Feed Your Brain a Better Diet | TMOHP Episode 025

You’re probably doing something “without even thinking” about it that makes overeating more tempting and makes changing your eating habits more difficult.

It’s human nature to have a soundtrack in your head that constantly feeds you thoughts and beliefs and stories - about you, about what you’re capable of, about food and eating and cravings, and about the possibility (or impossibility) of change.

When thoughts happen without thought (what a weird thing to say!), it’s easy to forget that those thoughts aren’t facts. And it’s easy to miss a key source of your own personal power for changing overeating or emotional eating habits.

We often think that the key to change is setting a goal and then creating a list of the actions we need to take to achieve it. But the truth is when it comes to creating freedom from overeating - or anything else - goals and to-do list items are not really running the show. In fact, if this is where you’ve been focusing, I think I can help explain why you might still be overeating or struggling with emotional eating. 

Let’s talk about thoughts and feelings and where they lead. Let’s explore whether it’s time to feed your brain a better diet.

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • Why jumping into action to change your eating isn’t always a good idea
  • Why and how your thoughts will help you change your eating
  • How thoughts and feelings can shape your action (or lack of it)
  • How to determine whether your thought and beliefs are sabotaging your eating

Featured on the show:

  • Take the free Hidden Hungers Quiz and find out your primary Hidden Hunger and your best place to start shifting your relationship with food.
  •  Join Your Missing Peace: Work with me to create freedom from overeating and peace with food. You’ll learn how to ditch dieting, stop fighting with food, and achieve your goals. Join us here and get instant access to your training formula and our live coaching sessions. 
  • Work With Me Privately (Private Coaching): I have openings in my schedule to work with about twelve women a year and openings are filled as space becomes available. Private coaching meetings are scheduled via Skype or phone and we can connect from anywhere in the world. Our work is customized to you and your goals and we'll work together for a minimum of six months. Learn more and apply here.
  • The Smart Woman’s Daily Mindset Reset - The Success Soundtrack: Think of these as new downloads for your brain. This set of short guided visualizations has received rave reviews. Check it out here.
  • Visit http://toomuchonherplate.com for more tips and resources to create peace with food and overcome overeating and emotional eating.

Episode Transcript

Good morning. Well, at least it's morning where I am when I'm recording this podcast, whatever time of day it is, when you are listening, I hope you're having a great day. If you are deep into it, take a deep breath. Exhale. I think there's just never anything so luscious as coming into yourself, taking a moment, right. To just be present. And it is always so fascinating to me how we get so unres and we get so snarled up and we get so reactive and we get so busy. So take a deep breath and we, and you're done taking that deep breath, keep breathing, but I have a pop quiz for you today. Okay. So I want you to think about the reason you're listening to this podcast. I want you to think about the thing that you want to accomplish with food, whatever it is you're working toward, whether it is a weight goal or a changing your eating goal or something else. I want you to think about that thing that you are wanting to accomplish. Okay. Got it.

What is the thing? This is the pop quiz. What's the thing that's going to get you there? What is the thing that is going to make that goal get accomplished? If you are like 99.9, 9% of us, what you came up with was some kind of action, right? We like to make a list of things that we are going to do. Our brain loves activity and action. And so the first place our brain tends to go is actions and our to-do list. So if that's what you did, you're absolutely completely, perfectly human. Okay. So you have your list of actions. You got your goal, you got the actions that are going to get you to your goal. Here's next question. What's going to keep you taking those actions? What's going to keep you in action? Here's the mistake. I hear all the time from people. It's, it's the results that it's working, right?

As long as it's working, I'm going to keep going. So the thing that is going to keep me in action is the results of the action, which sounds really good, except for let's imagine you have of a weight loss goal, right? Except for those weeks where you inexplicably do a way in because you're using the scale and you're three pounds up and you don't understand why, or except for the weeks where you're at a plateau and the number isn't changing results. Especially if we define them, narrowly results can be motivating, but being dependent on your results, especially if you have a really big goal or a goal that is a long term kind of goal results can be hard to see. Results can be things that in the moment we don't have absolute control over, right? We have control of the process, but the actual results that come from the process are not always in our control. So what's going to keep you taking the actions? If the answer is results, you're on some shaky ground, okay? The next X dancer that comes up really commonly, what's going to keep me taking the actions that are going to get me to my goal? The next dancer that often comes up is I'm just, I'm just going to do it this time. I'm going to do it this time. You know what that boils down to that boils down to an expectation of extraordinary willpower.

I don't think I need to say much more. Take a, go look back and see how that has served you in the past and ask yourself whether or not you are like most human beings whose most challenging moments with food happen to be when your willpower is already used up, you didn't fail because you didn't have enough willpower. You failed and I'm putting fail in air quotes. You failed with that plan to change your overeating because you didn't have a plan that took into account those moments when you didn't have any willpower.

