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Developing a Conscious Food Plan that Works for You

little girl eating watermelon; conscious food plan
What joy you can get from even simple foods!

Many people know they need to change the way they eat for health, feeling better about their appearance, or raising their self-esteem. They need to develop a conscious eating food plan. Sometimes when people get a physical or mental illness, it’s hard to get the motivation to move and it’s tempting to retreat into sedentary activities like sleeping, eating and watching TV/videos/social media. This leads to a self-perpetuating cycle of eating, feeling shame and discouragement, and then eating to quiet the feelings of shame. Unfortunately, this trap is hard to extricate yourself from, but it is important to do so nonetheless.

You can eat consciously, being mindful of what you are eating and how it affects your body. You can also be unconscious about what and how you eat. This is an easy way to binge eat or eat emotionally, and to gain unwanted weight in the process.

Get Motivated to Change Your Food Plan

Getting the motivation to change your food choices for a day, or a week, is fantastic! Sometimes all it takes is making the decision, but often it takes more work with envisioning your new body and building motivation to achieve your dietary and exercise goals. However, when people have made a little progress in changing their food choices and then “slip” or go back to their old way of eating, they might engage in all-or-nothing thinking.

What do I mean by this? It goes something like this: You think to yourself, “I really screwed up big time there, and now I’m worse off than I’ve ever been. I’m so mad at myself! Ah well, I give up. Maybe this is how I’m destined to live.” The all-or-nothing thinking means that you’re either a perfect (and effortless) success, or you’re a failure and there’s no hope for you. So you might as well eat the way you really want to, because it gives you short-term pleasure and relief from whatever bothered you in the first place.

To Err is Human in Food Plans

Most conscious food plans and diet programs allow for some human error, or a small amount of indulgence that is probably inevitable in human behavior. We can’t be saints all the time, can we? The trick is not to let austerity or severe indulgence win the day. Either extreme is not a sustainable way to live. The austerity is so perfectionistic that it makes it almost impossible to achieve. The severe indulgence causes extremely bad health and low self-esteem, which perpetuates the self-loathing that sometimes comes with being overweight. Finding the balance between taking pleasure in one’s food, and exercising control over one’s food choices, is the goal for most people.

couple eating cupcakes; conscious food plan
Treat your treats as special occasions, not as an opportunity to hate yourself.

Sometimes for special occasions, a person can afford to “cheat” and eat something they wouldn’t normally, because they want to. That’s okay, it’s just important to make it a once-in-a-while thing rather than regularly giving into food cravings that are damaging to one’s wellbeing.

Substitute Foods in Your Conscious Food Plan

Substituting foods that have a similar taste to what you crave, but are not as processed or unhealthy, is another way to handle this situation. For example , if you crave salty, savory food, instead of going for that McDonald’s hamburger, you can make some Chinese food with a little meat, some vegetables, and soy sauce. The salt and savory are fulfilled by the meat and soy sauce, but you don’t have to consume all the fat, additives, and MSG that is common in cheap, restaurant-prepared Chinese food. I

If you crave something sweet, consider making a fruit salad and having a nice hearty bowl of it, alone or with some water. The fructose is simple sugar, but it’s accompanied by fiber and nutrients. Compare that with a piece of candy, cake, or pastry, which has no nutrient value other than simple sugar, fat, and more additives.

Change Your Attitude About Eating Consciously

Most importantly, however, changing your attitude towards yourself when you stray from your food plan is the most beneficial to your wellness. When you have a hateful, adversarial relationship to your body, your whole being suffers as a result. The hopeless discouragement that comes with a sense of defeat is the enemy, not necessarily the food that you “slipped” up on.

If you want to discuss your food plan with me more, I'd love to hear from you at 661-575-7135.


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