Are Your Eating Habits Bi-Polar?

If I asked you to describe a typical day of eating for you would it look very different depending upon whether or not you were "on track" or "off track"?

What does your shopping cart look like each week?

Do you have go-to foods and recipes that you ONLY buy and eat when you're "dieting" versus foods you ONLY eat when you're in 'free-for-all-I-don't-care-I'll-start-again-when-I'm-really-ready' mode?

If this sounds familiar, you are NOT alone and it's this very pattern of bi-polar eating that may keep you stuck battling your weight for years. Diets don't work. They just don't. We KNOW this. And while I've always known it, I gave clients meal plans for a long time. I called them "meal plans" instead of "diets" and told clients it WASN'T a diet, it was a lifestyle... their NEW lifestyle and told them over and over again that's how they needed to think about it.

I did this for a few reasons:

  • That's what people want. Really. We want to be told what to eat and when so we feel like we have an easy answer to our weight problem without too much thinking

  • I saw first hand the mind blowing results that were achievable by eating the right things in the right amounts so of COURSE I wanted all my clients to have the most incredible results they possibly could in the shortest time possible

  • My training style was inspired by what I learned from the trainers I had early on. I was told if it's not on your plan, it doesn't go in your mouth ...and if I slipped and did eat "off plan" I just must not want it bad enough. I had to work harder and want it more. And I believed them... to a certain degree I still believe that.

  • Giving meal plans is what everyone else does and it's what people expect so... it's just what you do as a trainer. Right? I guess maybe for some ...but not me, at least not anymore. I want no part of contributing to this cycle in anyone else ever again so I will never ever tell you what to eat.

I've learned SO much since I started this 11 years ago--personally through my own experience battling demons with food, weight and body image the first few years but also professionally through every other woman I've worked with over the years. It's caused me to do a complete 180 on my entire philosophy.

I've learned that "meal plans" or "suggested nutrition" are just really diets with a superiority complex.

Calling it a meal plan or a "lifestyle change" doesn't make anyone treat it or think of it any differently than they do just another diet. Even if it doesn't have a fancy fad diet name, people still treat meal plans as just another diet they hope they won't fail on... and thus, their failure rate really is just as high. The odds are about a million to one that the average person will be successful trying to follow anything when someone else tells them what they are or aren't allowed to eat for very long.

Even worse than failing us "diets" and "meal plans" alike not only don't work but are screwing up our relationship with food and ourselves on a massive scale by creating this notion of "good foods" and "bad foods" or being "on" and "off" track.

We live years and years of our life eating a lot of the same things in a certain way for MANY different reasons. We gain weight because we're consuming more calories than we realize.

We start a diet (or meal plan) to lose the weight that's a HUGE leap from everything we've ever eaten or done.

We're told what foods we can and can't have... most of our favorites all being on the "off limits" and "bad" list that's ridiculously long... aaand we "slip" or "fall off track" after a short time because it's so restrictive AND we're HUMAN.

We blame ourselves for being bad and eating something "bad".

We think "oh well, I messed up today because I had something bad" and decide to start again the next day.

The rest of the day becomes a train wreck of eating allllll the things we "can't" have when we start again the next day because we know we "can't" have it again for a long time.

We wake up feeling like complete garbage the next day. The next day tends to follow the day prior because we already feel gross and there's left over pizza or whatever from the day prior... it turns into another train wreck of eating allll the crap we can't have when we "start fresh" and the cycle continues. Before we know it, we may have even gained weight.

When we finally do "start fresh" we go super strict again, eliminating everything "bad" trying to white knuckle our way through one day at a time with obsessive thoughts about what we can't have if we're being "good".

It's SOOO destructive.

What if I told you it was possible to learn to choose (and even enjoy) salad all the time, not just when you're "dieting"? And that you can eat anything you want and still lose weight. You can even eat a salad and a couple cookies or glass of wine in the same day... and not be "BAD". You can even do all that just about as fast as any other "miracle, super fast weight loss" diet if your deficit is big enough each day.

