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Scripting Difficult Eating Situations

  • Eating

One thing that leads us to eating in ways which are not in our best interest—and prevents us from stopping even when we’re aware we’re hurting ourselves—is the script that runs in our heads. It may come through loud and clear, be a barely audible whisper, or we may not even notice it because we’re on autopilot. Whichever, the way to create a different outcome in a situation is to create and practice a new script.

Here’s the outline of a common script: Tired after a day of school/work/running around, on the way home you start thinking about eating to unwind. The voice in your head coaxes you toward places you can stop to buy your favorite treats. It insists that you deserve to relax after a hard day and that having a treat, just for now, won’t make a difference because you were “good” around food all day. You know this isn’t what the rational side of you wants to do—it wants to go home, take a nap, and make yourself a healthy dinner—but you’re too tired to argue with the badgering and seductive directives that propel you forward. Sound familiar?

Here’s a new script to follow after a day of school/work/running around, one to write down, carry with you, and read before and while you head home. It goes something like this: I’m tired after a day of school/work/running around and who wouldn’t be. I know I’m keyed up from being on the go since early this morning. It’ll take 20 minutes to get home, and on the way, I’ll clear my mind and relax by visualizing my favorite spot in the world. Whenever I think about that place, all my tension just melts away. It sure will be great getting home, slipping into comfy clothes, sitting in the chair by the window, and going through that stack of magazines on the table. That always helps me unwind. I made that chicken and rice dish the other night and have leftovers in the freezer. That would be yummy with a nice salad. Maybe I’ll even try that new tea Mom got me. I’m really going to enjoy relaxing when I get home!

I could go on, but you catch the drift. These are the words—the exact words—a former client chose to read to herself on the way home from work. When she finished reading it, she began again, and continued until she arrived home. She even had a second script written for her arrival home in case her old script about heading for the munchies started to run. You can create a script for any situation. The key is to write it down, keep it with you, and continue reading it without letting other thoughts intrude until the desired outcome occurs. With practice, this new script will become your new default setting and you’ll only have to remind yourself of the idea behind it to get the results you want.