If one single thought pattern can undermine your efforts to eat healthy more than any other, it’s probably these three little words: I don’t care.
In fact, those three words kept me mired in compulsive eating for decades. After years of digging for the roots of my eating drive, I finally boiled down my entire compulsive eating problem to one issue—I don’t care. I was repeatedly bitten by the I-don’t-care bug. I don’t care threatened to undo me! All the efforts I’d made to free myself from compulsive eating—from psychotherapy to hypnosis, neuro linguistic programming, emotional freedom technique, high protein diet, low fat diet (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg)—fell flat because I didn’t care. I learned a lot about myself during those years, but I didn’t learn how to handle I don’t care effectively.
Eventually, I found out that it wasn’t my thinking that was the problem, but the fact that I was buying into it hook, line, and sinker.
Practice and Preparedness
The I-don’t-care bug is like a cockroach—it’ll always be around no matter what. But even with their reputed immunity to nuclear calamity, cockroaches can still be kept at bay. Let’s take a look at two strategies for dealing with an I don’t care infestation.
Because we live in a culture filled with refined and animal foods, consistently following a nutrient-dense diet style requires planning. Deciding ahead of time what you’re going to eat eliminates last-minute decision making. For instance, I know that when something unpleasant happens—say an overdraft fee from the bank—I don’t care. I get overwhelmed and upset. I can’t stand that thirty-five of my precious few dollars have just been wasted on a minor error on my part. I just want to feel better, and my go-to method for feeling good fast usually involves unhealthy food. If I haven’t planned or prepared my meal, there’s nothing to keep me from racing off to the nearest pastry or chocolate shop.
Since I know that about myself, I can prepare for this inevitability. Of course, just because I’ve planned my meal doesn’t mean I don’t care won’t still try to have its way with me. That’s where the second strategy comes into play. Instead of listening to the thought, I don’t care, I need to respond to it. Here are some of my favorite comebacks:
I might not care in this moment, but if I wait just a little while, my desire will subside, and I’ll be really glad I stuck to my veggies.
I have to learn other ways of dealing with frustration! If I eat every time I get upset, I’ll never be able to lose weight and keep it off.
I might not care right now, but I will definitely care in the morning when I step on the scale.
It’s true that I don’t care right now, but I know from past experience that this is temporary. I most certainly will care later, and I’ll be much happier at that time if I don’t eat.
Remember, this I don’t care is just another ploy by my brain to get me to feed it. I can get through this without using food.
It’s very tempting to use food in times of upset and stress because eating actually does reduce negative feelings by temporarily breaking a stress feedback loop in the brain. That makes it a very tempting, hard-to-resist threat to your food plan (and ultimately your health and happiness). But there are other quick and healthy ways to reduce stress, like going for a quick walk around the block. I know, it’s not nearly as appealing, but you’ll be happy you did it afterwards!
Getting Around I Don’t Care
Plan, plan, plan!
Create some responses to I don’t care and practice them every day for two weeks so they’ll come to mind when you need them.