Okay. So two mistakes. What's going to keep you taking the actions? Results are not enough. Extraordinary. Willpower is not enough. You know what else is not enough? Perfect planning, perfect meal prep or perfect life circumstances. It's just going to work this time. I'm going to stay on top of it. I'm just going to be really organized, right? It boils down to, I'm going to be extraordinarily perfect. Have chosen this goal. I have chosen this list of actions to take me toward my goal. And now on top of that, I have decided that I can flip a switch and I can be extraordinarily perfect in doing all of this stuff. And if and when, and because I am, I'm going to achieve that thing. That is so important to me. If it's not abundantly clear all of these ideas, all of these options, all of these things that so many really smart women are relying on. All of these will fail. You, you have a goal. It is important to you. You have something that you want to achieve, whether it's for read 'em from overeating or peace, with food or a size of clothing that you want to wear again, or an ease of movement that you want to have in your body. You have a goal that is important to you.

You probably have a list of actions, or maybe you have thrown all the lists of actions up in the air because you've learned so far from, you know, looking at history that I haven't worked. What's going to get you to your goal? What is going to allow you to take the kind of actions that are going to get you, not only to your goal, but toward a goal that you sustain a goal that you want to keep going with? A goal that lasts

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having goals, goals. You know, they calibrate our GPS. They let us know where to focus on, and there is nothing wrong with taking action and creating a list of actions. The problem is that starting with a long list of actions or even a short of actions, it's, it's often like jumping into the middle of the process and skipping the beginning parts. Because the thing that is going to keep you taking the action, the thing that is going to keep you motivated and inspired, the thing that is going to continue to propel you forward is the soundtrack in your head,

The soundtrack in your head, the way you talk to yourself, the thoughts that you have, the beliefs that you repeat over and over and over again to yourself, that soundtrack in your head is what is going to keep you taking action. It is what is going to allow you to be successful. And if you don't know this, if you don't pay a to, to it, that soundtrack in your head is the thing that's going to sabotage you or demoralize you, or make things a million times harder than they need to be. Everyone has a soundtrack in their head. Everyone has a nonstop loop of conversation that they're having with themselves. And you may be out of touch with it. You may be painfully aware of it, or you may have become so used to that voice in the background that you aren't aware that it is even there, but it is creating the atmosphere. It is either polluting or enriching the air in which you live. I mean, take a moment and think about how you have talked to yourself in the last hour. What is the tone of the voice? What is the spirit of the voice?

Are you encouraging? Do you call yourself names? Oh, stupid. There you go. You did it. I'm so proud of you. Uh, you did it again. I hate this. Like what voices, what is the soundtrack in your head? What are the beliefs and the thoughts and the stories that you are constantly repeating to yourself. And you'll notice I'm using the words, beliefs and thoughts and stories because here's something important. Not only can you have a soundtrack in your head that is operating on such autopilot, that you're not even aware of it unless you really stop and pay attention. But here's the other thing. If you have thoughts that are repeated often enough and over and over and over and over again, they've not only become automatic, but those thoughts and beliefs, they start to feel like facts. And not only do those thoughts and beliefs start to feel like facts. They can start to feel like you. Well, this is me. Spoiler alert. They are not

Thoughts and beliefs are not facts. Thoughts and beliefs are not who you are. They are simply patterns in your brain that are helping you, that are supporting you or that are leading you off track or leading you to have feelings that are not helpful to you. Thoughts and beliefs are not facts and thoughts and beliefs are not you and thoughts and beliefs, your thoughts and beliefs have everything to do with your relationship with food and with not just your ability to make changes, but with how those changes unfold and with what those changes end up feeling like. And with whether or not those changes are sustainable or things that you actually want to keep on keeping on with. So my bet is if overeating or emotional eating are issue, then my bet is that your beliefs, your daily thoughts, and the way you talk to yourself are not the breakfast of champions. They're not feeding you. They're not nourishing you. And they're not taking you in the direction that you want to go. Let me give you some examples. Recently, I ask members of your missing piece to give me some examples of thoughts and beliefs that had sabotaged them. And here's what I got.

I want you to listen to these beliefs and see which ones resonate for you. And I want you to pay attention to how it feels in your body to run these beliefs through your mind. Okay? These are beliefs that members of your missing piece shared with me that have been sabotaging beliefs when it comes to changing their overeating. Right? Okay, here we go. It's not working. I have too much weight to lose. It's never worked. It's easy to again, and it's impossible to lose this. Isn't going to make a difference. This isn't going to make enough of a difference. I won't stick with it. I'm just lazy. It will always be a struggle for me. I'm too old to change. Well, I did it. I just ruined all my progress. Now I've blown it. I don't stick with things. I can't do this. I just love food too much, eating whatever I want feels so good. If I don't get it, if I don't eat it now, I am never going to have another chance. I don't want this to ruin my special time. Eating will help me feel better. It's okay. I can get back on track tomorrow.

