Get Rid of Discipline!

I often hear this in my practice:

“I just need more discipline so I can eat better.”

“All I need is more discipline to get moving.”

“If I could just figure out how to have more discipline, I’d be better about food.”

While these statements comes from a well-intentioned desire for self care, I always try to discourage my clients from doubling down on discipline. For many, it carries a lot of emotional baggage and is often associated with negativity, such as feelings of failure and inadequacy.

I find that there is a right time and place for discipline, but perhaps not always when it comes to making changes in health habits. Instead, we work on a skill called “reframing” - which is essentially taking something negative and approaching it differently so it is more manageable. In this case, I encourage clients to reframe discipline with “rituals” - particularly of the self-care variety.

Here are some examples of what that could look like:

“I just need more self care rituals so I can eat better.”

“All I need are more self care rituals to get moving.”

“If I could just figure out how to have more self care rituals, I’d be better about food.”

Doesn’t that almost instantly feel better? Once we have finished reframing, we explore what those self care rituals look like. For several of my clients, they schedule a weekly trip to the grocery store to stock up on health-supporting snacks so they don’t find themselves eating convenience foods that don’t agree with their bodies throughout the week. For some, it’s a daily ritual of 5-minutes of relaxation before dinner to prevent stress eating. For others, a balanced breakfast is a their self-care ritual - so “I need to have more discipline around breakfast” has been reframed to “A balanced breakfast is a part of my self care ritual.”

Imagine what it would be like to remove discipline (and all it’s yucky feelings) from your health vocabulary and integrate self-care rituals instead. What changes would you make? Feel free to comment on this blog post or email me at with your ideas. I respond to every message and look forward to hearing from you!

Mindy is a Nutritionist and Therapist based out of Seattle, where her practice specializes in helping people find peace with food and their body. She lives with her husband in Seattle, WA and watches lots of television.

(Also, she has no idea how to make this picture smaller so if anyone knows....)