It’s Time to Disconnect

18 May

One of the hardest things that I have had to overcome during my lifestyle overhaul (and especially during Project Tighten Up) was to stop eating food for pleasure.  I loved food (I still do, but not as intensely) and whilst I didn’t eat extremely unhealthily, I still made taste the main focus of my meals.  A lot of people would think, “Duh, taste is what it is all about!” but when you embark on a mission to TOTALLY reshape your body, taste can no longer be the primary or only focus.

When we eat something yummy it sends little signals to the pleasure centres in our brain that says, “Om nom nom, this is GOOD” and we want more.  So we eat more.  And the whole time there is a little party going off in our mouths and our heads and it’s a glorious time.  Ever been to a party and there’s some amazing soft cheese there?  How hard is it to stop at one piece?  Bloody hard, if you’re a cheese-a-holic like me.  That’s because food is almost like a drug – you become addicted to the pleasure it provides.  Hence, fat happens.

So, how do we disconnect these crazy little signals?  It all comes down retraining the way you think about food.  At the moment, I think of food as fuel.  I figure out what I will need throughout the day to fuel my workouts and I plan my menu around that.  I know I will need low GI carbohydrates to give me slow release energy, lean protein to help my muscles grow and aid recovery and healthy fats to keep me full.  I can make these things tasty and therefore give my pleasure centres a lil sumpin sumpin by adding garlic, herbs, lemon and chilli without increasing the calorie content.

People ask me if I get bored eating the same thing every day.  I honestly don’t because I’m now so focused on food being fuel that it doesn’t bother me.  I make my lunches for the week on a Sunday and I will happily eat the same breakfast, lunch and snacks every day resting assured in that fact that by doing so I will be moving closer to my goal of taking over the world of achieving ultimate health and fitness.  And a bangin body to boot.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t reward those pesky little pleasure centres every now and then because I certainly do and would probably die if I didn’t.  Okay, I probably won’t die but I would be a sad little bulge battler.  Once a week or so I’ll indulge and have a treat – that might mean a few pieces of chocolate or it may mean a delicious takeaway thai beef salad but I maintain the discipline not to go overboard and to keep it within a reasonable calorie limit.  Only on special occasions do I allow myself to indulge further and have something that I really want (like my favourite pub meal – steak, salad and chips) and maybe even a few glasses of wine.  But apart from these moments I stay strict on my food and alcohol intake because I don’t workout this hard to go and undo it by eating foods that offer me no nutritional value.  I’m going forwards people!  I do not want to stay at a stand-still or go backwards!

Think before you reach for that chocolate or that piece of pizza next time and ask yourself – why do I want to eat this?  Is it purely because it tastes good?  If so, you’re falling back into the old “food for pleasure” cycle.  Have something that offers better nutritional value instead and treat your body like the temple it deserves to be.

Do you think of food as fuel or are you stuck in the “food for pleasure” cycle?

37 Responses to “It’s Time to Disconnect”

  1. kellyleemccarren May 18, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

    Pleasure. 🙂 But I don’t think its a ‘cycle’ as such. I just don’t really think about food that much and eat what I feel like when I am hungry. For me, life is to short to eat things that I don’t like the taste of and deny myself the treats that I love!

    If I gained weight or anything I might think differently though 😦

    BTW You look AH-MAZ-ING in Cleo! Go girl 🙂 X

    • Amanda May 18, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

      Haha well you are one of the lucky ones that can afford to eat as you wish but for those of us with weight problems we have to be more careful! 😉

      Don’t get me wrong – everything I eat I love! But I love healthy food. 🙂

      Thank you!!

      • kellyleemccarren May 18, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

        I love reading your ideas for healthy meals to entice my junk-loving taste-buds 🙂

        Keep up the awesome work!


      • Amanda May 18, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

        Hehe thanks Kel! 🙂

  2. Inertia (Jes) May 19, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    You wrote an article just for me?! You’re a gem!
    But in all seriousness – I struggle a lot with controlling my food and what goes in my body. I eat for pleasure not fuel – and need to change the way I eat.

    • Amanda May 19, 2011 at 9:32 am #

      Once you do it’s quite easy! It just getting there that’s the hard part. 😉

  3. Tina May 19, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    A bit of both really 🙂 It used to be pleasure only – hello pasta for lunch and dinner, but now I fuel my body with the right things and eat for pleasure only sometimes. Completely agree with adding garlic, chilli etc. Awesome post!

