Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Last night I got an unexpected, last-minute invite to join my mom and sister at a local street fair. Even though the main reason for going was to see a concert, my first thought when asked to go was: "How am I gonna resist all the tempting foods that will be there? I don't wanna ruin my diet!"
I strongly considered declining the invitation just to avoid the temptations (think: funnel cake, ice cream, tacos, pizza, booze, and other delicious, greasy, fatty foods). Wouldn't it be easier, I thought, just to stay at home? Even if I went and managed to not eat anything, wouldn't I just feel miserable and deprived? And what fun is that?
In that moment, I realized that I needed to trust myself and let go of these old ways of thinking. Cravings are just that - cravings. And they are normal. They are NOT part of some super-human force that controls me. Cravings usually arise from unconscious thoughts and memories we have that associate food with comfort, pleasure and reward. It's not something to fear - it's natural. It's our brain's way of telling us that we have some physiological or psychological need to be fulfilled.
In this case, I knew my cravings were purely psychological. How did I know? Because I was starting to crave these foods at the fair before I was even there to see or smell them! My brain associates fairs with these types of foods, and the combination of these two things I associate with FUN. I didn't ACTUALLY want to eat something unhealthy or greasy. I've been eating so clean and healthy lately that my body doesn't crave stuff like that now. I just want to have fun, but I automatically and irrationally determined that the best and only way to have fun at the fair was to EAT. And when I confronted this irrational belief, I realized how ridiculous it was!
I said "YES" to the invite, and went without fear of losing my willpower because I trusted myself to make better choices for myself. I went to the concert and CHOSE to not make eating a condition for having fun. I looked past the food and focused on enjoying the music, time with my family, and the relatively nice weather (anything below 90 degrees here in Sacramento, California right now is heavenly!).
When I got a craving from seeing someone walk by with a yummy plate of food, I just reminded myself that I wasn't hungry (I strategically ate dinner beforehand) and that the craving was only psychological and would pass. Most importantly, I didn't get mad at myself for having food cravings. I'm learning that food cravings themselves are not the problem - rather, it's the meaning that we attach to them, and the ways in which we respond to them that can be good or bad for us.
In this case, my cravings helped me realize that what I truly needed was to have fun. And I reminded myself that there are many different ways beyond food to fulfill that need. I thanked my food cravings for this helpful piece of information, and almost immediately the cravings subsided. In the end, I had a great time at the concert and an even greater time stepping on the scale this morning.
To some, this story may seem trivial, but to the lifelong food addict / emotional eater here, this was a little victory that I must acknowledge and celebrate. It represents my shifting perspective towards food, and even the way I feel about myself. I suspect my path to success will be made up of millions of little victories like this. And for the first time ever, I'm starting to think that journey won't be so bad.