Nutritional relapse

Suffering a junk food relapse can be one of the most demoralising things to happen when you are in the middle of training. I’m sure we’ve all had one at some point. You spend months meticulously planning what food you buy, how you prepare it and when you eat it, only to feel as if all that work has been undone by sitting on the sofa and working your way through as much chocolate, crisps and whatever else you can find. 

The idea that this blog tries to promote is that living a healthy lifestyle is all about identifying the habits that are not contributing positively and trying to replace them with ones that are. So you might find yourself having a couple of beers or a few glasses of wine every night when you get in from work, which we all know isn’t the best idea if you are doing it everyday. The idea is that you try to cut down, not by stopping altogether, but by replacing it with a more positive habit.

This can be a whole different story in practice. Trying to cut out a genuine habit can be one of the hardest things you ever have to do. It can be something as detrimental to your health as smoking, or just something that you have decided it is time to stop, like biting your nails for example. The point is that any habit is hard to break.

So what do we do if we do relapse and find ourselves deep within the fridge in the early hours of the morning. Clearly the best solution is to try and avoid that happening in the first place and there are number of things we can do to make that happen. So for example, you can allow yourself fairly regular cheat meals that make you feel as though you are getting away with being a little bit naughty, avoiding the need for you to go crazy.

The truth is that most people, when they give up any habit, almost always fall back into it at some point. Look at the most extreme cases, it’s rare to find an alcoholic, a drug addict or a smoker who has kicked the habit and never gone back after the first attempt. Clearly that is a slightly different situation but the underlying premise remains. So the point is you don’t have to beat yourself up about it if you do have a meal that doesn’t quite fit in with your planned nutrition for that day!

This all ties in with the mindset that you are trying to develop. One of the main reasons why people relapse into poor nutrition is because they let their negative feelings get the better of them and they start to tell themselves that they can’t do it and that they are wasting their time. That sort of ‘what’s the point!?’ mentality is fairly common and ends up with a binge.

In some ways, a poor nutritional relapse that takes the form of a one night binge can be better than the odd bad decision. If you go crazy one night the chances are that you will wake up the next day riddled with guilt and feeling terrible for jeopardising all the good work that you have been doing. But if over time you are just slowly regressing back to your old ways, you are subliminally installing the bad habits that you worked so hard to get rid of. So don’t think, “oh, it’s just one chocolate bar a night” because eventually it always becomes so much more.

It’s only natural that you will want to have a night eating foods that you know are doing absolutely nothing to contribute towards your success. The important thing to remember is not to beat yourself up about it, but use the guilt that you feel after a relapse to encourage you not to make the same mistakes again in the future.

Ollie Lawrence
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