If you’ve ever tried to wrestle with yourself over a food choice, you might have experienced the same frustration and disappointment as I have. What I’ve discovered is that in a tug-of-war with myself, the ice cream always wins.
A useful strategy that was recommended to me was to put aside the image of ‘fighting’ or ‘doing battle’ with myself, and instead imagining that the impulse to eat actually represents a request from a younger, childhood version of myself. For example, I imagine little Jonathan saying ‘I want ice cream!’ And then I have to think about my response in a different way. If I say ‘NO!’ that won’t resolve the issue. If I say ‘Not now!’ that doesn’t give me a lot more. That small child needs more than just a dictate.
As it turns out, the most comforting thing to do for that little voice is to say ‘Hey, wait a moment, can you tell me what it is that’s bothering you?’ Sure, the voice might not be articulate, and it might keep saying ‘ice cream, ice cream, ice cream’ over and over. But if I can calm that voice down a bit, I usually discover something unexpected.
‘I’m lonely.’ ‘I feel neglected.’ ‘I’m scared.’ ‘I feel trapped.’
When I’m unable to resolve the conflict in question, its less of a surprise to me that I end up turning to that universal solution – food. Its something I’ve used my entire life as the answer to all of my problems, something I learned from the earliest age.
And while sometimes, it really IS about the ice cream, most of the time, its just me, asking for a little TLC.