    • Amanda May 19, 2011 at 9:33 am #

      Yep – if you’re watching your weight or wanting to change your shape treat foods can only happen occasionally!

  4. Teeny May 19, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Great article! I can sooooo relate. I used to only eat for pleasure. However, lately I feel like i have finally got a handle on it. Sometimes at the end of lunch, old me thinks ‘Wanna go get some chocolate for the afternoon?’ but then new me thinks “Na, I’m good. I don’t really want it’. It is amazing how easy it is to say no now that i have shifted my focus from pleasure to health. I don’t even feel like I am missing out now either! xo

    • Amanda May 19, 2011 at 9:35 am #

      Hahaha teeny old me used to be exactly the same – “want some bickies with that cup of tea?” “um Hells yes!” or “ice-cream after dinner old mate?” “you know it broski!”. So hard to break the habit but so worth it in more ways than one! 😉

  5. wikigirl May 19, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Thanks for this post. It was like a giant kick up the butt! I’ve just come back from a five week road trip around the states where we ate nothing but fast food- I felt horrendous. Unfortunately I could only locate apples in some parts of southern US. Despite this I actually lost weight. I’ve put this down to not snacking as much. This has been confirmed by the fact that I’ve put on almost a kilo in the week since I’ve been back. Although I eat really healthy foods- I eat way too much of it!

    This has helped me to really reassess what I’m eating and why. Sometimes I think I am addicted to food and really have disconnected a little to it. Thanks Nat 🙂

    • Amanda May 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

      I can imagine the food choices over there would be difficult! So you did well! Just need to watch your portion sizes now. 😉

      Oh, and my name is Amanda. 🙂

  6. Jing May 19, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    You are a great writer Amanda. I seriously need to start this fuel approach from TODAY and NOW. I will try to think about “whether this is good for my body or just tastes good” before I eat anything.

    • Amanda May 19, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

      Thanks Jing! Your body will thank you! 😀

  7. O May 19, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    I wish so much that I could retrain myself to think this way! It seems when I want something, I reason with myself until I find a reason why I should have it (I’m tired/stressed/hormonal/been good lately/deserve a reward/worked out hard today/lost weight this week, etc!)

    It’s terrible!

    • Amanda May 19, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

      It’s a viscous cycle… and I have definitely been there. It all comes down to organisation, will power, goal setting and routine. You’ll get there! 🙂

  8. Megan May 19, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    This is a great article and one I really needed today. I have managed to arm myself with all my lunches and breakfasts for work for the past 5 months and not snacking…. but at night I am starting to struggle. Post run I cook a good dinner then snack. I KNOW eating late at night is what is slowing my loss down… do you have any tips on late night snacking? xx

    • Amanda May 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

      I used to be a terrible night time snacker… the key is making sure you fuel yourself with enough filling food throughout the day to keep you full and your hand out of the cookie jar. But sometimes we’re not even HUNGRY but we still have the need to snack. BAN THESE ITEMS FROM YOUR HOUSE. That’s all that works. Stock up your fridge with fresh fruit so if you really need an after dinner fix you can have a handful of grapes or a mandarin. In winter I love heating up a little milk and stirring in honey and vanilla. It hits the spot. 🙂

  9. cheekybutnice May 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    Great advice Amanda, totally addicted to your posts!

    The new non smoking ad makes a good point, the more you exercise willpower in saying no, the stronger the willpower muscle becomes (or somethign to that affect), so now when I want a treat, I think I haven’t worked my ass off to let one bad choice cancel out the exercise etc I’ve done. The more I learn to say NO and make the healthier choices, the easier it becomes.

    • Amanda May 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

      Yes I have seen that ad too and thought that it definitely relates to weight loss too! 🙂

  10. Jane May 20, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    It sounds like you have a perfect balance between fuel/pleasure going on! Like you, I try to stick to structured, sensible meals and throw in a few occasional rewards like a fortnightly dinner out with friends or a chocolatey treat every few days. It’s tricky to get to the point of realising that food isn’t totally about pleasure. It’s just about breaking bad habits – that’s the hard part.

    On a side note, I’ve been reading your blog for aaaages and absolutely adore it – I love reading anything to do with health, food and fitness. I don’t think I’ve ever commented on here, but I read your article in Cleo the other day and it took me so long to put two and two together and realise it was YOU! Loved the article, love your beautiful blog and I think you are smokin’ hot!


