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Mikki Williden

What is Mikkipedia?

Mikkipedia is an exploration in all things health, well being, fitness, food and nutrition. I sit down with scientists, doctors, professors, practitioners and people who have a wealth of experience and have a conversation that takes a deep dive into their area of expertise. I love translating science into a language that people understand, so while some of the conversations will be pretty in-depth, you will come away with some practical tips that can be instigated into your everyday life. I hope you enjoy the show!

Hey everyone, it's Mikki here. You're listening to another mini Mikkipedia episode on a Monday. And today I want to talk about mindset and the difference between an abundant and scarcity mindset and how this impacts how you approach food and situations involving food and people and your diet and all things like that. If you're anyone that's done sort of any work

in financial health and mindset in general, you're probably familiar with the concepts of abundance versus scarcity mindset. And one of the first people probably to coin the terms was Stephen Covey. He wrote a book in the late 80s called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And the concepts of abundance and scarcity mindset

come to play when we talk about personal development and self-development. Stephen Covey suggests that most people are deeply scripted in what he calls the scarcity mentality. They see life as having only so much, as if there were only one pie out there, and if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean that there was less for everybody else. Whereas, the abundance mentality flows out of this deep sense of personal worth and security.

It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives and creativity. And of course, Stephen Covey was talking about personal development and entrepreneurship and sort of creativity, whereas these terms are so applicable to that dieting mentality. And if we think about it with regards to diet, the scarcity mindset refers to the belief that

there is not enough food to go around and it leads to feelings of fear, stress and anxiety when it comes to your food decisions. If you get FOMO, for example, with what someone else is eating and not just that general sort of, oh, I'm, you know, I have food envy because your meal looks great, but legitimate jealousy that someone is eating something that you're not, that could be a sign of that scarcity mindset.

Another sign of the scarcity mindset around food is not wanting to share anything on your plate. Like having a set amount of food or calories that you're going to be eating for the day. And if someone were to take what is quote unquote yours, you'd be highly anxious and upset and frustrated with them because of it. Because they've taken something that is yours that is irretrievable. Another example of scarcity mindset and...

I do see this a little bit in my group program when we have say a metabolic reset meal where because it is an opportunity to eat whatever food you enjoy eating, the way that people eat, despite the fact that, you know, we talk about eating mindfully and only eating until you're satisfied and not stuffed, people literally just go for gold and they eat whatever they can within that meal and end up feeling either too bloated.

or sick because of the different choices of foods that they were having and just generally not feeling that great. And the reason for it is that this is the last time they're ever going to have this food. This is the mindset that they've set up. So they're going to go for gold and eat all of it. Like if you have one biscuit, you're going to finish the entire lot because it's the last time you're ever going to have biscuits. An abundant mindset though is a belief that there's always going to be enough food and you can have whatever you want whenever you like because you're an adult.

and you're choosing to have this particular food now, and you don't have to finish everything that's in sight because you know if you're hungry again, you can choose to have that food again. So this is this real sort of big picture view of food and you don't mind sharing food with people around you. And in fact, you encourage it because you enjoy that sort of interaction. And even though this is separate from abundance mindset around financial security and personal development,

They're all related actually, because everything around mindset is transferable in my experience to other areas of your life. And I guess I know this because in the past, I've had a complete scarcity mindset around food, and that's really sort of transformed over the last 10 years. And I know that 10 years sounds like a long time. And the reality is when you rewrite the script on anything related to your mindset around food, it literally is,

It's just time in the trenches practicing the behavior, even if you don't necessarily mean it at first. And I'll get to that in a minute, but it literally is. Like if these are patterns and behaviors that you've set up around food that you're wanting to change, just recognize that these things take time. And in part, I think that that, well not in part, but in full, that scarcity mindset around food really changes your relationship with food. It sort of sets food up.

on this pedestal, like it gives it so much more power than it deserves. And you start looking at food as good or bad or delicious and not delicious. And I mean, that's more so than just, oh, I like the taste of that food, but, you know, we almost enhance and dramatize the flavor of certain foods that we believe are off limits and we build them up in our heads. So when it comes to actually eating them.

that sort of sets us up for a behaviour that we then overeat, we eat too quickly, we eat beyond the point of fullness and it's because we think that again, this isn't a food that we should be having so I'm not going to be having it again for a very long time because so I'm going to eat until I'm absolutely full of it. And there's a lot of guilt, there's a lot of guilt in and around having that mindset around food. And

