Most IC instructors have the client”™s best interest at heart. We may not all agree on every point, but we do want our participants to do well, get the results they seek, and feel great. That probably goes not just for how they work out, but for what they eat, as well.

It”™s a safe guess that most instructors wouldn”™t mind at all if their class participants stopped doing the following things — immediately and forever.[wlm_private 'PRO-Platinum|PRO-Monthly|PRO-Gratis|PRO-Seasonal|Platinum-trial|Monthly-trial|PRO-Military|30-Days-of-PRO|90 Day PRO|Stages-Instructor|Schwinn-Instructor|Instructor-Bonus|28 Day Challenge']

1. Eating “Good For You” Foods They Hate

The feeling of deprivation can make us do strange things with food. Feeling deprived can result from eating so little food that they”™re always hungry, always thinking about food, always ready to gnaw the legs off the furniture.

We know it”™s a binge waiting to happen. But there”™s more to it.

Several years ago, during an appointment, a frustrated client stomped her foot at me and demanded, “Joan, do you ever enjoy eating?!”

My answer was an enthusiastic, “Yes, of course.” It”™s true that we might need to give up certain foods — including some of our favorites — to get the results we want.

But let”™s look at the good news. There are always foods we can and do enjoy that will fit into our food plan — even if we stop eating sugar, for example. Plenty of delicious foods are out there that don”™t contain sugar.

The main point of this, however, is to get your participants to avoid eating foods they hate. Please. They shouldn”™t eat them because they heard how “healthy” they are. They shouldn”™t eat them because they read about the antioxidants they contain.

They shouldn”™t keep eating them because they”™re worried about their health. Chances are you can find a different food for them that contains the same healthful nutrients as that hated food. In a food they won”™t hate.

Most importantly, if they don”™t like what they”™re eating, they”™ll feel deprived — as surely as if they were skimping on quantities and semi-starving throughout the day.

Eating foods they hate is just another binge waiting to happen.

2. Using Food As Their Entertainment Or Reward

How do we use food for entertainment or reward? We eat when we”™re bored. We eat to procrastinate on that work project we dread starting. We eat to take a break from that work project we started but aren”™t enjoying. We eat because we got through a killer cycling class that morning. We eat because we had a great day. We eat to celebrate hitting our weight loss goal that week.

Feel free to fill in other favorite entertainment or reward uses of food.

In the early days of an athletic training program for which I was the nutritionist, a participant refused to follow the nutrition guidelines for the program. Her rationale was simple: She worked out hard and was entitled to eat whatever foods she wanted. Who could argue with that? We all get to make our own decisions.

When her training coach took weight and measurements at the end of the program, though, it was disappointing for her. Hers had all increased. It was a shame, too, because she probably would have performed better athletically if she had followed the food plan.

It seems unusual that we”™d eat more food — or eat junk — when things go well. But, to use just one example, endorphins (beta-endorphin) may be released when mood is “up” and positive.

Beta-endorphin affects the brain”™s satiety center. It makes us want to eat more. It doesn”™t matter whether the original trigger was positive or negative.

When we”™re ‘up,”™ it”™s not surprising that we want more of that up feeling. And we may end up eating foods that trigger the release of more endorphins.

More sugar, please.

3. Using Food As Their Primary Stress Reliever

What does it look like when we eat to relieve stress? We eat when we”™re frustrated. We eat at the end of a bad day. We eat in the middle of the bad day. We”™re much more likely to go for junk food when we”™re stressed.

Eating when we”™re stressed might seem like a minor issue, but any stressed-out moment is a bad time to eat. The digestive system basically shuts down — reduced production of saliva, lack of peristaltic contractions throughout the digestive tract, and other stress changes. It all means the body isn”™t ready for food.

Because foods change brain chemistry, they can change our mental/emotional state. When our moods are low, it”™s almost an instinct to look for something that will lift us out of that low mood state.

Even animals do it. Researchers have said that animals don”™t eat for calories or nutrition per se, but for “optimal arousal.”

That”™s why food choices when we”™re stressed go in the direction of big brain-chem changes. Sugar is often used as a stress reliever because it triggers changes in brain chemicals that are felt readily.

But other comfort foods are used — frequently in large quantities: mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, spaghetti, biscuits, grilled cheese sandwiches, chips.

If your participant”™s favorite comfort food isn”™t on this list, it”™s probably still a state-changer.

State changing is the key. They won”™t binge on broccoli when they”™re stressed — unless it”™s smothered in cheese or sauce. That”™s because broccoli doesn”™t change brain chem, but those toppings will.

You”™d probably prefer that they avoid these stress-driven, high-calorie blowouts.[/wlm_private]

Joan Kent

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