I have found in my own experience and with the clients I work with that it is all too easy to drift away from a daily, healthy eating routine. Since it can take a prolonged period of sustained effort to experience certain benefits of a healthy lifestyle, there are umpteen opportunities to lose one’s focus along the journey.
The story of Little Red Riding Hood comes to mind as she wanders through the forest to grandma’s house and gets deceived and sidetracked by the crafty wolf. We, too, have wolves in our forest that draw us off course. May it be unexpected invitations to eat out, parties, cravings, temptations, stress, time pressures, or exhaustion all weaken our resolve.
Our wily, impulsive minds can reason ourselves out of doing anything unpleasant and convince us to succumb to our desires. “I just exercised so it’s OK for me to eat dessert.” “I’ve been so good all week , I can take a break.” And, especially, when we are stressed, hungry, and tired with no plan, we often find ourselves in reactive mode; making snap food decisions without consideration.
A way to, perhaps, protect ourselves from the power of our whimsical, reactive mind is to develop what I like to describe as the deliberate mind. A state of mind that makes meal plans, finds recipes, and prepares grocery lists. It carves out time for shopping and food prep.
At the core of this plan-making is a loving impulse to do well for oneself. Our deliberate minds are considerate and reasonable. Unlike our reactive minds that can flare up in anger, frustration, and resentment. When we are angered, we often think, “I was wronged and I deserve a treat.” Our lives would do well to be guided by the nurturing voice of kindness and encouragement.
I like to think of the deliberate mind as an architect who draws up blueprints. Undoubtably, the architect’s motivation is to make beautiful structures that are safe, practical, and sound.
Once our deliberate mind has set a plan in place, we no longer have to worry about it. At that point, all we need to do is be the humble follower of our well-laid plan. Or, to extend the analogy of the architect, we become the contractor who follows the blueprints and builds the house.
In our role as humble follower, we no longer have to decide what we will eat. In the moment of coming home from work, a bit tired, a bit hungry, we don’t have to make decisions in this state of mild duress. Decisions have been made. We’ve defined our “work” and all we need to do is follow the plan.
In the story of Little Red, deception and fear are the star players. In contrast, the star players of the architect meets builder theme are harmony and accomplishment. Admittedly, it is about as entertaining as “Bob, The Builder,” but it is a story for the real world.