I’m going to paint you a picture – a before and after one. You might see yourself in the before picture at the moment, but I’m going to show you what’s possible.
If you are new to intuitive eating, or you have tried it, you will find the Eat Happy Method a more practical common sense approach to our eating, which is based in kindness and self-acceptance. Let’s see how we can get you feeling totally different about dessert!!
BEFORE (The Dieting Headspace)
The Dessert Edition
The initial thought: Oh that meal was lovely, but now I really want to have some dessert.
The second thought: No! I can’t have dessert, I am not allowed. But I would really like some.
The rationalization/justification: Well I could have a bit. I could have some of the lighter desserts on the menu (although I really would like the double fudge chocolate cake). I could exercise it off later. I could fast for 16 hours tomorrow. I think I can have the chocolate cake actually because it’s probably quite a small slice. I have been really busy today. I am quite tired.
The Mental Math Planning Strategy Operation: Ok, so my meal was probably quite a lot, 600 cals, but I was good so it maybe 550 cals (or some other random and non-sensical number). Maybe a 10, or an X20? God, let me check my app to see where I am. How many steps did I do? Did I burn any cals from talking a lot tonight?
The Decision: Okay, I’m going to eat it.
The Eating: This is lovely, but I really shouldn’t be eating it. I hope my numbers add up. God, it’s so nice, I just want to eat more. Can I have more? It’s probably so full of sugar. Oh god, so many carbs. It’s bloody lovely but I can’t really be eating this!
The Aftermath: I am a bloody pathetic loser?! Why can’t I do what I said I was going to do?
Recap of Dieting Headspace: Lots of rationalizing the initial desire. A huge sense that the initial desire for the cake is wrong. A big part of the mind latches onto the idea of cake because it is this forbidden fruit. As you can’t have the cake on your plan, or because you want it, you have to justify it by promising you’ll be good (a moral word for a situation that doesn’t require this word) or you rationalize it by giving a reason that is ‘better’ than how you feel. I.e. External things are better than you. The diet is better than you. The positioning of you here is at the bottom of the pile. The desire for the cake is wrong in your eyes, and you are also ‘wrong’. The planning for the cake is almost addictive. There’s a hunting/chasing sort of feeling going on. This increases dopamine because getting something you can’t have leads to a feeling of reward. However, there is no real enjoyment of the cake. It is filled with guilty feelings. Guilt is not an emotion that needs to be felt about eating. Afterwards, you have to deal with the guilt. It is usually brushed under the carpet by promising to do better. This is again, reinforcing the idea of a right way to eat, but there is no need to be better because there wasn’t a mistake made.
After (The Eat Happy Mindset) – The Dessert Edition:
I want cake. I am aware of this feeling. Why do I think I feel it? Well, clearly, it’s because I’ve seen cake on the menu. Seeing cake is obviously going to make a part of me want it! I’m fine with this feeling of wanting. I am used to wanting the cake, it doesn’t frighten me. It is just a desire filled feeling. I am aware of this feeling, I accept this feeling of wanting. Now, do I actually really want this cake right now? I know I can have it, I also know I don’t always feel great after eating it.
Option a) I feel that I can eat cake because my past experience has shown me that I am happy with this decision when I make it and I am usually able to respect my body in the big picture enough to nourish it on most days. I don’t want cake all the time. I’m aware that eating cake makes me want more of it. Today I do really feel like it! I’m honouring this feeling. Now I am eating it and it is delicious, I love the fudgy texture. Is that a chocolate chip? Very interesting, it’s quite sweet. This creamy topping thing is too sugary but the rest of it is quite light actually.
Option b) I really don’t feel I want it enough right now. I’m totally happy with being here without the cake. I don’t think I’ve been feeling so great, and I don’t want to give myself a sugar rush because I’m not going to enjoy it. I don’t think this particular cake is really going to be anything super special. Plus I know that how I feel now, is how I will feel after the cake and I’m okay with not experiencing this cake right now!
Afterwards: I am full, I am content, I am happy with my decision. I respect myself, I want to look after myself as much as I can. I know I don’t always align with that path, but I always know how to come back to balance, and that is through self-love.
What’s the difference?
In this scenario, the individual shows that they respect themselves, they are kind to themselves, and no matter which decision they make – they learn to be okay with it. Sometimes, the decision doesn’t always feel good, but they use it as a great learning experience. Eating is something they respect and they listen to their inner thoughts and feelings around food.
What you can try from this today:
Don’t add up numbers instead listen to the desire.
- Let yourself feel the desire.
- Separate the desire from shame. You have NO need for shame around wanting food.
- Be kind to yourself. Tell yourself that you are NOT a bad person for wanting food.
Trust that everything will be okay. Even though you haven’t yet experienced this, stop placing trust in the diet or the planning. It is not working and it eroding your ability to find balance.
Don’t count the food numbers of the dessert.
Choose to eat it and eat it slowly with presence.
If you feel guilt, breathe in and out slowly. Use an essential oil that has a pleasing calming smell and tell yourself this is going to make you stronger. Feel the guilt, don’t talk to it.
Let me know what you think. Will you be trying this?