Reclaiming control over what we eat
We all have them – moments of weakness where we give into the cake, biscuits or chocolate that is ‘calling’ from the cupboard ‘eat me, eat me’. The urge is so strong that sometimes it feels as if we don’t have a choice or control about what we eat, yet of course we do.
We are often so busy, so swept away by the whirlwind of life, that it can feel that life just happens to us, that we are not in control of how we live our life, what we do, what we say, what we eat.
Even though we make choices all day long about when to get up, what to wear, what to have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, we’re often on auto pilot, in habitual ways of thinking and behaving.
There is nothing wrong with habits. On the contrary, habits help to get us through the logistics of our day-to-day life. However, some habits can be unhelpful, stopping us from being in charge of what we think and do moment by moment.
For example, how often do you beat yourself up about having eaten a comfort-food-type style of lunch or dinner or for having another piece of cake, crisps or several biscuits? Possibly quite often. You might ask yourself, often in relative despair, ‘How could it happen again’ – as though someone was doing it to you?
Would you believe that this is actually good news? You have an awareness of what’s happened, an awareness of a habit that leads you to put foods into your mouth that you don’t really want to eat.
This is your starting point for change, where you can pick yourself up and make a different choice.
So how can you catch yourself earlier before you’ve eaten that next piece of delicious chocolate cake?
Here’s a strategy to give you more control and choice about what you eat:
1. Stop and pause. When you become aware of wanting to eat something, stop and pause. Stop, take a breath, and feel how you feel inside. Ask yourself: What is it that I want to eat? The answer might be: I want a packet of crisps, I want some chocolate, I want pasta ... Be with whatever it is for you.
2. Engage with yourself and be honest. What is this wanting for sweets or comfort food about? Is it because you want to enjoy a moment of pleasure or is it because you had a difficult day with a colleague, or because you were under a lot of pressure and feel sorry for yourself? Is it because you feel lonely? Or because you are bored?
3. Acceptance. Whatever it is, stay with it and accept whatever your experience is right now without any judgement or self-criticism.
4. A conscious choice. From this place of awareness and acceptance you can make a choice about what you are going to eat. You might still choose to eat the chocolate cake but you will do it with awareness. That’s where change can begin to happen because next time you might make a different choice for yourself. That’s how you can become more in charge of how you eat and what you eat.
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