The Starting Point
Have you seen this TEDx Talk, which promises to explain “How to make healthy eating unbelievably easy”? Unfortunately, it only manages to be unbelievably naive.
The basic premise is that to make healthy eating easy, you have to remove unhealthy options from your surroundings. Sadly, there is nothing new there. After all, in Bill Phillips’ 2010 bestseller Transformation: How to Change Everything, he discusses exactly that as one of his first steps. Clear out your kitchen of any junk food and other triggers to unhealthy eating.
More to the point, that was just the first step of many Bill Phillips suggests. He also talks about motivation, community, accountability, and healing the past, to name just a few. There’s a good reason for that: the “control your surroundings” plan only works as a short-term measure.
Sure, some people live places where the closest shop takes long enough to get to that it’s an effort you’d be unwilling to make unless you’re desperate. Or somewhere that the shops are closed for a good deal of the time. For any city dweller, though, junk food is just a short walk away, day or night.
On top of that, if your cravings are strong enough, you’ll drive half an hour to the closest shop. Or spend an hour baking something at home from ingredients most people won’t want to remove from their kitchen, even if they have had a clear out. Hell, I’ve baked flapjacks using oats, apple juice, apricots and not much more. All healthy ingredients, but eat enough of them and the calories add up!
As Bill Phillips correctly pointed out all those years ago, the most important factor in achieving transformation is not trying to bend your environment to your will, because that’s pretty much impossible. The most important factor is mindset, and there are several different elements to it.
I’ve written about motivation in the past – the different types that exist, and how to make them work for you. Motivation is certainly an important element, yet it’s only part of the equation that makes up mindset. Other elements include environment, capabilities and resources, beliefs and values, sense of identity, and life’s purpose.
By environment, I don’t mean whether you’ve got cookies in your kitchen cupboard. Rather, it’s things like how stressed you are in your life. Do you love your job, your relationships, your financial and geographical situation, your home? Or do any or all of them cause you stress? Do you live right next to a really delicious bakery? Are there always cakes in your office kitchen? What activities do you do with your friends? Do you go to the pub, go out for dinner, or are you more likely to do something active with them?
Resources and Capabilities
What resources do you have? I’m not just talking about whether you have a computer, but also whether you have time to search for the information you need, or someone that you can ask for help. Do you have a kitchen, and is it equipped with the pots, pans, baking tins and whatever else you might need to make healthy, nutritious food?
And what skills and capabilities do you have? Do you know how to cook healthy food that is tasty? And can you do so in the time you have between work and other commitments? What about shopping for healthy food: do you find you never have the ingredients you need? How about what goes with what?
Beliefs and Values
What beliefs do you have that may help or hinder you? Do you believe that healthy food has to be tasteless and boring? Do you believe that junk food is the only way to reward yourself? Not only that, but as you make changes to your behaviour you may come across new beliefs you didn’t realise you held.
You can also ask yourself what you value: what is important to you? Is it important for you to have variety in your life? That might be a block to cutting certain foods out of your diet. Or do you feel it’s vital to be hospitable? How might that affect what you feel you need to offer others who come to your home?
Sense of Identity
Who do you feel yourself to be? That might seem an odd question. Still, a lot of people say things like: “I’m not someone who can change,” or “I always fall back into old habits”, or “I just love food too much to give up some things”. These become part of how you see yourself, and that can be a block to enjoying healthy eating.
Sense of Purpose
This is a biggie: what do you think your purpose is in this life? Now, you might be wondering what that has to do with healthy eating. Think about this, though. If you feel your purpose is to be happy, but being overweight makes you unhappy, then changing to a healthier way of eating will help you fulfill your life’s purpose. If you feel that being of service to others is paramount, how might you getting on top of your eating help others? Would it give you more energy to assist them? Would you be able to act as a role model to inspire others to make better choices?
How To Change Your Mindset
There are a number of ways to approach your mindset.
One of those is by asking yourself some of the questions above. By becoming clear on what is helping you and hindering you can make changes in a way that suits you better. For example, if you realise that going to the break room at work is a big trigger for you, can you find a way around it? That might be going out to the park instead of going to the break room. Or it might be starting a healthy eating initiative at work, to get others involved. That way, you improve your environment and also get a community of like-minded people as support: win-win.
Healing the Past
Another mindset transformer is to heal issues from the past that have led you to where you are. You might choose a talking therapy, or maybe you could try hypnotherapy. It’s amazing what you can do when you revisit the past in hypnosis, and see how it might have been different. You can find resources you weren’t aware of, and bring them to bear in both the past and the present, to move you forward into a new future.
Shifting Your Sense of Self
Also, those questions around sense of identity. How do you change those sabotaging, deeply held views of yourself? Once again, hypnosis may provide a solution. In your subconscious, there are myriad different possibilities, and the chance to try on what it might feel like to shift your sense of self a little. Not that you want to be someone else entirely: you will still be you, just a happier, healthier version of yourself.
Finding and Living Your Life’s Purpose
As for life’s purpose, not everyone is sure what theirs is. Gaining some clarity on that can be really helpful, as can exploring at a subconscious level what that might look like. How would you act if you were living your life’s purpose? Seeing this in hypnosis can give you a greater sense of motivation of the best kind!
Making Healthy Eating Easy
The real way to make healthy eating easy isn’t by clearing out your kitchen, though that may be a good place to start. The most important factor is to shift your mindset. Using coaching to look at your values and beliefs, and deeply questioning your behaviours, is a great place to start. If you think about healthy eating as pleasurable and as part of who you are, then it will be easy to maintain. Otherwise, there will always be the possibility of getting cravings that send you out to the shops, day or night, near or far.
The easiest way to shift your mindset is to approach it at the level where these things reside. Not in the rational logic of your everyday thoughts, where you know you ought to eat an apple rather than a biscuit, but at the subconscious level of your deep desires, which hypnotherapy gives you access to. You have nothing to lose but your cravings and guilt.