Are Negative Food Associations Ruining Your Progress?

negative food associationsNegative Food Associations

The majority of fitness enthusiasts and dieters have been there. The point where your diet seems to being going perfectly according to plan and then BOOM it happens.  You have an unplanned cheat meal which leads to feelings of guilt and regret that completely take over. In an instant, all the positive nutritional habits implored beforehand are seemingly meaningless.

Afterwards, you try to get back on the right nutritional track, but that is easier said than done.  Typically, the feelings of guilt and remorse are so great the dieter gives up on their diet or takes a few day hiatus. The next thing you know one negative food association has completely thrown you off track diet wise and halted your progress.

Do not let a negative food association ruin your progress.  Learn to recognize your personal negative food associations and change your attitude towards food.

What is a Negative Food Association?

woman worried about weight gainA negative food association is when a person connects certain types of foods with negative outcomes or emotions. Thinking things such as if I have this ice cream, I will gain weight or get fat is type of thinking usually leads to feelings of guilt, regret, and remorse.  In extreme cases, it may lead to a person to binge or purge.

Too often, dieters fail to realize that one meal is not going to undue all of their hard dieting efforts.  Although high calorie foods such as cakes and pastries may not be the healthiest choice on the menu, their sole contribution to your diet alone will not lead to weight or fat gain.

However, eating high calorie foods on a daily basis can make you more prone to weight or fat gain simply because you increase the odds of eating more calories than you need.

The Truth

calories input and negative food associationsThe truth is the types of food you eat and your weight loss or weight gain is all relative to what you eat over the course of an entire day.

High calorie foods will only lead to an undesirable outcome if an individual consumes more food then they need for the entire day. Even then, one day in a caloric surplus will not undue a weeks worth of being in a caloric deficient.

Therefore, high calorie days will only cause unwanted weight gain when done consistently over time. One high calorie day will not negatively affect your physique just like one low calorie day will not make you lean or skinny.

It is rare to find someone who believes eating too much chicken and broccoli will make them fat, but the reality is if someone consumes more calories than they need, they will gain fat regardless of the food source.

In addition, consuming “bad” food does not negate the positive effects in terms of vitamins and minerals of the healthy food you have already consumed or going to consume that day.  Learn to let go of the guilt and remorseful feelings when you do eat something that is not the healthiest of choices.  Doing so will change your attitude towards food and reduce the stress it may be causing.

Your Attitude

chocolate cake setting you back?Your attitude and how you feel towards certain foods can work for you or work against you.  If you have the fear that some foods immediately cause a negative outcome, it is going to be hard to adhere to any sort of nutritional plan.  Even the dieters with the strongest will power whether it is for one meal, one day, or one week, will eventually stray off the straight and narrow nutrition path.

However, learning to recognize that these types of occurrences happen and your overall nutrition in the long term is what determines your progress will allow you change your views towards those “bad” foods.

I cannot stress enough that it is your overall nutrition and your overall caloric intake in relation to your individual metabolism that will determine whether or not you will gain fat or lose fat. Remember, one piece of cake will not make you fat just like one vegetable salad will not make you skinny.

What to Take Away

family enjoying meal togetherDo not get down on yourself for the occasional indulgence.  Our society is surrounded by food gatherings such as birthday days, work events, and family outings. With that in mind know that despite your best efforts, there will be days where your nutrition is NOT perfectly aligned with your nutritional plan.

However, the ability to realize and recognize that one indulgence will not ruin your physique will make dieting and life a hell of a lot easier.  Strive to think of your nutritional habits in a long term aspect. If you do well for twenty-seven days out of a thirty day month, overall you have taken way more steps forwards than backwards. Do not beat yourself up over the three days that were not perfect.

Ditch those negative food associations, change your attitude towards food, and start thinking about your nutrition from the bigger picture aspect.  It is what you do over the long term that really matters, not one single meal. Remember, what determines overall weight and fat gain or weight and fat loss is the total amount of calories an individual consumes relative to their own metabolism. So forget about that cake you ate at the dinner party last night and focus on your overall long term nutrition.

Author Profile: Julian Brown, BS, ACE-CPT, NASM-FNS      Julian is the co-owner of The Yard Fitness, an established fitness writer, a professional natural bodybuilder, a fitness & sport nutrition specialist, and a certified personal trainer. He began strength training at the young age of fourteen to improve his sports performance and hasn’t looked back since. Julian is a graduate of Grambling State University, ACE & NASM certified, and he has over a decade of personal experience in strength training.

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ask The Trainer.
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