Deconditioning the urge to eat something you do not want to eat

More on processing urges: track success, analyse failures

Have you been processing urges?

Fantastic, it will have given you lots of practice. It will have prepared you for the recommendations I will give you in this post. You do not need to have succeed with every urge. It is the practice that matters.

As long as you are:

  1. Committed to continue (100% committed)
  2. Understand why you’ve given in to the urge: ask yourself lots of questions, what were you thinking just before you eat? What ‘excuse’ did you use to allow yourself to eat that snack?

No judgement, just curiosity and understanding

How can you approach it next time so that you stay with your food plan?

Keep processing urges.

Count how many you’ve processed. I have 100 squares in a 1-page document that I fill one square with every time I process an urge successfully. It’s a good way to track your successes. Before you reach the 100 you are likely to have deconditioned the need to eat every time you feel an urge, the craving.

I want you to track your successes, not your failures. Our brains have an in-built negative bias. You need to actively redirect it to acknowledge the progress.

Track your successes.

What you are doing here is called de-conditioning.

You are learning to break the association between the impulse, the urge to eat, from the reward the brain gets when you eat. Many of you will know this as Pavlov’s experiment.

You need to keep repeating this. Experience the urge to eat without giving the reward, the food, and the urge will extinguish.

This is work worth doing. Keep working on it. Be curious when you end up snacking or eating something you did not want to eat. Why? What was I thinking? Plan for the next time that a similar situation (which will trigger the same thought) is likely to happen, how can you act differently?

Be ready ahead of time. This means engaging in your prefrontal cortex, the thinking brain that helps you plan your eating, can help you here too.

You don’t subtract a square when you fail. You don’t go backwards.

Failures propel you forward

You actually learn as much if not more from the ‘failures’. That is, if you do the work to analyse and understand what happened and why (what were you thinking?).

My clients are very surprised when I tell them that I am very happy when they ‘fail’. If they are only succeeding, they are missing the opportunity to learn what they need to change and understand why weight loss was so difficult in the past.

Expect failures, welcome them.

I am not saying fail on purpose.

I am saying plan to succeed, expect to fail, learn from it, and plan for next time.

If you do this you will have cracked it.

What to do next?

Experience and process urges.

Fill in your urges squares.

When doesn’t work: what thought (excuse) came up for you? What did you tell yourself to allow yourself to eat food that was not on your protocol?

Track your successes – present your brain the evidence you are advancing

Evaluate your ‘failures’ – learn from what when wrong