I love chocolate.
I’m also quite convinced that I’m not alone in this sentiment. While I don’t have much of a sweet tooth for anything else in the candy-pastry-and-baked-goods world, chocolate in another matter altogether. It’s in its very own category.
A few days ago, something unexpected happened: I turned down a piece of chocolate.
But it’s not quite how the story starts.
Here it is: one of my fellow trainers at the gym had received a box of chocolates from one of his clients. Not any chocolate either, but one of my very favourite kind (special enough that I systematically purchase some to put in my own stocking every year during the Holiday season because I like them so much.)
As my colleague approached me, intent on sharing the goods, a surprising though emerged at the front of my mind: I didn’t really feel like eating chocolate.
And, in those short seconds, I simply couldn’t recognize myself.
See, I spent decades in the throes of what I now like to refer to as food FOMO (fear of missing out): if there was chocolate available, then I would eat said chocolate solely because it was there. I couldn’t possibly miss out on the chocolate, now could I?
Except that, in reality, yes I could: it’s only chocolate.
And chocolate―or any other food, for that matter―will still exist whether I have some right now or not. Just because it’s there and it’s rare doesn’t mean that I actually really want it.
Mind you, there were times in the past where I did turn down the chocolate too. But it wasn’t because I didn’t want it. It’s because I felt I didn’t earn it, or that passing on it would somehow make me more virtuous. And of course, these times probably resulted in me overindulging in it (or any other “treat”) later, because that’s what restriction creates.
By approaching chocolate (I think you can now realize I’m using it as an example, and do feel free to substitute any other food that you’d like) from a standpoint of brutal honesty, I took its power away!
CHOCOLATE AS SELF-MEDICATION
Ok fine, you may say, but what about the times where you feel like you deserve, like you need the chocolate?
And of course I’m familiar with these times! But instead of automatically and unquestionably falling back on the old reach-for-food behaviour, I’ve changed one single thing:
I now take the time to ask myself why.
Much more than what follows, it’s that question that’s the big differentiator: instead of stifling whatever’s going on, I dig right into it.
Why do I feel like I deserve or need the chocolate?
And the answers can be multiple:
- Because I’m feeling hormonal and I will find it soothing.
- Because I’m ravenous and it’s within easy reach.
- Because I’m sad and I believe it will make everything better.
- Because it tastes delicious and that’s enough reason for me.
- Because I’ve had a bad day and I want to eat everything in sight.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Now, the answers don’t necessarily change the outcome, but… they sometimes do! If I recognize that I’m looking for comfort, I may choose to see how I fare with a warm bath or a soft comforter and a book instead. If I’m hangry, I know that reaching for protein will make me feel a thousand times better and for a longer time. If I need to work through some feelings, I know that journaling is a lot more effective… than chocolate will ever be!
Does it mean that I forgo the chocolate entirely? No, not all the time. But I can approach it much more mindfully… and be honest about actually wanting it or not!
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