Published on November 20, 2016
You are NOT hungry most of the time. You are not hungry because something smells good, looks good, or tastes good. You are also not hungry because there is stress, a deadline, a personal or business problem, anxiety, tension, it’s morning, afternoon, evening, when alone, with thinner friends, with fatter friends, weekdays, weekends, day time, night time, money problems, it’s raining, it’s not, it came with the dinner . . . and on and on and on.
You are not hungry most of the time. Click To Tweet
You are not hungry 24 hours a day, though you might think you are. There are many daily food encounters — friends offering food, a restaurant server describing dessert, the smell of popcorn in a movie theater, chestnuts roasting on a New York City street cart, to name a few. Acknowledging the visual and emotional blitz helps interrupt the knee-jerk reaction that causes you to eat even though you’re not hungry. Just knowing you are not hungry most of the time is a helpful piece of information.
You may even have identified reasons to justify your indulgence when you’re not hungry. “I got so mad at my kids.” Or, “I locked my keys in the car.” These might seem valid enough reasons to make you eat. They are not. If you eat when you’re angry, does your anger go away? Tired? When does food become a replacement for sleep? Is the party you went to any better because you came home stuffed, bloated, feeling fat, uncomfortable and with lowered self-esteem? Was it worth it?
Obviously, past behavior has not worked. Time for a clear vision of what you’re trying to accomplish, a mind open to the possibility of change, and the knowledge that some discomfort might — dare I say will — occur while you’re changing. I heard it said once, “There is no change without change.” The very act of becoming slim is a change. Do you eat out of habit, not hunger? Identifying habits requires introspection and patience, but most of all honesty. Once you acknowledge, “Yes, I do that,” you can decide you don’t want to do THAT anymore and begin to do something else instead. You CAN alter automatic, learned responses by creating alternative behaviors that CAN and DO result in permanent change.
Identify your eating patterns, including the seemingly insignificant ones, such as “it’s only broccoli, some more can’t hurt.” What ritual thinking is in your subconscious? Are leftovers a problem? Does food preparation end up being one for you and one for the pot? One scoop for the bowl and two licks of the spoon for you? Does someone else serve you your food at home, in the office, in a restaurant? Do you finish everything served to you? If you buy, prepare, serve and accept a little less food, you’ll eat less . . . and, ultimately, you’ll be a little less. If you don’t bring it into the house, you won’t eat it. It’s not necessary to finish everything on your plate. It’s perfectly fine to leave some food over. Food is wasted if you put it into a body that doesn’t need it. If you order less the next time, there will be less to waste.
Hunger demands to be fed.
An urge passes.
Hunger is a physical need (perhaps you haven’t eaten all day).
An urge is an emotional craving (you ate not long ago but that doughnut in the window looks tasty).
Start thinking of things you can do, actions you can take, the next time you’re thinking about eating but know you’re not hungry. For example, perhaps drinking a glass or two of water will help ward off what you think is hunger. If that doesn’t do it, perhaps the water AND calling a friend is what you need. Or, empty out one of your dresser drawers; then, one item at a time re-fold and re-place them in the drawer. Or, take a shower. Or, polish your nails. Try every technique available and, you know what? A moment might still be difficult. That doesn’t mean you stop trying.
The first time you try any distraction technique, it might feel awkward and uncomfortable because it’s different from what you’ve done in the past. However, no matter how uncomfortable you feel at the beginning of creating a new habit, NOTHING is as uncomfortable as having to choose what to wear based on how much of your body it will cover or selecting what to wear based on what fits on a particular day. It is the action of taking an action that gets the result.
It almost doesn’t matter which techniques you use to begin to re-pattern your habits; what is important is that you take a swift, purposeful, and immediate action. The quicker the action, the quicker the moment of anxiety passes, and you find yourself sticking to your program for longer stretches of time. It is becoming comfortable, enjoyable, routine — your new preferred behavior.