Last week I wrote to you about temptations and how our goal should not be to quarantine ourselves from foods that might lead us down a slippery slope, but to learn how to handle that temptation in a way that makes us feel empowered. Does it really taste good enough to make up for you not looking and feeling your best?
We might find that problem is much deeper than “that tastes good and I want it”. What is it, beyond flavor, that these foods offer? What thoughts and emotions are involved? Are we using these foods to medicate stress? Are we turning to them for comfort? Are we eating as a way of coping with loneliness? Are we distracting ourselves from life’s problems?
What stories are we telling ourselves in these instances? Have we “been so good” lately? Do we “deserve this” because we’ve had a rough day? Do we “need” a treat?
The reasons we turn to food for reasons other than nutrition are innumerable. Sometimes these reasons are perfectly appropriate, like when celebrating special occasions or traditions. Many of us, though, eat for reasons other than sustenance regularly. Day in and day out. To break this pattern, we need to identify the thoughts, emotions, and feelings that are involved in these situations. We need to figure out a way to manage these needs of ours without turning to food. We need to get to the root of what we’re feeling and thinking, and take steps to address the underlying problem.
Finally, we’ll have to make a decision. Right now, in this moment, will we choose flavor or will we choose something bigger and better? Will we eat it or will we not? What happens if we choose to indulge? What happens if we choose not to indulge? There is no right answer, and what we’ll want to do will vary depending on the situation.
If we’ve built momentum and we’re confident this deviation won’t result in a backslide, perhaps an indulgence won’t be a big deal at all. If, on the other hand, we’re struggling with consistency and know that you’ll beat yourself up afterwards, perhaps the indulgence just isn’t worth it. Regardless of whether we choose to indulge or not, we can assess how you feel afterwards. If we choose to indulge, how do we feel physically? How do we feel emotionally? Was it worth it?
If we choose not to indulge, what are we telling ourselves? Are we pleased and proud or do we feel deprived and miserable? Do we feel stronger or weaker? What’s at the root of these thoughts and feelings? What’s driving our efforts? Are we acting out of fear and desperation or are we acting out of resolve and self-love?
It may seem like exploring all of these concepts is overkill for something so simple as eating something for pleasure, but doing so is a critical step in equipping ourselves to handle these temptations.
There will always be temptation. There will always be opportunity to put pleasure before health. There will always be reasons to deviate. Only you can determine whether these reasons are adequate. Only you can determine how you should respond to temptation. Only you can determine what you’re going to do when faced with these decisions. Because you will be faced with these decisions. Day in and day out. For the rest of your life. Life’s too short to spend it fighting with temptation. Put in the work to address what’s going on between your ears in these situations.
It may not be easy.
It may not be a quick process.
It will be worth it, though.
You’re worth it.
You’ve got this.