In North America, there is an epidemic of overeating, and nobody seems to know what to do about it. In fact, the issue is hardly ever addressed or even acknowledged. It is normal for people to waddle out of a restaurant, feeling bloated and sleepy. Big family dinners are typically a time to eat as much as you possibly can, and even weekday meals when you’re home alone can turn into mini feasts. So what should we do about it?
We have to learn how to stop at the First Gate, and to defend it.
First Gate: The point at which you have had enough to be satisfied and energized, though you still feel light and semi-empty on the inside, so that you could eat a whole other meal or jump up and play soccer as soon as you finish eating.
This is war, people. Defend that First Gate like your life depended on it. Defend it like you’re defending the president, or the queen. Because when you do, your whole eating dynamic will change. Your focus will become about feeling good on the inside, feeling light and empty, yet satisfied, which is a truly liberating, empowering feeling. And once you learn to love that feeling more than you love those second or third helpings–which you always seem to regret anyway–you will be that much closer to victory.
1. Resist The “One-More-Bite” Urge
-In your head, you may think that as long as you still want it, it will still taste good, and it is still good for you to eat; however, this is far from the truth. It’s a lie that has caused many a sore stomach. Just because you want it, it doesn’t mean you should have it. In fact, if you can stop eating while you still want more, that is a great accomplishment, and that’s the way it should be.
-A handy trick is to excuse yourself for a moment and brush your teeth. Let your body know that the time to eat food is over. But whatever you do, don’t go back for “one more bite”. This is one of the greatest threats to the First Gate, because it often turns into a whole extra other helping, one that is snacked, rather than savoured, and one that you will undoubtedly regret. So next time your stomach screams “one more bite”, don’t give in.
2. Think Now For Later
-We are all about the here and the now, the physicality of things, how we feel in this exact moment. But allow your mind to move beyond that. Think after this minute, after this meal. Don’t think about what you want right now (because it will most likely be more food). Think about how you want to feel later. Allow yourself to imagine it. Do you want to feel proud of yourself and your choices? Do you want to feel light and alert and ready to face the world?
-Pause and take three deep breathes. Allow your heart rate to slow. Clear the food from your mind. Think about how you want to feel. Let yourself really feel it, the triumph, the possibility. It is within your reach. You can make this a reality. But you need to act on it. Everyone knows what they should do, but the key is to actually do it. You must act. You must go after what you want—not what you want in this moment—but what you know will benefit you in the long run. Because though the sacrifice of giving up what you want to defend the First Gate may feel overwhelming, the freedom and the joy that come as a result will make it worth it. Trust me.
3. Decide To Be Content
-It’s all about your frame of mind. If you go in with the attitude of: I am depriving myself. Being healthy is torture, then you will feel deprived and resentful, and this will sabotage all of your efforts. So instead, think positive things like: I am taking care of myself by savouring slow, small portions, and it makes me feel great. By defending the First Gate, you’re defending yourself against negative habits and attitudes. You’re not depriving yourself, you’re setting yourself free.
-The body can get addicted to certain behaviours, even negative ones, and initially, you may be uncomfortable with the light, semi-empty feeling of stopping before you’re full. You may crave the familiar fulness, despite the fatigue and and heaviness it brings. But as you learn to stop at the First Gate, you will begin to appreciate it, and your body will thank you. And eventually, when you are able to replace the negative habits with positive ones, you will crave these positive habits more than you crave the food.
-Remember, much like love, being content with the food you eat is a decision, not a feeling. So chose it, and then hold onto it.
Yes, it’s a sacrifice. Yes, it’s hard, especially at first. But if you stop at the First Gate, if you give up your doubts and defend the First Gate with everything you have, you will be able to defend yourself against pain and discomfort and a world of regret.
If you want to love yourself, you have to be willing to fight for it, to fight for you. Because you’re worth it. And you deserve to feel amazing as you possibly can. So stop at the First Gate. Defend it. I know you can.