The Emotional Attachment Continuum: Is you’re Relationship with Food Sabotaging you’re Weight Loss?
I was having a conversation this week with an athlete during a 1-1 coaching session, where we we’re evaluating his current food habits and nutritional plan.
He was telling me how he spent a couple of hours each night planning, cooking and preparing his lunches and dinners for the next few days, so he could easily and quickly eat healthier, more energising food when time gets short and energy levels run lower after a full days work.
And Yes we all know what happens when energy levels are low with no clear food planned..
We make poor choices and end up eating crap!!
Chocolate, crisps, cakes, pastries you name it, it doesn’t matter, we have all made those poorer choices when we are “hangry” and short on time…and 9 times out of 10 they are not healthy!
So it got me thinking…
What makes my client who is a serious amateur athlete who also has a full-time job, have the motivation and desire to spend the time preparing meals for the next few days, when he could cook on the fly as and when he needs it?
I wondered what actually drives him to want to do this?..
And what sort of relationship with food must he have?..
Well, having coached and trained this athlete for a couple of years now, I already had a good idea of some of the answers to these food related questions.
Which I’ll share with you here.
On the first question of “what motivates him to plan and prepare meals”? This comes from an appreciation and understanding that if he doesn’t pre-plan ahead, then his recovery between back to back training sessions will likely be affected, and his body will most probably suffer as a result.
As an athlete, this is not a good place to be. As soon as you start feeling like your body is not recovering quick enough and energy levels start to drop, the sooner you’re performance on the field, track or court will suffer.
By preparing his meals he gives the food and nutrition the opportunity to effect his training and ultimately be the best athlete he can be, prioritising food preparation over “sexier” more exciting areas of life is worth the sacrifice for my client.
To answer the second question of “What makes him want to do this’? We need to circle back to the high level of motivation and strength of feeling he has to improve as an athlete within his sport, and progress toward his goals as quickly as possible.
It’s this high level of drive to progress that ensures the food choices and habits he makes are on point 80% of the time (no one is 100% on it all the time).
In addition to this, he has clear goals and targets that he wants to hit, which makes making those sometimes difficult decisions to either cook and prep meals in the evening, or sit down on the sofa and watch a Netflix series, much easier to handle.
So this is a good time to ask yourself..
How clear are you on your weight loss goals?..
Do you need to get more goal specific clarity to achieve a higher level of motivation to kick start healthier eating habits?
The third question of “What sort of relationship with food must he have”? Is really the crux of this whole article.
Initially, we need to understand there is a relationship to food continuum at play here; with high emotional attachment to food on one end, and low emotional attachment to food on the other.
Most people sit in the middle of this food relationship continuum, neither being overly attached to food yet still having some emotional attachment during stressful times. These types of people often have a “healthy”, normal weight, average health profile and generally healthy relationship with food.
My athlete client is not an average gym goer and is most probably sitting closer toward the low emotional attachment to food end; based on what he has said and the actions he takes toward preparing meals and eating healthier foods.
As health professionals that have successfully worked with multiple weight loss clients for over a decade; It’s from our experience that many (but not all) people that come to us that need help with weight loss and body transformation, tend to sit closer to the high emotional attachment to food end respectively.
This usually transcends itself through the actions and feelings they have toward food, and the belief that food has a super power like control over their eating behaviours. There emotional attachments to food is high.
CAVEAT: I fully appreciate I am pigeon holing here, and this will not be the relationship to food for every weight loss individual, but I can only speak from the experience I have had of helping hundreds of weight loss clients for over a decade.
So ask yourself now..
Where do you think you sit on this relationship to food continuum?..
Do you need to loose weight to get healthier and reduce your risk of chronic diseases?..
Are you highly attached to food, to the point where you use it as a stress reliever and emotional comfort?..
If so, then you sit closer to the high emotional attachment end, which needs to first be appreciated, and then owned.
Once this appreciation of where you sit on the continuum and the ownership to take responsibility for changing it have been met; you can then put some actions in place to help bring you closer to the less attached end of the sliding food relationship continuum.
Now of course, this does not happen overnight and is certainly not always easy.
It can take time, but by using deliberate consistent action to build in healthier eating habits every day, will over time ensure you start feeling less emotionally attached to food - giving you a positive long-term change you can be proud of.
On the other side of the coin, do you view food more as a fuel source to energise and nourish your body for daily tasks and training?..
If this sounds more like you, then you most probably sit closer to the low emotional attachment to food end, which can help when you tackle a weight loss goal because it allows you to view food through a more logical lense.
The difference is viewing food and your nutrition plan as just another key part of the weight loss plan, and not a strong, emotional draw that can often bring out sabotaging behaviours and actions in people as mentioned earlier.
Until next time,
P.S If you are struggling to achieve a healthy relationship with food and are failing to consistently loose weight - Let one of our expert Coaches look over your current plan and give you advice - NO CHARGE, RISK FREE
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