For those of you in self-isolation, working from home or just trying to avoid the COVID-19 madness, this is going to be a very food triggering time, with cravings and urges at an all-time high. There is so much uncertainty, fear and panic surrounding us it is no wonder that we can find ourselves defaulting back to old behaviours which feel safe and familiar. Food is a prime example of one of these behaviours.
The thing is this pandemic just another example of things that can happen to us in life which is completely out of control. We can have a plan and then something like this completely blindsight’s us and knocks us off off-track. We panic because we cannot directly influence what is going to happen to. This then creates all that anxiety and fear which we look to try and get rid of as quick as possible; often turning to food to help us cope or feel in control.
This is exactly why we need to use this time as an opportunity and a way to develop the mental strategies and skills to be able deal with whatever life throws at us. We need to learn how to take back control of our thoughts, feelings and behaviours from the inside-out, not the outside in (looking to food or distractions in our environment). Until we do this we will continue to feel out of control, fearful and uncertain when life throws us a curve ball and resort back to the behaviours which we know as not good for us.
We will never know what is around the corner, but all we can be certain of is our ability to face and tackle challenges with the knowing that we are doing all we can to get ourselves through it in the safest way possible!
Here are some things you may be dealing with:
1. Feeling worried or uncertain
We have no idea what is going to happen to us, so it feels stressful and overwhelming. We of course want to escape these feelings and as a result we can easily turn to food because it feels familiar, safe, comforting and allows us to find some escape.
2. Boredom and feeling lonely
These are two massive food triggers. Just think about it, we never feel bored when we are eating. It keeps our minds busy, gives us a focus and provides some comfort to help deal with the loneliness
3. Being surrounded by food
As a result of those extra trips to the supermarket, the fridge and kitchen cupboards are literally overflowing with food. Just knowing it is there can be triggering- it is just sitting there waiting for you to eat it!
4. Too much free time
We are all programmed to be busy bees, we have so many responsibilities and a never ending to do list. Going from 100 to 0 can feel really unsettling as we are not used to it. We have entered unfamiliar territory. So we turn to what is familiar- food as a way to occupy ourselves. If we are eating we are still busy!
5. Not being able to exercise
If you are a daily gym go-er this is also familiar territory. You can start to get cabin fever as your routine is thrown off, so you think stuff it what’s the point!
This all leads you to eat when you are not hungry! Now we all do this, it is normal behaviour, but it becomes an issue when it is happening more often and you feel out of control!
Food promises you a way to cope but it doesn’t give you those results- it is only temporarily relief and the feelings will still be there when the food is gone! And you will almost certainly feel worse!
So here is one strategy you can use right now to help deal with the uncomfortable cravings, urges and emotions which normally trigger you to turn to food.
The 3C process
Follow this 3C process to deal with your urges and cravings- without having to distract or just ‘sit’ with the uncomfortableness!
Bring your awareness back to your body- what am I feeling right now? Tune into the discomfort rather than immediately try to get rid of it. Before going off on autopilot and find your head in the fridge or kitchen cupboard it’s developing the skill to tune into the feelings which lead to that binge switch going off in your mind.
Ask yourself the following questions:
· “If there was somewhere in my body where I am feeling this urge where would it be?”
· “If it could have a shape or colour what would it be?”
· “Is it heavy or light?”
The more details you can get around this the easier it’s going to be to intervene.
Remember cravings and urges are felt in the body and not your mind which is actually really empowering because you have a choice over how you respond. They are just bodily sensations, like a sneeze or shivering
When we notice a food craving it can feel like it’s coming from deep inside our core. It feels really personal, like it’s a part of who we are. Even though it feels personal, we can still separate ourselves from it.
We don’t need to take it so personally.
Get a picture of what this urge feels like and you will see that it is actually something separate to you!
You will be glad to know that I’m not going to ask you to sit with these urges- you have MORE power than that!
Once you have got the feeling and all its qualities in mind then just imagine dropping through that feeling to the level below it (like you are dropping through a cloud)
Notice where you land & what feeling is underneath that original feeling
Then imagine dropping through that feeling to the feeling below that
Keep dropping through until you reach 2 positive feelings
Connect to the positive feeling, locate it in your body, give it a shape, colour & rate /10.
Do whatever you need to do to make it even stronger (spread the feeling, make it brighter, bigger for example).
Spend a few minutes connecting to the positive feeling and turn it up as much as you can. Now you have the qualities of this feeling you can keep tapping back into this whenever you feel unsettled, uncertainty or those familiar emotions which often lead to food.
Then give yourself 10 minutes.
Why do I say 10 minutes?
Emotions and cravings/urges following the trajectory of a wave. They increase, peak and then decrease. This whole process takes up to 10 minutes. So, if you can use the anti-urge technique as the craving is peaking and then commit to doing something else for just 10 minutes it will usually pass.
Research by neuroscientists proves that even a 10-minute wait can drastically reduce the brain’s response to a craving. By delaying 10 minutes you give yourself the opportunity to see if the urge will pass.
If you still feel food cravings after 10 minutes then reassess. Check-in and see if you are actually really hungry. If you are hungry then you should eat.
If you don’t want to just “cope” anymore and you want to overcome these issues once and for all, that’s going to take a more intensive level of therapy and coaching with someone to be there for you and support you throughout this challenging time.
Now could be the perfect time to resolve these issues once and for all and build your strength to come out the other side of this covid-19 pandemic feeling confident, positive and ready to tackle whatever life throws at you.
What feels like the worst time is in fact the best time to make these changes should you choose to see it in this new way.
Get started today and head to https://bookme.name/Masteryourmind to book your 1:1 appointment and take charge of your life.
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