Why is it so hard to eat like a normal person? - Breakfree Nutrition

Why is it so hard to eat like a normal person?

Ever wondered why you overeat, struggle with food and keep falling off the diet wagon? Or why, despite being so successful in most other areas of your life, you still can't figure out how to get back in control of your eating? Well, here's the answer... and what to do about it.
Watch the video above or read the full article below.

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The #1 reason you keep falling off the diet wagon

(and how to avoid this oh-so-frustrating trap)

Now, one of the most common questions I get is this..."why do I struggle so much with food?"

Now obviously not everyone asks it in that way... some people ask...
Why does nothing ever work... "what's wrong with me?"

For others, it's
"Why do I overeat?"
OR
"Why can't I seem to be able to control my eating?"
OR
"Why do I keep falling off the wagon?"

And yet others, well they ask something along the lines of... "Why can I be so successful in other areas of my life, but not with my food?"

Now, it really doesn't matter how you word it. The fundamental question remains the same...

Why is it so frikkin' hard to eat like a normal person?

So first up, that's precisely the question I want to tackle.

Then I'd like to share some ideas about what you can do to get yourself unstuck so you can begin to make some real and tangible progress.

OK, so I'd like you to think of this struggle you have with food and your eating, as a bit like being trapped in a maze.

So can you imagine being in one of those fancy, beautifully manicured, hedged mazes.
One that's kinda 10 foot tall, with all kinds of twists and turns and dead ends.

Can you picture it in your mind?

So we enter this maze... and our goal of course is to find our way out the other side.
It's to reach the exit on the far side, where we are no longer struggling with food.
We're not overeating. We're not binging. We not stress eating or emotionally eating. We're not yo-yo dierting, we're not falling off the wagon. We're not all caught up in our food-focused thinking any more... and so on.

We've just got a normal, healthy and balanced relationship with food.

Now imagine every twist & turn in this maze represents a new attempt to solve your eating struggles.
So turning a corner is like starting a new diet.
Or downloading a new meal plan.
Or joining a new program.
Or downloading a new calorie tracking app
Or purchasing a new protein shake.
Or taking a new supplement.
Or reading a new book
Or trying out a new detox protocol.
Or following a new set of food rules.
Or seeing another dietitian, or naturopath, or counselor or whatever.

You get the idea.

So it's like you get to a corner in the maze and you find this new thing or strategy or approach. A new path to go down.
And you're excited, right?
So you turn the corner & you get started.
You're taking action.
You make some progress.
And then you get even more excited.
Finally, this is it.
You've found something that's actually going to work.
There's light at the end of the tunnel.
If i just keep doing this thing, if I just keep heading down this path, I'm going to figure this eating stuff out for sure.

But then something happens.
You hit a roadblock.
You get busy.
Some challenge comes up.
Life gets in the way.
Whatever it is, progress stops and you hit a dead end.

OK, so this obviously wasn't the holy grail you thought it was.
But you're not going to give up, right.
You're going to figure this eating thing out if its the last thing you do.
So you find something else.
You take another turn in the maze.

And let's face it, just as there's any number of paths you can take in the maze, there's no shortage of information about diets, nutrition, eating, meal plans, weight loss and so on.

In fact information overload and conflicting advice is part of the problem

So for example, when I type into google "how to stop overeating" I get over 12 million results.
And let's just see what comes up on page 1.

OK, once we skip over all the ads, the very first article is this one... 23 effective ways to stop overeating.
It's ranking #1 on Google at the moment... so its gotta be authoritative, trustworthy and packed full of great content, doesn't it?
Well, you'd like to think so anyway.
So let's check this out.
So it's an article written by a registered dietitian... ok so again, it should contain some pretty reasonable advice, you'd think.

