Change Your
Eating Habits.

Ready to eat healthy consistently without restriction or overwhelm?

In this free course, I share five lessons on the little-known secrets of changing your eating habits with ease.

It doesn't matter where you're at in your health journey. This will help you.

free training

Feb 5

Why You Feel Resistance When Trying to Eat Healthier

Resistance Eat Healthier Kat Rentas

When most women try and change their eating habits, they experience massive amounts of resistance.

This doesn’t mean anything has gone wrong.

In fact, it’s completely normal. It’s just the way our brains are wired.

The problem is, most women make this resistance mean something more.

They attach meaning to the negative feelings they experience when trying to eat healthy.

So, they self-sabotage and end up eating worse than when they started.

Why does this happen?

It’s because these women haven’t yet learned to manage their minds when it comes to eating healthy.

If you leave your brain on autopilot, you’ll be left defenseless.

Here, I’ll fill you in on why this resistance occurs, what you’ve been doing wrong, and the solution to eating healthy anyways.

Food and Your Brain

When it comes to changing your eating habits, there are two parts of your brain we want to be aware of: the cerebellum and the prefrontal cortex.

 

  • The cerebellum is your primitive (or automatic) brain. It’s where your everyday behaviors are primed and conditioned through solid neural pathways. Such as walking, eating, and even driving our cars.  It strives to be efficient, operates quickly, and works to keep you safe.
  • The prefrontal cortex is your decision-making (or intentional) brain. This is the part of your brain that plans for success, is future focused, and creates goals. It’s also a lot slower.

 

When you first make plans to eat healthier, you will be operating from your prefrontal cortex. 

You’ll have your meal plan set up and all will feel ready to crush the week.

Nothing seems like it’ll get in your way.

Then, without warning, you’ll feel this crazy resistance before it’s time to change your ways and eat healthier.

Your brain will convince you that something has gone horribly wrong.

This is your primitive brain doing it’s job. 

Remember, your primitive brain’s main role is to seek efficiency and avoid pain.

It’s only goal is to keep you alive and safe from harm.

Meaning, when you try and do anything different and unusual to your brain, it will give you the same stress response as if you were about to die.

It sounds silly, but it’s actually incredibly true. And troublesome for women who want to change their eating habits.

Your primitive brain’s fight or flight response are responsible for the resistance you feel when trying to eat healthier.

Where It Goes Wrong 

As much as we can let our primitive brain run the show, this doesn’t have to be the case.

In fact, our primitive brain isn’t the problem. 

The problem is when we react to the feelings, or “urges”, that our primitive brain causes in response to doing something unfamiliar to it.

Which is ultimately what prevents us from changing our eating habits.

Here’s an example. You plan your healthy meals for the week and are actually excited to start. You’re sick of feeling sluggish and unhealthy all the time. You’re ready for a change and to finally take care of yourself. You genuinely want to eat healthier! Then, things change for you about mid-week through your meal plan.

 

  • You’ve been motivated so far, but now it feels really wrong to opt for a healthier meal. You’re craving the unhealthy foods you used to eat.
  • You convince yourself that maybe your body needs those old foods you used to eat. Maybe these healthier options aren’t truly nourishing to your body? You’ll just have a little of the foods you used to eat.
  • An hour later you’ve “fallen off track”. You ate a bunch of the foods that weren’t on your plan and you’re beating yourself up. You make the decision to try again next week.

 

If this sounds familiar to you, congratulations, you have a human brain.

This scenario means nothing about you or your abilities to be healthy.

It just means you need more experience managing your mind so you can eat healthier with ease.

That mind-numbing feeling of wanting to go back to your old eating habits?

That’s an urge given to you by your primitive brain.

It’s afraid that your new ways will cause you harm. It’s trying to protect you.

Which is why you ultimately self-sabotage.

You’re trying to escape the uncomfortable urge that occurs.

When you don’t manage your ability to work with your brain, you set yourself up for failure.

And when you compete against your own brain you will lose, everytime.

Why You Feel Resistance

The fact that you have a primitive brain is not a problem.

There is a way to manage this resistance you feel.

So, you don’t self-sabotage and ruin your ability to eat healthy and nourish your body properly.

The solution to feeling resistance is by managing your brain.

