I struggled with food and social events for years.
In my head, I built so much anxiety around the food I knew would be there, I drove myself crazy. I read countless women’s magazines gleaning all the tips I could to stop eating too much.
If you’ve been there, you’ve also probably heard them:
>>> Hold a drink in your hand so you can’t eat so much at the buffet.
>>> Put only 2 things on your plate at a time.
>>> Eat before a party so you don’t arrive hungry.
>>> Stand more than an arm’s length away from the buffet.
That’s never worked for me. Hold a drink? I’ll stand next to a table I can put my drink on. Only two things on my plate? I’ll make 20 trips back to the buffet. Eat before a party? I’ll be twice as full. Stand far from the buffet? I’ll just walk back to the buffet again, and again.
Not only did these tips never work, they usually backlashed. I would obsess so much about how I would enforce these tips on myself to not binge that once I got to the party, I was so overwhelmed with anxiety, stress and guilt, the only thing that seemed to relieve me was the food itself.
I’ve only ever heard one tip that I started implementing a couple of years ago that worked.
And that tip?
Eat everything you want.
And here’s why: temptation=guilt=binge.
Once I took temptation out of the equation, I remained in control, and seemingly miraculously, I didn’t overeat.
Here’s what to do when you allow yourself to eat whatever you want:
1. Tell someone that you are going to indulge. A friend, your partner, whoever.
2. Savor each bite. Let the food melt into your mouth. Go slow. Let each bite be purposeful in giving you immense pleasure, joy, and satisfaction. Chew thoroughly.
3. Notice if you truly enjoy the food. If you’re loving it, great! Enjoy it. If you do not love it 1,000 percent, throw the plate away and start again.
4. Be at peace with yourself if you still overeat. Come to terms with this before you go to the party. Know that if you overeat you’ll probably feel like you gained 10 pounds and cravings may be more difficult to manage over the next few days. But you didn’t actually gain 10 pounds and you will get back on track at your next meal. Compartmentalize it: accept how you feel, acknowledge and move on.
Here’s why it works:
When you plan to mindfully indulge, you stay in control.
When I banned or avoided food, I put it on a pedestal, forfeiting the control I have over it. When I gave into the temptation, I felt guilty. Then I banned the food again, and the cycle spiraled out of control.
Before your next social event, tell someone about your planned indulgence, own it and agree to love every bite of it.
I found that when I plan my indulges, I eat a little less than I thought I would because I’m not glorifying the food; and some of the food I was drooling over doesn’t taste as good as I imagined.
Now, I can go to social events, enjoy the food and go home pleasantly satisfied.
Occasionally, I still overeat, but I acknowledge it, then I move on and get back on the healthy wagon within a couple of days.
Changing habits is hard work, but sometimes I think we over think it. You don’t need clever hacks to trick yourself into not eating. Just basic mindful techniques are all it takes to radically change your relationship to food, your body, and your health.
Author: Veronica Grant
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Michael Galloway/Flickr