It's waaaay past time for a COMPLETE revolution of diets, meal plans, the weight loss world and this "good" and "bad" foods mindset. It's 2018. We're smarter and better than this.

Let's start with you.


Start now by just eating whatever you want. Lose the labels. Lose the guilt. Just eat what you want. Start paying attention to how you FEEL after everything you eat and why you're choosing the things you're choosing. Use that information to help you make future decisions about what you want to eat.

Do you want to feel good? What foods make you feel good? Eat more of those. In a crappy mood and don't care? Fair enough, eat the cake for breakfast. BUT take some time to reflect on where that mood is coming from and WHY you don't care. It's important to be gentle and loving with yourself when you do because if you're choosing cake for breakfast, you're probably already feeling badly enough.

Consider, are there ways I can avoid reacting in this way next time? Do I enjoy the way I feel after having cake for breakfast and want to repeat that?

Odds are a resounding no to that one but as long as you spend your life focused on fighting with thoughts of not being ALLOWED to eat the cake if you want to be skinny and beating on yourself for failing by eating it, you never stop long enough to realize that it actually makes your body feel terrible and maybe you don't even really want it.

Take away the emotion, guilt and shame over eating things that you think are making you fat so you can get out of your head long enough to start becoming more present in your body. Pay attention to how things make you FEEL immediately after you eat them. If you do this, a strange thing begins to happen after awhile--you slowly begin to WANT to choose foods that make you FEEL good.

Before you know it, you're off the "good" and "bad" roller coaster and you're eating in a much more balanced and peaceful way for not only your body but your mind.

For weight management, start to learn how many are going in everyday by using a food tracker like My Fitness Pal or the one on your Fitbit (or whatever).

When you start feeling really confident about how this is going for you, start focusing more on where your choices are coming from. Are you getting enough protein? What easy ways can you add more into your day? What about veggies? What easy ways can you sneak more veggies into your day? What about healthy fats? And how much of your carbs are coming from simple vs complex carbs? What easy adjustments can you make to these?

Do it all slowly. Make these changes in small, really easily attainable steps over the course of weeks/months/even years if takes that long for you. That doesn't mean weight loss will take that long, if you're in a large enough deficit you can lose weight in this manner just as quickly as anyone else who's suffering like hell on a low carb or otherwise crazy restricted diet... but changing your likes/dislikes/habits can take a long time so be patient with yourself.

I PROMISE it will change your life.

It's better than the alternative of being like everyone else and battling a new diet with arbitrary rules (based on cherry picked or junk science) every few months for years isn't it?

Lastly, don't forget to move more because your body NEEDS movement and it will make you feel stronger, happier, more confident and less tired and achy all the time.

You can do it alone, but I did it that way and it's REALLY hard! YOU don't have to -- I want to give you the help I never had.

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About The Author

Roni Davis
Cognitive Eating Founder

Writer, Producer, Host - It's All In Your Head Podcast

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Roni Davis spent over two decades struggling with weight, food (mindless, emotional and binge eating), an eating disorder, depression, panic attacks, and an anxiety disorder. She's also been a nationally qualified champion figure athlete, written for bodybuilding websites, was featured in a national fitness magazine, by and spent almost a decade helping people transform their bodies as an award-winning personal trainer and nutrition and wellness coach.


After over two decades of her own personal weight & food struggles and almost a decade in the weight loss/fitness industry, Roni left the fitness industry and bundled everything she learned from her own recovery, from her time as a trainer & nutrition & wellness coach with everything she learned in her mindfulness-based cognitive behavior coach training, to create Cognitive Eating.  This allows her to guide and support people to live healthier lives through behavior and habit modification at the brain level, where it counts and will actually stick.

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NOTE: While counselors or therapists often use CBT to deal with mental illness or a patient’s mental/emotional conditions and/or processing trauma, MBCT & cognitive eating does not. My roll as a coach, in its most simple form, is to encourage, coach and/or act as a facilitator of a client’s self-reflection, decision making, planning for the future, and creating life changes. As an MBCT & cognitive eating coach, I am obligated to refer clients in need of mental or physical health therapy to an appropriate licensed professional.  

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