Some mornings I wake up and my first thought…well, my second thought is Bel-Vita Biscuits. That first thought is always coffee. The biscuits, really cookies, are sometimes a before a long run indulgence. The problem is that I want to eat them, dipped in coffee, just about every morning. Thankfully, I can most often skip the temptation.
Some afternoons I walk in the door…from wherever I’ve been, and immediately my body says, “hungry…let’s eat!” I doesn’t matter if I’ve just eaten. Like today. I attended a lunch meeting put on by our local homelessness commission. It was a good lunch and I ate my fill. My body does not need more fuel right now! And yet, the desire to eat upon walking in the door is palpable.
These are the feelings described in the quote I shared the other day (see The Never-Ending Struggle with Weight). The feelings are not weakness in will power, or moral failings, but rather my body trying to get me to gain back my lost weight. So what can I do? What can you do if you face a similar struggle?
First. Notice it. Yes, notice those triggers towards unconscious eating. You might still choose to eat, but at least you are aware.
Second. Change the environment. According to Stephan Guyenet, “if we change our environment, we can change the cues we send to the non conscious brain, aligning its motivations with our goals of leanness and health.” (The Hungry Brain, 223). He describes changes we can make as a nation and changes we can make as individuals.
One great environmental tricks to not make unhealthy food so readily available. Sometimes its as simple as keeping it out of sight. We have fresh fruit on the counter. The Bel-Vita Biscuits and other snacks are kept in a drawer, out of site. Keeping them out of site works, because I only want these things first thing in the morning. The rest of the day is truly “out of site, out of mind.” The truly tempting food should be kept out of the house. For instance, we no longer buy ice cream to eat at home. It’s too tempting. So a few times a year, we go out for ice cream. On Memorial Day I treated myself to a Rocky Road Ice Cream Cone. It was delicious! It’ll be a few weeks or even months before I have another one. If a half gallon of Rocky Road was in the freezer, I’d probably be eating it right now!
Third. Are you thirsty? Sometimes our bodies just want water. It’s that simple. So have a drink of some good, plain, healthy water and wait awhile. The desire to eat may go away.
Fourth. This logically falls under environment but it’s my list! Change your surroundings. If you’re like me, you might eat lots more when you’re alone at home. I work at home most afternoons and I’ve discovered this is prime time to scavenge for something to eat (which is why its good not to have unhealthy food in the house). This is why I sometimes choose to run in the afternoon. Or some afternoons, I find work to do outside of the house, interacting with people. Find your triggers…and change them if you can.
And last. Be kind to yourself. Tell yourself that you are valued. You are worth the effort. You are loved. Especially tell yourself this when that other kind of self-talk happens. You know what I’m talking about. We are often too good a verbally abusing ourselves. How often have you said something to yourself that you’d never say to another person? Today, choose kindness, love, and forgiveness. As you experience giving these things to yourself, you just might notice them more around you as well.
What environmental struggle do you need help with?