Have you ever had one of those days where your eating just spirals out of control? It starts with a small slip up, which triggers another bad decision, then before you know it you’ve eaten two snickers, a bag of popcorn, and are plowing into a pint of Ben & Jerrys? Well, that is exactly what happened to me last week… and I want to share a number of important takeaways that can help you combat this type of spiral.
Take Away #1: My Spiral Started The Night Before
You know what has a huge impact on the food decisions you make throughout your day? How well you slept the night before. Now, last week, when I went on my food spiral, I had been up from 2:00 AM to 4:00 AM the night before with my thirteen-month-old son. This completely shot my emotional and logical foundation for the next day. I woke up a zombie, downed twice as much caffeine as normal to compensate, and then found myself exhausted and wired at the same time. And as a result, my decision making process was completely undermined. (When you’re rested, you have discipline. But when you’re sleep deprived, it is far harder to resist temptation.)
So, takeaway number one: To help avoid food spirals, make sure you get enough quality sleep.
Takeaway #2:Beware of the “Screw Its”
Have you ever eaten something you shouldn’t have, then tried to resist another temptation a little later only to find a voice in your head saying, “ah screw it, I already ate X and ruined my whole diet for the day, what more is this food going to do?” I bet you have. We all have. And this is exactly what happened to me last week.
I started with a snickers bar, then told myself a bag of popcorn wasn’t really that bad, then had another snickers, then said screw it and ate an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s. (I’m not exaggerating. I was struggling.)
This is called the “Screw Its.”
When you get the screw its, you feel like you’ve messed up your diet so badly that you, “can’t possibly do any more damage because, well, the situation is already such a mess!” I wish. Unfortunately this isn’t how it works. Every extra sweet, baked good, or whatever your food of choice is, is going to keep adding calories, sugar, fat, etc.
So takeaway #2: When you feel like you are going into a food spiral, you have to remember that every food you eat is going to add to your caloric intake. Every bite matters!
Takeaway #3 To Help Get Out of A Food Spiral Use Deep and Focused Breathing
The first part of stopping a food spiral is recognizing you’re in one, but in order to stop a food spiral, you need tactics.
Here is what I did. Once I recognized I was in a food spiral I closed my eyes and took five very deep, very slow, and very focused breaths. I know this sounds cliché, but these breaths were invaluable as they put space and time between me and my last bite of ice cream.
Now, I wasn’t out of the woods yet. I could feel the urges returning. However, I had created enough space that I could momentarily control the return of the food spiral. Then, in those precious few moments of control I was able to muster myself to literally throw away what Ben & Jerry’s I had left. It wasn’t pretty, but at least I stopped the spiral and minimized the damage.
So takeaway #3: when you find yourself in a food spiral, first recognize it, then try deep breathing to separate yourself and create space. (Then throw away whatever food you have remaining.)
Food Spirals Happen To Us All
Food spirals happen to us all. I mean, my job is literally to be a paragon of fitness and there I was devouring everything sweet I could find. So, if you ever feel like you are the only person this happens to, you’re not. Welcome to being human and welcome to messing up.
But It’s okay. Just fight hard to build the foundations upon which good decision are made. When you slip up recognize you are slipping up. And always try to minimize the damage. It’s not sexy. It’s not perfect. But it is effective.
Founder & Director of Zach Moore Training
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