Strategy 1: get rid of distractions.
OK, so how realistic is that. Really?
Now this idea comes out of the mindful eating space. And sure, I'll admit, there is some pretty decent evidence for it.
When people can sit down in a quiet area and put 100% of their focus on the experience of eating, then absolutely, those people tend to eat less food.
So my criticism of this strategy, isn't that it doesn't work... it does.
The problem is, for the vast majority of people, stepping away from distractions is almost impossible.
We like to have our phones and our laptops with us, we like to watch TV, we like to chat with others... and so on.
And lets face it, the underlying reason you struggle with food isn't because you're reading your emails or scrolling thru your FB feed while you eat.
Becoming distracted around meal times isn't the most important thing.
It's not the core issue.

So what else is this registered dietitian saying.
Know your weaknesses... Identify the unhealthy foods you can’t resist. Keep them out of your home or far out of sight,
OK, so we've all heard this strategy a thousand times over, right?
Just don't bring crappy food in to the house. Sounds simple enough.
And logically it kinda makes sense, doesn't it?
If it's not in the house, well you just can't eat it.

But actually, I have a couple major problems with this approach as well.
Firstly, most of us don't live alone. We have families.
And so what happens if one of my trigger foods is ice cream. Or chips. Or chocolate.
Is it realistic that these foods never make it back in to the house again?
Try explaining that to your partner or teenage kids and see what happens.
But the biggest problem with this avoidance strategy is this.... It doesn't work.
As soon as we tell ourselves that the only way we can control our eating is to not go anywhere neat our trigger foods, well, that's when these foods become even more powerful.
Because now they're something to be feared.
And we clearly can't be trusted around them.
And it set's up this restriction cycle that'll eventually backfires.
Because as soon as we restrict anything, or tell ourselves that we can't have it, there's a part of our psychology that'll want and crave it even more.
It's just how our mind's and brain's operate.
And it doesn't matter how good you think your willpower is, the tension around these restricted foods will build and build to a point where it'll become unbearable.
It might take a week, a month, 3 months, who knows,...but at some point, this growing tension, this anxiety, craving, tightness, heaviness, gnawing feeling deep within you will need to be relieved.
And the only way to release all this tension is to eat, overeat or even binge on the very foods you've been trying to avoid.
So that's the problem with avoidance and forced restriction.
Rather than breaking the cycle of overeating, guilt, shame & self-blame... it actually perpetuates it.

OK, so what else do we have here in this article.
OK. No.6 - Reduce stress. - Stress can lead to overeating, so reducing the stress in your everyday life is one important step you can take to stop this downward spiral.
So again... pretty standard, generic advice.
I'm sure you've heard it plenty of times.
And what's your reaction when you hear this kind of advice.
Reduce your stress.
How helpful is it, really?
I mean, we all live busy lives. Most of us have families which come with all kinds of demands; we have crazy hectic jobs and careers with all kinds of responsibilities and stresses... and so on.
So let's be real here for a moment, shall we?
Whatever stresses you have in your life right now, are they going anywhere anytime soon?
Probably not.

So if you've got this much stress in your life... and if realistically you can't see it changing too much in the short-medium term, well when you hear the advice.. if you want to get back in charge of your eating, you gotta reduce your stress... how does that make you feel?
It kinds makes you feel stuck doesn't it.
The fact is, generalised blanket statements like "reduce your stress" do more harm than good.
Because if stress apparently leads to overeating, and you can't find a way to move the needle on your stress level, well you inevitably end up losing hope on ever being able to end the struggle with food, don't you?

And along the same lines, I can't tell you how many times I've heard advice like "go for a walk... take a bath... go get a manicure, go book a massage.
Apparently these are the things you're supposed to do so you don't use food as a way to cope with stress.
Now I don't know about you, but if I suggested these kinds of things to my clients, the'd laugh at me.
I mean, it all sounds wonderful. And sure, in a perfect world we'd all be getting pedicures and massages and indulging in all kinds of self-care activities.
But that's not how life normally rolls.
And if we're really honest here, you don't struggle with food because you're not taking bubble baths.
OK.
Your eating habits and patterns haven't come about because you don't get manicures.
So it's crazy to expect that doing these things will suddenly make you a better or healthier eater.
Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with massages, bubble baths and beauty treatments.
They're great.
It's just that, these things... or the lack of these things in your life aren't the real issue.
Again, they're band-aid fixes.

