Today I discuss a brief skirmish with some doughy, extra-cheese bread sticks and parenthetically highlight the tools I used to come out on top.
I’m so pleased with myself (savor your success1)! I just defenestrated three of the five cheese-stuffed bread sticks my neighbor gave me from her bi-weekly “hen” gathering. You see, even though I have a number of years of nutritarian eating under my belt, I still have weak moments—especially those involving free bread, cheese, and chocolate.
How did I do it? Well, first I gave myself permission to eat them all (I am at choice2)—that is, after my healthy supper of a heaping plate of veggies (eat your veggies first3). So upon finishing the last bite of garlicky kale, I weighed out two breadsticks (know how much you eat4), but before digging in, I did a quick search online to see how many calories I’d be ingesting (reality check5).
Then I sat down and slowly enjoyed the hell out of those horribly unhealthy morsels (enjoy your food6). I savored them as if they were the last ones I’d ever have. Afterwards, I considered another, or maybe even all three! I thought, “I rarely have anything like this, I might as well go for it!” (pay attention to permissive thoughts7)
But then my well-trained wise mind kicked in. “Well, you could do that if you’re ok consuming another 400 to 500 calories and a whole bunch of sodium, white flour, and saturated fat. Hmmmmm. . . .well the thing to do would be to throw them away immediately. After all, the pleasure will be so brief, and within a few minutes the fun’ll be over, and I’ll be left with remorse and bad food in my belly,” (competing response8).
With that, I marched over to the community trash bin and irretrievably dumped those suckers. I felt relieved and happy immediately. After all, if I had eaten them, the gratification would be over by then anyway. But I didn’t eat them, and the joy of my success had just begun!
1Savor your success. Over time, you’ll learn to enjoy the sense of accomplishment more than the tempting morsel you just rejected.
2I am at choice. Don’t tell yourself that you can’t have certain foods. It never works and usually just makes you want them even more.
3Eat your veggies first. If you’re bound and determined to down those crispy taquitos, eat a big salad or plate of steamed veggies first.
4Know how much you eat. Weigh or measure everything that’s headed for your gullet—from asparagus to zinfandel. The discipline built by taking the time to weigh your food activates the your brain’s inhibition centers, thus helping you resist cravings.
5Reality check. I use this tool a lot, like when I’m tempted by a free sample at Costco. I take a gander at the nutrition info and then decide if said morsel is worth it.
6Enjoy your food. No matter what you’re eating, sit down and savor the hell out of it. Eating slowly and relishing every bite also keeps those inhibition centers awake, making it harder to eat with abandon.
7Pay attention to permissive thoughts. Ask yourself what thought or belief makes it ok to eat off your healthy food plan.
8Competing response. Generate some very compelling responses to those permissive thoughts. Think hard, as if your life depends on it, because it does.
Caroline’s compulsive eating program helps people adopt a nutrient-rich diet by teaching them the psychology of permanent weight loss.