Which can best be described through this model:

 

  • Thoughts cause your feelings
  • Feelings cause your actions
  • Actions determine your results
  • Circumstances are neutral

 

To sum this up, the thoughts you’re thinking produce the results you have in life.

This is also the case with your eating habits.

Your thoughts you’re thinking will produce the results you have with food.

And your automatic daily thoughts will come from your primitive brain.

Meaning you have thought-patterns running on auto-pilot.

You have belief systems about food and yourself that you’ve likely had for a long time.

And these thoughts create the results you have with food.

These thoughts also produce a feeling.

So, that feeling of resistance you experience when it comes to eating healthy?

This is due to an automatic thought that you’re thinking from your primitive brain.

Nothing more.

You need to be aware of your thoughts with food to understand why you have the results with food that you do.

So, you can work to create new thoughts that lead you to the results you want.

For example, many women unconsciously think that:

 

  • “My past history with food means something about my abilities to eat healthier”
  • “I’m damaged and healthy eating is harder for me”
  • “I’m not capable of eating healthier since I’ve never done it before”
  • “I’ll be happy when I can learn to eat healthy” 

 

These are all examples of thought patterns that will not lead to the result of eating healthier.

Since these thoughts will produce feelings such as self-doubt, worry, fear, etc.

In contrast to those thoughts, you can also choose to think:

 

  • “My past is a gift. It taught me the lessons I need to create my new future with food”
  • “I am working to create healthier eating habits and it’s exciting”
  • “Of course I failed to eat healthy in the past. I understand why I did that”
  • “I love myself right now and I’ll love myself when I eat healthier”

 

See the difference?

These are examples of thought patterns that will lead to the result of eating healthier.

Since these thoughts will produce feelings such as peace, commitment, love, and determination.

For more on the model, read this article here.

The Solution to Feeling Resistance 

So, you now aware of a few key things:

 

  • Your cerebellum is your primitive (automatic) brain that seeks to seek efficiency and avoid pain. When you try and do anything unfamiliar to it, it will cause feelings of panic.
  • The resistance we feel when it comes to eating healthy is an “urge” given to you from your primitive brain to keep you safe.
  • We fail to eat healthy because we react to that urge and the negative feeling associated with it.
  • Our thoughts lead to our results with food. Thoughts also lead to feelings, which means a specific thought causes the feeling of resistance I feel with eating healthy.

 

Knowing this, we can work to address those feelings of resistance we experience when we try and eat healthier.

Here’s the four-step process to doing this:

1) Don’t Attach Meaning

As soon as you experience resistance, you’ll be tempted to attach meaning to the feeling.

Don’t do this.

Understand that this is the way your brain is wired, and that it’s simply trying to protect you from change.

Know that this feeling comes with the territory of doing something different.

This will allow you to look at the resistance objectively, without drama associated with it.

2) Name the Feeling

Take a moment to name the feeling you’re currently experiencing in one-word.

What would you name the vibration happening in your body?

It might be something similar to fear, worry, self-doubt, etc.

Think about this and name the feeling for yourself.

3) Observe the Thought

Brainstorm the thought that you’re thinking to produce this feeling.

If you have trouble doing this, do a thought download on paper.

This means you just write your thoughts in a journal entry for 5-10 minutes. 

Observe your thought-patterns and determine which one caused the feeling you identified.

Have curiosity and compassion while doing this. 

For more on this, read this article here.

4) Process the Urge

You cannot escape the negative emotion or “urge”.

This behavior is what leads to self-sabotage and overeating.

You have to be willing to experience the resistance fully.

Which means you’ll need to practice sitting in that negative emotion.

I always recommend doing the above steps, and then sitting with the urge for 5-10 minutes.

Process it and feel what that experience is like in your body.

The reason for doing this, is we unintentionally suppress urges in our day-to-day life.

Which causes the urge to come back stronger than before.

It’s like holding a beach ball underwater.

Process the urges you’re feeling when your brain is telling you to sabotage your healthy eating habits.

Then, move forward and act from your intentional brain instead.

What to Do Next

If you use the steps above, you will set yourself up for healthy eating success.

Managing your mind is really the determining factor of changing your eating habits.

It’s heavily underrated but the most effective means of eating healthier and reaching your ideal weight.

I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you.

- Kat Rentas

share this post:

Kat Rentas, Eating Psych. Coach

Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified eating psychology coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right placeYou can read my full story here.