We’ve all been there. You walk into the room and see the plate of warm chocolate chip cookies, and your brain only registers one thing: Need them now. You don’t think, you just grab and gobble, trying to shove the cookies into your mouth fast enough so that they reach your stomach before the guilt does.
So what do you do to fight immediate gratification and binge eating? When you want to eat and eat and eat, how can you get back in control and feel good about yourself? Here’s five tips on how to do just that.
1. Don’t think now. Think then.
It’s difficult in that moment, when your heart’s pounding, your brain is wiped blank, and there is nothing in the entire world more important than those cookies. You want them, and you need them right now.
But wait. You need to realize that the urgency and need of the “now” is not reality. This is the Food Haze, where there is no such thing as satisfaction – where frustration, regret, and self-abuse run wild.
How do you want to feel then – in two minutes, in two hours? Do you want to feel full, bloated, sluggish and furious at yourself? Will the fleeting taste be worth the pain? Or do you want to feel confident, in control of yourself, proud of yourself, and free? You have the choice.
So when you pause in that cataclysmic moment, think about how to create the best possible “then.” Ask yourself: What is going to make me feel absolutely amazing?
Let yourself live in the “then.” Think about how proud of yourself you’ll be if you only have one cookie and then walk away, free from its power over you. Imagine the triumph. Taste the freedom. Relish the joy. And move towards that. Because it is more long-lasting than the deceptive, hazy dangers of the “now.”
2. Don’t think “How far can I go?” Instead, think “How can I help myself?”
There are two different ways to approach food, and the one you choose will greatly influence the way you view food and yourself. The first way is: How far can I go without breaking my rules? How much dessert can I sneak without feeling guilty? How many helpings can I have without feeling gross?
This is a problematic approach because it focuses on the food rather than on you. It centralizes on the pleasure of the food, not the effects of it on your body. How much bad can you get while still feeling good? This is a dangerous and slippery path.
The better, more constructive approach is: How can I help myself? What will make me feel the best, physically and psychologically, once I’m finished eating (when I arrive in the“then”)?
This approach puts you as the number one priority, not the food. Taste is fleeting, but the way you think and feel about yourself – that is what will last, and that is what you should focus on. What food decisions will leave you feeling happy and light, confident and free?
3. Eat like it’s your last meal on Earth.
All too often we shovel food down our throat, not even tasting it, while reaching for more. Why? How does this benefit us? Somewhere along the line, we’ve believed the lie that quantity is better than quality. It’s not. Enjoy your food. It doesn’t matter how much of that delicious treat you indulge in – if you wolf it down without enjoying it, it will not serve its purpose, and you will not be satisfied.
So slow down. Pretend this is the last time you will ever eat mashed potatoes, or ice cream, or sushi. How does that make you think about the food differently? Does it take on a new, deeper significance? Do you suddenly want to keep it on your plate for a little bit longer instead of shoveling it back without a second thought?
Have you ever seen someone french kiss quickly? No. It’s slow, it’s deep, and it’s real. Approach food with the same idea. Not that you should make out with your food, but you should love it and give it the time and attention it deserves.
4. Look forward to something beyond the food.
Food is a great enjoyment, but it often takes too much of a priority in our lives and can unbalance everything else. If you’re worried that you’re going to overeat, plan something specifically for after you eat that you are looking forward to more than your meal. Reward yourself with a special non-edible treat – a meet-up with a friend, an exciting movie.
Remind yourself that food not the central enjoyment in your day – it is a tasty stepping stone that energizes you to enjoy everything else more. It gives you energy to play that soccer game, to paint that painting.
Strangely, once you take food off of its pedestal, it actually becomes more enjoyable. When you make it the means rather than the end, it becomes a powerful tool rather than an usurping addiction. It builds you up instead of tearing you down. And this is the way it’s meant to be.
Food is your springboard into life. So enjoy it. But don’t forget to enjoy life, too.
5. Stop when you feel sexy, rather than full.
Because who really wants to feel full? It’s awful to feel bloated and heavy, when you’re sleepy and can’t quite breathe properly. This is not a sexy feeling. In fact, it is a completely languishing, useless feeling that makes you dead to the world for the next two hours. It is the very opposite of what food is supposed to do – energize and excite you. Food is supposed to whet your appetite for life, not make you feel like you want to crawl into a ball and pass out.
Feeling sexy, on the other hand, is a much more enjoyable option. When you stop eating before you’re full, when you stop while you still want more, you’ll feel alive, alert, and awake. You’ll be ready to take on life, energized, empowered, and proud of yourself. And who wouldn’t want to feel like that?
This is self-love. This is embracing you for the awesome person that you are. This is giving yourself the best thing possible, and feeling kick-ass awesome as a result. Going back to the buffet table for thirds or caving to the siren-call for more cookies may be tempting. But remember, nothing tastes as good as sexy feels.
This is by no means easy. Immediate gratification is both tempting and delicious, and defeating it takes time, hard work, and much dedication. And you may not always be successful. You may slip up, give in to the cookies, feel trapped in the cycle of regret. And that’s okay. Just because you lose a battle, that doesn’t mean you should give up on the war. No matter what you’ve done or failed to do, you always have a choice. So assert yourself over these temptations. Start asking yourself the right questions. And when the urge to binge strikes again, you’ll be ready for war.