Mastering Your Slippery Slopes
Episode #10 of the course Hack your diet: Using nutrition science to live healthier, longer, and diet-free by John Robin
Welcome to our tenth and final diet hack!
What a journey so far. Not only have we developed a masterful diet, but we have delved into the psychology behind how and why we often struggle to maintain it. This, in fact, is perhaps even more important than what makes a good diet.
You can know exactly the right thing to do but still do the wrong thing, and diet is probably one of the most universal examples of this.
It only makes sense, then, that to end our course, we’re going to explore the final dark corner of diet, those slippery slopes that will continue to challenge you and what to do about them.
Slope One: Bad Eating—Don’t Hide It
Part of why I want you to kick calorie counting out the window is because it prevents you from the brutal honesty of actually recording what you eat. When you set out a limited diet and a restricted plan of what you’re allowed to eat, you’re going to feel guilty when you have a family barbeque with a large feast of hot dogs, burgers, and chicken wings with enough calories to keep you going for a day and a half. This will just show up for you as a “fail,” and you’ll feel like you’re slipping.
Negative thinking is winning in the above example.
Instead, break free of that, and simply record what you eat and try to learn from it. The Cronometer app I recommended at the end of Lesson 3 is great for logging what you eat and seeing the breakdowns.
The true power of recording vs restricting is you can spot slippery slopes like these. In my case, family outings or social nights on weekends are my common slippery slopes.
Over time, because I’m in the habit of recording vs restricting, I’m able to spot patterns and try small changes to reduce how much I eat. For example, for one particular social outing, everyone is hungry because sometimes we get there without having dinner at home. I’ve started bringing one of my Tupperwares of vegetables and will heat that up and eat it when we arrive. I’m less hungry, and though I might snack, it won’t be as much. I also have inspired more than one person to eat more vegetables!
Slope Two: Bad Eating—Don’t Minimize It
The danger with recording vs restricting is some people might see this as permission to eat poorly. This is a big slippery slope.
Whether you record your meals and study them to learn or whether you keep track of it in your head or a mixture of both methods, it’s inevitable that as you become honest with yourself about what you’re actually eating, you’re going to realize that you can do better when you’re eating bad foods.
The key is, instead of seeing “bad eating” as just part of “the norm,” see it as the reality you are working with. You can’t improve if you don’t know what you’re trying to improve. Recording your diet truthfully isn’t something you do to justify eating poorly, it’s simply to let you appreciate how you’re doing and how you can improve, and if you record this in a food journal, you can look over months or years and see how you have continually improved—and can keep improving!
Slope Three: Bad Eating—Don’t Beat Yourself Up
The deepest, most powerful skill you can develop in your journey with food is self-compassion. Forgive yourself. Believe in yourself. Be kind to yourself. When you eat poorly, don’t see this as you failing, but as a struggle you are working on. Challenge yourself to do better—not because you’re mad at yourself, but simply because you know you can do better. This comes from belief in yourself, which comes from self-compassion.
You can develop this with meditation, particularly Metta meditation , which is easy to practice any time, any place. It will invoke positivity, the kind of empowering mindset that will help you make better choices and sustain a winning diet.
Action: Start Practicing Metta Meditation
Metta meditation can be done anywhere, anytime. Make it part of your daily regimen, especially when you notice that you’re beating yourself up.
That concludes our course! I hope you’ve learned a lot and already applied the actions from each day. I hope you’re enjoying the taste of healthy foods and are excited to keep training yourself. This is a journey you’ll be on all your life, and it’s the component to a wonderful life, a gateway to good health and strength.
May you excel! And please pass this course on to any friends or colleagues you think would benefit from it as well.
I love hearing from my students, so if you have any further questions on diet, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your commitment!
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