I was in Prague last week and it was absolutely stunning.
I spent hours and hours wandering the medieval streets, some plastered with tourist paraphernalia and others quietly displaying the breath-taking architecture.
Besides being able to relax and unwind quite a bit, I also discovered something very profound about eating.
Well, I sort of rediscovered it.
I think we all need to learn these lessons quite a few times before they actually stick.
What I realized was that it really, really, really just comes down to moments.
Individual moments when you decide to either go for the croissant OR the veggie omelet.
Every time I looked at a menu in Prague I found myself weighing out my strategy. Should I order the pasta or the fish? Should I get a glass of wine or sparkling water?
And it was really empowering to realize that I was doing this in an unemotional way.
Up until this trip, I thought it was my God-given right to indulge while on vacation.
There have been a few times when I had decided to not indulge, but I felt restricted, constrained, and deprived. Yet deep down I was just waiting until it was over, I didn’t have to suffer anymore, and I could go back to my old ways.
If so, I invite you to dream about a way of living where you make strategic decisions about your food, not based on emotion or some belief that you deserve it, but rather out of calculated weighing of benefits and disadvantages.
Doesn’t that sound cool!?
I have to admit, it’s taken me years to be in a place of quiet, intentional, non-stressed, non-suffering decision-making about food.
But I don’t think it has to take anyone that long.
The first step is being mindful of what is going on in your head in those moments when you make those decisions.
I hope that you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say “those moments”.
The moment could be when you are driving home from work, stressed and tired, and you are already planning your indulgence. Maybe it’s going to be a large dinner. Maybe it’s going to be ice cream or pretzels. Even though you know it’s not going to boost your health or bring you closer to your goals, you decide to do it anyway. In that moment, you just don’t care!
Or maybe it’s when you are out with your friends and you have vowed not to eat the chips but everyone around you is munching and coaxing you to munch too. In that moment, you know you shouldn’t, but you do anyway. Probably you justify if by saying, “a few chips can’t hurt.”
Or maybe you are at the grocery store and you pass by the ice cream section and just grab a pint or two on a whim. Maybe you think to yourself, I need some in the house, just in case. But deep down you know you are looking forward to eating all that ice cream yourself.
Do you see how these are just moments when you make a decision?
Do you see how it might be really, really helpful to think about those moments after the fact and write down what was going through your mind?
In the process you are going to learn a lot!
You may learn things like:
- You have a goal but you’re not really committed
- You have a goal but you tend to minimize the “cheats” because you think you can reach your goal despite the cheats
- You have all kinds of stories you tell yourself to justify doing something that is completely at odds with your long-term goals
- You think you deserve to eat in a certain way
- You think food will help you with your problems
- When you are stressed you tend to make bad decisions
- You have control over your decisions
- You are powerful
- You can change
I invite you to explore those moments for a few weeks. I strongly encourage you to write down what was your justification for indulging. No judging, just observing.
Your power lies in your ability to understand yourself and what drives you and then to be intentional in those moments.
I’m not saying you have to be perfect all the time.
I’m saying that when you come from a place of quiet confidence that you will make the best choice in the moment based on a simple calculation of cost and benefits, it feels really, really good.
This not about suffering or angst or being controlling or uptight.
At least it shouldn’t be.
This is about enjoying your life without being reliant on food for pleasure.
It’s about understanding and truly believing that there is no rule written anywhere that you have to indulge to be happy.
It’s about developing a habit of awareness around what you are going to do when you do it.
It’s about planning and strategy. For example, “If I eat this now I’m going to feel sluggish,” or “I love the idea of macaroni and cheese but it really doesn’t taste THAT good, it’s just not worth it,” or “those chips are appealing but they’re not actually going to make me feel better for more than a few seconds,” or “I actually don’t deserve to eat that ice cream, that is a lie, an illusion, a false belief that I tell myself for comfort.”
And just in that delicate moment you will need to swoop in and remind yourself that you have a goal, that you want to be healthy, fit, and fabulous and that food item is not going to bring you closer to that goal. Then you are released!
It all becomes clear.
I do not HAVE to indulge. I do not HAVE to eat because my friends are. I do not HAVE to pick that food just because I’m in Prague.
I CHOOSE to take one small bite. I CHOOSE to not eat it at all. I CHOOSE to be happy with my decision and revel in my power. I CHOOSE to take pleasure in other things.