Why Can't I Stop Thinking About Food?
You are trying to focus on an important work project and yet your mind keeps drifting to thinking about the biscuits and chocolate that you know are in the kitchen ....
You may be sitting and watching TV with your friends or partner, are enjoying relaxing but just can't help wondering if this moment would be better with some snacks, some popcorn perhaps or maybe some sweets...
You have just eaten lunch and yet all you can now think about is what you can eat for your next meal this evening....
Do you ever wonder why you are thinking so much about food and what you can do to free up some mental energy to start thinking about other things instead?
When we start working together, many of my clients tell me that a lot of their time and mental energy is taken up worrying about or thinking about food. One of the most rewarding parts of working with them is then seeing how much more free and better they feel once they are no longer thinking about food all of the time and can then devote that mental energy to other things in their lives.
So you may be wondering, why is it that you spend so much time thinking about food? Here are some reasons why food may be dominating your thoughts:
1. You are on a restrictive diet or are just hungry.
When you are on a very restrictive diet thoughts about food very often take over. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, you may well be feeling hungry a lot of the time and of course, when we are hungry/food-deprived, our brains want to prioritise ensuring that we get enough food to keep us alive. So if you are really depriving yourself of food and allowing yourself to get very hungry during the day, it is natural (and actually a helpful protective mechanism) for our minds to then focus on or even obsess over food. Secondly, diets typically involve restricting or banning lots of things or food groups. However as humans, we tend to want what we can't have. So the moment you tell yourself that you won't eat any chocolate again - your brain may well then just start to obsess over all of the chocolate you want to eat right now - just "one last time" before you then "never eat chocolate again".
2. You've been counting calories/ tracking your food intake closely.
Some people find it helpful to closely track what they are eating and the calories they are consuming as it helps them to become more aware of their food choices. However this act of closely tracking every morsel of food that passes your lips can also make you become hyper-aware of your food choices. In fact, food is so at the forefront of your mind, that you then end up thinking a lot about or even obsessing over what you can and can't eat. This is something that many clients report to me after a period of tracking calories or their food choices. So whilst food tracking may work for some, for many people it can cause them to think about food a lot more than is helpful for them and their lives.
3. You have lots of strict rules around food.
Many people will have subconsciously picked up "rules" around food. It may that they feel that they shouldn't be eating carbs with their dinner, that they shouldn't be eating after 6pm, that they need to stay away from sugar/dairy/gluten or even that they need to eat 7 servings of fruits and veggies every day. Now there is nothing wrong with wanting to make healthy choices or to follow a way of eating that works for and serves your body and your health (in fact this is something that I would actively encourage). The problem however begins when someone has LOTS OF rules around food and they see these as rigid rules that they HAVE TO stick to every day, rather than as flexible guidelines that they will just try and adhere to most of the time. If you have too many very rigid rules around food, this can make you focus on and think about food a lot more than if you gave yourself a bit more flexibility with those rules/guidelines.
4. You feel a lot of guilt around food.
Often people will think a lot about food when they feel guilt for eating certain foods. Let's say you ate a chocolate cake, thoroughly enjoyed it and embraced that it wasn't something you eat every day but something you fancied in that moment - you can just eat that slice of cake and then move on with your life. Let's say that instead you ate that same piece of cake and felt that it was a "bad" food that you shouldn't have eaten - you may then spend hours beating yourself up over that food choice and in turn thinking about food/your food choices for much longer afterwards. In fact, many of my clients report to me that this guilt around eating a "bad" food not only causes them to think about food a lot more but also usually results in them eating more "bad" food later that day too.
5. You are really worried about your weight right now.
I work with many clients that want to lose weight and feel good in their body. One thing that I notice very often is that strangely enough, the more they focus on and worry about their weight - the less likely they are to actually lose weight or to get to their health goals. A weird thing happens when you are constantly focused on your weight - yes it may drive you to restrict your food choices for a while - but it can also make you much more likely to think about and obsess about your food choices throughout the day. When you are obsessing over your food choices you are then also much more likely to eat more in the day too. The more my clients focus on or worry about their weight, the more they end up feeling bad about themselves and then thinking about or eating food to feel better. I find it so rewarding to work with clients by shifting their focus away from their weight - and notice that then they are actually able to get to their health and weight goals, without it feeling like a constant battle or struggle.
If you would like some help to rebuild your relationship with food and want to stop thinking about food all of the time, please get in touch with me at email@example.com to set up a free consultation to explore how we can work together.
“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”
― Ruth Reichl