How’s it going? I hope those infographics have inspired some novel culinary creations with those veggies!
This week, let’s work on another mental skill:
Breaking the Chain.
Imagine your life as a long, heavy chain. Some links are big, some small. Some shiny and new, others old and rusty. Some are beautiful and made of gold, while others are made of toxin-filled lead.
Links can be time — moments, hours, days, years.
Links can be experiences.
Links can be behaviors.
Most of the time, we focus only on the very last link in the chain: What’s happening right now.
But that last link is connected to thousands of other links before it.
Just like a ship’s chain that’s connected to a heavy anchor, 98% our chain is “under water”, hidden from our view. We tend to forget that the present link that is being forged right now is connected to all those previous ones.
However, if we start to pay attention, we can pick that chain out of the water, link by link. Maybe we can even find out what that seaweedy and barnacle-covered anchor truly is.
The eating link
Have you ever eaten to the point of misery and then wondered what the heck happened?
Like you were just blindsided by the sugar train that left you drowning in a pool of surgery shame.
We’ve all been there
Think of that eating episode like that last link in a chain.
It seems like it “starts” the moment you put the first bite in your mouth.
But that’s not true.
That overeating episode really started long beforehand — even a few days beforehand. (Or, to be more accurate, an entire lifetime beforehand.)
Maybe you were stressed out all week, then binged on Friday night.
You may over-restrict food during the day, then go savage at night.
You may have a few drinks with friends, then think, “Who’s hungry?!!”
You might be feeling deprived and want to “rebel” or “relax” by eating.
Or maybe you grew up in a household where food was a reward.
And think about it: You have to do several steps before any eating episode can occur.
For instance, you might have to decide to get the food. Then go get it. Then find a time to be alone. Then crack that package open. Then begin. Then choose to reach for a second handful. And a third.
And so on.
The food didn't magically appear in your mouth.
Whatever leads you to over-eat, or eat foods that you don’t really want to eat, it’s not mysterious.
You just have to pull that chain out of the water and figure out what links are connected.
Although it can be done, it’s hard to stop overeating once you’ve begun. It’s a lot easier to prevent it in the first place by addressing the problems further down the chain.
Break those links.
The Behavior Awareness worksheet
Here’s a handy tool to help gain insight and self-awareness: The Behavior Awareness Exercise.
Many folks have said that it has dramatically changed the way they thought about their eating habits, even after only filling it out once or twice.
Click here to check it out!
How to use this worksheet
Any time you have an eating episode that you don’t feel good about (whether that’s because you ate too much, because you made poor food choices, or because you just felt “out of control”), grab this worksheet and a pen and get to work.
The links you find might be surprising!
Try to fill the sheet out as soon as possible after the eating episode. The sooner you do it, the better you’ll remember everything.
Don’t worry about changing or analyzing anything (self-compassion). Just notice and name, and try to describe what happened as best you can.
Spotting the trends
After you fill this out 2–3 times, you will probably start to notice some trends. For example, maybe eating is related to a particular:
type of food
all of the above
Right now, don’t worry about changing everything (or anything). Just build awareness. Notice and name.
Eventually, look for little links that you might could break. For example:
If you notice yourself snacking at 3 pm, could you book another activity during that time slot?
If you notice that you can’t help but stop for that milkshake when you drive past Sonic on your way home from work, maybe you can take a different route.
If you notice that the vino seems to go down incredibly smooth after a visit from the in-laws, maybe you could practice a few minutes of Jedi Breaths before and after they get there!