Easter is a time where many of us make an exception to our normal ‘rules’ around eating lots of chocolate. It is a special event in the year and for some people who gave up chocolate for lent, it may be something they have looked forward to trying again. Chocolate sitting on the bench slowly (or sometimes quickly!), goes missing until it all disappears. But do you find yourself now desiring more?
We get to a point that we feel out of control and start to judge ourselves for not having any will power. This makes us feel bad.
But this desire to eat chocolate is not a sign that you have something wrong with you. In fact, this is a sign that your brain is doing exactly what it is designed to do. Our brains are wired to seek pleasure. In the old days when we were evolving humans this really served us. We needed to desire food otherwise we would not survive. Desire starts in the brain, and each time we reward the brain with what it was we desired, we increase that desire even more. If you are familiar with Pavlov’s dogs, it is the same principle.
In our current society ‘pleasures’ are so easy to access. Well, perhaps not quite as accessible when we are in 'lockdown' but still far more accessible than when we were living in caves. Think about food. We don’t need to hunt and gather, instead we go to the supermarket, dial a takeaway, drive through (those were the days before corona virus!), call into a fast food restaurant or dine in. The deal may be even more exciting to us if there is a deal of '2 for one', or 'half price' food.
Many of the things we desire are man made. Concentrated food causes an unnatural response in our brain. Concentrated things create an overdesire. Think drugs, alcohol, gambling.
Chocolate is one of those man-made things. In particular, the sugar content which is refined and concentrated in our chocolate Easter eggs.
After having chocolate, with its refined sugar, our brain thinks it must be essential to our survival. The desire we need for food which has previously been a survival tool, has now turned into an overdesire for concentrated man made foods which is literally causing us health problems that may kill us.
So, what is the solution? The solution is to decondition that urge or desire you have for the chocolate by doing the exact opposite. Do not reward or obey the desire! There are 3 things you can do when faced with those beautiful looking Easter eggs (there beauty is not by chance by the way!).
Firstly, you can obey the desire and eat the egg, further increasing the desire for chocolate. Secondly, you can resist the chocolate. This is using will power and can increase the intensity of the emotion at the time. Pushing against our emotion like this is not sustainable, and ultimately we give in. Lastly, you can allow the emotion.
Allowing the emotion is just allowing the feeling to be there without acting on it. It is welcoming it in, expecting it on some occasions where you are used to having the chocolate, and becoming a watcher of your own mind. Where can you feel it in your body? Is it fast, slow, hard or soft?
This change in direction for your brain helps to take some of the intensity out of the desire. Or more specifically, it takes your brain away from the sentences in your mind that help create the feeling of desire. Pressing this ‘pause button’ and not acting on the desire, and being willing to feel the urge enables you to see that you can handle having the feeling of an urge and not acting on it. It is not that bad when you choose to let the feeling in.
If you can continue to allow urges/ desires without acting on them, then you will be able to reduce your desire. Jump into consciousness and don’t let you brain run around unsupervised. Remember, left in the moment, your brain will always choose the instant gratification or pleasure of eating that Easter egg or that sugar filled snack. Have a go and let me know how you went in the comments.
Don’t quit after a few attempts, the only way you fail is if you quit! If you act on the urge, don’t beat yourself up, just take the next action of allowing the next urge you have. Every time you allow an urge it counts, and you can access a feeling of being proud and put a penny in your emotional bank account.
If you are want to get some control over your eating and would like some help to stop overeating and stop obsessing over food and your weight, contact me for a free mini session see how I can help you. There are no diets, just a great selection of new tools to help you lose weight, keep it off and manage your emotional life.