Look, too be fair, I don't want to single out the dietitian who wrote this article, okay.
I'm sure she's a lovely person; I'm certain she means well... and nothing she is saying here is controversial or wrong or goes against the standard advice we hear from all health professionals.
But that's kinda the problem.
Because the stock-standard advice isn't working for most people who really struggle with food.
It just isn't.

OK... so let's go back to the Google search, and see what else comes up here.
6 Appetite-Control Strategies that Helped Me Stop Overeating
By John Hawkes.
So who is John Fawkes.....science geek and fitness writer for MyFitnessPal. OK interesting.
So how qualified do you think John really is? What credentials does he really have... other than being a science geek.
Anyway, lets see what he has to say.

Strategy No.1. Add vinegar and cinnamon to meals to control blood sugar.
OK, so right off the bat, I can tell you this article's a complete waste of everyone's time.
This person's #1 strategy for overeating, is to throw some vinegar and cinnamon in with your meals.
Now honestly, I don't wanna go down this rabbit hole, but its really really important for all of us to understand the difference between a qualified health professional who can interpret research and a self-professed science and fitness geek who looks at a headline and then draws his or her own conclusions.
So, yes there are a small number of studies that suggest vinegar and cinnamon can minimize blood sugar spikes.
But to then go on and suggest that this makes it a worthwhile strategy for overeating, is total crap.
The evidence, just doesn't back it up.
Again, if you feel challenged by food; or if you're stuck in all kinds of vicious cycles with your eating; do you honestly think these things can be solved by adding a pinch of cinnamon to your morning coffee?

Strategy #2 - Eat when you're not hungry.
OK, did I read that right.... yes I did.
Eat when you're NOT hungry.
OK, again this is just total BS.
And unfortunately, this is the kind of rubbish advice that can keep you stuck for years and years.
Now if you've watched the HTFABD video training on my website, I actually go through in quite a lot of detail, what eating when you're not actually physically hungry does to your hunger hormones.
The fact is, we train our hunger.
So if you routinely eat when you're not really hungry, or may be you graze on food 4,5 or 6 x throughout the day, well you effectively train your body to expect food at certain regular times.
And your body responds by releasing hunger hormones around these times in anticipation that you'll be eating something very shortly.
And it's this release of hunger hormones that makes you hungry... so you eat and the cycle just continues.
But it all started because at some point in the past you got in the habit of eating when you weren't actually hungry.
So to tell someone... oh yeah, if you want to end overeating, well just start eating when you're not hungry... it's ludicrous; it ignores the science; and honestly, it'll keep you locked up in vicious cycles for years.

So the whole point of this exercise was to raise your awareness to the kind of rubbish that's out there on the internet, on social media, in forums and FB groups, in magazines, books, blogs, videos and so on.

Now we didn't even get passed the first two articles on Google.

But unfortunately when it comes to issues of food, nutrition, weight and so on, everyone has an opinion... even those who have no place dispensing advice.
So if you're following an ‘influencer’ or celebrity so called nutrition guru or reading a health blogger promoting something that doesn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny, or comes with some other ideological agenda, then tread very carefully.

So much of the stuff out there is complete bullshit. Sorry for being so crude, but its the truth.
I know you've seen it... and my guess if you've probably fallen victim to it a few times as well.
And that's not your fault, and it's certainly nothing to be ashamed about... because as I said, this kind of trashy advice, that's dressed up to look sci-ency and trustworthy and helpful, is literally everywhere.

And if it's not total BS, then there's a good chance it's so generalized and cookie-cutter generic, that its just not practically useful or helpful in the real world anyway.

But the problem is, you're now in this HUGE maze, with ALL these different options in front of you... and you don't really know who or what to trust or what direction to head.