In part, it's how we've sort of set ourselves up and the narrative that we tell ourselves about which foods are good and which foods are bad and things like that. But of course, societal methods, messages sort of set us up that contribute to the scarcity mindset. So we've got these ideal body standards. And of course, although I think, you know, certainly in some circles, this is certainly transforming, but at this...

face of it, society portrays a slim or fit body as the ideal, and they link it to being successful, attractive, and healthy. And this can result in people feeling the pressure to restrict their eating in order to achieve or maintain this ideal body type. Therefore, the fear of gaining weight can lead to a scarcity mindset around food, causing people to perceive certain foods as bad or off limits. Of course, just diet culture itself.

which promotes the idea that there are good foods and bad foods. And I use the term diet culture quite loosely, not just diet and calorie restriction, but any sort of dietary regime that that sort of is getting headlines tends to sort of fall into this camp. And I'm, you know, I'm immediately thinking of Paul Saladino in his Instagram videos, telling us that this food that we're regularly eating is going to kill us versus.

you know, this other food which isn't, you know, like it's not just a diet culture that it is in and around the physical ideal. It's sort of the other ideals that people promote is us, you know, having to sort of hold ourselves to be accountable towards. This idea of, you know, following these types of diet cultures promotes the idea that there are good or bad foods. And so when you restrict these quote unquote bad foods,

We end up sort of fearing and desiring them at the same time. Whenever anything is off limits, it almost enhances their attractiveness for us, for certain people. And particularly if you've got a scarcity mindset, this is enhanced even more. So if you've gone the full sort of two weeks and you haven't had any ice cream or any chocolate, and in your head, these types of foods are quote unquote bad, then the moment that someone sort of says to you, hey, enjoy some of these foods,

then suddenly it's all on and you're wanting both of them and all flavors and all at once. And then of course there's that dichotomy where you might desire these foods but fear them at the same time. That does lead to that sort of feeling of guilt and failure when you eat beyond your limit. So when you have a scarcity mindset and you go all in and you bend on these foods which you think you shouldn't be having, that guilt and shame that comes

from that eating episode then leads you to further berate yourself that you weren't able to control yourself and therefore you shouldn't be eating these foods. So it is this whole perpetual cycle around foods that you're allowed and foods that you're not. And sort of further to my point about the poor Saladinos out there, I guess you could put them into that wellness industry. And this is the third reason how you know societal messages can contribute to that scarcity mindset.

is that the wellness industry often promotes healthy lifestyles that inadvertently contribute to a scarcity mindset. So you've got these strict guidelines that you must adhere to whenever you are following for example a ketogenic diet, a paleo diet, a vegan diet, a carnivore diet. Now I'm not at all suggesting that these cannot be a healthy way to eat and that if you follow these types of approaches clearly you are in this sort of scarcity mindset and you have this

this mental block around food. However, if you recognize you're following this approach because it restricts you from certain foods and it causes you to create these sort of categories of food that then cause you to desire these off-limit foods, then that's not at all helpful towards your scarcity mindset and can contribute to sort of anxiety around food. And then of course you've got the media influence. And it's so interesting when you look at this and I see health professionals do it as well. And I of course did it in the

And I'm pretty sure I don't do it anymore because I really think about these messages, but you attach terms like guilt free to describe healthier options. Now look, there are healthier in terms of nourishing foods and not so healthy in terms of nutrient devoid foods. It doesn't mean that outside of nutrition therapy, it doesn't mean that you cannot include these foods in your diet. But

when you have something like guilt free, it almost sends these signals in your brain that goes, I can eat as much of this food as I want. Or if it's not guilt free, then suddenly it's sort of put up in this category of it can't be enjoyed. So the media influence certainly plays into this sort of abundance and scarcity mindset. Shifting your mindset is an active process that can take many weeks and months. As you first identify it,

and then move towards it. So if any of those situations that I mentioned at the top of the podcast, like always wanting to overeat when you enjoy sort of quote unquote treat foods, or you get an opportunity to eat quote unquote off plan and you go for gold, or you don't like sharing your food because you feel like there's not enough for you, regardless of the fact that food is everywhere.

then this is a sign that you may need to change your scarcity mindset around food. And part of it is beginning to trust yourself around foods that you would otherwise overeat. Now, what I would say around this is that for some people there are trigger foods and there are foods which, despite the fact that yes, in a perfect world we should be able to eat everything in moderation, some foods

for some people will just trigger an overeating pattern, which isn't helpful. So knowing yourself first and foremost on these foods, I think is really important. So potentially one of the first things to do if you recognize you have a scarcity mindset around food and you want to work towards eliminating that, is write down all of your favorite foods and then categorize them into two groups.