One little bite. Won't matter. They'll feel bad if I don't take any, I can't let this go to waste. Do any of those land for you? Are any of those thoughts and beliefs that you are repeating to yourself that you are carrying around inside your head, fueling your brain with

I'm guessing you felt the energy drop with those thoughts and beliefs, right? I'm guessing you felt that these are not like nourishing, inspiring motivate stories to be telling yourself or ways to be talking to yourself. But I want to take this another step. Let me tell you about a conversation. I had recently with a coaching client. We were having this conversation about the way you fuel your brain. And she gave me an example of this thought that comes up for her all the time. The thought was on never be able to get this weight off. She said, it's true. I feel that way. Okay. Now I want you to pay attention to that because that's what we do. We say, okay, well, that's true. I do feel that way. And our brain starts to make this belief or this thought into the beginning of a fact, the more we repeat this, I'll never be able to get this weight off.

And the more we keep reminding ourselves, well, it's true. Right? I, I have this also thought I also have this thought that it's true. We start to turn it into the idea that it is a fact. And guess what happens if you have the thought that it is a fact that you're never going to be able to get weight off? I mean, why should you even try? Right. So here's what happened with this client. She's got this thought. I'll never be able to get this weight off. I said so, okay. When you think that thought, I want you to take a deep breath, close your eyes, and just think that thought I'll never be able to get this weight off. What do you feel? What kind of feelings come up for you when you are this thought? She said, well, I feel defeated. I feel hopeless and defeated. I said, okay, so you have the thought. I'll never be able to get this weight off, which is a thought, not a fact. I'll never be able to get this weight off.

When you think this thought you feel defeated and hopeless, when you are thinking this thought and feeling defeated and hopeless, what kind of actions does this lead to? And she laughed, because she's she saw where we were going. She's like, okay, so I don't do anything. I do nothing. And I start thinking, well, am I as well, overeat, I feel defeated and hopeless. And I cheer myself up and comfort myself with food because I'm never going to lose this weight. And what is it going to matter? And I already feel defeated. I don't do things. It's not just the things that I do. It's the things that I don't do. Like I don't go and throw out all the food that's left over from the last holiday that I've just been continuing to eat, just because it's there because I feel defeated and hopeless and what's it going to matter? It doesn't matter. And then she's like, ah, I see it. I tell myself, I'm never going to be able to get the weight off. And that leads me to do the things that lead me to never get the weight off. And then she got really quiet and she said, Melissa, I'm poisoning myself.

These thoughts are poison. So don't worry. I'm not going to leave you in this place with a bunch of poisonous thoughts that you don't know what to do with. And they're not really poisonous, but they are very, very toxic. Here's the thing I want you to pay attention to. We talked about

What is the thought that you're having? We started with a thought that she knew was not helpful, right? When you are thinking this thought, what kind of feelings does that thought lead to? And then we talked about, okay, so when you have this thought that leads to these feelings and you are feeling this way, what kind of actions are you likely to take when you're in this space? Remember when I said at the beginning of this episode, that so often we have a goal and we decide, okay, what's going to get me to that goal. And we decide, oh, it's actions, right? I need to make it to do list. I need to make a plan. We love to make plans. I love to make plans, right? I've got so many notepads and books that are great for writing plans and we make a plan. But remember I said, that's jumping into the middle of the process because if we don't pay attention to the thoughts that we are having, that are creating our feelings, which is ruining the whole energy that we are living in and that we are moving forward with all of that stuff is going to color the actions that we take or our ability to take the actions that we put on that great aspirational to-do list that we create.

Okay. Does that make sense? You may want to rewind this and listen to what I just said again, but creating a to-do list and jumping in with a set of actions is actually starting in the middle of the process And that's what diets do. They start you in the middle of the process. They only pay attention to one piece of the process. And that is one of the big reasons that they don't work and that they feel so crappy.

So let's go back to my client. My client has just realized I have these thoughts. They lead to these feelings. Oh. And look at the actions that I take that are totally sabotaging to my goal, but totally in alignment of, with my thought, which is, I'll never be able to get this weight off. I have the thought that I'll never be able to get this weight off. I feel defeated and hopeless. And then I act in a way that doesn't help me get this weight off one freaking bit. So here's what we did. I said, okay, so you have thoughts that leave you feeling defeated and hopeless. Let us not get into an argument with the thoughts. Let's not worry about what is, what is true historically about those thoughts or not. But let's just notice you have a pattern. You have a thought that leads you to feel a certain way. How would you like to feel? And she's like, I'd like to feel hopeful. Okay. So what is a thought that you could actually think not a perfect sunshine, rainbows and unicorns kind of thought, but a thought that you could actually think that would cause you to feel more hopeful than the thought. I'll never be able to get this weight off.

