There are also some areas of self-care, though, that deliver more results in the long term and can, for some people, seem like a tough choice in the moment. For many people, good nutrition is an example of this, especially if they’ve never experienced the long-term benefits before. People know they need to have good habits in this area to feel their best, but when it comes right down to it, they can struggle with making those sensible, long-term choices. We know this to be true because of the massive failure of dieting as a strategy for getting healthy. It turns out diets are hard to stick to!!
So what is going on? Well, two different parts of the brain are in a battle here.
The emotional part of the brain responds positively to instant gratification. It can seem so much more appealing in the short term to eat that brownie when you get home from work. After all, it tastes delicious and the sugar and processed flour give a bump to your feel-good brain chemicals. You are on a sugar high! Actually we humans are designed in our hard wiring to seek out high calorie foods so it is natural for us to want them.
The emotional brain says “Yes” to the brownie!
The logical part of the brain, though, tries to reason it out. It knows that you should just wait to eat a healthy dinner, that would be better for your long-term health and that you’ll feel better in the long run.
Unhealthy choices usually happen on impulse when the emotional part of your brain triumphs over the logical one.
So how do you keep your logical brain in the driver’s seat?
I’ve found that one of the biggest reasons for the emotional brain to be running the show is stress and overwhelm. The logical brain can only function well when you have some reserves in the tank. If you are run ragged emotionally and physically depleted, then there is a good chance you’ll be short on logic and behave more impulsively. It’s going to be really tough in these conditions to implement any healthy, new habits that will only pay you back in the long term.
Reducing stress and overwhelm by having a backdrop of regular self-care and ensuring that you include positive activities in your life that bring you joy, are essential to you being able to respond well in the moment.
Ways to do this could be hobbies, connecting and being present with loved ones, reading, regular exercise, yoga, massage therapy, daily meditation, daily affirmations, being organized, setting boundaries, essential oils or journaling. I am sure you have many other ideas so brainstorm your own list and start incorporating them in your routines.
Of course there are a number of other things you can do to increase your chances of success with transforming your unhealthy patterns. I love helping people figure out and implement these strategies. It’s a huge piece of the Food Relationship Reset Program and for many people it is foundational to being able to implement real and lasting change in their lives. After all, if it were easy to stick to a nutrition self-care plan more people would be doing it.