I'm super stressed so clearly that's the issue. I gotta work on reducing that.
Actually, may be i just need better coping mechanisms
Wait up, my blood sugar might be spiking, so I better look at a low GI diet.
Actually no, this video says the keto diet might be even more effective for that.
Hang on, I get super distracted when I eat, I should look into this mindful eating thing first.
But this website's telling me to eat more often... I better take more snacks to work.
Oh dear, perhaps that's not it after all. May be I overeat because I'm not fulfilled in my relationship... I really need some counseling to work on that before anything else.
Or may be it's all work and career related. Perhaps I just hate my job.
But no, this book says its all about self-esteem. I better get that sorted.
Actually, why don''t I try that appetite suppressant my GP mentioned. That sounds way easier.
Better still, my colleague at work swears by this detox shake.
I read something about too much insulin making you hungry. I better get that tested first.
Wait up, may be I just need more willpower. Let me do a google search on that.
No, second thoughts, let me just find a better meal plan. Great, here's one for $39. I'll do that.

It seems like wherever you turn, there's another path to take and another option to try.

Now, don't get me wrong, some of these options can actually be quite helpful.
I mean, something like mindful eating for instance has some good research behind it and there's definitely a subset of people out there who will benefit from it.
For others, learning how to better manage stress might be something that gives them more control over their food.
And yet for some others, seeing a counsellor or psychologist to address past traumas can help for sure.

So I'm not saying all of these things can't help.
Some clearly can.
It's just that for the overwhelming majority of people who struggle with food, who overeat, who experience cravings, who find it really hard to remain consistent with healthy eating, who get anxious and overwhelmed by all their crazy food-focused thoughts, who waste money on diets and so on...
for these people, approaches like these usually don't work over the long term because they fail to address the habit circuitry and pathways in the brain that keep us locked up in the same old eating patterns and behaviours from one day to the next.
And I'll expand on that a bit more in a sec.

So either the strategy or method doesn't work at all,

Or it'll work for only a little while... but then at some point it'll stop working.
And then, your old habits kick back in, the overeating returns with a vengeance, the weight creeps back on, and the frustration, guilt, shame & self criticism is now way off the chart.
And now you're left feeling worthless, broken and like a complete failure.... because clearly there must be something wrong with YOU.

So you're trapped in this food-struggling maze, going round and round in circles, reaching one dead end after the other.
And your eating now seems worse than ever.

Can you remember back to the very first diet you went on... or the very first program or plan you followed to try and improve your eating?
Well that was the moment you first walked in to this maze.
And what you initially thought might take you may be a month or two at most to get sorted... well now it's been how long, and you're still struggling?

How long have you been trapped in this maze?
A year, 5 years, 10 years?
Honestly, how long has it been?

And how exhausting has it been?
How much time and energy have you invested, trying this strategy over here, and this diet or program over there?
How much of your LIFE has been spent trying to work all this stuff out?

So this maze you're in, instead of it looking something like this...
Is it starting to feel as though it looks more like this?

Is this making any sense?
Is that what it's feeling like?

And now its like you're so deep in this maze, you're completely lost; and it feels like there's just no way out.
And you're frightened to start anything new, because you've failed so many times before.
So now when you reach a new corner in the maze, you might peek around it to see what's there, but eventually you run the other way because committing to something new seems way to scary.

But the fact is... yeah, you might be lost and stuck somewhere in the maze,... but you're not a failure and you're certainly not broken.
And most definitely, there is a way out.

You see, when it comes to your eating, your brain, and more specifically, this area called your ASS and 3 very dominant neural pathways that feed in to it, are simply doing what they've been trained and programmed to do.

And it's these 3 neural circuits that will ultimately determine why you eat, what you eat, when you eat and how much you eat.

This is WHY you struggle with food.
It's all neuroscience and habit circuitry.

And again, I explain this in great detail in the HTFABD video training.

So the key for getting back in charge of your eating is to learn the skills that rewire these pathways so they support a healthy relationship with food instead of always sabotaging it.

