I bit into my Aunt Dot’s apple concoction that tasted of butter, sugar, cream cheese, cinnamon, and well…apples. It was actually like biting into a little slice of heaven. It was Easter and I had just returned from a run with my hubbie, so I really didn’t think much of it until I found myself wanting another piece. This is when the internal battle started, and I’m going to share with you how I handled it.
This is a common problem that many of my clients experience: how to stop eating when it tastes so good. Through many years of personal experience combined with the stories of others, I have devised steps that will help you stop eating even when you think you cannot.
This is the first step. You must stop, put the fork down, and do a bit of research. You cannot expect to figure it out if you continue to eat.
Questioning your desire is powerful. Questions such as:
Am I physically hungry or am I wanting something else?
What am I really feeling right now?
How can I take care of the real issue?
How will this food feel in my body now, three hours from now or six hours from now?
How does this food serve me? Is it helping me attain my goals?
THE “IF” GAME
Ask yourself, “If I say no to (the food), then I’m saying yes to (the goal).
For example, “If I say no to the apple dessert, then I’m saying yes to feeling good in my new dress.”
One of the best defenses to overeating is to move. You need to move away from the food, and preferably out the door to hit the pavement for a nice walk or change of scenery. You will most likely find that the craving has ceased.
Remember being a kid and playing so hard that you forgot to eat? Yeah, I know. It’s hard to imagine now, but we can still play as adults. Part of overcoming the weight battle is to find a non-food passion. This might take some work if you have depended on food to bring you the majority of your life pleasure, but please do me a favor. Don’t give up on finding your passion. It’s there, I promise. In the meantime, just play. Throw a frisbee. Walk the dog. Play a game of poker. Paint. Sing. I don’t care what you do, just start doing something other than overeating.
THE PAIN/PLEASURE PROTOCOL
Human nature is to seek pleasure and avoid pain, so if you find extreme pleasure in food, and the food tastes good, then it is naturally going to be difficult to stop eating. The key is to change how you view the food. I love to eat, but I don’t love the feeling of stuffing myself, but that hasn’t always been the case. I had to change the way I view eating, and now I associate pain with eating too much. The process is different for everyone, but try to devise a pain/pleasure protocol for overeating and use it when you are tempted to go back for seconds. Ask yourself, “How can I make stopping eating pleasurable and associate overeating with pain?”
THE 3 BITE RULE
For people who are accustomed to eating past the point of being full, this process can seem really difficult. It takes a reprogramming of the mind, and that can take a lot of time depending on the individual. So, here is an alternative. Once you find yourself saying, “I need to stop,” but feel that you can’t, then allow yourself three more small bites. Then walk away. I actually use the three bite rule many times when eating dessert. I choose to eat only three bites, but I have found this tool effective when people are trying to stop overeating. Three more small bites is a heck of a lot better than three whole slices. Remember, small, gradual changes can lead to big results.
OK. So you ate too much. The worst thing you can do is to beat yourself up. Just investigate the incident. Become the scientist of your own life. Learn from the experience and get on with life. Don’t use it as an excuse to sabotage your entire day. When you become hungry again, eat a sensible meal, and keep looking forward to where you want to go. Don’t dwell on one incident and make it mean more than it is. OK, you ate too much. So what? Keep moving towards your goal.
So, did my story with Aunt Dot’s sinful dessert have a happy ending? Well, I think so. Here’s why. When I found myself obsessing over another piece, I stopped. Then I did a lot of questioning followed by a nice walk. I tried to implement the pain/pleasure protocol, but I’ll be honest, it didn’t work as great in this particular incident (that’s why I have a list of tools to use; sometimes one works, and sometimes it doesn’t). In the end, I chose the three bite rule, and I didn’t think about it again. I came home and typed this blog. I’m happy and so was the ending.
I use the tools that I teach my clients every day, and that’s how I know they work.