One of the most common complaints that I hear from people attempting to lose weight is, “I don’t know how to deal with my triggers.” Most of us have had the experience of eating just one bite of something and suddenly wanting to devour the entire thing. Sometimes we do, even though we know we won’t be happy with ourselves when we finish.
I am familiar with the experience of insisting that today is absolutely the last day that I am going to eat junk food. From here on out, it’s organic vegetables for me! Then around 2:00 PM the next day, I start raiding the candy dish wondering what happened to my resolve. Does this sound like you?
Recently, I read a fascinating book entitled, The End of Overeating. It was written by David Kessler, MD, a former commissioner at the FDA. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about why they crave and eat what they do. He describes many things which shape our eating habits:
- Personal Preference
- Family Tradition
- Social Influences
- Cultural Influences
- Food Engineering
Unfortunately, this list isn’t even exhaustive. When it comes to eating, you are David fighting Goliath. You’re not overweight because you have no will power. And it’s not because you don’t want to be healthy. The truth is just giving you a list of healthy foods to eat won’t cut it. You must have a really powerful set of weapons to stand up to all of this. The most powerful weapon: present moment awareness.
When you feel overwhelmed by the urge to eat something that you know will leave you feeling crummy the second you swallow it, slow down. In fact, stop. Bring your awareness to now. Take three slow, deep breaths in and out. Allow yourself at least one minute to breathe.
What’s going on with your body? What’s going on around you? What’s going on inside your heart, your mind, and your spirit? There are an endless number of other things you could do than reach for those fries, including doing nothing at all. This short pause gives you back your power to choose.
Maybe you just need a glass of water. Perhaps what you’d really like is a break and a short walk around the block. You might check in with your feelings to see what needs attention. You could realign with whatever it is that has motivated you to start eating healthier in the first place.
Now is where reality lives. When your awareness is not here, you are living in a dream, very often a self-created nightmare. I urge you to try bringing yourself back into your body, back into reality. What kind of powerful choices will you make now?
Melanie Lane is a family physician who blogs at The Doctor Weighs In.
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