As adults one of the biggest giants we face is that of our own self will. We live as servants to our appetites, our cravings, and yes, our addictions to food. Dr. Douglas Graham, author of The 80/10/10 Diet, puts it this way: “Appetite is…the socially acceptable word for craving, which in turn is the socially acceptable term for addiction.” Call it what you want, but our choices for nourishment often have very little to do with hunger and very much to do with emotion. We eat because we are happy. We eat because we are sad. We eat because we are celebrating. We eat because we are grieving. We eat because we are stressed. We should be eating to nourish and strengthen our bodies and praying to nourish and strengthen our spirit.
live and eat intentionally.
Food is powerful. It can nourish you. It can heal you. It can control you. It can kill you. Overcoming our addictions, dependencies, and food-related delusions is not an easy task, but it is crucial to finding true health, regardless of what diet principles you adhere to. Becoming the master of your appetite isn’t necessarily about denying yourself the things you love or practicing flawless discipline. It is about transforming the focus of your desires so that you are not merely reacting to your easily swayed appetites. Mastery comes when you realize that turning something down isn’t about denying yourself, but honoring your health. Live and eat intentionally. Understand food. Understand your body. Eat accordingly.
ride the wave.
The fight against our appetites, cravings, and addictions is a very real battle, and one worth fighting. Cravings are based on past experiences. You don’t crave what you’ve never experienced. So give your body a chance to forget about the ill-founded objects of its desires. It will take time. You may have some setbacks. Don’t be overly critical of yourself. Don’t give up. Sarah Bowen, a research scientist in the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington, suggests imagining that your cravings are like an ocean wave. They intensify at first, but eventually they crash and dissolve, whether or not you indulge. So imagine yourself riding the wave. Take note of how you feel and what is going on around you. Don’t fight the wave or give in to it. Just ride it out. When it’s over, make a mindful decision rather than living in mindless submission. Being mindful of our cravings often enables us to overcome them.
the importance of planning.
Possibly the most important part of succeeding when changing our habits, especially when it comes to food, is planning ahead. I once heard it said that diets don’t fail in the kitchen. Diets don’t fail because of weakness of will. Diets fail because the chocolate is there. Diets fail when there’s nothing in the kitchen to eat or the kitchen is full of the wrong things to eat. Make a list of your meals for the week, write out a grocery list to get what you need to make it happen, and make yourself a to-do list to be sure you get any prep work that needs done accomplished before it’s too late. If you’re not the planning type, you could consider trying my 6-week challenge, where breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks are all planned out for you down to the grocery and prep lists.
repeat good habits daily.
Figuring out how to eat right can be hard. But keep trying! Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker, puts it this way: “Success or failure is not a result of one cataclysmic moment. Failure doesn’t happen in one moment, one day, it’s a series of bad decisions repeated daily. Success…is a series of good habits repeated daily.” Be the master of your body. Look for and find a healthy lifestyle balance vs. an obsession with food. Live intentionally. Ask yourself whether your choices fit with your intentions. One day you’ll turn around and see that a series of good habits has turned into success.