4 Simple Steps for Tackling the Food Gremlins

Got a craving coming on? You no longer have to be hostage to those pesky Food Gremlins. Try these 4 Simple Steps for Tackling those Gremlins and you'll be on your way to freedom! I said "simple", not "easy", so have patience with yourself. Your Gremlins have been with you a long time and they won't let go without putting up a fight! Have patience with yourself, with the process, and celebrate your wins along the way.


1. Pause

This is the most important step. We are so much on autopilot that we go from sitting at our desk, zombie-walk across the street to the bakery, mindlessly numbing whatever uncomfortable thing we had started to feel a moment ago, and before we know it we're face down in the crumbs of chocolate croissant saying, "UGH... why did I do that?" Not anymore, sister!

The next time you get a hint of a craving, find yourself walking toward the pantry, or noticing you're in the bakery, you have a chance to pause. Literally slow down the moment, notice that your Food Gremlins are trying to drive, and say, "Hello, Gremlins! I've been expecting you..."


2. Listen

Our gremlins have been with us so long that they've got us operating on cruise control. They've convinced us that their demands are messages from "your body" asking for what it wants.

Our gremlins have been with us so long that they've got us operating on cruise control. They've convinced us that the signals they're sending is "our body" asking for what it needs. Not true! Our habits are a result of our conditioning that started long ago. Here, we get to learn a new language and re-program our brain!

This is where a journal can come in handy, especially when you're first starting to practice these four steps. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What physical sensations do you notice? 
  • What emotion do you feel? 
  • What thoughts are running through your mind? 
  • What is it you are seeking right now (comfort, connection, relaxation)?
  • What other options do you have for accessing your desired state of being (taking a walk, calling a friend, a meditation or mantra)? 
  • If you were to follow your craving, how do you anticipate you would feel?


Try to answer them objectively (watch out for the Gremlin interpretation... they're sneaky!) The goal is to get in tune with our actual sensations and experience, before making any conclusion about what they mean. 


3. Choose

Now that you've taken time to notice how your body is communicating with you, you get to decide what will truly serve you in this moment. It's not about "good" or "bad" or any other rules, my love. It's about you, the intelligent woman that you are, using this new perspective to choose from an empowered place. Using the exercise above, summarize what you learned about your current experience and create a menu of options for yourself to choose from. It may look something like this:

WHAT I LEARNED:
I'm not physically hungry. I am stressed. I was craving chocolate because I see it as a reward for all of this hard work I'm doing. I deserve it. What I need is a sense of comfort and relaxation.

MY OPTIONS:

  • Call my best friend; it always brings me comfort to talk to her
  • Stand in the sunshine for 2 minutes and bask in the rays
  • Take a walk around the block and allow my mind to wander
  • Create a to-do list so I have an action plan for managing my priorities
  • Do any one of the above and if I still feel like eating chocolate after,   I will do so mindfully
  • Indulge the chocolate craving in a way that truly nourishes me


4. Nourish

Now that you're clear on what your options are, you get to choose the one that feels the most supportive to you. The trick here is to own it! You are not a victim of your cravings. You are a powerful, intelligent woman, and you are driving this car!

"Dear Food Gremlin, you do not get to drive. Today I choose yogurt with berries, even though I hear you asking for a brownie."

Whether you choose to indulge the craving or not, approach your decision with certainty, gratitude, and mindfulness. Allow yourself to receive the benefit of whatever option you decided to go with. Be creative in your approach!

Do you still want to indulge the craving? Great! Yes, really... even if it's a donut, a chocolate bar, or cinnamon ice cream! Remember, this is not about deprivation. It IS about how you can enjoy your favorite foods in a way that sets you up for success. That may look like:

  • Portion size: Determine an appropriate serving size (1/2 of the cupcake, 15 potato chips, etc.) and serve yourself on a real plate (bonus points if you make it pretty!)
  • Location: Outside, at the kitchen table, or anywhere else that allows you to be present (i.e. not in front of a screen, in the dangerous vortex of the couch!)
  • Pair it with greens, protein, or healthy fat: adding these components will help you add nutrients, slow down the absorption of sugar in your bloodstream, and help you feel fuller longer
  • Eat it slowly and mindfully: if you're going to indulge you might as well enjoy it and not feel guilty!
  • Express gratitude: for the abundance of options available to you, for the delicious taste, that you get to choose this indulgence mindfully

Did you decide to do something else instead? Great! Notice how this alternate option to eating feels to you. Does it provide a sense of connection, of calm, of celebration? 

Whatever you do, let go of the "should's", the "good" and the "bad" and let the experience be what it is. Celebrate you, your body's wisdom, and your inherent worth!