You don't need another diet or meal plan, or detox protocol, or protein shake, or appetite suppressant.
You don't need another calorie tracking app on your phone.
You don't need more rules or more restriction or more willpower.
You don't need cinnamon in your morning coffee; or carve out 30 minutes for a bubble bath every night
And despite what the mindful eating movement will tell you, you don't need to remove all distractions, or chew your food 30 times.
Just as you don't need to fix your messy life, quit your stressful job, or heal all your emotional baggage either.

None of these things do anything to address the 3 brain-based circuits that are at the root of the problem.
Eventually, they all lead you to just more dead ends in the maze.

So let me really simplify things for you here.

The way out of your own private food maze is here and available to you right now if you want it.

But first, you gotta be willing to give up all the diets, and fads, and shakes, and so on.
You gotta be willing to stop reading all the nutrition blogs and watching all the YouTube or FB videos on clean eating or keto, or IF or whatever it is.

And instead of all that, you gotta be willing to explore the idea that maybe, just maybe you need to be pointed in a different direction and given a few new tools and skills so you can rewire the neural pathways that are tripping you up.

And that's what FFBT approach is all about - its a intensive 4-step process designed to get you out out of the maze and take you from food struggling to food freedom.

Your thoughts and habits and behaviours around food are simply the by-product of a bunch of neural circuits in your brain that aren't serving you any more.
And so now it's time to create a new set of pathways that serve you way better.

We know the brain can change.
It's what scientists call neuroplasticity.
Which means with the right training, and with the right inputs and daily practices it can be rewired and reconditioned to give us some remarkable outcomes.
People with chronic pain, anxiety, depression, OCD or PTSD are rewiring their glitchy pathways and getting results far beyond what most other therapies are sbale to provide.
The research and clinical studies are out there.
So yeah, brain training works.
And if it can work for these debilitating conditions, it can sure as hec work for cravings, urges, overeating, emotional eating, bingeing and so on..
And that's exactly what the evidence and the research is demonstrating.

So if you'd like to get started down this path, if you'd like me to take you by the hand and guide you step-by-step out of this confusing and frustrating maze...
If you're sick and tired of being in a tug-of-war with food and with your body;
If you're fed up with all the crazy food focused thoughts that keep hijacking your head space;
If you're done with wasting money on diets, junk food and BS solutions
If you're well and truly over white knuckling your food choices all week, only to end the weekend in a food coma
If you've listened, read, watched and researched everything out there, yet you're still struggling to make any progress
And if you can't stand to waste another day suffering in silence, and are now truly ready to not only get back in charge of your eating, but get back in charge of your life...

then here's all you need to do.

Firstly, go watch the free HTFABD video training.
I've put the link down below.
Now, this training will take you through the specific 4 step process I use to help people rewire their hungry brains and get back in charge of their eating.
And it's the best way to learn if the FFBT approach will be a good fit for you.

Then after watching the training, if you'd like to go even deeper, and you'd like to learn more about how we would apply the 4 step process to your own personal situation and struggles, then book a free Discovery call so we can really work out if the FFBT approach would be a good fit for you.

Because, without doubt, the fastest most direct route out of this food struggling maze is to partner with someone who's been through it before and who's led hundreds of people out of the very same maze your still stuck in.

I've put the booking link is down below as well.

So go watch the training, then book your free session... and allow me to introduce you to a brain training process that'll help you break free; that'll show you how to navigate your way out of this never ending and very frustrating maze, so you can be done with all this food struggling, obsession & anxiety once and for all; and so you can finally have the energy, the freedom and the confidence to simply get on with living your life.

Ready to Get Started?

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About Martin Flood

Martin Flood
Martin Flood
BPharm GradDipClinSc (Lifestyle Med) FASLM

Martin Flood is a Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner and the founder of Breakfree Nutrition. He specialises in the psychology, the neuroscience and the practical everyday realities of overcoming challenges with food and weight.
Using a transformative brain training approach, he helps high achievers, executives, professionals, business owners, leaders, managers and entrepreneurs all over the globe, heal their disordered habits around food so they can reclaim their health and sanity and enjoy the energy, freedom and confidence to perform at their best and do more with their lives.  
Learn more about Martin

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