Why You Self-Sabotage Your Healthy Eating Habits - Kat Rentas

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Feb 24

Why You Self-Sabotage Your Healthy Eating Habits

Self Sabotage Healthy Eating Kat Rentas

As a high-achieving woman, it can be disheartening when your healthy eating habits don’t go as planned.

The fact is, you’re used to excelling in most aspects of your life.

Maybe you’ve worked hard to move up in your career, are a busy mother, or have built a business on your own.

But you still can’t manage to form healthy eating habits that stick.

What gives? What goes wrong here?

If this resonates with you, it’s likely that you’re self-sabotaging your healthy eating habits.

And if this is the case, there’s a reason why it’s occurring. 

Why Self-Sabotage Occurs

From experience, I know that even the most capable women on this planet have trouble solidifying healthy eating habits.

They eventually self-sabotage and go back to old eating habits.

This means nothing about them personally. Or about their abilities to be healthy.

It’s simply because of their brains.

When you self-sabotage, it’s because you’re forcing your brain to complete actions that aren’t natural for it yet. 

Unfortunately for us, this is how most diet plans and weight loss programs are created.

They are “action-based”, which means they give you a set of food actions to take in order to lose weight.

Seems simple at first!

But this actually sets you up for failure from the beginning.

Because it’s not requiring you to change your brain and become the person who eats healthy.

Before I explain how this works in more detail, let’s talk about an example:

 

  • You find a meal plan online for losing weight. It seems incredibly simple. You write out all your meals, shop for your groceries, and set up a plan for the next couple of weeks. You’re excited to finally see the results you’ve always wanted.
  • The first week goes great. Some nights were hard, but you just kept pushing. You’re so focused on the end goal of losing weight that you only have to hold out for a few more weeks. 
  • The second week doesn’t go so well. Mid-week you felt extremely tired and craved some of your old foods. You decided that this was alright and you could “just have a little”. You’ll get back on track next week.
  • Two months later and you’re frustrated. You can’t seem to be consistent with your healthy eating habits. Your weight fluctuates and you feel miserable. You begin your search again for the perfect diet that will finally work.

 

Now, while this is a very general example, it’s incredibly common.

It’s the scenario I most often hear from women.

What most women think happens here, is that they don’t have enough willpower or self-discipline. 

That they’re “just not cut out for healthy eating”.

This is so far from the truth.

What happens here, is they’re forcing themselves to stick to eating habits that don’t feel natural for them.

Through self-punishment and willpower. 

And when that willpower runs out (which it always does), they self-sabotage.

They will justify their reasoning as “I’ll start again next week”. 

This is simply your brain trying to bring you back to your own methods of eating. 

Because that’s what feels natural and safe for it. 

And when you’re unaware of this you will leave your brain on autopilot.

You will keep repeating the past over and over.

Let me explain.

Food and Your Brain

To understand why you self-sabotage your healthy eating habits, we need to understand two parts of the brain:

 

  • The Cerebellum: the part of your brain that runs on autopilot. Otherwise known as your “habit brain”, “automatic brain”, or “primitive brain”. This is where all of your deeply conditioned behaviors from childhood live. It always seeks pleasure and avoids pain to keep you alive. It also operates very, very quickly.
  • The Prefrontal Cortex: the part of your brain that’s responsible for goal setting. Where you consciously make decisions with a future-focus. This is where you focus on planning. It operates much slower.

 

Why this is important, is because your cerebellum or “automatic brain” is what is responsible for your self-sabotage.

You will consciously and intentionally plan healthier eating habits from your prefrontal cortex.

Logically, you know healthy eating is simple. It shouldn’t feel so hard.

Then, after some time your cerebellum catches on to the fact that you’re doing something unfamiliar to it. 

Remember, it seeks pleasure and avoids pain.

And as far as your cerebellum knows, everything you’ve eaten in your life up until this point has kept you alive. 

So, when you try and change your eating habits, your cerebellum is going to panic. 

Any change to your primitive brain will give you the same feelings as if you were in real danger. 

This doesn’t have to be a problem.

You just have to be aware this is happening.

So, if you’re ever wondering why healthy eating habits feel “wrong” or “inauthentic” at first?

This is due to your primitive brain. 

It wants to self-sabotage anything new to keep you safe.

Most women make this response from their primitive brains mean something is wrong.

So, they give up their new eating habits altogether. 

Before you beat yourself up, know this is totally natural.

