Want to know one of the major reasons you haven’t changed your eating habits? Simple. You’re still responding in an unconscious way around food. Become more conscious and I guarantee you’ll leap forwarding in resolving your food issues.

Habits are behaviors we do without much thought. In evolutionary terms, we form automatic actions for survival. Our mind-body habituates so that it doesn’t have to put substantial energy into making the same decisions repeatedly, allowing it to direct energy in more vital directions in order to keep you alive and thriving. Humans wouldn’t be around today if they weren’t geared to make automatic decisions.

According to Steven Stosny, Ph.D., author of “Blue collar therapy” (Psychotherapy Networker, 11-12/2013, p.23), “Habits and the conditioned responses that comprise them are processed in the brain in milliseconds, thousands of times faster than conscious awareness. In fact, most of our decisions are made prior to conscious awareness, governed more by habit than deliberate choice. As Harvard researchers Daniel Gilbert and Matthew Killingsworth point out, nearly half our waking hours are spent on autopilot, in which a wandering mind predominates.” That may come as a shock to some of you who want to believe you govern your own fate.

How much of your decision-making around food is conscious or unconscious? How often have you come to in the middle of a binge, as you would awaken from a nightmare? The “feel-eat” response happens so quickly and is so outside awareness that you are likely to get caught up in non-hunger eating long before you realize it’s happening. If you wish to improve your eating, you must remain conscious more of the time around food which means s-l-o-w-i-n-g d-o-w-n at the first urge to eat. After all, to break an automatic connection, you need to know that one is being made. To replace auto-pilot choices, you need to make them with awareness.

In general, unconscious actions are comfortable and conscious ones cause discomfort. Therefore, you likely will have discomfort taking conscious actions around food. You need not be in pain, but you will feel a sensation of mild discomfort, a sense of unfamiliarity, awkwardness, or thwarted desire, when you are act consciously. This unease is a positive state that fosters transformation. Welcome it and actively increase the number of discomfiting moments you have around food every day. Remember that awareness and discomfort equal success.