One of the biggest challenges we experience when faced with the urge to eat, even though we know we are not physically hungry, is how to stop our urges. Because, after all, sometimes they feel stronger than our ability to manage them.
There are lots of tactics out there, including ways to distract yourself as soon as you feel the urge to eat coming on, such as have a cup of tea, go for a walk, soak in a bubble bath, listen to music or read a book. Sometimes activities like this do the trick, other times they don't.
So what if these delay tactics don't work? What can we do?
Approaching eating from a place of mindfulness, again, in my experience, is the answer.
The technique I recommend is called "urge surfing". Once you get the hang of it, you'll probably never be at the mercy of a tub of ice-cream again. there's one caveat though, it takes a lot of practice. It wont happen overnight, but it will happen. Its a skill worth mastering.
Surfing the urge is a mindfulness technique, based on the premise that urges come in waves, and they are transient in nature. This means we can learn to "ride out" the urge to eat in the moments when we:
a) aren't physically hungry
b) feel powerless over the addictive qualities of the desired food
Instead of trying to fight the urge and give in to it, we instead learn to accept and watch it rise and dissipate, simply by practising awareness around it.
It's important to remind yourself that urges never last forever, and usually there is an underlying emotional trigger, such as feeling overwhelmed, anxious, stressed or frustrated about something.
Stay tuned in to these thoughts, reflect on what events led to them, because these are possibly your personal triggers and when you experience these emotional states, they are your warning sign that some damage is about to be done.
Just be ready to accept these feelings. You can even talk to yourself in order to clearly identify and then articulate what they are.
It might be something like, "Gee, my boss was super moody today, he snapped at me for no apparent reason and it made me feel angry that he uses me as his verbal punching bag"
Then you can say to yourself, "I guess he has some pressurres on him at the moment and I am not going to let his words drive me to eat junk food my body doesnt need".
Take a seat and focus on your breath, and without judging yourself, notice that you simply have a desire to comfort yourself with food. Don't judge yourself, simply observe.
By recognising head hunger, you can then choose to either eat a little something if you really want to or choose to meet your underlying need to "let of steam" in a way that doesn't involve food.
Whatever you do, just know that you have choices in that moment. If you have a fight with a donut, you can win.
You are powerful, not powerless. And if you don't eat, nothing bad will happen. In fact, not eating in that moment will prove to yourself just how free you really are.
By becoming more mindful around these situations, you are practising a new skill.
Everytime you surf the urge, you strengthen your ability to use this technique. Eventually, simply observing the urge without acting on it becomes second nature. It is possible to just let the urge just be.
And once you master the art of urge surfing, you will feel a sense of relief and renewed self confidence, and you are on your way to being in charge of your eating.
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G'day. Welcome to my blog, where I write about mindful eating. My name is Sally Asher and I'm a wellness author of three books. I hold a Health Science degree and have a passion for behavioral change. I live between South Florida and Melbourne with my husband and two teenagers. My husband and I run a real estate investment company. I love to help people eat mindfully and reconnect with the innate, intuitive sense of eating that we are all born with.