I think something that happens with food cravings for me is this feeling that I have only a short window to get the food I want. I often crave sweets at night. There have been nights where I could barely drag myself into bed, but managed to stuff in some chocolate on the way. That part of myself that desperately wants a treat sees the opportunity to strike when my normal defenses are down. “I’m not going to have the chance to indulge tomorrow when she’s back in charge, so make a mad grab and take everything you can!”
But what if I had permission to have that “treat” food whenever I wanted as long as I answer one simple question first? My therapist made the suggestion that when a craving comes up, I pause and say to myself, “Okay, I will get you what you want, but first tell me how you’re feeling.” Usually if I’m having an intense craving, I’m in full flight from my feelings. No jewel thief wants to encounter the guard as they’re sneaking out the back door. But in this situation the guard is giving me permission to walk out the front door with all the jewels I can carry, provided I just take a moment and think about what I’m doing.
Having now practiced this process, I can tell you that it works. For one, it deflates the urgency of the situation. There’s always some kind of panicked feeling that accompanies that kind of eating for me. Now I’m allowed to have whatever I want, whenever I want, so what is the rush? The other thing that this does is make the whole thing a lot less fun. It takes away the deviant/defiant aspect of the behavior. I’m no longer getting something I shouldn’t have, so there is no opportunity to revel in my victory.
But most of all this interrupts the habit of eating over my feelings. To me the most awesome interruption ever was when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech on the VMA’s. Hence, the Inner Kanye. “Yo, I know you want those cookies and Imma let you finish the whole bag…