How Obsessing About Food Can Cause You To Gain Weight

What you focus your attention on grows. If you’re obsessing about food and your weight, chances are your waistline will grow, too.

This is because you are actually focusing your energy on the problem instead of the solution. Similar to the law of attraction, we are what we think. If your mind is constantly overrun with nutrition stats, food fantasies, and numbers on a scale, there’s a good chance that your whole life will begin to revolve around the f word.

Needless to say, hyper-focus on your diet is not a long-term strategy for success. You’ll burn out due to the intense focus that takes up your mental and emotional energy. Ironically, it doesn’t get you where you want to go.  It can be helpful to know hormone balancing superfoods, it can be helpful to know how to treat hormonal imbalance, and here are some more tools for understanding how to approach food in a healthy manner.

Raising Cortisol

When you’re obsessing about food, you are actually unintentionally exacerbating the issue by raising your cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that plays an active part in weight gain by putting the body into a fight-or-flight state. Prolonged stress causes increased levels of cortisol to raise insulin levels to the point of a massive blood sugar drop, leading to major cravings for anything sweet and fatty (ie., anything you probably shouldn’t indulge too heavily in). An influx of cortisol can also temporarily spike your energy, which can further intensify your appetite. This double-whammy may spell disaster for those who are stressing about their diet.

The next time you’re feeling frazzled about your eating habits, simply take a breath. Worrying or guilt-tripping solves nothing! Resolving to be more mindful and make healthier choices, accepting your slip-ups, and moving on will take you much farther than fretting over that bagel you had on your way to work.

Food Deprivation

Most people are under the assumption that “diet” equals “can’t have.” They stow away the cookie jars, stash snacks in hard-to-reach places, and will even go as far as installing a lock on the fridge. However, heavy food restrictions that induce feelings of restriction or deprivation can actually cause subsequent binges.

Studies have shown that dieters who strictly limit their food intake tend to reach heavier weights than those who are unrestrained. This is due to the simple fact that we all want what we can’t have. If you tell yourself “Don’t think about donuts,” dollars to donuts you’ll be thinking about donuts all day. When you put food on a pedestal, you give it more power over you. Imagine letting a french fry or a slice of cake control your life! Many of us do without realizing it. Once you find yourself avoiding social functions for fear of what they’ll serve, obsessively checking to make sure you have no junk food in the house, and even dreaming about forbidden foods, it’s time to ease up a bit.

It’s all too easy to start obsessing about food and make a list of everything we can’t have in order to set a firm resolve. How about focusing on the allowances instead? Instead of considering “cutting” certain foods out of your life, try shifting into a mindset of gently letting go and making room for something better. The tighter we hold on, sometimes, the harder it is to release!

Diet Fads

Diet fads come and go. None of us are immune to them. Between the cultural acceptance, the convenience, and the peer pressure, we’re all bound to fall into a fad now and again. While there’s nothing wrong with trying out the newest shiny program or proclaimed “miracle” superfood, falling into a diet trap can have the opposite of its intended effect.

Losing weight mindfully involves dedication, a lifestyle change, an attitude makeover, and many other hard-earned shifts. Unfortunately, the flavor-of-the-week diet pill or supplement doesn’t have that kind of lasting power. A trendy diet may make you feel cool, but you won’t find much substance there. Without a solid foundation, you may find yourself floating in the wake left behind the current fad; five pounds heavier, and probably a little lighter in the wallet. A lasting, healthy diet is built on longevity and willpower. That kind of diet is sure to deliver more permanent results.

Perfectionist Mentality

Let’s face it – when perfection is the goal, it’s hard to get started. Whether this is due to a fear or failure or good old-fashioned procrastination, when we strive for perfection we often fall short of our own expectations. Picture a day devoted solely to monitoring your food intake: tracking calories and mapping out everything that you eat in great detail; counting crackers and celery sticks; mentally adding up the nutrition content of everything you eat as you eat it, and purging your home of any foods that don’t live up to your picture-perfect picture of health. Quite often, we focus on the little details in life when we’re trying to avoid the bigger ones. We ponder how many carbs we had for lunch in an effort to avoid dwelling on the deep-rooted reasons behind our weight issues.

It’s great to be diligent about what we set our minds to, and some of us are natural organizers and planners. Remember, what we focus on grows. Our perfectionist tendencies can reach depths that we’ve never even dreamed of, and leave us pining for a life with more levity and wiggle room. Without some room to grow, you may very well grow in ways that you’re not too keen to. Moderation is the key to releasing unrealistic expectations and self-destructive habits.

If you find yourself obsessing about food and counting calories rather than sheep at the end of the day, it’s a good sign that some balance is needed. Rather than sabotaging your well-meaning efforts to lose weight by making food your focus, ease up and relax around the notion of healthy eating. Add a dollop of love, laughter, and gentle mindfulness to your eating practices, too!


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