I’ve noticed a bit of a trend at the moment. Clients, friends, family and myself have been thinking about food. And I mean really thinking about food; having that strong urge and craving for food, sweet things or junk food. I thought I’d give you the heads up on what's going on with your mind and what you can do. If this isn’t you, still read on because I’m sure the trend will get to you sooner or later.
What’s going on?
The first thing to know is that we have a lot of thoughts in a day. The Laboratory of Neuroimaging at the University of South Carolina conducted a study and found that the average person has around 70,000 thoughts in a day. If we acted on them all we’d be pretty busy.
Pause for a minute
Think about the times where you’ve had a thought that wasn’t really useful.
60...59…58…the time you wanted to knock off from work and start your weekend early…
57…56…55…the time you were in a meeting and wanted to close your eyes and have a nap instead…
54…53…ohh this is a good one; you’d had a long day at work, the kids were whinging and you wanted to show them what a real tantrum was by throwing your own…
52…51…50…the time you were listening to a mate complain about the same problem, over and over and over again and you wanted to interrupt them and say “GET OVER IT”…
49…48…47…the time you had to explain how to do something to a work colleague about 10 times and you’d reached the stage where you wanted to say “I give up, figure it out for yourself”…
46…45…44…the time you got that bill in the mail and thought "WHAT! I'm not paying that!"...
43...42...and the list goes on…
Did you act on these thoughts?
Most likely not. If you answered yes, you probably worked out pretty quickly that the response didn’t help you in the long run. Treat the thought for wanting food the same way you treat these other thoughts. It’s simply a thought.
How did you respond instead?
Think about how you responded. What did you think? What did you do? Maybe you told yourself:
“The weekend isn’t that far away, I can hang in till then. Once I get stuck into work I’ll be fine.”
“Yes, this is a boring meeting but at least I’m getting paid.”
Walked out of the room, took a few deep breaths, calmed down and then went back in to deal with the kids. Alternatively, you may have poured yourself a glass of wine.
Nodded sympathetically at your mate and let them yabber on.
You get the gist that you’ve already got the tools and skills to deal with unhelpful thoughts. Now do the same techniques when it comes to thoughts about wanting food. Tell yourself that you’ll be fine, focus on the positive, change your state of mind, acknowledge the situation or distract yourself.
This will take practice and repetition, like whenever you learn something new. When you started driving or that new job you had that transition period when you had to learn new skills. A heavy dose of patience may be required here. Or if you’ve worked with me or come to one of my workshops you can use the Release Process on any frustrated or doubtful feelings you get (let it out that window!).
Warning: The mind often associates food with nice tastes and feelings
Often you’ll get a physical response (e.g. mouth watering) or feelings (e.g. happy, relaxed) as well as the thought for food. Our mind naturally and intentionally associates a stimulus with a particular response.
For example when you hear a song (stimulus) you might automatically remember a person or situation (response). Or when you hear your name being called in a frustrated tone (stimulus) you might respond by tensing up (response).
This is called anchoring. Our mind does this to make memories stronger for us. A trait designed to help us survive by allowing us to respond quicker to different stimuli.
What do I do about this?
Short answer: Build up the advantages of not having the food.
Long answer: There are two ways the mind is motivated; moving away from negative things and moving towards positive things. In the long term moving towards positive things is a more successful strategy. Think about the teachers you’ve had over the years. Some got you to do work by building up all the negative consequences of not doing the work. Others encouraged and motivated you by building up the positives. “After you’ve done this you’ll be able to have free time.” “Doing this task will help you in the game I’ve got planned.” “Knowing how to add and subtract will mean that you won’t get short changed.” You were more likely to do the work for the teacher that had you moving towards something positive.
It’s the same with our mind.
When you get the thought for food and those strong responses, start building up in your mind something positive you’re moving towards. Notice how your body will feel after you decide to push that food aside. It’ll feel lighter, healthier. Add in how you’ll be feeling; more positive, better within yourself and proud of yourself. Imagine what you’ll be thinking to yourself. “I’m glad I decided to have a glass of water.” “That was pretty easy.” “My body is really thanking me for making that healthy choice.” Have a picture or movie pop into your head of the future you that’s healthy, fit, energised and happy. Show yourself what you’re moving towards.
Remember we have around 70,000 thoughts in a day. Which ones are you going to act on? It's your choice.
Something to think about...
Thoughts lead to feelings.
Feelings lead to actions.
Actions lead to results.
- T. Harv Eker