Monday, December 11, 2006

The Secondary Gains of Poor Eating

Why do we come up with wonderful diet plans, only to sabotage our efforts? Simple: we are motivated more by the payoffs of poor eating than by the benefits of eating well--generally outside of our conscious awareness. The results add up--in literal pounds.

Poor eating habits are fueled by what we call "secondary gains": the tempting payoffs to keep engaging in bad habits. These alluring but self-defeating tendencies need to be discovered, confronted, and overcome to succeed with your diet over time. The first step is self-awareness.

Here are 5 common secondary gains that fuel poor eating:

1) Food acts as your emotional state changer. Do you eat more when you are in an unpleasant emotional state, such as being stressed, angry, or bored? Do you use the stimulation of junk food to help you temporarily escape these feelings?

2) Food acts as a relationship substitute. Do you eat more when you feel lonely or are at odds with your significant other? Does food take the role of a friend or companion? Is it easier to go to food than to deal with the challenges of actual relationships?

3) Carrying extra weight keeps relationships away. Have you been hurt in the past and are afraid of it happening again? Are you worried about the possible pain of a future relationship ending--even if you are currently alone? Does carrying some extra weight minimize these risks?

4) Carrying extra weight prevents "fake relationships". If you were thinner, are you worried that people wouldn't ever get to know "the real you" as a person? Are you worried that they would only accept you for your looks, rather than who you are inside?

5) You don't really like yourself and being overweight simply reflects this. Do your outer looks mirror how you feel inside about yourself? Would you feel like a phony if you were thinner and looked better--but still didn't like yourself inside?

*If any of these points apply to you, then they might be sabotaging your dietary success. To overcome these motivations, you'll need to find healthier ways to address them apart from food. Search out the help of friends, family, self-help materials, and/or professional guidance as necessary. Again, self-awareness is the first step to success.

Take care of yourself. You're the only you you've got!

Dr. Randy

"To thine own self be true..."

William Shakespeare