Last week we talked about simply stopping to “check in,” before we ate, to determine if we were physically hungry, or if it was an emotional need we were seeking to fill.
If you did that exercise you gained great insight into any resistance you might have to being honest with yourself; how strong your belief is that you need to use food to cope; how often you eat when you’re not hungry; and perhaps even some situations that will trigger you to use food to cope that you hadn’t previously seen as triggering.
Tips for Eating All Natural
This is all great information as there is something you can do for all of those potential scenarios that will take away your need to use food to cope when they arise. It’s simply a matter of being open to seeking new ways of thinking and behaving.
Often the thing that will shut you down faster than anything else to the concept of checking in is what I call “all or nothing thinking.”
All or nothing (aon) thinking is a character trait of the Drill Sgt. (that critical voice in your head that tries to motivate you through criticism). All or nothing thinking leads you to buy in to a bogus, fear based story of what will happen if you are conscious in your use of food, that shuts you down before you even know you’ve had that undermining thought.
For example, you might be about to eat something and think to yourself, “Hey, Michelle says I should ask if I’m really hungry or not.” This thought is immediately followed by another thought, far more subtle, that goes something like this: “But wait, if I check in about that then I won’t get to eat this thing and I really need/want it right now. I’d better not check in!”
That thought triggers you to feel fearful of being conscious because you’ve just told yourself that the only possible outcome from checking in to see if you’re truly hungry is that you’ll still want the food but not be allowed to have it.
Is that true? No. You could check in and realize that you’re not at all hungry and that in fact, something else was upsetting you and you were going to eat instead of deal with it. Or you could check in and discover that you’re not hungry and still allow yourself to have that food while you check in about why you’re wanting it (ie. what triggered you to want food to cope). Or you could find that you are in fact a bit hungry and that the thing you were about to eat was not a choice you’d like to make and so you have something that feels more honoring and triggers less criticism from the Drill Sgt. Or….you could find that you’re hungry and you’re truly fine and peaceful with what you were going to choose and that now, after checking in, you can really consciously enjoy that food.
All of these possibilities are more likely than the original one – in fact the original fear based thought can only exist if you don’t bring it fully into your consciousness and ask yourself if it is true. As soon as you do that, it disintegrates because it is an aon thought and all aon thoughts dissolve when brought out to the light of day. More on this next week.
For this week, I want to encourage you to identify 3 or 4 food items that you would enjoy eating, that are relatively non-perishable (ie. can last in your bag or car for a few days at least) that you will begin to carry with you at all times.
Doing this means that you have foods you enjoy and feel comfortable eating (ie. don’t trigger the Drill Sgt.) with you any time you might begin to feel hungry.
This benefits you in three key ways. First, you are exhibiting self-care by thinking ahead and this act alone increases your self- esteem which makes you less likely to harm yourself with food. Second, you are less likely to grab for foods that don’t feel like honoring choices when you’re out and about and you get hungry. And third, you are far lesslikely to binge when you next get around food if you’ve allowed yourself to take the edge off your hunger by having a snack rather than coming home, ravenous and tired because you haven’t eaten for so long and then bingeing because you’re so hungry.
When you set yourself up to have honoring choices around you at all times you are doing your best to make it easy for you to choose foods you enjoy when you’re hungry and this decreases the likelihood of binging later and of choosing foods that make you feel tired, bloated or depressed (ie. anything processed or made with white sugar).
Foods that I carry with me at all times are things like almonds, apples, perhaps a granola bar/protein bar, some good quality dark chocolate. The high, healthy fat content in good quality dark chocolate gives our bodies a great sense of satisfaction and also slows the release of the sugar into the blood stream – thus preventing an insulin rush and the emotional high then low, that typically comes with it. Just a few squares of good quality dark chocolate – preferably organic – will give you a great boost and tide you over if you’re almost home and don’t want to have much to eat because you’re truly eating in the next half hour or less. A few squares of dark chocolate are also great after a meal if you’re wanting something a little sweet and desserty but don’t really have room.
So identify your 3 or 4 things, carry them with you in your bag, in your car, get used to having them around all the time – in your desk etc. – and to offering yourself the choice of having one of those things rather than the doughnuts in the coffee room or the muffin at the coffee shop. This is a great approach to reducing the amount you eat when you get home at the end of the day too, because, as I mentioned earlier, you’ll be less ravenous and that means you’ll have the time and energy to cook something healthy and you won’t feel the need to overeat it; that is, unless you’re using food to cope….more on that next week.