Don't Think of a Pink Elephant

When food is “talking to you”….

…What do you hear?

Below is the first in what will be a long running series of good tools to use in everyday life while working with mental health professionals on the deeper underlying issues of food addiction. Understand that food is a way of coping for many of us, much like drugs, alcohol, gambling, compulsive shopping, etc., the only difference is that food is the only “drug” you can’t just stop. This makes it the most challenging addiction (or self-destructive coping mechanism) to face, and many times dealing with it comes with plenty of stigma and other societal issues. Complete abstinence is impossible; you need food, but you don't need any other addictive substances or behaviors. An alcoholic can, with support, remove themselves from alcohol altogether and never drink again. The compulsive gambler can avoid casinos and lotteries, the drug addicted can stop using... but not so with food.  One cannot simply walk around with an IV for the rest of your life, so people with this specific addiction are forced to learn to cope with, live with and properly use foods.

There are many ways of helping yourself.  If something doesn’t speak to you, keep coming back as we continue to add articles to this series until you see something that does; make it work for you.


Don't Think of a Pink Elephant

Whatever you do; do not think of a giant pink elephant.

Seriously. Don’t think about these guys:

You are thinking about them, aren’t you? Have you noticed how it seems that the harder you try NOT to do something, you’re more likely to do exactly what you were trying not to do?  

I have found that by focusing on what to do instead of focusing on what not to do, you take what not to do completely out of the equation; it has no part, no focus, it is not there, persona non grata.  By focusing on what to do, instead of what not to do, you also take the pressure off yourself – and open up for the opportunity to have fun with it.

How this mentality can transfer into your dietary pathways:

  • Focus on the foods you are eating, will be eating and plan on eating (not what you are not eating).
  • Focus on your comfortable satiety levels, enjoying and taking time for each bite (not dwelling on how you wish you could stuff yourself silly, or focusing on feelings of starvation right after a meal).
  • Focus on what groceries you are buying and what foods you are ordering (not what you are not going to buy or order).
  • Plan for and anticipate the good foods you are going to be eating later; look forward to the delicious green salad and savory grilled chicken with dressing on the side.  (do not be upset at the pizza you aren't having and are trying to avoid).

Keep it simple, joyful, do not self-punish or self torture here….keep your eyes on the prize; the prize is always accomplishments – your own improvements BY your own hand!

What pink elephant?