Advertising
Advertising

How to Prevent Diet-Induced Mental Fog

How to Prevent Diet-Induced Mental Fog

We’ve all been there.

We decide to start eating healthy and it all goes well for a while. Then, one stressful day we realize that we have nothing to eat for dinner. We’re hungry, we’re tired, and we just can’t seem to think of anything healthy to eat. The fridge appears empty and it’s actually hard to remember why we wanted to eat healthy in the first place.

This is what I like to call diet-induced “mental fog“ or “brain fog.”

This is the feeling we get when we’re hungry, can’t think of anything healthy to eat, and can barely remember why we want to avoid unhealthy food.

When this happens, our chances of a full-blown junk food binge increase substantially.

It’s Not A Matter Of “If,” But “When”

This mental state will occur sooner rather than later. You scared? You should be!

But there is no need to panic because I have a few tips that can circumvent this sort of situation.

Advertising

This involves writing down solutions to your problems while you are clearheaded and having them on hand when your brain suddenly decides to turn into an organic vegetable.

There are five different lists that can help here.

Planning Meals Ahead Of Time

Planning your meals ahead of time can work wonders. You will never have to worry about what you’ll have for breakfast, lunch, or dinner because you’ve already planned it.

You can do this once per week, once every two weeks, or perhaps just a few days in advance.

This way, you will know what you need to buy at the supermarket and you won’t find yourself standing ravenously hungry in front of an empty fridge (or a colorful and tempting vending machine).

Write Down What You Lose By Avoiding Bad Food

I recommend writing a list of the sacrifices you make by avoiding unhealthy foods.

This can include things like, “can’t eat cakes at birthday parties,” “can’t eat my way out of feeling blue,” or “will have to cut back on my favorite food, pizza.”

Advertising

Write Down What You Gain By Choosing Healthy Foods

This list should include all the benefits you believe you will gain by eating healthy foods to boost your metabolism.

This list might include things like, “I’ll look good in clothes,” “I’ll look good naked,” “I’ll feel comfortable in my own skin,” “I won’t feel like people are judging me,” and “I will live a longer, healthier life.”

Compare These Two Lists And Make An Informed Decision

These two lists are the facts. You wrote them when you were fully conscious and clearheaded. Now look at both lists and compare them.

Which is more important to you? The things you lose by avoiding junk foods or the things you gain by eating healthy foods?

Make a logical decision. Most likely you will think that the benefits of eating healthy far outweigh the negatives. Write it down on your list.

It could say something like: “I have made a logical decision that the benefits of eating a healthy diet far outweigh the negatives.”

Say it out loud and repeat it a few times!

Advertising

A List Of Healthy Fast Food Places

There are actually many “fast food” places out there that do serve healthy food.

One place that I like to go to serves foods that are mostly unprocessed, organic, and made with ingredients that are natural.

Many places that generally serve unhealthy food do have healthier options. Many burger joints may also serve a steak with a baked potato. Some places have bacon and eggs or a chicken salad.

Look around, call, ask your friends, look on the internet. You will find these places if you look.

Write them down. Have a list of 5-10 “fast-food” places that you can eat at that are reasonable alternatives to a healthy, home-cooked meal.

A List Of “Dirty” Meals

Sometimes, we get these cravings for something energy dense and “dirty” like a hamburger or a pizza.

When this happens, we might even feel disgusted by the thought of eating healthy stuff like fish or vegetables.

Advertising

During these moments, having a list of “dirty” but still relatively healthy meals can help.

My go-to dirty meals are:

  • 5-6 eggs, fried in butter, mixed with fatty cheese and garlic. Fry until cheese gets a grilled texture.
  • Ground beef, fried in butter with fatty cheese, salt, pepper and some garlic. Fry until cheese gets a grilled texture.

These meals taste somewhat like they might be related to junk foods, but they are actually much better choices than actual junk food.

Your Emergency Manual

I recommend you write these lists on your computer and print them out. Possibly print several copies.

Keep them with you where they might be needed — in your glove compartment, on your fridge (or hidden near it), in your desk at work.

Look at it like your emergency manual. This is your go-to manual for what to do to survive a junk food craving “emergency.”

When the mental fog sets in, having lists like these to remind yourself why you are eating healthy and what you can do to get a healthy meal can literally make or break your weight loss efforts.

Featured photo credit: istockphoto via media.istockphoto.com

More by this author

Jae Berman

Health Writer

Green Tea vs. Coffee, Which One Is Better For You? The Best Eating and Exercise Plan for You How to Live a Long, Healthy and Disease-Free Life Glycemic Load, Glycemic Index, and Insulin Index Explained How to Prevent Diet-Induced Mental Fog

Trending in Food and Drink

1 17 Weight Loss Recipes That Are Incredibly Nutritious and Super Delicious 2 8 Best Teas for Weight Loss and Fat Burning 3 10 Brain Vitamins for Enhanced Brain Power 4 25 Quick and Healthy Breakfast Ideas to Energize Your Day 5 15 Healthy Recipes for Dinner (For Fast Weight Loss)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 9, 2020

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

2. No Motivation

Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

Advertising

This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

Advertising

You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

5. Upward Comparisons

Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

6. No Alternative

This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

Advertising

7. Stress

As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

8. Sense of Failure

People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

9. The Need to Be All-New

People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

Advertising

These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

10. Force of Habit

Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

Final Thoughts

These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

More on Breaking Bad Habits

Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
[2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
[3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

Read Next