The Power of Positive Distractions
“You have to eat me!”
Do you feel like food won’t shut up until you’ve eaten it? All of it?
When this feeling shows up, it is time to redirect yourself; find something to distract yourself with, to take the pressure off yourself in that moment. If you really feel as if you need/want/have to eat right now, and you are figuring out ways to justify doing it, this is when you need to try some delay tactics; see if you can wait twenty minutes, then thirty... then an hour. If you find yourself constantly checking the time during this pause, consider setting a timer so that you can relax, and will still know when the time is up.
While waiting for the time to pass, consider doing something that’s pleasurable on one level or another. If you can get lost in a book, that works. It can even be a simple chore like folding socks while watching television, not being in an un-air conditioned laundry room in the summer time. Know yourself and learn what works for you. No matter what, try to make it fun, productive, entertaining, and something capable of positively distracting you from the potential binge.
If in the heat of the moment you find it hard to come up with a good distraction, you may find it helpful to have a list on hand of things that you need to do, things you like to do, and anything that you can think of that would keep you engaged and busy during a potential binge. This list will be an absolute life-saver. Your “distraction list” is most helpful when hanging in plain sight of wherever you go when you are about to binge, be it the fridge, the cupboard... even on the dashboard of your car if you are a drive-thru addict. You are your own intervention.
Tactile hobbies like knitting, cross stitching or model building are not only a very useful distracting agent during more intense periods of potential binging, they can also be a major part of staying mentally healthy. Keeping your hands busy is amazingly effective at keeping you from mindlessly eating. Hobbies are soothing things to do, and they help you relax and decompress from the busy life we all lead. They are good tools for you to use in your "distraction toolkit".
When you notice the twenty minutes have passed (or the timer has gone off), say to yourself – “wow, that was so easy!!” (even if it was only moderately so), “I bet I can do another twenty minutes while I do something else.”
It is possible that after twenty minutes, the craving for the food may have passed. This will happen if you weren’t truly hungry, but were seeking the food out for other reasons. However, if you find that you still want the food, even though you know that you have recently eaten and that the craving is not coming from true hunger, see if you can get another twenty minutes into whatever you were doing just now, or find something new to help the time pass, like talking to a friend in your support system.
Over time you’ll increase the minutes, small increments at a time and slowly. The point of this is to guarantee winning by creating small victories for yourself, and getting those victories to pile up. If you cannot do the twenty, then try ten, no worries!! If you find that holding out for just one minute is all you can do right now, then try one minute plus 5 or 10 seconds the next time. It is still a victory, even in these shorter increments, so long as you are progressing towards a greater goal.
Do what you are able to do now, from where you are at this point – right here and now. It may not be what you consider ideal, but it is what you’re able to do at this very moment, and it’s better than what you did before (yesterday, last week, month year, etc.), and that’s where your gauge is most helpful to you.
Many people think that distractions or “being distracted” is a bad thing; in the case of a food addict, positive distractions are among the most powerful tools we have to keep our minds engaged and otherwise occupied, In order to redirect ourselves from a potential binge. It’s about self-preservation, about emotional and physical well-being, and becoming
“What matters is what you do next”
Share your distractions with me and our fellow Summer-Fitters in the comments below, and on Facebook!