How Your Subconscious Stops You From Eating Healthy
Pretty much everyone would like to eat healthy, but only a few are successful. Countless websites, blogs, books and courses exist on the topic of healthy nutrition. From A to Z, you can find advice for every health-related topic imaginable, but rarely do they speak about the role our mind plays in all this.
During yoga teacher training I learnt about our conscious and subconscious mind. Were you aware that 95% of the time, we are in our subconscious.
How is healthy nutrition defined?
The German Nutrition Society (DGE)defines healthy nutrition as follows:
A wholesome diet is the basis for health-promoting eating and drinking. It can help to promote or maintain a person's growth, development and performance as well as boosting and maintaining the health of the individual for a lifetime. Against the background of the prevalence of obesity and nutrition-related diseases in Germany, education about a needs-based, balanced and healthy diet is therefore of particular importance.
At the nutrient level, wholesome eating and drinking is characterized by sufficient fluid and a supply of energy appropriate to the need. The energy-supplying nutrients are in a balanced ratio. A wholesome diet also provides sufficient vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals. "
Don’t we all want good development, performance and being healthy until a high age? Still, eating healthy seems to be a big challenge for many of us.
What stops us from eating healthy?
The federal center for nutrition in Germany (BfE) wrote an interesting article about this topic, in which they say the following:
“The food supply is more diverse than ever. Yet, many people restrict their food choices.
At no time was there such a large supply of food. It should be easy to be well-balanced and healthy. In fact, more and more people are overweight and nutrition-related diseases are widespread. How does that fit together? "
As already mentioned, 95% of the time, our brain “drives” on autopilot, which is our subconscious.
Our brain has to make thousands of decisions daily, for example, with which leg we climb out of bed, we decide to brush our teeth, etc. We don’t think about those decisions at all, because they happen automatically.
Our subconscious needs much less energy than our conscious mind, which is preferable for our body. That is why it tries to run as much on autopilot (subconscious) as possible, to use less energy.
Food Choices are also running on autopilot
During our everyday life, this is also true for our eating behaviour. We shop, cook and eat most of the time completely on autopilot.
This subconscious decision system is based on intuition and habit. We eat the way we are used to. The intuitive part comes from the beginning of humanity, which we needed back then to survive. Habits are mostly shaped through the experience of our childhood.
That means, when we subconsciously decide what to eat, our intuition tells us to take whichever food supplies loads of energy, very fast. That is exactly what we needed back then to survive, because we didn’t know, when we would have access to food next time.
The same goes for our habits, they often mislead us to make food choices, which aren’t ideal for us. When we are on autopilot and realise we are hungry in the afternoon, chocolate might come right away to our mind. It is sweet, we already liked it as a kid, it’s almost everywhere available and we can eat it fast.
Of course, intuition and habits are not a bad thing, we need them to survive. We certainly don’t want to make every single decision consciously. That way, the day would be over, and we would barely have made it from the bed to the bathroom.
How can we change our eating behaviour sustainably?
It is not easy to change our subconscious. To change it, we have to be more conscious. Meaning, exactly, what our body and mind try to avoid.
We have to try to change from autopilot to mindfulness and use energy to make different choices than we usually do. Until at some point we have reprogrammed our subconscious to make different choices automatically, for example, instead of grabbing chocolate, automatically grabbing an apple.
We have to interrupt the automatism and ask ourselves, do I really want to eat this right now or are there any other options?
I’d like to point out that, this doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat chocolate anymore. However, you should make that decision consciously, that right now, you want to enjoy some chocolate.
Mindfulness is key to more consciousness
My best tips are:
- Start an eating journal or take a photo of everything you eat. Like that you will naturally develop more awareness to what you eat
- Meditation & mindfulness exercises. Right now, there are countless amazing apps, which can help you. Being mindful can even be, when sitting in the metro, just not taking out your phone and instead really taking in and observing your environment and what is going on around you
- Before you eat something, try to remember to ask yourself: Do I really want to eat this, or are there other options?
- Use some time and energy for meal planning and prepping
If you understand German, German TV channel ZDF did a show on the topic: nutrition tips and how to stick to them. The video is only 9 min and I can highly recommend it.
Lastly, I’d like to make sure that you understand, this post is not supposed to be a method to lose weight. Instead, I want to point out that diets in my opinion don’t make any sense, but rather, be more mindful and aware about nutrition. Try to feel what your body and mind really need and what you can to do good by it, like that we can be healthy, fit and go through life full of energy and happiness.
Balanced nutrition, movement, meditation and a positive mindset are the cornerstones to avoid all lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, overweight and irritable bowel syndrome.
Once you have found your own, individual way, it will be much easier to find your way out of down phases and get back to your path.
It is my job, to help you, find your own personal way to health and to learn to understand what your body and mind need. Make sure to schedule a session with me.
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