How many times have you felt temptation when it comes to food? You want the dessert but “Know you shouldn’t.” I’m going to assume there have been many instances. Sitting down to write this blog for you, my goal is to equip you with the tools to feel confident in a situation of temptation. Before we can get there, however, it’s weighing on my heart that food has the ability to make you feel as though you’ve done something wrong by eating it. That is temptation after all, isn’t it?
This is the dieting mentality showing up. We have been conditioned to label foods as “Good,” or “Bad.” Using phrases as “Don’t eat that, that’s bad for you.” What if however, we took the labels away? What if a food was neutral? Here is the thing, it’s all information for our bodies. A donut gives our body information, so does an apple. Will the information be different? Absolutely, but when we are labeling these foods it’s not about the food, it’s actually about the labels we are placing on ourselves for eating the foods. For example, by immediately associating that we were wrong, or a bad person, for eating a particular meal. Soak up this next statement; what you put into your body does not define if you are a good or bad person. The goal should just be to chose what feels good.
To gain food freedom, this sense of ease around food, indulging when we wish and choosing not to when we don’t. We have to actually allow ourselves freedom around food, for all options to be just that, options! If no food is off limits, and there are neither good nor bad choices to make, does temptation exist? That sentence can seem a bit, “Out there,” but stay with me here.
If you had the freedom, to have anything you wanted at the table, off the menu, at the bakery, what would you want? What would make you feel best? Don’t even give me the “Everything,” answer because we know that isn’t the truth unless you want to be sick to your stomach.
Now, just as with anything, breaking free from the dieting world takes practice. Finding freedom around food takes practice. There is this fine line of allowing yourself permission to choose and then understanding the result of your choice. Just because a particular food is an option doesn’t mean that you should choose it. Why is that? For instance, if this particular food is a trigger for you to binge or makes you feel guilt, remorse or shame. While it may feel good at the moment, it may not afterward, and that is something to be mindful of. So, how do we bridge the gap between freeing ourselves from temptation, but also feeling confident in the situation on our path to food freedom?
1. Check in with yourself
Ask yourself, “What do I really want?” More often than not we are allowing others choices to influence what we eat, especially when it comes to social settings. This could be around the dessert table at the holiday party or ordering alcohol at the bar. Rather than acting out of habit, assuming the habit isn’t aligned with your goal, check in with your gut and figure out what it is you truly want. What is going to make you feel best in the situation?
2. Survey the Scene
Maybe at this point, you have recognized you want the dessert, or the drink, or whatever the tempting treat may be. Now you can survey the scene and identify your best version of that option. For example, if you decide you would like something sweet and your options are the pre-cut slices of cake which are enough to serve 3 people or take 1-2 individual cookies. Knowing that if the cake is on your plate you’re more likely to consume the entire amount, your best option at the moment could be the cookies.
3. Mindfully Indulge
Once you have reached step 3, now you can savor the moment. I emphasize the word mindfully in reference to the indulgence because this isn’t the time to scarf down the food and move on but rather to be fully present and enjoy yourself. How does it taste? What do you like about it? How does it make you feel? These questions are easy to simply pass over, but we run into trouble when we gulp the food down without thought, act out of impulse, and then tie our choices to wrong-doing.
Slowing down at the moment helps us connect to our bodies, and align with our goals rather than acting out of scarcity and making choices out of fear.
All food is available at all times and there are no wrong choices. There are choices, however, that will make you feel better than others and that will align with the goals you are looking to achieve; these are the decisions you want to focus on.