Unless you’re consciously aware of it happening, it will just seem like it happens “to you”. 

However, now that you’re aware of what is happening, you can work to change your brain.

Which will, in turn, change your eating habits. 

How to Follow Through With Healthy Eating

In order to form healthy eating habits that feel easier, you’ll need to learn to manage your brain.

This isn’t woo-woo stuff here. This is just the way your brain and body work.

It’s the mark that “action-based” plans are missing.

And it’s why they don’t work long-term.

Think about it. It’s not eating the healthy foods that is so difficult.

It’s bringing ourselves to take the right actions with food.

What we often have trouble with is the follow through of the healthy eating actions.

That’s what we’re working on here.

To do this for yourself you’re going to follow five steps:

1) Observe Your Thoughts

Your primitive brain runs on autopilot.

It’s the collection of beliefs and thoughts from your past that are hard-wired in your brain.

These thoughts are always present whether you realize it or not.

And they are responsible for your current results in life.

So, to become aware of why you eat the way you do, you need to observe what thoughts created that result.

To do this, brainstorm what your beliefs are around food.

If you don’t have healthy eating habits, you likely have underlying thoughts such as:

 

  • “Eating healthy is harder for me”
  • “I don’t know how to eat healthy”
  • “I’m not sure I like “cleaner” foods”
  • “I’m addicted to sugar”

 

It’s important to know that these are not facts.

These are simply thoughts you are thinking.

And these thoughts are creating your results with food.

With thoughts like these, it will be impossible to force yourself to eat healthier.

Your brain will cling on to these old thoughts and re-create unhealthy eating habits.

It’s important to have an awareness of these thoughts in the beginning.

2) Allow Urges

Remember that your primitive brain will want to self-sabotage your new healthy eating habits.

Since it will want to recreate the results with food you’ve always had.

So, when you attempt to change your eating habits, you will feel an urge to self-sabotage.

Often women will try and escape this urge through overeating or binge eating.

But, you now know that this urge is totally natural.

It’s simply a vibration in your body. 

I want you to practice “being” with that urge.

Observe it with curiosity and compassion instead of fear.

It will feel uncomfortable. 

But don’t try and escape the feeling.

When you do this, you realize that this urge has no power over you.

Or your new healthy eating habits that you’re in the process of forming.

3) Follow Through

After you’ve given yourself time to observe the urge with curiosity, follow through with your healthy eating plans.

This is not easy. But it is simple.

We like to make follow through very complicated.

It’s common for us to attach a ton of drama to it.

There’s nothing dramatic about it.

We simply acknowledge the urge. 

And the voice from our primitive brain telling us to self-sabotage.

Then follow through with our original plans to eat healthier.

This takes practice. 

But if you approach your eating habits this way intentionally, you will improve your follow through over time.

4) Improve Relationship With Self

What following through with your healthy eating plans does, is it improves your relationship with yourself.

Eventually, you develop a trust with yourself that you will follow through with your promises.

This is life-changing. 

This will positively affect every area of your life.

Since you will have become someone who keeps her own promises.

This also drastically improves your self-worth and relationship with food.

I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough.

5) Transform Into Someone Who “Eats Healthy Effortlessly”

You know all the women who seemingly eat healthy effortlessly?

They have mastered this five-step process. 

It’s not that there are women who are unicorns and naturally eat healthy with ease.

What’s happening is that these women have developed a strong relationship with themselves and food.

Meaning, they hear those voices telling them to self-sabotage, acknowledge it, and follow through anyways.

Because of the integrity they have with themselves and their bodies.

Over time, this becomes second nature to them.

Which is why their healthy eating habits feel effortless.

You can do this for yourself.

What to Do Next

I want you to open yourself up to this process.

If this type of healthy eating approach is new to you, I encourage you to keep an open mind.

As women in today’s diet culture, we’re so used to “action-based” approaches with eating that don’t work long-term.

I spend years researching these methods and trying every diet on the market.

Nothing worked for me until I tried this deeper work.

I want you to have a relationship with healthy eating that doesn’t feel so hard.

It’s my mission for you to be able to achieve your financial, family, and career goals, while still having an amazing relationship with food.

You don’t have to sacrifice your goals or aspirations for healthy eating.

It’s always accessible to you.

Just not in the way you originally thought!

I can’t wait to see you do this for yourself.

- Kat Rentas

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The Intentional Eating Method

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.