The first group are trigger foods. Which foods out of your favorite foods are one that trigger you to overeat and eat past that feeling of fullness? So you then feel guilty and terrible about eating them. And then which of your favorite foods are buffer foods? Which foods can you eat in a normal amount and feel satisfied that you've included them, yet they do not trigger you to eat more than you need? You will have

favorite foods which fall into one of these two categories, if you have a scarcity mindset. And it could actually be from a practical perspective, a bit of a journey, for want of a better word, along the way of beginning with foods that you might not necessarily deem quote unquote health foods, yet they don't trigger you to overeat. So let's say for example, you love ice cream and chips, but actually,

You find that you can have a small bowl of ice cream and feel satisfied, but you're not satisfied unless you have an entire family size bag of chips. In this scenario, the chips would be the trigger food, yet the ice cream would be the buffer food. So as part of your sort of scarcity mindset training, practicing mindfulness, mindful eating, focusing on the taste, the texture and sensation of those buffer foods like ice cream

in allowing yourself to have a small bowl and recognizing that this is not gonna cascade into a complete and total binge, that could be one of your first steps in actually making it a goal of yours to have ice cream twice per week. At this sort of early stage in trying to get to the bottom of and changing the scarcity mindset, my best advice actually is to avoid having those trigger foods that will trigger you to eat more. So leave those chips alone.

but beginning with some foods which you really love, which wouldn't otherwise be on a weight loss food plan, if you like, and including them a couple of times per week, because you will eat them in normal amounts and you will see that the world doesn't end and your progress isn't stalled by doing so. And that is where there's real power and understanding yourself and how you respond to certain foods. Something else you can do is challenge your own food rules.

All of us have a decision making process around what we eat. For example, you might always be low carb. Or you might only eat organic food. Or you absolutely refuse to eat gluten because it is poisonous. Where do these assumptions come from? Challenging how you view food can be really eye opening. And if nothing else, you get to learn a different perspective. So listen to podcasts that directly challenge

your understanding of food and healthy food can be a really good way to sort of move out of that scarcity mindset and this sort of, you know, restricted range of foods that you might only allow yourself to have. So it might be listening to a podcast, it might be reading a book, it might be engaging in social media. And in fact, it's something which scientists do. And Ted Naiman mentioned it in our podcast that we did together, that he fills his feed with

objectors to his sort of dietary approach so he understands their arguments against it because I believe that you know when you broaden your perspective and broaden your mindset in general you start to broaden your understanding of food and it does change that scarcity and abundance mindset it's that growth mindset a scarcity mindset is very fixed and doesn't allow for growth whereas

Challenging your ideas around food and listening to other perspectives can help get you out of that Another thing that can be so helpful for changing your scarcity mindset is tracking your calories Now I've mentioned this before and it certainly is relevant here and you know, even if you think in your head I'm so obsessive. I couldn't possibly do that. It could even be worth investigating if you're that person and That's absolutely coming from experience. And as I said, I've I've

mentioned it in a few podcasts how for me it was really freeing and for a lot of clients I have also really freeing too because it stopped us catastrophizing certain foods like thinking you know if I've had you know a handful of potato chips well that's several hundred calories and so I might as well finish the bag because I've blown it when you actually track and weigh and measure your food and see what a handful of potato chips actually is i.e actually no big deal

It then allows you to get a better understanding of what you find in food. And this is coming from someone who has a really great knowledge base of what's in food. It doesn't change the emotional attachment that you can have. So it's almost leaving your emotional brain behind and being really intellectual and using that objective data can be super helpful.

And so you don't use the food app as a way to restrict further. You use it as opportunities to include foods you otherwise wouldn't include. Even if you are in a calorie deficit, for example, it can still open you up to including foods and having a more abundant mindset and a more of a growth mindset around foods. And of course, the other point that comes into that, that helps you diversify your diet. And in fact, even if you don't want to count your calories,

which is totally fine because it's not for everyone, actually make a concerted effort to include two new foods a week into your diet. And again, just in normal amounts, just as part of your meals, and it's always opportunity costs, so it might mean that you have to leave something else that you would normally eat out in order to include this new food. But again, you'll see that the world doesn't end and your progress isn't stalled by making these simple swaps and changes.

