Why do I always eat foods that I know I should not eat?

Why do I always eat foods I know I shouldn't eat
Ilona Madden - RightFood4U - Nutrition Programmes - Bray Wicklow Dublin

Written by Ilona Madden

May 29, 2021

updated 4 Dec 2023

There are two words in this sentence that I’d like to ask you to take out of your vocabulary if you want to create lasting (new) healthy eating habits.

In fact, there are 3 words I’d like you to challenge every time you hear yourself using them.

Do any of those sentences sounds familiar:

“I always have to have something sweet after dinner”

“I always had a sweet tooth”

“I always go back to old habits once I finish a diet”


“I can never stick to a healthy eating plan for more than 2 weeks”

“I could never give up eating bread!”

“I never go to bed before midnight”

Be honest with yourself, are these sentences REALLY true?

Was there ever a day in your life when you didn’t have something sweet after dinner? Even if it was just a few times? Did you really never stick to a healthy eating plan for more than 2 weeks? If I gave you €100 not to eat bread for 2 days, I am sure you could do it.

Maybe you are now saying “Maybe there was once, when…” ? This proves that it’s not been “always” or “never”.

Also, just because you have “always” or done “never” does not mean it has to stay that way in the future.

Our bodies change constantly. With “constantly”, I mean literally, “constantly”, literally every few seconds the cells in our bodies change. The cells that are lining our stomach and our digestive tracts are renewing every 2-9 days (depending on which study you read), some of our blood cells can renew daily, our skin cells are constantly shedding and renewing. Some studies say that the cells in our body that are changing will change completely over 7 years.

Of course, overall ageing is the most obvious sign that we are constantly changing. But as humans, we also change the way we think and feel all the time.

However, when it comes to things that we feel uncomfortable about changing, we believe that this is just that way it has ALWAYS or NEVER been.

If the last year during the Pandemic has taught us something, it is, that we are much more resilient to adapt to change than we think we are.

Had you told people in Christmas 2019 that there will be laws in place that will tell you: you won’t be able to travel, hug family and meet up with friends when they want to, everybody would have said “I will never accept that”! And we did because there was a good reason to do so. If you suddenly find yourself allergic to certain foods or some food makes you feel really unwell, you will give up that food. So to say, “you could never” and “you have always” is just a resistance to change.

However, if you want to make changes in your life, such as losing weight, eating a healthier diet, getting rid of sugar cravings, becoming fitter and stronger, being able to move easier – or whatever it is you would like to achieve – I’d like to ask you to challenge your “always’s” and “nevers”.

Understand that change is constantly happening in our lives and in our world. Believe, trust and embrace that you too can change. 

It’s not always easy, but wanting to achieve your goal needs to be more important to you than your fear of change or the unknown.

As long as your goal is very vague and something like a  “I should be losing weight” type of a goal, the chocolate cake will always sound more attractive.

In my coaching sessions, I help my clients get really clear on their goals and their vision for their own health, away from what they think they “should” be doing.

Client story:

I am currently working with a client who has for years tried to follow a healthy eating plan to lose weight, only to give up again as soon as life became a bit stressful. When we started to dig deep, we realised that her weight was actually not really bothering her that much. However, when we looked at what health really means to her, we noticed that she has been struggling with joint pain a lot and wasn’t able to play with her young son as much as she’d like to.

By making “Reduction of joint pain” her goal and focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet plan (rather than a weight loss plan) – even though there were a lot of similarities – not only did her joint pain reduce drastically, she also managed to stick to the plan and lose weight in the process.

The brings me to the 3rd word that I’d like my clients to be mindful of: “SHOULD”

I am asking my clients to change every “should” into a “could”. When they say to me “I know, I should have eaten more fish last week”, I ask them to say “I know, I could have eaten more fish last week”.

The word “should” has a lot of guilt and blame attached to it every time we use it, whether we say it out loud or just to ourselves. Whereas, the word “could” gives you an opportunity or a challenge and it can quickly turn it into something much more positive. Try it.

What sounds more positive?

“I shouldn’t be eating the chocolates”  OR “I could have chosen not to eat the chocolates, but I did and I enjoyed them!”

“I should have done more exercise” OR “I could do a bit more walking next week!”

I’ve noticed in my coaching sessions that this little exercise can be a game-changer. The word “could” doesn’t just take the blame and guilt away and sounds more positive. It is also empowering, and it puts you back in the driving seat. Rather than just waiting for someone to tell you what to do, you now take ownership. You are much more likely to actually do the things you “could” do rather than the ones you “should”.

I would love to hear what you think of those small tips. I would love to know which sentences you’ve changed around to something more positive.

When you work with me – whether this is one to one or in groups – coaching and developing personal strategies for change, is a huge part of it. I know that it is not enough to simply provide you with nutrition advice, I know it is equally important to support you to embrace change. 

If you feel you simply don’t have sufficient time in your daily routine, why not take some time out in the beautiful Wicklow Mountains and kick-start your healthy habits there in a fun, relaxing and supportive environment. 

If you feel you need some coaching and nudging, accountability and support in order to follow a healthier nutrition plan, please book a complimentary Health & Energy Review session with me, and I can show you how you too can ditch your (sugar) cravings and feel Happy and Healthy!

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