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Robin D. Stone is a New York City based psychotherapist, coach and consultant who works to help you achieve your most optimal self. 

Do You Have Multiple Eating Personalities?

 

One client often ordered what her guy did when they dined out. Ribs and mac and cheese was a once-in-a-while treat, she reasoned. Plus, she’d vow to get right back on track.

Whenever another went “home” to visit relatives, she forgot all the newly adopted strategies that helped her eat cleaner, lose weight and feel better. Her pedometer went from 6000+ steps a day (three miles) to fewer than half. She wondered why she returned to her real home feeling heavy, sluggish and sad.

Not wanting to be the subject of colleagues’ constant commentary about her diet, a third client ate typical on-the-road fare whenever she was on the road for work. 

All three suffered from a similar syndrome: multiple eating personality. All three struggled to lose weight.

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The symptom is clear: like a chameleon, you conform to your environment, instead of making your environment conform to you. You morph into co-worker eater, sweetheart eater, or family-size eater, feasting on foods and portions that the new, improved you would you’d never touch. 

Could that be you? Consider the situations below. Then review the counter-intelligence to realize the power you have to control how well you eat and feel.

1. It’s easier to go with the crowd so you don’t have to explain or defend yourself.

Don’t let peer pressure get to you. Ignore comments from the folks who have something to say because your plate has mostly greens and fruit or just a palm-size of chicken (that’s really one serving). “That’s all you gonna eat?” Somebody will ask, and quite loudly too. “Yep,” is all you need to say – if you say anything at all.

2. You can eat like everybody else because you deserve a “treat” now and then.

Find other ways to “treat” yourself that have nothing to do with food. And change your perspective: don’t think about what you can’t eat, but what you can eat because it’s good for you. You’re more likely to stick to healthier eating habits when you feel it’s your choice. So powerfully choose to eat what’s good – and you’ll find it easier to avoid what’s not.

 3. You tell yourself “I’ll make up for it,” or “just once won’t hurt.”

Don’t sabotage your progress. If you haven’t had extra servings of anything in a month, don’t take a second – or third – helping just because that’s what relatives do.  Think before you eat: What does your body need? Note how that’s different from what do you crave or what just looks good. Keep up your exercise routine – invite your fam to come along.

Remember that you you take you wherever you go. So wherever you are, eat “cleanly” – whole, fresh, unprocessed foods with lots of water. Move consistently – cardio, flex, resistance. Cultivate these habits until you do them without a second thought.  The only way to get there is to remain consistent regardless of what changes around you.

If you become a chameleon, you veer off track of your eating and exercise goals. Then you have to start over and work your way back. That can lead to frustration and unhealthy yo-yo dieting and giving up. By forcing your environment to meet your needs, you stay on the path to your goals.

Recently I met a friend for breakfast at a soul food restaurant. After almost a year of eating wheat-free, I no longer have an appetite for pancakes or toast or even grits (made from corn, of course, but they often make me feel as stuffed and sluggish as when I eat bread). Instead of adapting to the environment – really, how can you have a soulful breakfast without grits? – I asked for o.j. and salmon cakes with a green salad and vinaigrette on the side. Yes, a salad at 10 a.m. My body doesn’t know that lettuce and tomatoes and cucumbers are off limits before noon – that’s all in my head. I ate heartily and left satisfied with the protein, fat and carbs I needed to start my day.
Losing weight for good is not easy or simple or quick. It’s a slow, steady process in which each step forward should make the next one easier. Those multiple eating personalities get in your way. Ditch them and you’ll reach – and keep – your goals.

Do you conform to your environment or take your healthy habits wherever you go?