Don’t you just hate it when your tongue likes a food but your body doesn’t?
Such is my case with bread and sugar.
My tongue likes the taste of both of these. But when I eat them, my sinuses act up, I get bloated, have a headache, and start sneezing.
Unfortunately, it is easy forget the negative effects when the temptation is staring you in the face.
This happened to me recently when my husband Mike bought some trail mix home.
Actually, he bought 2 bags.
I strive not to bring snack foods home that hijack my brain. My motto is to avoid food fights:
“The best way to win a fight is to avoid getting into one in the first place.”
However, I didn’t have control over it this time. What is a girl to do?
Well, I did eat a serving of the trail mix. The problem was that the serving turned into two, then three.
Uh-oh! I know how this story ends. The Bible says,
As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly (Proverbs 26:11).
So to help myself avoid repeating this pattern and win this snack food battle, I knew I had to win 2 battles:
- Manage my environment outside
- Manage my mental/emotional battle inside
Here is how I did that.
The Environmental Battle
This simply means changing my environment to block my vision of the snack food and making it harder to get.
Here is what I did:
1. Got a plastic grocery bag and wrote on it: ‘Breadstuffs – Stuffy Nose, Bloated, Headache, Sneezing.’ I did that to remind myself of the end result of eating the trail mix.
In this way, I wouldn’t deceive myself in thinking this is only about the taste.
2. Put the trail mix into the bag and tied it up. Most of the things that spark our desires are the things we see.
So putting snack foods that you don’t want to eat into an opaque or colored bag is helpful to block your vision of the bright lettering and appealing contents.
3. Put the grocery bag with the trail mix into the deep freezer in the garage. This step is to make the trail mix harder to get for me, but Mike can get it as he likes.
Now why did I go through all of this trouble?
The key is to put up roadblocks in my habit pattern of trail mix eating. Here is the Before pattern:
- I see the trail mix
- I imagine how good it is going to taste
- I measure out the amount
- I eat it
Now, here would be the After pattern, if I choose to take it:
- Leave the warm house
- Go out into the cold garage
- Reach into the deepest part of the even colder freezer
- Untie the bag and ignore all of the symptoms I wrote on the bag
- Open up the trail mix bag inside
- Bring the bag back into the house
- Measure out an amount…
See, I can’t even finish that when I imagine it. It’s too much trouble!
That is why you want to make the habits you want to break too much trouble to practice.
The reason so many of us practice negative habits is because we make them too convenient.
Human beings naturally follow the path of least resistance. So if you make it easy to practice overeating, then that is what you are going to do.
Simple as that.
Now, that takes care of my Environmental battle. I engineered my environment to make the habit less convenient.
This is a great start.
But what about the mental and emotional battle of the trail mix?
The Mental/Emotional Battle
This battle is actually the harder one. In order for me to eat the trail mix, I must desire it.
So this means re-training my desires, which takes time.
Memories come into play if it is something we’ve done before and we liked it.
If we didn’t like it, we wouldn’t desire it.
If we don’t have a memory of what a particular experience will be like, then our imagination will take over.
So when the thought of ‘Go get some trail mix’ comes up in my mind, then my memory will display my previous experiences with the trail mix.
The memories will not only include the images, but the feelings associated with the experience – usually positive.
Watch it in your own thoughts the next time a snack food temptation comes up.
Your emotions come first (memory or imagination) and then the logic follows (the reason why it is okay for you to do it).
It is never the other way around.
To short-circuit this sequence, I need to cut this off at the memory level.
When the memory of how good the trail mix will taste comes up, I have to display the memory of how bad my body feels with the stuffy nose, bloating, headache, and sneezing.
I have to rehearse that negative memory in my mind over and over. I need to see that picture or movie strong and clear.
And this is the important part: I need to rehearse this negative memory until it changes my emotions, overtaking my desire for the trail mix.
Confronting your Real Needs
But that is not the end of it.
Was I really hungry?
If I was hungry, then I need to get a healthy snack to satisfy my hunger. I need to have healthy alternatives in my environment.
However if I was not hungry, then I need to take care of my real need.
Just sitting there never works.
Chances are, physical tension made me want to eat when I wasn’t hungry. So I needed to get busy with prayer walking, exercise, cleaning up around the house – whatever will get me out of my mind and into my body.
With this plan, I won the snack food battle!
In the Comments, I’d love to hear about any snack food battles you are facing right now. What is your Before pattern? What will be your After pattern?
Be blessed with health, healing and wholeness,
Kimberly Taylor, Creator of the Take Back Your Temple program
P.S. Tired of carrying emotional weight?
The value of the Take Back Your Temple program is that you will learn how to think differently through Biblical truth.
You’ll discover how to lay aside emotional weight and walk in freedom.
Join a support community of other empowered Christians discovering how to release weight and keep it off.