Why WOULDN’T you want to eat more ice cream (or cake, or cookies, or . . . )?

Who wouldn't want to eat more?!

Who wouldn’t want to eat more?!

People get into trouble when expectations are different than what is realistically probable.  A recent conversation reminded me of this very basic – and very important – fact.  A previous client has been practicing more mindful methods of choosing and enjoying food for about a year now, and it is clear that the effort is paying off.  Previous binges on sweets are seldom happening, and when they do, quantities (and guilt, shame, etc.) are much smaller.

“But I still want more,” she clarified.  “I am just able to stop sooner.”

“Does that really surprise you?” I asked.  “Almost anyone would eat more of the foods they love if there were no negative consequences, don’t you think?”

I think that even the most disciplined eaters only stop eating their favorite pleasure foods by overriding hedonistic desire with conscious choice and motivation; they are able to stop because their reasons for not continuing to indulge provide the power to overcome the craving for more.

I love ice cream and frozen custard, and I would certainly be able to make a large dent in a half gallon of chocolate chip or cookie dough, but I seldom have more than a large scoop.  This wasn’t always the case.  When I considered sweets to be “bad,” the inevitable “small taste” would fuel guilt, and the expectations that these foods should be off limits for a healthy body left me feeling like I had already failed after a bite.

It is only with the feeling of free choice that I am able to CHOOSE a smaller amount to savor and enjoy, knowing that I will still feel healthy and in line with my overall wellness goals.  I now see that being healthy and fit is much more likely with realistic goals in mind.

With any habit you plan to change, try tuning in to your improvements. You may never completely break an eating habit, but seldom is that necessary to make noticeable health strides. “All or nothing” thinking is often counterproductive with eating, because eating is such a human activity, and humans are emotional creatures.

After 3 months of effort, look back and ask if you are doing better than you were before.  Keep looking back periodically so you can notice how far you have come.  It may seem like baby steps, but that is real progress.

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