She said she had to think about this for a minute, right? Because it is so easy to come up with thoughts that create negative feelings. But if you're trying to create a more positive feeling, it can be challenging. So she thought about it for a bit. And she said, well, you know, I think, or the problem is when I think about what I want to do, it feels so big. Like I'll never be able to get this weight off it's because I'm thinking about this number that feels so big. She said, I need to break it down. I need to break it down in my mind. I need to make it into smaller steps. She said, if I want to feel hopeful, I need to focus on a smaller goal. So maybe the next five pounds and sometimes, maybe the next two pounds. And she said, if I can do that, then I could have the thought I can do this next step.

I can do this next step. And when I think that I do feel hopeful, I said, okay. So if you have the thought, I can do this next step and you are feeling hopeful. What kind of actions feel possible there? What are the kind of actions that you'll take? And she's like, well, I would throw away those cookies. I would throw them away. They're getting stale. I don't even want them. I would get good, healthy food in the kitchen. I would get on the treadmill or I would walk the dog. And I would do that with this idea that it was about the next step. And I wouldn't be telling myself in my mind, notice, here are more thoughts about these huge things I need to do. Fitness wise. I'd be focusing on, I can do the next step. I can do the next step. And I would feel hopeful. Do you see the power in this? This is so important.

It is so worthwhile to ask yourself, do you need a detox for your brain? Do you need a diet for your brain? And I don't believe in diets, but I do believe in the important of taking a look at what you are, feeding your brain, how you are nourishing your brain and looking at whether you really could benefit from an overhaul and sometimes a drastic overhaul. Now here's the thing. The first step is not guilt or self-blame or shame for being in this predicament. It's not about feeling bad about yourself because you realize I have a soundtrack that is really, really negative. There's a lot of acculturation and societal pressures and sexism and diet culture that have gone into you. Having the thoughts that you have.

There are all sorts of influences that come into play here. And no matter what those influences are, it is so important to remember that your thoughts are always trying to protect you. Even when they don't hit the mark, they were trying to protect you, just like you eat for, for a reason. We always eat for a reason. You know, we have thoughts for a reason. And once we realize what is going on, we get to take our power back. We get to, we get to be in control of the choices. Instead of just like my client was doing reacting to thoughts. She wasn't really aware that she was having with feelings, came from the thoughts and then a set of actions that were fueled by the energy of her thoughts and her feelings. Once you start to see the patterns, once you start to see what isn't working, you are back in the driver's seat. So the first step is watching and noticing your thoughts and removing them from the fact column that they are just beliefs. They are just stories and you can choose other thoughts and beliefs and stories to focus on. Even if it takes some time,

Take some time to feel your feelings. Notice how negative thoughts have helped to build negative feelings and negative results. Notice the thoughts and the beliefs that aren't serving you and come from a place of self-compassion

When the women in your missing piece. And when my client, whose story I shared with you, when they noticed where their thoughts were, leave, leading them. That's a, that's a great slip because their thoughts were leading them and leaving them stuck, right? When they noticed that they totally got the importance of starting with your brain and your thoughts and your beliefs and the stories that you tell yourself for my client, it was her brain that needed to feed more nourishing stuff, stuff that energized her stuff that helped her feel good stuff that allowed her to feel confident and hopeful. Your thoughts, your beliefs, the way you talk to yourself. It, it is not an interesting side product to, to just kind of notice and, and ignore. As you plow through your to-do list, your thoughts and your beliefs and the way that you talk to yourself, they are everything and they can be your success soundtrack.

So start taking a few moments to pay attention to your thoughts. Notice the way that you talk to yourself. Notice the tone that you use and ask yourself where your thoughts are leading you. What are the feelings they are creating and what kind of actions are those thoughts and feelings leading to, and then ask yourself if this is the direction you want to go. Now, if you want help with this, you know where to go. This is what we do every day in your missing piece. We tackle mindset. We tackle your relationship with food and we tackle what it takes to make changes with your eating and with your relationship with food and your relationship with yourself that allows those changes to be come apart of who you are. A part of the stories that you tell yourself, a part of the beliefs that you have, and a part of the changes that you create that last I would love to see you in your missing piece. Take a deep breath, ask yourself, are your stories, getting you where you want to go, or do you need a diet for your brain? You've got this. I'll talk to you soon.

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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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