Often in our goal to have weight loss success we vow to not have certain foods in the house. These foods are the ones over which we seem to have no control. They are our comfort foods…what we reach for when we are stressed, sad, angry… or even joyful. By keeping the foods out of the house we think we won’t think about them…after all, “out of sight, out of mind,” right?
Not having our trigger foods around does put a time buffer between the urge to eat and the ability to fulfill that urge. Placing a barrier of time between you and food can stop a binge or merely delay it.
The time barrier is just one aspect of changing a long standing pattern. The second step is choosing to use the time to shift your focus. You must decide to change your mindset to one of health. Otherwise we can choose to use the time to increase the desire by thinking about the food and the lack of it.
Shifting our focus is the most important part of weight loss success. You now have the chance to ask yourself if this is what you really want, or if there is something else you can do to “feed” what you really want-because frequently when we have these urges it isn’t really about the food at all!
Have a set of questions that you can walk through in the event of an urge to eat unhealthy foods in mass quantities. Think of it as your desire extinguisher…in case of emergency, read this (no need to break the glass!)
The right questions to ask yourself will vary person by person, below are some sample questions you might use.
- Is eating this the best choice for me right now?
- Am I hungry?
- What am I really trying to feed?
- If I eat this, will I feel better or worse?
- Will eating this move me closer toward my health goals?
- What am I feeling right now?
After you answer the questions it is possible that you will decide to eat. The point of these questions is to get you thinking about why you are reaching for the food and making a conscious choice about whether or not you will eat it. It is NOT the goal of this exercise to not eat, or to make you feel bad if you choose to eat. It is all about stopping a pattern of unconscious eating.
When we eat consciously we are in control and then it is much less likely that we will have a binge fest. A binge is always a result of unconscious eating!
Putting a barrier of time between you and foods that tempt you is a good thing because it gives your conscious mind time to kick in… but remember you have to use the time to shift your focus towards health. The time-barrier may be that you have to go to the store to buy the food because you don’t keep it in the house… and this may be a great option when you are first starting to retrain your mind. However, it may not be necessary in the long-run, or even practical now if you have other members of the family who don’t have an issue with their weight and that food.
In that case, having a note taped to the food item-so you can’t open the container without seeing the note-can do the trick. You can write one or all of your questions on that note, or simply “Stop. Think before you eat.”