We’ve all done it.
Taken one bite and sometime later, the length of which we know not, we come to. Staring out the window, wrappers beside us.
Wondering what happened.
Or we’ve gone to a party with our non-paleo spouse, staying away from the buffet table all night until we can stand it no longer.
Stressed and bored, we eventually sidle up to it, promising ourselves one bite…
…And 30 minutes later, we’re sitting down, crumbs around us, polishing vol-au-vent pastry crumbs off the chocolate fudge brownie before we pop it in our mouth. (At least I do, maybe you think vol-au-vent crumbs on top of the fudge are all good. ;-))
I repeat, we’ve all done it.
If you haven’t, well, good for you.
But I suggest you are in a tiny minority.
Thing is, most people take this capitulation experience as a sign they can’t control their eating. Paleo’s too difficult.
They blame our culture.
Or believe they’re a hopeless case.
And give up.
But they’re making a big mistake. Several, in fact.
And what’s more, if you turn those mistakes around, you can come out of this situation better informed and better equipped to handle the experience next time. And the next time.
And the next.
Because one thing’s for sure. This problem of non-paleo food isn’t going away anytime soon. You’ll be facing those vol-au-vents and the like over and over.
And pretty soon, I’m guessing.
So what are these mistakes we make after a paleo fail? Are you making them?
Mistake #1: You beat yourself up
You are not alone. But stop. Right now. There is no point. What if I was to tell you, you could come out of this stronger, and with a few short steps change your lifelong eating habits for ever? Read on.
Mistake #2: You don’t relive the experience
Criticizing yourself, or even picking yourself up and simply carrying on won’t help. You need to go over what happened and learn from it.
If you replay what happened in your mind, you gain a massive amount of intelligence. Go over the fail in as much detail as possible. Write it down if necessary. (I am a big fan of journaling this process.) Envision everything in your mind that led up to the bad feed.
Ask yourself general questions. What led up to it? Who was involved? Where were you?
Ask yourself specific questions to drill down further. Were you bored and by what? Are you stressed and by what? Do you feel guilty or bad in some way?
Consider the practical landscape of the situation. How easy is it to get hold of non-paleo food? Where do you store it? Do you pass it constantly?
Mistake #3. You don’t identify your personal tipping point
We all have a moment when we cave in. These moments are often prefaced by controlled behaviors where you are behaving in a way around food of which you are proud.
But then, something tips you over. What was that? What was going on? What was playing on your mind before you even entered the situation?
You don’t want to offend your mother-in-law? The food is delicious? You’re starving after a day at work? Or the suppressed (or not-so suppressed) rolling of eyes when you don’t eat what everyone else is eating makes you shrink?
What were the specific triggers that tripped you up? What caused you to eat that food?
Understanding your personal tipping points is the key to unlocking the secrets of healthier eating. Identify those points and move on.
Mistake #4. You don’t develop strategies for the future
If we skip this step, we keep putting ourselves back at the beginning of our journey. Because we’re never really learning new habits. We’re just repeating the same ones over and over. Often with the same frequency and duration. Control, control, fail. Control, control, fail. And on.
Each time this happens, you need to create a list of avoidant actions you can take next time based on your reflections.
Can you change your route so you don’t pass the arsenal of candy you suspect your co-worker has purposely amassed to taunt you with several times a day?
Can you suggest a paleo recipe to your mother-in-law and help her to make it? (Hint: don’t tell her it’s a paleo recipe.)
Can you focus on the effort your child put into his Valentine cupcake and reward him some other way? Perhaps you can take a photo of the cupcake instead. “Oooh, I love this so much I want to take a picture and keep it.”
Unwind the Paleo Faileo
When you follow the steps outlined above, you are unravelling the negative situation you’ve just come out of so that you can see where the problem lies.
Your goal is to build a stockpile of strategies and tactics to either head off the threat before it occurs, or neutralize it. As you do this, repeatedly over time, you’ll get smarter and smarter about your choices and you’ll find your relapses become fewer and fewer.
Plan and adapt for next time. Evolution, baby.
What have you learned from your paleo failures?
Have you found practical solutions to head off an attack of the sugar zombie?
Let me know in the comments. I dare ya!
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