These mindsets will sabotage healthy eating

If simply KNOWING what to eat made us eat healthy eaters there would be absolutely no need for any of the diet plans or nutrition programs on the market today. 

Unfortunately, we do have problems putting what we know about nutrition into practice which leads us to being inconsistent with our eating patterns day to day and often frustrated with ourselves and our subsequent lack of results.

Your mindset – how you view the world, how you view yourself and the truths that you base your feelings and actions upon – will have a profound influence on your decision-making process when it comes to choosing what you put in your mouth.

Thoughts create feelings, which lead to actions, that get results. We often spend too much of our energy focusing on changing our actions, when in reality, it’s our thoughts that could do with some effort if we really want our feelings and actions to fall in line.

Many of my clients over the years have been quick to blame their poor food choices on people or situations out of their control. Their partner was eating it. There was a work morning tea. Their teenage son enraged them which made them eat chocolate or their two-year-old wanted McDonalds.

Now I’m a kind, empathetic, non-judgemental nutritionist and I know that behaviour change is hard. However, if you’re not prepared to take responsibility for your actions and choices and change the way you think about food, you’ll be stuck on the dieting merry-go-round forever.

Here are eight poor mindsets that will sabotage your long-term nutrition if you don’t change them:

You hate throwing food in the bin

Many people can’t handle throwing food in the bin. They have to finish the whole plate, even if they’re full. They finish their kid’s meals. They eat leftover party food for days on end. They can’t throw food away. It must be eaten. All in the name of minimising waste.

Before you stone me for my apparent unsustainable point, stay with me. Ponder this statement:

“Food is either wasted in the bin or it’s wasted on your bottom.”

I know where I’d rather it be.

Regardless of whether you eat the food or throw it in the bin, it’s wasted. If eating leftover food causes you to consume in excess of your body’s energy needs, then that food is wasted. Your body will store the excess energy in fat cells. And unless you plan on traversing the Simpson Desert on foot, anything stored in your fat cells is essentially wasted.

If you don’t like throwing out food, I’d challenge you to use leftovers wisely and save them for subsequent meals. Learn to serve yourself less food on the plate and start thinking about not buying large amounts of unhealthy food so it’s not in your home in the first place. That way it’s not on your bottom or in the bin. Win win.

You don’t have time to prepare food 

Not true. You don’t prioritise preparing food. And that’s OK – what you prioritise is completely your prerogative. However, healthy food requires some level of preparation. Vegetables need to be chopped. Meat needs to be cooked. Wholegrains need to be portioned. So if you want to be a healthy eater long term (and you can’t afford a full-time chef) there needs to be some amount of food preparation that goes on in your life.

We’ve become so obsessed with not having to ‘try’ at being healthy that any time a new product gets developed, all the marketing campaign needs to say is: “No effort required! Lose weight without dieting or exercise!” And we jump at it!

I’m sorry, but you’ll have to do something, so spend some time making a healthy food a priority in your life.

If you’re looking for easy, delicious meals that don’t require fancy cooking skills, you’ll love my book, Everyday Eats! Grab it here.

Everyday Eats available as hardcopy or ebook.

You have to have everything perfect 

The truth is, there is no such thing as a perfect diet. It doesn’t exist. There are only dietary patterns that promote health, and ones that don’t. And that’s all you need to know.

Your desire to get everything perfect and change every element of your lifestyle is actually holding you back from making small, consistent, permanent changes to the way you eat and drink each day. And it’s what you do every single day that matters, not what you do every once in a while.

I distinctly remember one new year where I was going to:

  • Drink 3L water
  • Eat 2 pieces fruit
  • Eat 5 serves vegetables
  • Stop eating chocolate and sweets
  • Stop eating chips and aioli
  • Stick to 1500 cals per day
  • Exercise for 30 minutes every day.

I lasted three days. Then I messed it up. Then I gave up. Perfection is poisonous. Just start with one element of your lifestyle. Focus on it until you master it. Then move on.

You think that being thinner is the only way to be happier 

This is a lie. You can be happy no matter what you weigh or how big or small your body is. Stop waiting to be happy. You can be happy now. And being happy now doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to be thinner if that’s what you want, but don’t for a second put off ‘living’ and being who you are because you’re simply not ‘thin enough’.

Go! Live! Enjoy! And make your healthy, long term changes while you’re allowing yourself to be content with who you are!

You think you’re not worth the effort 

This is a pretty heavy one, but it’s a big deal that I’d argue nearly all of us face at some point in our lives.

If you’re living out of the lie that you’re not worth it, you’ll continue to go round and round the mountain, sabotaging all of your efforts for change.

The first step for getting off the mountain is challenging the validity of this belief system and working on establishing a new truth out of which you live your life.

You are valuable. You are worth the effort. You don’t need external validation. You’re enough, just as you are!

You’re always looking for the next big ‘thing’ 

My colleague, James Kuhn, recently wrote an article on “shiny object syndrome” It’s about the perils of constantly getting distracted from your nutrition with the latest fad, diet program, superfood, philosophy or whatever your PT or best friend is doing, and not sticking to something long term.

The reality is, it’s consistently sticking to a healthy eating pattern and learning to develop daily habits that will get you long term results. It’s not trying to find the next best thing or the ‘silver bullet’.

To quote from a psychologist in the book Barefoot Investor:

“People who succeed don’t have more willpower than you. They just develop better daily routines and habits, which after a while become automatic and require less thought and less conscious energy.”

You think that healthy eating means ‘restriction’ 

Healthy eating is more about what you DO eat than what you DON’T eat. It’s definitely not about restriction.

If weight loss is your goal, you do need to create an energy deficit by reducing your energy intake but this doesn’t necessarily mean eating less food. I wrote an article about not all calories being created equal which illustrated this really well.

You’ve got to let yourself eat more food. Not more unhealthy food. More whole foods. More vegetables. More protein rich foods. More healthy sources of carbohydrates.

When you focus on what TO eat rather than what NOT TO eat, that’s when you start to get good results!

I have been teaching people how to improve their eating habits for nearly 15 years. The Hub Membership program is the culmination of my knowledge and experience and is the BEST way to change your eating habits for the long term!

Article by Kate Freeman

Registered Nutritionist. Writer. Presenter. Home cook. Mother. Wife. Runner. Hiker. Amateur photographer.