To break old, ingrained habits you must remain aware. Using a few words to click on that light bulb can go a long way toward helping you make conscious decisions around food. How many times have you said to yourself, If only I’d realized what I was doing when I grabbed for that Dove bar? or I snarfed down three rolls before I even knew I was eating! Conjuring up a few magic words can stop you dead in your tracks and give you pause to think.
When you have the urge to eat, think: Hunger or Feelings? Let the words run through your head to see which registers. When you start or continue to eat when you’re not hungry, ask yourself, “What’s going on?” or “What do I want more than the food?” Maybe it’s to lower your Cholesterol, wear a different Clothing style, or feel more Sexual or comfortable being physically Active. Get in the habit of asking these questions whenever you’re around food, and you’ll retrain your brain and your appetite.
Come up with an image of yourself at a healthy weight doing an activity you enjoy and associate a word with it: active, fun, easy, or light. You might choose a phrase such as “peace of mind” or the word “self-confidence” to envision how you wish to feel. The goal is to is stop and insert these words into the process of going from point A—thinking about food—to point B—eating it. This is a learned process and won’t happen on its own or without considerable and consistent persistence and practice. But if you can snag that nanosecond of consciousness before making contact with food, you’ll have a fighting chance of making a healthy decision about it.
As you well know, the enemy of “normal” eating is lack of consciousness. As long as you’re aware, even if you still make an unhealthy decision, at least you’re having some sort of dialogue with yourself. Make a list of the things you want more than food. If you can find pictures of those things, all the better. Then find one word that sums up your desires: health, clothes, partner, activity, socializing, sanity, role modeling. Try picking one desire or word that is more important than all the others and focus on using it to prevent unwanted eating or give each of them a chance to see what works.
Your desires for change are within you. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t bother to read my blogs. Keep them out in front when the urge to eat comes over you in unhealthy ways. Choosing a word to describe your goals will help make them more concrete and put them in a form that you can use to challenge compulsive eating.