Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Lifestyle and food

I've taken a look at some habit factors (here and here and here) which make losing weight more difficult, but another important part of our life which can affect this is lifestyle.  Most people think, "If I just had more willpower..." but actually there are a lot of very strong influences that make healthful eating harder.  And lifestyle can be one of them.

For instance, do you have a kitchen with a supply of doughnuts or pastries where you work?  Or a dispensing machine with snack foods?  Is there a culture of taking clients to lunch?  Or an after-work drinks ethos?

Do you always go shopping on the way home, when you're tired and hungry (though eating little and often would help with half of this problem)?  Is there some really nice shop near your home or on the way there that sells some treat you find hard to resist?

Do you live with someone - parents, spouse, partner, kids - who likes to have some yummy food in the house, so you always open the cupboard and see it?  Or just know it's there?

All of these represent lifestyle factors that can make losing weight very hard.  You're having to fight yourself and those around you, as well as your local culture.

Some therapists, Deanne Jade among them, might ask you to take a long hard look at these lifestyle aspects and see how you could change them.  Do you really enjoy your job, or could you move to a different firm?  The current economic climate seems to make the idea of quitting a good job just to lose weight a bit extreme!

As for local shops, you're not going to close them down, but could you walk a different route so you don't go past that particular shop?

The people you live with is one of the toughest ones.  On the one hand, if you care about them then you may also want them to eat more healthily.  However, I know from personal experience that this can be pretty tough, and have unforeseen consequences.  My mother was into very healthy food, but it just meant I ate unhealthy things round my friends' houses and considered them all the more delightful because they were forbidden.  And I tried to guilt her out about depriving me of a "normal" life - the joys of children!

Still, my diet now is largely healthy - I enjoy cooking things from scratch, I love fruit and veg, and generally prefer wholegrain foods to white.  This pattern was set up in my childhood, and although I've had the odd rebellion, and am a bit of a chocoholic, in other areas I like healthy eating.  So, my mother did have a positive effect.

Persuading others, like a spouse, or perhaps even worse a parent (who may think they should know best as they are the parent) that eating more healthily and not having snacks and treats in the house would be a good idea, can be an up-hill battle.  Perhaps the best approach is to communicate clearly what you want to change and why.  If they care about you and can clearly see it isn't in any way an attack on them, they may find it easier to be supportive. 

Another important question is whether you can find other ways to treat yourself, besides special foods?  Making a concerted effort each day to do something nice for yourself can be a good first step in making you less susceptible to these lifestyle problems.  For example, wear your nicest perfume just because, or treat yourself to a massage or pedicure, or buy yourself a new CD, or go to the cinema or theatre.  Or even just insist on getting a nap and maybe a nice bath with essential oils and some candles (mothers of young children, I mean you)!  We're back to the L'Oreal bit here - do something nice for yourself, because you are worth it.  And because it may help you not reach for those crisps or chocolate or biscuits or coke, or whatever food is calling to you with a siren voice saying, "I'm here, come and get me!"

Image: 3 of Cups from A King's Journey Tarot by Chanel Bayless and James Battersby.

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