By Ashley McIntosh
There can be many ways to answer this question. What I find, is that the root of an addiction to chocolate tends to revolve around two things:
Simply put: we want what we can’t have. I want you to try an experiment: for the next 2 months, eat chocolate as much as want all day and all evening. Just eat it, and fully allow yourself to enjoy it. After 2 months, what do you think might happen? The chocolate will lose its power over you. When you deprive yourself of a specific food, that food is exalted to an almost holy level. You can’t get it out of your mind. You must have it and you must have it often. But when you fully allow yourself to eat a food whenever you feel like it, then it becomes like any other food you allow yourself to eat – it’s just food.
I have a question for you: what do you love so much about chocolate? What does it give you? Often answers to this question include words such as ‘sweet’, ‘comforting’, or ‘calming’. And my reply to these answers is: when you crave chocolate, it is these words that you are really craving. When do you usually crave chocolate? Is it a time in your day when you really desire some ‘sweetness’ or ‘comfort’? Is it commonly when you are stressed after a long work day and want some time to yourself to ‘calm’ down? Take a look at your life and see where you might benefit from adding some of these words to your life. Add them in, and I assure you, your chocolate addiction will gradually fade away.
By Ashley McIntosh
“We overeat not because we enjoy food too much, it is because we don’t enjoy it enough.”
Charles Eisenstein, The Yoga of Eating, 2003: NewTrends Publishing Inc, Washington, DC; page 45
Sound familiar? While working on the computer a hunger pang strikes. You grab a snack, an apple, and sit back down to continue your work. You take your first bite and notice how sweet and juicy it is. Then an email comes in. You open it and read it – it’s important – so you reply. Immediately after you press send, you realize that you are now holding an apple core and only have apple seeds left to chew on….disappointing.
Did you even remember eating the apple? How often does this happen to you? How often do you really enjoy what you eat? How often do you eat more than you wish you had?
In today’s hectic and multi-tasking world, this scenario is all too common. How do we expect to be able to take the time to eat our snacks and meals without getting something else done in the process? Checking email, talking on the phone, making to do lists – there’s just so much that can be taken care of while eating. And even if we didn’t have anything to do, isn’t it boring to just…eat? The lure of magazines, newspapers and the internet is powerful.
But what effect is this detachment from the eating process having on us? The amount of food on our plates has increased – and we are eating it. Not only have portions increased, the flavours in our food are becoming stronger. Labs are constantly producing new and improved smells and flavours to titillate our taste buds. Salt and sauces are covering our meals. Fundamentally, it’s taking more and more to satisfy us. Eating lunch while reading a magazine often leaves us full of food and pictures but only partially satisfied by both. We haven’t given either our full attention – and where does that leave us…searching for more!
Let’s go back to the apple scenario: say you were to actually pay attention to the fruit – noticing the crunch as you bite through its skin, the sweet juice as it bursts into your mouth, and the feeling as it slides down into your stomach to fill it up and gradually diminish those hunger pangs. Say you were to actually remember eating the apple in the first place? Would you be craving that cookie at 3pm?
Eating is tremendously pleasurable, and lucky us, we get to do it 3 times a day. When we take the time to notice the pleasure of eating our meals, that urge to search for what we’re going to eat or drink next will lessen. By chewing each bite and noticing the myriad of flavours present on our tongues, we allow ourselves to feel satisfied, so satisfied that we often can’t possibly think of anything more we want. When we take the time to notice the sensations in our body while eating a meal and to notice our hunger gradually transform into satiety, we are more likely to notice that we are finished before our plate is completely empty. Essentially, we are more likely to eat less and feel content – satisfied.
Now like any new habit, learning to take pleasure in the food we eat takes time to incorporate into our lives. So start gradually. Tomorrow morning, I challenge you to take your breakfast over to a quiet and comfortable area in your house. Play some calming music if you like. Sit down with just you and your food and love every minute of eating it.
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