Dieting is an exercise in self control. As humans, we exercise self control in a variety of ways. You want that new outfit, but it costs too much, so you don’t get it. You want to take that trip, but its really expensive, so you wait until you save the money. We self control all the time without thinking too much about it. The problem with dieting and losing weight is that you have to think about it. A lot.
We eat every day. We make our meals, cook our dinners, or go out for food if our time is restricted. Exercising self control over something you do everyday, is not the same as not buying that dress you saw last week. If you want to lose weight, you have to think about it, all day long. It has to become a priority. Most people eat three meals a day so exercising self control becomes a constant thing you’re doing. And it can be hard, but there are some things we can do to make it easier.
One of the things I do is not compare food. I like chips, more than I like popcorn for a snack. I do, way more. So when I go to the store and I’m getting snack food, I want to buy the chips because I like them more, right? Make sense. Arguing with my self, telling myself that I should get the popcorn because it’s better for me is a losing battle. What I have to do is ask myself, “Do I like popcorn?” The answer is yes, I do. If you say, that you like chips more, then you’ll get chips. Don’t compare. Don’t think, “I like ice cream more than I like the granola bar.” Instead, you think, “I like granola bars, so I’ll get those for a snack.” Self control. It’s not easy at first, but once you start doing it, it becomes easier.
We all want food that tastes good. It’s no fun at all, eating food you don’t like. Our consumer culture bombards us every day with advertising for delicious food. So we have it in our heads that our food needs to be as delicious as it can be and this causes us to compare foods. I like bacon breakfast pizza way more than I like hard boiled eggs. If I think that way, it won’t be long before I’m buying the breakfast pizza. I have to think about it in a different way. I like hard boiled eggs. A little salt, more pepper, and they’re great, so that’s what I’m having for breakfast. Because I like them. And, they’re good for me. Breakfast pizza is taken out of the equation.
Going against popular culture is also hard to do for some people. Eating because you have to eat, as opposed to eating for pleasure is not something most people think about. We make mealtime an event. Again, advertising plays a big roll in that, stressing the importance of the family getting together for a meal. But I think we’re putting the emphasis on the meal rather than on the family getting together. Every time the Holidays role around, what do you see? Ads involving a huge family gathered around scarfing down a whole table covered in food. The subliminal message here is that we can’t celebrate unless we’re eating ourselves into a coma. Every time you go to a sporting event like Pro football or whatever, you’ll see tons of food stands. The Minnesota State Fair boasts more kinds of “Food on a stick” than any other. Our culture tells us we need to eat, and eat big.
So self control is a learned skill. I don’t have to eat for pleasure, or for a cultural norm. I have to eat because I have to eat. Like sleep, or anything else biological, you have to do it. We don’t make a huge event out of going to the bathroom and yet we have to do it, just like we have to eat. So the question is, why do we make such a big thing out of eating? And when you realize that our culture has made such a huge thing over eating because someone is making a lot of money on it, you start to see why you should change that. Eating doesn’t have to be an event. Eating is just eating, we have to do it, and it’s pleasant to eat food we like. That’s all. It’s a state of mind.