If you struggle with emotional eating, overeating, or food in general, Valentine’s Day may seem like the ultimate challenge. Chocolate is EVERYWHERE.
What’s an emotional eater to do? Be present. Make choices. Be kind to yourself.
The key is mindful eating and a mindful approach to food. Don’t panic and resist any urges to throw up your hands and go on an automatic-pilot-day-of-chocolate-feasting that will leave you feeling sick, tired, over-full, or nauseous. Auto-pilot overeating is a double whammy, because, not only are you out of touch with how much you eat, you also won’t even really taste or appreciate what is eaten. There’s a much better way. Take a step back from any treats you’ve discovered on your desk, your doorstep, or the break counter at work.
Breathe deeply. Speak kindly to yourself. And ask yourself a few questions.
Do you want chocolate?
Do you want chocolate right now, or would you and your body prefer to wait to indulge until you are: hungrier, less preoccupied and free to enjoy it, more relaxed, etc.? There is no right answer.
If you are going to eat a special treat, is the item before you: really a treat? The treat you desire? Life is too short for crappy candy.
Let’s assume the answer is yes—you’ve found a wonderful treat and you want to eat it.
How to eat chocolate without binging, feeling out of control, or not feeling satisfied:
Clear the way to savor.
You’re about to have a treat. Isn’t the purpose to enjoy it? Truly savoring requires space and your full attention. No multitasking (that means not gulping chocolates at your desk while you read your email or this blog post). Take your treat, and if possible, put it on a plate. If that doesn’t work, a napkin will do.
It’s not quite time to eat it yet.
Breathe deeply and make sure you are really present and ready to savor. Are there any voices in your head that are blaming, judging, or telling you this is silly and you really ought to just swallow this thing and get it over with? Show them the door. This is your treat. The goal is one hundred percent, full body enjoyment.
The key to savoring is to engage all your senses and take your time.
Before you eat, look at your treat. Smell it. Hold it in your hand. Take a small bite. Don’t eat your chocolate all at once. Roll it around and let it melt in your mouth. Really taste it. Chew it. Enjoy it. Decide before you take your next bite whether you want it—and whether you want it right now. There is no right answer. The key to getting it “right” is to simply ask the question.
Focus on satisfaction.
How long can you savor, enjoy, and experience your sweet treat? Satisfaction is not usually about eating more, it’s about being fully present for the amount you do eat.
Not surprisingly, women who practice mindful eating eat less, are more aware of what they have eaten, and enjoy their eating more.
Too often, treats like Valentine’s Day candy are inhaled, with a guilt chaser, and the sweet candy that looked so good is barely even tasted. You deserve better—much better.
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day,