Why Nutrition Knowledge is Not Enough

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In today’s world, we have an overabundance of information at our fingertips when it comes to what we “should” be eating.  Yet obesity and lifestyle-related diseases are escalating rapidly in number. While some people do have conditions and diseases that can be alleviated with some simple dietary strategies, the majority of the population needs something more.

Despite being told what to eat by the experts, day in and day out, health and weight no longer feel like areas easily managed by mental constructs and theories. Nutrition know-how is not enough to experience health and vitality.

Below are nine of the most common scenarios where knowing what to eat is just not enough:

1. People who know what to do but don’t do it

Everyone knows that nutrition facts and theories are only beneficial if they are actually implemented.  So why is it that so many find their eager anticipation and resolve to begin their imagined health transformation replaced by overwhelm and resistance?  They berate themselves for being willpower weaklings as they sit on the couch binging on a box of cookies.  What most people don’t understand is that willpower is not the missing ingredient to bridge the gap between knowledge and practice.

2. People who go on a great diet or nutritional protocol, then fall off the wagon

So many people discover the newest and greatest diet on the stand of their local bookstore.  They follow it flawlessly for days, feeling like they’ve finally found their “Holy Grail Diet”.  Then Friday rolls around and maybe they meet up with a group of friends for dinner.  The rules blur upon looking at the menu.  Suddenly, in a moment of impulsivity and reckless abandon, diet rules are thrown to the wind as they order the most decadent meal on the menu.  They promise themselves that tomorrow they’ll start again, only tomorrow never really comes.

3. People who constantly worry about what to eat

For many, every morsel of food that crosses their lips raises a question of “good” or “bad”.  They worry about nights out with our friends and whether or not there will be acceptable food on the menu.  Life feels hard and eating feels stressful and scary.  This worry and tension around food creates a stress response that hinders digestion, assimilation, and metabolism, and health and weight woes are exacerbated.

4. People who are afraid of their own appetite and hunger

Unaware that the notion around controlling appetite is as insane as the idea of controlling thirst, many people seek out heroic measures to try and dampen their excitement and desire for food.  They drink more coffee, chew more gum, and guzzle liquids hoping to stave off those feeling of hunger for just a little bit longer.  They weigh their meals and measure their portions to keep appetite mechanisms from overpowering the rules they have around how much food they should need.  They begin to see hunger and appetite not as the voice of body wisdom, but as the body’s way of betraying their best intentions around food.

5. People who are forever trying to lose the last 5-10 pounds

A number of people feel as though they’ve been stuck in the struggle to lose those last 5-10 pounds for as long as they can recall.  Many dwell on a fleeting memory of being at their goal weight and long to be there once again.  The quest for the perfect weight seems to require an enormous amount of energy and effort.  Some even find themselves putting off things like dating, wearing that cute outfit, or going for a dream job until they’ve lost those last 5-10 pounds. Yet the idea of actually arriving feels scary.  What will they do with all of the energy and effort that they’ve been pouring into this pursuit for so long?

6. People who hate their body no matter what

Sometimes our bodies become the dumping grounds for everything that we are dissatisfied with in our lives.  Instead of addressing the real source of dissatisfaction, we dwell on every dimple, wrinkle, and bulge. Many women get in a cycle of putting down their bodies and picking them apart in order to receive reassuring feedback from others.  Eventually, they begin to believe their words, and the external validation pales in comparison to the ideas that they have about their bodies, now deeply rooted due to repetition.  Body hate, however, is never the path to achieving a healthy weight.

7. People who simply feel stuck

Many find themselves weighed down, stuck in a state of inaction.  Perhaps low energy or feelings of apathy and depression are making the thought of taking steps towards creating a healthier lifestyle feel very daunting.  When we are stuck in a heavy and dull energetic pattern, it can feel challenging to create a shift.  Oftentimes weight is just a reflection of other areas of life that are asking us to create shifts and lighten up.

8. People who have nutritional confusion

Torn between all of the advice out there, many people have become fearful wrecks around food.  Do I go paleo or vegan?  Will saturated fat kill me or heal me?  Are healthy sweeteners okay, or just as bad as the white powdery stuff?  Every affair with food becomes an arduous archeological dig into the mental files of dietary do’s and don’ts that they’ve come across over the years.

9. People who are Perfectionists

Perfectionism is one of the most dangerous traps when it comes to experiencing health and vitality.  It creates the idea that if not done perfectly, then it isn’t worth doing at all.  This creates destructive cycles of thinking in terms of black and white.  The middle way of moderation gets lost in extremes of “good” and “bad”.  All or nothing approaches wreak havoc on the body’s mechanisms aimed at maintaining homeostasis.  We find ourselves gripped by the stress response around food and unable to take action in a consistent and heart-centered way that is nourishing for our body and soul.

So many of us find ourselves in the above scenarios, and information about what to eat just doesn’t seem to be enough to create a shift or a breakthrough.  This is where the field of Eating Psychology offers invaluable insight and wisdom.

Our programs here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating provide you with tools, strategies and insight to finally see breakthroughs in these struggles around food. What’s, more, we dispel misconceptions and myths around food that perpetuate unnecessary suffering and discomfort in our relationships with food.

If you feel like you have run into a brick wall around your health or eating challenges, we invite you to explore our offerings including our Transform Your Relationship with Food™ Online Retreat. If you’d like to learn more about how to work with others and help them overcome their eating and body challenges, then please learn more about our Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training.

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