What the Paleo diet taught me about my secret habits

I call them secret habits because believe you me I was unaware of them.

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I thought I was in charge of my eating habits.

Many, many years ago (yes I'm talking 20+) I did Weight Watchers. I was in college at the time. Drinking and eating what I liked had taken its toll. I learnt how to be more conscious of what I was eating and over the years I broadly maintained my ideal weight.

Yet I recently found myself feeling a bit out of sorts.

I love to exercise and I thought I was eating fairly well but I was feeling lethargic, a bit flat and seemed to pick up every cold that my youngest daughter caught in school.

I was also incredibly bored with cooking.

It was becoming a chore and given that I originally studied hotel management, I seemed to have lost all my passion for creating in the kitchen.

I started working with a wonderful nutritionist. She helped me shift my relationship with cooking and sparked me to explore some alternative recipes and diets. I decided to have a go at the Paleo Diet aka The Caveman Diet. I was to stop all caffeine, legumes, wheat, sugar, carbohydrates and alcohol and consume mainly protein, vegetables and fruit.

Being new to eating fairly large amounts of protein, I found myself full up on the diet. I was exercising about 4 or 5 times per week and the protein was sustaining me.

But what I found was I had some ingrained habits around when and why I eat.

1. On a number of occasions I'd be ploughing through something fairly challenging in my work. I'd get it done only to find myself saying in my head, "oh you deserve a treat now." I'd go to the cupboard but because the normal options of a cup of tea and a biccie weren't there, I'd check in and realise that I wasn't actually hungry... I was just doing it on autopilot.

2. When I found myself being stuck or feeling bored or dissatisfied I would think "ooh, I could go and make myself a coffee or something to eat." Again I wasn't hungry I was just bored and trying to avoid being with that feeling.

3. I was eating when I was actually thirsty. You drink lots of water on this diet and it made me realise how often I just want a drink of water and not food!

They say how you do one thing is often how you do everything.

I started to think, "where else do I have habits that I'm completely unaware of?"

I began to explore how I repeatedly react to things. I noticed some things that I didn't like.

For example, how when I'm stressed and something goes wrong at home, I can respond by complaining out loud to anyone that will listen. I turn into a nagger instead of asking for help! Or I get really competitive with my hubby when I'm feeling I've got too much on my plate and I start listing out everything I've done!

It was funny how just by deciding to do something radically different with my diet, helped me become more conscious of other habitual responses.

How's this help you?

Most of us intellectually understand that we operate largely on autopilot.

What we don't always get is when we're actually on autopilot.

We're too caught up doing what we've always done.

Try this ...

Challenge yourself to do something different.

Notice how your own habitual patterns pop up.

Then ask yourself .. where else might this show up in my life?

Vanessa Anstee

Life Coach

I'm inspired by who you can be without apology and I want to help you let your real self shine. I've been a life coach for 10 years. I've always been a seeker trying to discover a way of being in life that feels soulful, authentic and aligned to what my heart wants not what my head thinks I should have, be or do. I spent 20+ year career in HR, OD, talent management and executive coaching. My kids were my biggest wake up. I saw the way I was working wasn't working anymore. I couldn't keep pushing myself harder. I had to accept I couldn't attain this perfected version of myself that I had strived most of my life to achieve. I had to find love not from accolades and other people's acceptance but from deep inside me. That's when I learnt to connect to my heart, heal my childhood wounds and fears of never being enough and set light to my passion in a completely new way. I want one thing for my clients. Be real. Be themselves, fall madly in love with that person and honour their soul's calling.