    • Amanda May 20, 2011 at 9:27 am #

      Thanks Jane! That’s so sweet of you! 🙂 and you’re right – finding balance is the tricky part but it can be done if you change your mindset!!

  11. Bec May 20, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    ive already taken over the world….so you can forget that 🙂

    • Amanda May 20, 2011 at 9:27 am #

      You have? Frick. What am I going to do now???

  12. Kate May 22, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    Hi Amanda,

    GREAT post! I find that food is my biggest battle when it comes to weight loss. I’ll be thinking of your wise words next time I open the fridge / pantry.

    P.S. The Cleo article is great. You look AWESOME! 🙂

  13. Aster May 23, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    Good post Amanda! There’s that saying do you live to eat or eat to live that compliments your post very nicely! During the week I’m definitely in the mindset that food is fuel especially as due to low spare time it’s very functional, on the weekend, it becomes more pleasure, finding nice recipes and not forgetting my cheat day 😉

    • Amanda May 23, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

      So true about that saying! And I find I am the same – during the week food is fuel then on the weekend I will have my treat meal. 🙂

  14. Cooper May 26, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    I’ve been going through this so much lately – this “it’s time to disconnect” with food and see it as fuel and I honestly am having a hard time but getting there slowly. It’s such a strange thing hearing you say it all because it’s as if you’ve gone ahead and battled my demons with words and made me all too aware of what i need to focus on.
    If i focused less on food i’d have more time and energy to focus on what i really want which is working out and getting a banging body. You’re amazing miss! I can’t believe this post slipped by me till now! 🙂

  15. Jen June 2, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

    This is a great post and certainly rings true for me, and I’m sure for many others.
    I am definitely trying to work toward thinking of food in ‘fuel’ terms, but it is hard to remove that emotional link to food. Whether it tastes good or makes you feel good, the cycle of feeling bad for over indulging isn’t worth the initial satisfaction.

  16. SkekTek June 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    fantastic post. I am a pleasure eater hahaha. I love tasty food and have trouble with portions as I’m used to eating what I want and staying skinny. Problem is, over the last almost 10 years it’s been slowly catching up with me! I have taught myself to love veggies and I think I’m slowly retraining myself. It’s bloody hard though, you’ve basically got to override several thousands of years of evolution telling you to cram fat in your mouth!

  17. Kitty August 1, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    This is a big johnny come lately, but I think this is a great post. It’s spot on. Once you learn that food is fuel, maintaining or losing weight is pretty straight forward. Other great advice I’ve heard is Shannon off the biggest loser: ‘eat boring food’ and sarah wilson’s advice: ‘cram yourself full of vegetables’.

    Great blog Amanda and having a look at the recent entries you look amazing. you should be very proud.

    one question: how do you go toe-ing the line between health and obsession? I have a tendency to become obsessive about health/fitness, etc. Do you?


    • Amanda August 3, 2011 at 11:48 am #

      Thanks Kitty!

      Hmm I think it’s a lifestyle for me now. I don’t believe I’m obsessive as I still maintain balance in my life. Health and fitness is a large part of my life but it’s not the definition of my life. I still allow myself treats when I want them and I have rest days when I need them. I no longer feel overwhelming guilt about these things which I think indicates that I have achieved balance. Hope this helps! 😀

  18. Megan February 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Hi Amanda, your blog is so great! I love this post and have been referring back to it often. All the best with your training 🙂

    • Amanda February 13, 2012 at 10:00 am #

      Thanks Megan! 😀

  19. Stéphanie May 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    Hmm. I understand the important part of thinking of food as fuel, but I think it’s kinda sad.
    I’m French and well… food is probably the most important part of life here. Food has always been a pleasure and frankly I’d like to keep it that way. You eat 3 times a day, that is an awful lot, so better enjoy it. But I believe enjoying your food doesn’t mean you have to eat cakes and fat stuff. Fruits are very enjoyable, as is a salad or chicken.

    Besides, I have noticed that if I just eat for the sake of eating but the taste isn’t there (I lived at my BF’s parents house for about 1 year and didn’t like their way of cooking, it was just boring), I tend to need more sugar, just to compensate my lack of joy.

    But hey, the important thing, it’s working for you 🙂
    And you did an amazing job on your body shape!


  1. Your Questions Answered, Part 1 « Me Vs. The Bulge – A Weight Loss Blog! - January 15, 2012

    […] time ago I wrote a blog post on this called It’s Time to Disconnect.  I just read it then and I still feel the same way.  Actually, I feel even MORE comfortable with […]

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