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Know when it’s time to give yourself ‘the talk’

October 15, 2015 - Andy Flynn
This week: 420

Sept. 15: 420

Difference: 0

All instances in which I’ve prevented myself from impulse eating — based on emotions or stress — share one thing in common. They involve “the talk.”

This is a conversation I have with myself to talk myself out of impulse eating.

It’s evolved over time. I still remember the earlier talks when I’d stop myself in the grocery store aisle with junk food in my cart. I’d just stand there thinking about what I was doing. After 5 to 10 minutes, I’d start putting the junk food back on the shelves and pick up healthier options.

Then there are times I sit at my desk after work, for up to 30 minutes at a time, wringing my hands and rubbing my forehead, trying to talk myself out of an imminent binge.

Now the talk usually happens in the car, driving home from work. As the stress builds throughout the day, emotions set impulse eating into action, and it’s up to me to stop it. Sometimes it’s a full-out binge or the purchase of alcohol, which leads to overeating. Sometimes it’s simply buying snacks to munch on or something with chocolate in it. Sometimes it’s ordering pizza or Chinese food because I don’t feel like cooking.

In any case, the talk comes when I’m trying to prevent myself from eating impulsively, when I’m powerless over food, as they say in Overeaters Anonymous.

I’ll admit I’m not very good at the talk yet. Sometimes the improvisational talks work, but most of the time they don’t, and I think that’s because I didn’t have an effective script. I’m confident that if I have the right talking points — and use them — I’ll have more success.

This week, I began to develop “the talk.”

My successful talks have all begun with one question: “Why? Why do you want to order the pizza or eat the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream or drink the whiskey?” It never has anything to do with nutrition. If it’s because of emotion, that’s not a good enough reason.

Then the conversation leads to another important question: “What are the consequences of this action?” I’ve had better luck answering this question when I’m about to buy alcohol than food. Alcohol puts me to sleep. It gives me a headache. And overall, it’s damaging to the body. When I think of that, most times I’m able to prevent a stop at the liquor store or beer aisle.

I’ve had luck with that question when I’m about to buy junk food on my way home from work. But when it comes to eating junk food that’s already in the house, I drop the ball. I can’t get rid of the junk in the house that’s not mine, so I need to learn to live with it, and that’s where the talk will be most helpful.

When it comes to eating, self control is easy for breakfast and lunch on the days when I’m working. I pack both meals. But evening is the hardest time. First there is supper, and then there is snack time. The toughest part of my weight-loss journey is not when I have to work out at the gym for 90 minutes busting my ass with Cross-Fit circuits. It’s the hours between 5 and 9 p.m. It’s the days I don’t work. That’s when my worst decisions are made.

10 talking points

I’ve put this list on my smartphone so I can read it whenever I’m having a problem with cravings.

When you feel stress and emotions are leading to impulsive eating or drinking, get through the episode with the following talking points.

1. Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” If the answer is “Because of emotions,” stop what you are doing. That’s not a good enough reason. If the answer is not, “It will make me healthier,” stop what you are doing.

2. Ask yourself, “What are the consequences of this action?” If the answer is not, “It will make me healthier,” stop what you are doing.

3. Look in the mirror, preferably a full-length mirror. Take a good look at yourself. Get naked if you have to. Are you happy with what you see? Is doing this action worth it?

4. Remind yourself of the reasons to lose weight. Tell yourself, “Eating impulsively will prevent me from reaching my goals.” Read your goals. Some of mine include:

¯I want to live longer.

¯I want to be stronger and have more self-confidence.

¯I want to fit into normal clothing.

¯I want to do normal things like ride a bike.

5. Read your weight-loss and fitness goals. I have goals for three months, six months, nine months and 12 months starting Sept. 15.

6. Visualize a future you. Mine include:

¯Me swimming, biking, running and crossing the finish line at a triathlon.

¯Me in an airplane seat.

7. Read your daily goals.

8. Read helpful mantras. Some of my favorites are:

¯No more excuses.

¯Give yourself a great Christmas present.

¯One step at a time.

¯I’m not here for easy.

9. Think of yourself as the Doctor or the Coach. If someone in your care were about to eat impulsively or buy that booze, tell them what to do.

¯Be the Doctor. In a clinical setting, this is what you should do in order to get healthy and stay healthy.

¯Be the Coach. In a fitness setting, this is what you should do in order to get healthy and stay healthy.

10. Talk to someone if necessary. Call a sponsor, a friend or a family member.

 
 

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