In his book Relapse Prevention, the psychologist G. Alan
Marlatt reports that the most effective coping strategy for an urge is
to detach yourself from it. Instead of indentifying with the urge,
remove yourself from it. That is how you can gain control over it.
The way to remove yourself from the urge is to think of it as a
response to an external situation, instead of something coming from
First of all, you need to recognize and label an urge when it occurs
— tell yourself that' s what it is. Then, instead of indulging, simply
allow the urge to occur without giving in to it.
It' s not really as hard as it sounds. Here is a technique you can
use to observe the urge to overeat when it occurs, and then let it run its
course without being controlled by it.
The technique is called "urge surfing". Let' s see how it might work.
Suppose you ate a normal-sized portion. Then you get the urge to eat more.
Here' s what to do. Instead of giving in to the urge, think of that
urge as a feeling that you get, small at first, growing in intensity,
then reaching a peak before subsiding. It is a lot like an ocean wave
that starts out small, crests, and then breaks. Urge surfing is based
on this picture of an ocean wave.
So, when an urge comes, imagine it like the ocean wave, and imagine
yourself as a novice surfer. You are learning to ride the wave and keep
your balance instead of being thrown over by it. Since you are new at
being a surfer, you' ll need to practice riding these waves.
The more you become proficient at this urge surfing, the more
proficient you will become at keeping your balance. Eventually, the
urges will weaken and lose their power. You will be able to easily ride
them out until they subside.