Need some help with positive thoughts to beat eating for pleasure? That’s a HUGE one, isn’t it?
Food is enjoyment after all for most of us. But, does it need to be? And why did it go from a necessity to stay alive to the mainstay of recurrent pleasure in most of our lives? Think about that one for a minute – that will blow your mind.
Is Food Pleasure?
I had the most interesting development this week when the instructor of my life coach classes, Brooke Castillo, started talking about the false PLEASURE associated with food.
As many of you know, I am a family physician studying life coaching in order to tackle this obesity epidemic from every angle. And, when my medical and coaching worlds collide with the exact same words, I know I have found something BIG in obesity management.
And that’ s exactly what happened this week. I had written a few months ago about Dr. Michael Snyder, bariatric surgeon’s, take on obesity. He deals with obesity from a medical standpoint through surgical and medical interventions. In the end, he said, obesity is just plain and simply about pleasure. We are becoming more obese because food is pleasure. (https://doctormome.com/post/lets-talk-about-obesity/ if you want to check it out!)
What is False Pleasure?
And those were nearly Brooke Castillo’s words verbatim. Food is a false pleasure. And one of the most rampant false pleasures today. To Brooke, false pleasure means something that has been falsely elevated to pleasure status in our minds – we look forward to it, crave it, and need it for emotional reasons not just physical.
False pleasures trick our brains in thinking we need something for survival. It creates false desire and increases the importance, or signals in our brains, that we need more.
The problem of false pleasure becomes even bigger by how we interpret it. In our minds, we begin to believe that something is wrong with us because we can’t stop the need for pleasure and the behavior that causes, overeating. We beat ourselves up about our overeating and the cycle repeats. More frustration, more overeating, more weight gain. And we were looking for pleasure to begin with, right? That’s ironic.
Why Can’t We Stop the Need for Pleasure through Eating?
We can but it is not as easy as it sounds. First, we are constantly bombarded with advertising reminding us of the pleasure of foods. A Coke from McDonalds for satisfaction has my husband hooked. When I was pregnant with my one-year-old, Eliza, Taco Bell nacho commercials sent me running for the border every time. These ads hook us into believing that pleasure is less than $5 and just moments away. And they are good at what they do. It is our job to stop ourselves, not theirs.
Second, we actually do have to eat. Complete abstinence, as you would recommend with alcohol or drugs, is not even possible. Imagine telling someone addicted to drugs to just take a small hit of that after they watched TV commercials selling how good it is. We cannot simply stop food. Instead, we need to recognize the moments of overdesire, or urges, in order to control our eating from a place of false pleasure.
What Thoughts Are Driving Your Pleasure Eating?
The act of eating for pleasure is driven by one thing: a thought in your mind. And this may actually be the easiest thought to recognize. For most of us, it is something simple. I’m a HUGE “I deserve this” thought eater. I reward myself with food all of the time. For you it may be:
I deserve this.
I need a break.
I have been so good.
I want this.
It will likely be a simple thought that goes through your brain recurrently before you start eating for pleasure. Recognize it, memorize it, and ingrain it in your conscious mind. Because that thought is key to controlling your overeating.
How Do You Stop Pleasure Eating?
You start by identifying that thought that drives your desire to overeat. Let’s look at mine, “I deserve this.” Whenever that thought comes into my mind, it signals a red flag. Chocolate chip cookie or whatever else I have in the house – Danger Ahead!!!
And I know what is coming up is the urge, or overdesire, for false pleasure through FOOD. I have 3 choices with this urge: Ignore and try to out willpower it, allow it WITH acting on it, or allow it WITHOUT acting on it.
Let’s play out these scenarios for better understanding:
- Ignore my urge – that’s basic willpower. And that will last for awhile. The problem is that willpower rarely lasts. We like to do this with specific diets – we want someone to tell us exactly what to eat to lose weight, for awhile. Until we don’t want to hear it anymore or we get tired of the restrictions – and we rebel. Ignoring urges is not a long-term solution.
- Allow my urge WITH acting on it – I go ahead and eat the cookie. The good news is that by simply recognizing this urge, the reward is a little less. You know what you are doing and are making the decision to succumb to your urge – not quite as rewarding as not knowing what you are doing at all. But you will likely still have that horrible feeling about yourself afterward, beat yourself up, leading to more overeating, and weight gain. Not our goal.
- Allow my urge WITHOUT acting on it – this is our sweet spot (no pun intended). What if you say to yourself, “Man, I’m feeling an urge for cookies right now. How does that feel?” You recognized the thought trigger and you now know you will feel the intended feeling. And it will do NOTHING to you. Just sit with it for a moment. You may feel a little uncomfortable or anxious. So what? You can know that you are retraining your brain to value pleasure from food less every time you do this. That’s a bigger reward than a chocolate chip cookie anyway.
How About the Positive Thoughts to Beat Eating for Pleasure?
The truth is, you really may not need them. At least, not for awhile. Start your positive thoughts by simple acknowledging the negative ones and living with, but not acting on the urges for awhile. You will recognize your mind’s triggers and your body’s reactions better if you do this until you are ready for the next step.
Once you recognize and can repetitively allow urges for pleasure eating without acting on them, you may want to work on changing those negative thoughts behind them.
Positive Thoughts to Beat Eating for Pleasure:
- I deserve a healthy body.
- I deserve to feel good about my body.
- Choosing a healthy diet allows me to be there for my children.
- It’s 5:00 and I am going walking.
- I need a break from eating.
- I need a break from false pleasure.
- It feels good to chose myself over food.
- It’s 5:00 and I am living a human life.
- It feels good to shop for regular sized clothes.
- It feels good to be healthy.
Give those a try or come up with one that feels right for you.
Simple Solution: Obesity is about pleasure. And until you recognize your thoughts and urges, it will be difficult to counteract. Start there and grow with it. Even if you aren’t perfect, you will recognize the traps and improve those behaviors.
For More Blog Posts on Positive Thoughts and Obesity, check out: https://doctormome.com/post/lets-talk-about-obesity/