When I work with a new one-on-one client or student in the Hunger Solution, they come to me with a lot of information and a fair amount of success. Oftentimes they are so close to figuring it all out, but they are focusing their efforts in the wrong area. This keeps them stuck as an overwhelmed eater.
In order to understand what I’m talking about it is important to understand The 3 pillars of Healthful Eating:
This is the nutrition science. Understanding what you should be eating for your unique body and why.
This expands on the what and goes into the how. Not only how to do things in a perfect vacuum, but real-life behavioral strategies to cut down on decision fatigue and keep you consistent.
Spoiler alert, food is not just fuel! Honestly, I would not want it to be. Still learning to navigate conflicting desires as well as turn setbacks into steppingstones are foundational parts of a nutrition solution.
When you have all three pillars, you can balance with ease. Food enhances and supports your life. When you feel shaky and overwhelmed by food, typically you have been focusing on two of the three. Like a two-legged stool, this can give the illusion of stability but even the softest breeze can cause you to tumble. Here are some examples:
- Physical Hunger + Behavioral Solutions –Outwardly you tend to know a ton about nutrition and have had short term success with pretty much everything. Inwardly you tend to be an all or nothing thinker and feel defeated after one bad day/meal/emotion/etc. You might say “It works when I do it!”
- Physical Hunger + Emotional Hunger – Outwardly you do not struggle with your weight, you work out consistently and seem to have it all dialed in. Inwardly, you are exhausted by thinking about food all the time and feel as if you loosen the grip even a little, you will spiral. You might say “I just wish I didn’t have to think about this all the time!”
- Emotional Hunger + Behavioral Solutions – Outwardly you are free from food rules and restrictions and are mindful eaters. Yet inwardly you lack a non-restrictive nutrition education and oftentimes struggle with weight, blood sugar and other health goals. You might say “I want to make changes but I’m so afraid of falling back into old habits!”
The problem is when we tumble, we tend to double down on our two legs. We say I need something with stricter rules, or I just need to try harder or I just need to do/be/think better. We push and dig the two legs into the ground hoping that more pressure will make it more stable. Again, short term it gives the illusion of relief and stability but soon we find ourselves falling to the ground.
What to do with this information?
Instead of doubling down on the same solution, look at your stool and see if you can identify which leg is missing. Which pillar would make it a sturdier solution? If you are having trouble, ask yourself which statement above you resonate most with and focus your attention on the missing pillar. It’s ok, if you can relate to more than one! I think that most of us can, but we need to start somewhere.
We are not looking for perfection. The most important thing is that you start to focus your attention in an area that will ultimately leave you supported and stable rather than doubling down on the same failed solution. In the meantime I have some rolled up napkins that we can stick under the other legs while we get this all figured out!