because sometimes that binging and sort of overeating behavior comes when you restrict your foods down to the same foods every day of the week. And in fact, your taste buds just get really bored by the same taste profile. So therefore you are out seeking more sort of hedonistic pleasure from food, which isn't always a good thing, but can be used as a tool. So diversifying your diet could be super helpful. Another tip is to

proactively offer your food, part of your lunch, don't pack more lunch, but offer part of your meal for someone else to have a try. So you are moving beyond the idea that this is the only food you're allowed and you can't eat anymore, and you are giving away some of your food. And it is quite a deliberate act and it might absolutely go against your nature sharing food. And this is...

the bit I was saying that would absolutely take practice and it won't happen overnight that you'll feel comfortable with it. But the more you do it, the more comfortable you'll become. And in a month's, two months, three months time, six months time, you won't even flinch when someone else asks to try something or you'll just naturally create an environment where food is shared and enjoyed by more than just you. Another thing which I think is really helpful is

using affirmations or writing in a journal at the start of every day, little mantras that help you reframe how you think about your diet. For example, one of the things you might write down is, I can have this food whenever I want it, but I'm just choosing not to have it right now. You know, you're an adult, you can eat what you like, you're choosing not to eat this right now. So sort of taking ownership of your food decisions

feeling empowered by them rather than feeling restricted. Another thing that you could practice writing down is that you're full after this meal, and this would obviously happen after you finish eating. You feel satisfied and full, and you'll eat again when you're hungry. So you don't have that mentality of you must finish everything on your plate, you must finish that entire sort of packet of biscuits, you are going to continue to eat until you're overstuffed because this is the last time you're ever gonna eat this food.

You're full and you're satisfied and you will eat again when you're hungry. So little mantras like this, you've got to find one which suits your personality type and also that you believe as well. Like if you're not a mantra person, then this is obviously isn't going to resonate with you. However, I also, I do challenge that too, cause I didn't think I was a mantra person. And in fact, I'm very much a mantra person. It's not until you do it that you recognize that these tools and tricks can be super helpful.

You can have whatever you want, you're just choosing not to have this food right now, or you're having this food, and I'll eat again when I'm hungry. So it's not necessary for you to finish what's on your plate. One other thing that you can do, and this would come down with this again, I wouldn't suggest you do this with your trigger foods right now, but just have foods which are off the menu, for example, and have a bite of it. Have a bite of that chocolate bar. Have a bite, have a lolly.

bite of the ice cream and then just stop there and how does it make you feel? Does it make you feel anxious and craving for more? Well can you have some and be at peace? Sometimes how we approach food and approach a food situation is based on our prior experience and how we think we're gonna act like I can't have ice cream in the house I'm just gonna eat the whole lot. Well if that's a story you tell yourself then yeah you will. If you rewrite the narrative and in fact you're

proving to yourself that that's not the case, then that's also gonna help shift that scarcity mindset. So this is, you know, one of the mindset is almost one of the most important things when it comes to diet. You know, you can absolutely switch off your brain, follow a food plan, follow an exercise plan and lose weight. However, that is only gonna work for a short period of time if you don't also start doing the work on the mindset piece.

And I think that the scarcity mindset is a big feature for a lot of people, but it's not going to go over, go away overnight without you actually working on it. So it could be super helpful for you to think about some tools and strategies to help you work on this as you're working on your physical transformation. This is the psychological transformation and the emotional transformation. And hopefully some of these tools.

are helpful for you to do that. And what I will also just say is, what really helped me is like, it's just podcasts, podcasts on mindset, abundant versus scarcity mindset. I listened to a lot of business ones, which really transfer over into this physical sort of nutrition space, but vice versa as well. You can really transform how you feel about food if you do the work, but it's not gonna happen just through diet alone. Anyway.

Hopefully that was helpful for you, just a few thoughts on that. It's a big topic and I do love to talk about it. Let me know. And if you've got any questions or you have any topics you'd like me to cover, please hit me up in the DMs on Instagram or threads. I'm on threads as I said last week and I'm sharing my thoughts too. It's quite fun. I'm actually saying things which I would probably not normally say in a social setting because it feels like you can sort of say anything. Of course all appropriate and all...

hopefully helpful, but if you're on threads, you should give me a follow there too. Anyway, shoot me a DM, let me know what you wanna hear. You can find me over on Instagram, Twitter, and threads @mikkiwilliden, Facebook @mikkiwillidennutrition, or head to my website, mikkiwilliden.com, where you can book a one-on-one call with me. All right guys, you have a great week. See you later.