There is great power in small things.
Have you compared the size of a rudder on a ship to the ship as a whole? The rudder is many, many times smaller than the whole ship, but the direction the rudder points determines the direction that ship will travel.
After breaking my back, and deciding that things were out of control with my need for pain medication, I ended up in a pain management clinic. The team there skillfully supported me in weaning off the opioid medications, and after that fog lifted, I realized that the opioids weren’t the only things that were triggering my addictive responses.
I saw this kind of pattern show up during my pregnancies too. When the need for a particular kind of doughnut only produced and sold in a mountain gift shop an hour and a half away, you bet my husband was willing to get those things to me ASAP!
Maybe you’ve experienced that out-of-control feeling too.
The one where you want to stop but you feel like you can’t overcome the hard wiring. We’ve been told things are okay “in moderation,” but it just doesn’t feel possible.
Why does moderation fall flat for some of us?
We want to enjoy just one cookie, for example, but we know if we grab the first one, pretty soon we’ll have eaten way more than one, and we feel horrible about ourselves. We messed up our goals again!
What if moderation’s a myth?
What if we just ban the idea of moderation altogether? We’d feel a lot more sane, right? And how can we ditch “moderation” when we have been told over and over again that this is the path to indulging in the “bad” foods while we’re trying to diet or at least eat more healthfully?
It *feels* like abandoning moderation will lead us over the cliff headlong into a binge session. It also feels like embracing moderation means that we’re never going to have a positive relationship with food.
When we never achieve satisfaction or are always experiencing failure, how can we have a positive relationship with food?
Let’s embrace our inner mad scientist here, and run some experiments, shall we? We know that being satisfied through moderation is a myth if you suffer with food addictions. How can we expect that when we desire something fully that satisfying it only a little will work?
Next time one of those full-on cravings takes over your mind, ditch the idea that pecking at one cookie, or one little bite, is going to get you anywhere you want to be.
You want to enjoy food, AND you want to enjoy a healthy body, right? Are these things mutually exclusive? Absolutely not!
Here’s the how-to:
When a craving hits you strongly, sit with it for a bit. Identify and describe what that experience is for you. Writing this out will help you as you investigate the patterns in your eating. Explore where you think it may have originated. Did something in your day happen to trigger it? Have you been avoiding a particular type of food recently? Are you dehydrated? Dehydration can definitely ramp up the sensations of your hunger.
Prep your lab:
Then, after you’ve done this prep work, hold your experiment. You’ll need to “prep your lab” by getting really present. Just you and the food. No talking, no phones, and no TVs in the background. You’ll need to prep your body by identifying how hungry you truly are at the moment. As scientists, we need to quantify it, so rank your hunger on a scale from 0 to 10 before beginning.
Engage and observe:
Explore this food that you’ve been craving with every sense you have and take notes as you observe. What about that food where you craving? Is it the texture, the temperature, the mouth feel? Is it the sweetness, the saltiness, the fattiness? Is it the combination of two tastes that lights up your satisfaction?
Concluding the experiment:
As you enjoy the food with your mind fully in the experience, go slowly to see at which point you feel completely satisfied and ready to move forward with your day. When you notice that you are indeed satisfied, decide what point you are on the hunger scale and assign a corresponding number. Notice how your body feels and any thoughts you have about your choice to do this experiment- after all, our connection to foods is not isolated to our physical experience.
Keep recording your observations at intervals at least 48 hours out from your experiment. Some foods have delayed reactions in our minds and bodies, so keep on the look out for connections in that time frame.
The final step in the scientific method is to repeat the experiment to determine if the results are repeatable. That’s right, you’ll need to check into and learn from your cravings over multiple experiences.