You Vs. Immediate Gratification: How to Defeat Urgent Food Cravings

Girl fighter

We’ve all been there. You walk into the room and see the brownies, and your brain only registers one thing: Need it now. You don’t think, you just grab and gobble, trying to shove the brownies into your mouth fast enough so that they reach your stomach before the guilt does.

Two scrumptious minute later, with dark smears on your hands, you finally turn away, feeling like an escaped convict. The regret chokes you, even as the chocolate lingers on your tongue. You’re frustrated with yourself for giving in, but you still want more. Your stomach churns, your conscience burns, but the urge is still there, screaming the same thing over and over: Need more NOW. And even as you writhe in guilt and regret, you obey.

It can be a horrible thing, immediate gratification. We often don’t realize how it ravages us, brings us to our knees and leaves us grovelling in regret and physical discomfort. We allow it to have control over us, to feed us its lies, even though they’re poisoning us. That’s why we need to fight back, assert ourselves to be ready for this war. We need to change our mindset from the inside out. This post is about how to do that through two strategic methods. So next time you walk into the office and see a plate of chips or a box of donuts, remember:

1. Don’t Think “Now”, Think “Then”
-It’s difficult in that moment, when your heart’s pounding, your brain is wiped blank, and there is nothing in the entire world more important than those brownies. You want them, and you need them right now.
-But wait. The “now” will very quickly become the “then”, when you will have to face the consequences of action you’re about to take. Eating four brownies because you really want them will not exempt you from the repercussions of your decision. It will not erase the guilt and the physical discomfort that will quickly follow.
-You need to realize that the urgency and need of the “now” is not reality. This is the Food Haze, where there is no such thing as satisfaction, where frustration, regret, and self-abuse reign wild.
-So even though your highjacked brain is screaming out of control, force yourself to escape from the “now” into the “then”. How do you want to feel then—in two minutes, in two hours? Do you want to feel full, bloated, sluggish and furious at yourself? Will the faded taste be worth the pain? Or do you want to feel confident, in control of yourself, proud of yourself, and free? You have the choice.
-So when you pause in that cataclysmic moment, think about how to create the best possible “then”. Instead of getting stuck on fantasy of the brownies. ask yourself: What is going to make me feel completely amazing?
-Let yourself live in the “then”. Think about how proud of yourself you’ll be if you only have a small taste of the brownies and then walk away, free from their power over you. Imagine the triumph. Taste the freedom. Relish the joy. And then move towards that. Because it is more long-lasting than the deceptive, hazy dangers of the “now”.
-Don’t think “now”. Think “then”.

2. Don’t Think “How Far Can I Go?”, think “How Can I Help Myself?”
-There are two different ways to approach food, and the one you choose will greatly influence the way you view food and yourself. The first way is: How far can I go without breaking my rules? How much dessert can I sneak without feeling guilty? How many helpings can I have without feeling gross?
-This is a problematic approach because it focuses on the food rather than on you. It centralizes on the pleasure of the food, not the effects of it on your body. How much bad can you get while still feeling good? This is a dangerous and slippery path.
-The better, more constructive approach is: How can I help myself? What should I eat (or not eat) in order to feel completely amazing? What will make me feel the best, physically and psychologically, once I’m finished eating (when I arrive in the“then”).
-This approach puts you as the number one priority, not the food. Taste is fleeting, but the way you think and feel about yourself, that is what will last, and that is what you should focus on. What food decisions will leave you feeling happy and light, confident and free?
-At the end of the day, you’re the only one who has the power to help yourself. So use it. No one else can fight this war for you.

The Root Need Connection
Remember to keep in mind the psychological side of things. What is your Root Immediate & On-Going Need in this moment? Are you thirsty or starving, and is that compromising the way you’re viewing the situation? Are you feeling especially down and wanting a boost? If so, taking positive action towards feeling completely amazing is even more important. And you’re not going to attain that feeling by splurging on a treat that’s ultimately going to drag you down further. Find out what you are really craving, and give yourself that instead. Because that’s what loving yourself is all about—finding out what you need, and then having the courage to fight for it.

This is by no means easy. Immediate gratification is both tempting and delicious, and defeating it takes time, hard work, and much dedication. And you may not always be successful. You may slip up, give in to the brownies, feel trapped in the cycle of regret. And that’s okay. Just because you lose a battle, that doesn’t mean you should give up on the war. No matter what you’ve done, or failed to do, you always have a choice. So assert yourself over these temptations. Start asking yourself the right questions. And when immediate gratification strikes again, you’ll be ready for war.

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