Remember that you are not just satisfied, given comfort or pleasure from food, but a whole host of other sensory pleasures too. When you see cravings or knee-jerk food seeking responses rising, stop for a breathing break to move to a reflective rather than impulsive state. Then consider what it is that you really need and which other way you could treat yourself eg:
- If it’s feeling treated you fancy, consider what makes you feel good. Maybe a luxurious bath with some high-quality bubbles, listening to some comedy on the iplayer (just me? Charlotte) or snuggling up with the duvet and good book or audiobook on the sofa. If mindless TV has you reaching for the hidden biscuits, look for more mindful alternatives.
- If you’re wanting to numb because you’re feeling down or like everything is gloomy, call someone who makes you feel good about yourself and demand a pep-talk! Ask outright and then they’ll do the same for you when they need it, which can also make you feel good about yourself.
- If you’ve had a sedentary day and exercise has been alluding you, get moving – even 15 minutes of yoga or a quick stroll round the block has raise those feel-good beta endorphins instead of needing junk food to do the same trick in a less healthy way.
Often when we feel hungry it can be a cry for some other form of reaction; maybe heightened brain responses to stress need bringing down or our bodies have got used to receiving sugar, junk foods or stimulants to ‘feel good’. But the more we support our biochemistry to have regulated energy and blood sugar levels, the more we can connect to true hunger and discern when we can find the nourishment we crave in another way – one that ultimate makes us feel truly healthy and coping, not crashing and reaching for another fix a few hours later.
Avoiding situations where the foods that previously had you in their grip is one thing, but not the ultimate answer. Finding new strategies to feed liberation around food can relieve much of the stress of too much choice. You know that life doesn’t need to be about deprivation, so hold tight in the face of that office birthday, cinema ice-cream counter, the brimming sweet cupboard at the relative’s house or the pushy friend who’s jealous of your success and ask yourself: Save the treats for when they really matter and you can thoroughly enjoy them.
In the face of temptation, ask yourself:
- Do I want that cake/biscuit/ice cream more than I want to feel in control, healthy, slim, calm and free from guilt and conflict?
- Does it taste so good that it’s worth throwing away all my good work?
- If I am going to start treating myself next week, is this the best high-quality, favourite treat that I would choose?
If the answer to all or any of these is yes, then this might just be the treat you need in a really small dose, but before you indulge, check that you’re absolutely sure it’s not just a quick-fix, knee-jerk reaction that you might be beating yourself up about later. Come back to the Mindfulness Practices in Chapter 15 and centre yourself to connect into how you really feel.
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