Have you ever felt like your meal is a race, and you’re downing your food like a kid attacking all of his Halloween candy at once? Except unlike that kid, you’re probably not enjoying it very much. You’re probably full of tension, blind to the lovely texture of the food, the luscious taste, the delicate aroma. You probably don’t even feel the food as it passes your lips. You’re probably not mentally present, or if you are, you may more aware of your guilt than your food, guilt for eating carbs, candy, or even too much of something healthy.
This tension is as invisible as a ghost, but just as haunting, and it physically and mentally damages our approach to food. It is an enemy that can chase us all, but it is by no means undefeatable. Like a ghoul lurking in the corner, we must face this creature before banishing it from our minds. Meet the monster of the day: Hyper-Snacking.
Hypersnacking: When one eats something quickly, mindlessly, or in a state of tension.
-Hypersnacking robs the meal of all pleasure and enjoyment and satiation while causing one to overeat or feel sick.
-Hypersnacking can take place during a main meal, or snacking around meals.
Now is the time to put on your armour and fight this enemy. Here are your weapons: 1) Breathing & Connection, and 2) Energy & Excitement. Use them wisely, and they will not fail you.
1. Breathing & Alertness
-Breathing is a powerful experience, and it has more effects than we can imagine. Not only does breathing energize our metabolism, enabling us to more effectively digest our food and burn calories, breathing also connects us with ourselves.
-When you breathe, you are able to feel yourself more deeply. Are you full, are you light? Are you happy or sad, or somewhere in-between? Breathing allows you to take a physical inventory of yourself, to understand what is going on your body and why.
-Sometimes we stop breathing because we unconsciously want to disconnect. If we are in the habit of overeating, breathing may alert us to this unappealing sensation. As a result, since we cannot face the real problem, we turn off our breathing and refuse to acknowledge the discomfort. We learn to live with it, with shallow breaths and non-feelings. We become numb.
-This can create negative associations with breathing, and hence feeling, and it can wrongly teach us that to feel is wrong and shameful, just as that full feeling is.
-We need to learn to breathe again, to open up to ourselves and accept ourselves so that we can learn to love ourselves. Learning to stop at the First Gate, when we’re satisfied rather than full, reopens the gateway of communication in our bodies and our souls. It teaches us that it’s good to feel, that we can feel happy and confident about ourselves. Breathing grounds us in ourselves, connects us to ourselves and gives us something to fight for—us.
2. Energy & Excitement
-In Marc David’s excellent book The Slow Down Diet, he suggests that we should eat not until we’re full of food, but until we’re full of energy. This is a wonderful concept that is inspirational as well as practical. Make it your new goal to stop when you feel empowered and energized rather than sluggish and frustrated. Every step past that First Gate, every bite past that energy point will only weigh you down. Let yourself be lifted up instead.
-Food is to be enjoyed on the tongue, but another form of enjoyment from food comes from energy. We can revel in the aliveness it fills us with, the get-up-and-go that makes us excited about the world, about the next thing we’re going to do after the meal. Food isn’t the end of the journey, it’s the fuel that propels us through the journey, towards our goals. And feeling energized rather than full of food raises us to our greatest potential so that we can more thoroughly enjoy life.
-So next time you’ve reached the First Gate, and you’re tempted to keep eating, remind yourself to stand strong and defend that gate. Use that energy for good—don’t allow it to diffuse into regret. Instead of focusing solely on the food, try to focus on the way it makes you feel, how alive you can feel.
-Food is exciting, but life is more exciting. Revel in that excitement. Organize your day so that you have something exciting planned after your meal, and let your meal be a springboard into your next adventure, rather than quicksand, sucking you down.
This Halloween weekend, and for the rest of the year, whether you’re chowing down on a chocolate treat or a deliciously healthy meal, defend yourself against Hypersnacking. Connect with yourself so that you can love yourself and your food. Allow the energy to fill you and excite you so you can get up inspired and full of life—and then live. Really live. Because that’s the way we were meant to do.