I used to work in an office that provided donuts on Fridays. If you are anything like I was back then, you know that the donut box was to be strictly avoided. Because, even if it just started with one bite, inevitably that bite would lead to a donut, and then another one, and if it was just that kind of day, maybe even a third. And that little donut binge would lead to feeling physically uncomfortable, but even worse, would lead to guilt and shame that I couldn’t control myself. And while your vice may not be donuts, I’m guessing you can relate.
I remember one Friday when I kept walking past a particular co-worker’s desk. There he was, working away on his computer, coming and going from his desk, and all day long there was a plate, just sitting there. With ½ a donut on it. In fact, it was probably more than ½ that was left – this co-worker had taken a few bites of his donut, and then just forgotten about it. That leftover donut wasn’t calling his name. Nor were any of the other donuts left in the break room. He wasn’t experiencing uncontrollable cravings that forced his hand across the desk to bring the sweet, doughy goodness to his mouth. And even if he was frustrated with what he was working on, he wasn’t driven to soften the frustration with not just that donut, but one or two more to follow.
And I remember, even though it was years ago, that each and every time I walked past that desk, and past that ½ a donut, I was fascinated by what I realized wasn’t someone struggling to control himself around food, but someone who simply had a neutral relationship with food. If he wanted a few bites of a donut, he took a few bites. And when he was done, he was done. He didn’t need to throw the leftovers in the trash can and douse them with detergent to keep from eating them. He just let them sit there, within reach. No problem.
My relationship with food has always been far from neutral. For so many years it was either tightly controlled or out of control. I didn’t have an in-between. I didn’t have balance. I didn’t have peace with food. Eating wasn’t relaxing. And anything with sugar – especially sugar and flour – was nearly impossible to control. And I had no idea how to change that – and I had no idea if it would ever change, or if I would just have to continue to fight and struggle when it came to food for the rest of my life.
Fast forward to today, and I have found a new way of relating to food. I have a peaceful relationship with food. And while I may still have cravings (and even still occasionally give in to those cravings), I don’t eat to the point of physical discomfort. And there is no guilt or shame associated with eating. I don’t control my food. And I don’t enter that trance-like zone of completely mindless, out of control eating that used to be such a regular occurrence for me. It didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen without intention. But through attention and curiosity and trust in myself, I have been able to change the way I relate to food. And donuts? Well, they really don’t call out to me anymore and I haven’t eaten one in years – so I can’t say definitively if I could leave ½ of one on my desk all day. But I kind of like the fact that it doesn’t really matter anymore.
Are you still struggling with food? Or have you been able to overcome cravings that used to call your name? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.
If you would like help making that shift so you can eat with more ease, click here to take the next step.