So, there I was happily eating slowly and mindfully, paying attention to my body telling me when it had had enough and starting to lose weight. I was losing about 1lb a week and that was fine. Then I was upset by a family issue affecting my daughter and grandson. I was upset for him AND upset by how upset my daughter was – no-one ever explains how hard it is to see your child upset, even when she is a grown woman! And as I was upset I wanted chocolate and I wanted it now. In fact I didn’t want it, I NEEDED it. It really threw me, how could I NEED something that I had decided was OK in very small doses but I didn’t really like in excess?

I spent a few hours trying to rationalise it and in the end decided that if I really felt that I wanted chocolate, I would have it. I bought a small bar of 70% chocolate and I ate it slowly, mindfully, enjoying the experience, the taste and texture.

I had had the “hit”, I tried to analyze what it was I had needed, why the urge to eat chocolate was so powerful. I realised that it was partly habit – that was always my comfort food of choice – but there were also the associations I had with chocolate. My grandmother had always given me chocolate to “make things better”. I loved my grandmother very much and felt that the unconditional love she gave me made me very happy. I had therefore always associated sweet foods with her, with love, comfort, feeling better in myself and about myself.

So what can we get from this? Well I think the main thing is that when we get upset we revert to learned behaviour from childhood. We turn to the things we hope will “make it better”. As adults we need to learn to make it better in healthier ways. We need to look at whatever it is we turn to – food, drink, drugs – and ask ourselves what it is we expect these things to do for us. Do they help us feel better? Do they distract us? Do they make it all go away – however temporarily? Then we need to give ourselves the time to work out better ways to look after ourselves when difficulties threaten to overwhelm us.

For me one way of taking care of myself has been taking up yoga. Through regular yoga practice I have learned to become more in tune with my body and become more mindful. This is a subject I will explore further in the next post.

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