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I would steel myself and get ready for days. Preparing myself for the day I would stop eating the junk and start my diet. I had my food plan I would follow, I knew when I would weigh in. Everything was inline.

Or so I thought.

What I didn’t prepare for was what to do when the food went away.

I didn’t prepare for the rawness, the emptiness or the cravings. I didn’t make plans for the those days when I felt exhausted and wanted to just flop on the coach and order pizza. I didn’t make plans for the Friday evenings when I just needed to relax and celebrate with friends by heading to a restaurant.

My approach was to just muscle through and hang on to the plan with all my willpower. Which worked… initially….

But at some point, I would have one of those exhausted evenings and had no other way to manage it than giving in and ordering the pizza. Which I would then make mean that I couldn’t follow this diet plan and would give up for a few weeks.

Here’s what I now know that can save you a lot of work. The food was there for a reason. I was not eating it because it tasted good. I was eating it to play different roles in my life.

When I cut out the food and went on a “diet”, I was left with all those roles unfulfilled. I didn’t know how to cope without the food.

To stick with a healthy eating plan for life, you have to deeply understand why the food was there in the first place.

You have to develop new coping strategies.

And you have to have patience with yourself. These are skills you may not have ever learned. It won’t always feel comfortable. You won’t always feel like you are winning. But it is so worth it.

Standing on the other side of this journey, I can look back and see that using food to cope with everything in my life was actually robbing me of so much. Food was so readily available that I didn’t need to go to find ways to manage my stress or entertain myself.

I now rarely eat certain foods (including that pizza I used to crave so much), but I have better self-care, more hobbies and a wider selection of things I do with my friends. My life feels fuller.

Listen to this week’s podcast episode to hear how you can manage and develop new coping strategies when the food goes away. So you don’t have to be caught in that same cycle I was in for so many years.