Important Steps to Help End Bad Eating Habits

Are you having thoughts like these on your pre- or post-surgery journey?

  • “I thought I was finally getting a handle on my weight issue but the sugar / carbohydrates / junk food is killing me.”
  • “I had an awful day. I not even going to write down what I ate today because it is just so unbelievable.”
  • “All I can say is that 90% of my food today consisted of junk and ‘sliders’ that don’t help me to feel full…I really, really need some help getting past these cravings. If I could get past this there is no doubt that I will reach my goal.”

If you see a little of yourself in this message, you’re not alone. Many weight-loss surgery patients would describe themselves as food addicts – whether that addiction is to sugar, carbohydrates, or junk food in general, they believe if they could conquer that one thing, then they could reach their weight loss goals.

If you believe only one thing stands in your way of losing weight, consider this: What if that one thing (an addiction to sugar for instance) were gone? Do you really believe, “If I could get past this, there is no doubt that I will reach my goal,” or is it an easy excuse to stay stuck?

If I told you I could show you a way to stop craving sugar, carbohydrates or junk food, would you want me to show you how?

Think about that seriously for a moment. Close your eyes and really think it through. You’ve said if only you didn’t have that food craving, then you could lose weight, but is that really true for you?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Would you eat differently, and if so how?
  • Would you act differently, and if so how?
  • What else would change, and what would stay the same?
  • What would you lose?
  • What would you gain?


Until you know what you want, know you can achieve it, and know what else will change (i.e. how your life may be different), you can’t discover (or conquer) any obstacles that are in your way. For instance, you may want to stop eating after 7 PM yet your husband doesn’t come home from work until 8 and he wants you to join him for dinner. That’s an obstacle.

If you’ve got a habit of watching your favorite TV show with a bowl of ice cream, then breaking that habit  – and the association of ice cream with your favorite show – is another obstacle.

If you don’t find and implement ways to overcome your obstacles  – in the case of late dinners, perhaps through discussion and compromise with your husband, or using habit breaking exercises for your ice cream habit, there’s bound to be a problem. Just saying you’re not going to do something any more rarely works. Instead, take time to determine what might stand in the way of achieving your goals, find a way around the obstacles, and you’re much more likely to actually achieve those goals once and for all.

The statement, “If this one thing (your food craving, the schedule conflict, the favorite snack) were handled, then everything else would fall into place” is an “If Then” statement and gets people into trouble. They want a fairy godmother to make it all better. A strong belief that one single thing such as, “eating junk food is my problem,” sets you up to fail, especially if you really like eating junk foods.

Getting a handle on your cravings is not an all-or-nothing proposition. You must leave room for occasional deviations. It’s not the occasional side trip that causes weight trouble, it’s staying ON the road to our cravings that we usually travel which gets us into trouble.

In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) a good starting point is the exercise called Establishing a Well Formed Outcome. “Well formed” means it meets all criteria of a well thought-out end result.

Here are the steps to creating a well formed outcome:

1) State what you want (not what you do not want). “I want to weigh 135 pounds.”

2) Determine whether you can achieve it (do you believe it is possible?).

3) What resources do you have and what do you need (time, money, gear, clothes, equipment, coaching, whatever).

4) Check whether anyone else is involved and any potential obstacles that may come up regarding others. Think of everyone involved in your day-to-day life – family members, co workers, etc.

5) Picture yourself “as if” you’ve obtained what you say you want and see if that picture fits. Do you like what you see?

6) Create a plan of action for the achievement of your outcome.

While this may seem like a lot of effort simply to decide what you really want, going through these steps at the beginning of your journey (and renewing through throughout your journey) helps you find potential obstacles which previously stopped you from moving forward.

For example, if you decide you want to join a gym and starts exercising every day but you’ve forgotten that you don’t currently own a car and that you just lost your job, that exercise plan might not work out right now. If you did join a gym, you’d end up not going and then you’d think you’d failed, yet it was the plan that failed, not you. You didn’t think it all the way through, and you didn’t realize the obstacles you would encounter.

A better plan would be doing exercises at home – either via a written plan or using a DVD or video, or using a facility that is within walking distance (or simply walking for exercise). Later, when you do have transportation and steady employment, you can rethink the plan and perhaps join a gym then. There are always options.

It’s better to look at what you want from every known angle, then put together a plan you know can and will work – ensuring your success by planning ahead. Then when you know what you want, you’ll also know you can make it happen and you’ll begin by taking that first step toward making it a reality.