judgment on another person. Sample scripts to practice:
- I like salads because they are delicious.
- I feel full.
- I have tried broccoli (roasted, steamed, baked, cheesed) and I don’t like it.
- I am not hungry right now, thank you for offering. I’ll let you know when I’m hungry,
- One is enough for me! Thank you! It was delicious!.
- I brought my own salad because I feel better when I eat salad for lunch. I am learning to listen to my body.
If you’re looking to kickstart some new eating habits and want someone to help you think through achievable and sustainable next steps as well as help hold you accountable, set up an intro call with one of our nutrition coaches.