Psychological Preparation

Before undertaking a change in lifestyle like doing a Whole30 or adopting the Paleo Diet, the first piece of advice most people read is that preparation is key. Preparation in cleaning out the pantry, buying the right foods, preparing foods for the week, etc.  What I’ve never seen covered, however, is the mental or psychological preparation one must do before starting a lifestyle changing diet.

Framing for success. What I mean by this is that you need to focus on the foods you can eat and not those you cannot. Create a list of foods you can eat and you will find that a lot of food you already enjoy is on that list. When we focus on what we can no longer eat, we have a harder time foregoing them or resisting temptation. By re-framing our concept of what foods we enjoy and like to eat with those that are permissible, you find yourself not missing the anti-Paleo foods.

Relationship with food. You need to change your relationship with food from something that is comforting, soothing, or entertaining to that of being fuel. Life happens between meals, not at them. This is difficult in our society, as many gatherings happen around meals, and that isn’t going to change. What I’m talking about is non-gathering meals. Meals should be about fueling the body, about feeling comfortable but not stuffed. Once you realize that food is fuel and it’s okay for it to taste good, but that should be secendary to its primary purpose; energy.

Prepare to fail; it’s okay. This one is a fine line, because I’m not saying it’s okay to cheat (or sabotage your own progress). What I am saying is that, especially in the beginning, there will be times when you just can’t be 100% strict, or when temptation is too much. It’s okay. It happens to all of us. The important part is to just get back up and keep going as if nothing happened and avoid falling again. It’s okay to stumble. Just get back up.

Going into a different lifestyle without mental or psychological preparation makes it harder to succeed. It’s like a soldier going into battle without all the weapons at his disposal. Prepare yourself mentally and you give yourself a better chance to succeed.

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