The Habit of Self-Sabotage and Rethinking Everything


Manage episode 242582804 series 1141871
By Betsy Thurston MPH RD, Integrative Health Coach, and Registered Dietitian. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Have you ever built up good eating habits, only to return to old ones later on? It hurts when it happens. You might feel disappointment, frustration, sadness, guilt — but it’s okay to feel these things. They’re all normal emotions to have. It’s also normal to falter occasionally.

In this episode, I discuss why we often self-sabotage when changing our eating habits. No, it doesn’t speak about your worth or ability. You may be looking in the wrong place entirely. Changing habits is a long journey made of small steps, and it’s going to have obstacles and challenges along the way. It’s more important to remember that you can choose how to act and react. Take these challenges as gifts and opportunities.

Before I recap the show notes I want to alert listeners that I started a class last March 9, 2021 and you can still sign up to catch up with our lessons.

Yes, my CLASS started last March 9 and you can still enroll!

This transformative class includes a lot of weekly content, as well as Zoom sessions from 7:30 to 9 pm Eastern time. The next zoom session is Tuesday March 22. The class includes pre-recorded videos, audio recordings, handouts, and membership in a small Facebook community. It is packed with content and comes with a money-back guarantee! You can't take this class and not begin to understand the roots of your eating habits that you might be frustrated with. From this understanding will come change.

To sign up for the class or to get private help, visit my website. You can also send me an email at

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:
  1. Learn how you can change troublesome eating habits.
  2. Learn how you can you make the change as a process of small incremental steps.
  3. Learn more about the understanding that life happens to us, by us, for us, and through us.
Episode Highlights Focus on What Matters

Many of my clients come to me and say they have a habit of not following through with their resolutions. Of course, this is frustrating, and many feel guilty and lose trust in their ability to change.

Here’s a little secret: what works is a small, gradual change. You cannot change everything overnight.

We all have habits that stem deeply from childhood or past experiences. These habits can affect our thinking, our emotional state, and our eating patterns. When we want to change our habits, we need to focus on what lies within us.

How Can We Change Our Behavior?

There are two main things to consider when changing behavior: deep reflection and specific habits.

Specific habits should focus on making things happen the way you want them to happen. Examples of habits are food timing, food planning, and food quality, and shopping habits.

Remember, it takes time and patience to change behaviors. It is why we need to be honest with ourselves and reflect on what we can do one step at a time. Make one or two reasonable and achievable goals at a time and focus only on that.

Setting Goals and What That Looks Like

One way to start changing your eating habits is intuitive eating. It is the practice of noticing when you’re hungry or full. It’s about tuning into what your body might want and need.

What can specific goals look like? Here is a quick list for you to consider:

  • Focus on waiting until you know you’re hungry before a meal.
  • Focus on slowing down when eating and noticing when you feel satisfied. A goal might be to stop eating before you’re full.
  • Keep a food record to note hunger and fullness throughout the day.
  • Consider a specific amount of fruits, vegetables, or other foods per day. Don’t be rigid.
  • Try boundaries and limits on food portions before you start eating. For example, think about the perfect portion size that would feel right in your body before you plate your food or choose the snack size. Once you are eating and your dopamine takes over you might end up in a food trance.

Remember, your goals need to suit you. It’s going to be different for everybody. Small incremental changes over a long period will be more sustainable.

You Need to Trust the Process

The first day we resolve to change, we usually feel confident and determined. However, as time passes, it gets more difficult to stay enthusiastic. Eventually we stop caring and self-sabotage.

When we change habits and incorporate new ones, it is a long process. We’re continuously building skills. It won’t be perfect all the time, and there will be days when we get overwhelmed with stress.

That’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up due to these small setbacks; get back up and trust in the process.

You’re not alone in this. Tune in to the full podcast episode to hear a similar story about one of my clients.

Life Happens To Us

Life happens to us; we can’t always choose the events that happen in our lives. Experiences can make us feel powerless, inadequate, scared, judged, and unattractive. These feelings can stay with us for a long time if we don’t know how to work through them.

Sometimes, we take on roles and behaviors to avoid painful feelings and experiences. Life happens by us as defense mechanisms against something else.

When we think life happens to me, we can become control freaks or feel helpless or victimized. We will keep putting attention on where we’re lacking and our problems.

The moment we start accepting that life happens through our perceptions and reactions to it, we take responsibility. We realize that we can respond differently. We don’t need to be in control all the time, and that’s okay.

Choose to See the Silver Lining

Life happens for us. Many people believe that things in life happen for a reason. I choose to believe that life’s obstacles can be lessons or realizations. Without these struggles we wouldn’t learn important lessons.

You are a gift to the world. You don’t have to look like other people. Just focus on what makes you ‘you.’

Remind yourself to live your life in the present moment.

Treating Yourself with Compassion

It’s normal to go through problems in life.

I have three children , and my middle child was a “nightmare” from a very early age. I read every parenting book I could find and hired experts to help me, yet he continued to present me with ongoing struggles. In his teens he fell into a life of extreme drug addiction which lasted 10 years. He was repeatedly sent to jail, was kicked out of drug program after drug program, and manipulated and lied—as addicts must do to survive. I had to exercise tough love. He had times of homelessness. Over the years, I tried everything to help, but it was a problem I could not fix. My grief and panic consumed me.

During this time, I stumbled upon the concept of ‘life happens for us.’ This concept changed my life. It gave me relief and acceptance and I was able to stop trying to be in control. I learned to just trust life.

Listen to the full episode for a full account of the struggles I had with my child and how it all turned out. (Even at the time I recorded this podcast I couldn’t have predicted the astonishing turns his life would continue to take. He is now part owner of two drug rehabilitation centers and is currently building an inpatient hospital for people who suffer from mental illness)

Take Small Steps

We all get stuck. Feelings of fear and inadequacy can convince us that there’s a magic answer out there, and we end up looking in the wrong direction.

Step back and ask yourself, what is it that I really want? Look at the big picture.

Every challenge is a gift and an opportunity for growth and change.

5 Powerful Quotes from this Episode

“Your mind has this habit of wanting to toe the line: a bite here, an excuse there, and we keep doing that over and over. And then, of course, we're frustrated, we're guilty, we're sad, and we don't trust our ability to stay on a diet or have success.”

“It's much better to just make one or two reasonable goals and to focus only on that, and to relax and be patient and accept that the process of behavior change takes time.”

“You just need to be clear on where you specifically get tripped up and where you specifically need improvement or would like improvement. It's very different for everybody.”

“A goal of learning how to honor the body and listen to the body is much more effective and helpful than a goal of weight loss.”

“Life happens to us, life happens by us, life happens for us, and life happens through us. . . These concepts are radically important to understand if we want to yank ourselves out of our recurrent patterns.”

Resources If you listened to the podcast and enjoyed it, please share and post a review!

Have any questions or want to schedule an appointment? You can email me at or visit my website.

To making peace with eating,


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