Wednesday, 30 October 2013


I over-eat when I am bored. And when I'm anxious. And when I'm tired. And when I'm a whole host of other things too. It's just a habit and I am aware of it. Sometimes I am even aware of it while I'm doing it....and I still do it anyway! That's when I have conversations with myself that go something like this: "Why are you eating? You aren't even hungry. Yeah, well, I can eat if I want to. It tastes good. I deserve it. But you'll get fat. You hate your podgy stomach and, look, you are making it worse. Right now! I know, leave me alone. I'm going to eat it anyway and now you are making me feel bad about it."

Any of this sounding familiar? We all have little habits that we'd rather not have. Ultimately, I suppose it's about comfort. I over-eat when I need comfort. Food soothes me. It does taste good and it feels like a treat, but more often than not, I regret it afterwards because the things I choose to eat are junky
and make me gain weight. I can't do enough exercise at the moment to counterbalance that, so I am left with a feeling of discomfort. Not so great.
So what can I do about it?

My first port of call is always my Zen practice. Just being aware of my habit, recognizing when I am about to eat habitually and then choosing whether or not I want to do it. Often this works. Other times it doesn't. When it doesn't, I still have my awareness of the habit, so I can then make another choice. I was reading recently about quitting smoking. (I don't smoke, but someone I love too much to lose does.) There's a website called Love Not Smoking that makes some clever recommendations that can be applied to any habitual, addictive behaviour.

First up: find a distraction! Apparently, a craving only lasts for 90 seconds, so if you can find something to sufficiently distract yourself for a mere minute and a half, your craving might just pass all of its own accord. There's a fun list of distraction suggestions on the website. Another idea: take four deep belly breaths. This is a tool that I use ALL the time. It seems to ease all manner of ills. When I am anxious, it calms me down. When I am tired, it perks me up. When I need to hush the voices in my head, yep, it works on them too. Try it. It really is amazing and the best thing is that it is free, works anywhere, is very discreet and you don't need any equipment!

Just to be clear, I have no problem with eating treats, just with doing so out of habit. In fact, earlier this week, my youngest daughter and I were at an American candy store here in London and carefully selected a Twinkie and a Hostess chocolate cupcake. We came home, cut them in half and ate them quietly together, savouring every bite. Well, I was savouring every bite. She was looking at me with a look that said, "These are kinda gross, Mom, but you are enjoying them so much, I'll just roll with it." She's sweet like that, and besides, she did not grow up in the US so has no nostalgic affinity to Hostess goods. Probably for the best....!

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