Gretel Hallet is a Chocolate Fairy and writes a lot on this blog. Her next workshop is in Norwich on 9th April If you live in the area and want to find out more about Beyond Chocolate, Gretel would love to hear from you! Meet Gretel.
I have realised recently that I have become very ‘comfortable’ in my relationship with Beyond Chocolate. I am not dieting, not even considering dieting, but I’m also not really ‘doing’ Beyond Chocolate either.
Let me illustrate this with a little anecdote:
The other evening I ate when I was really quite hungry. I hadn’t reached the stage where I turned into a frenzied whirlwind in the kitchen, the centrifugal force of my hunger attracting every edible thing in sight. But I was getting there. And I was cooking. And I didn’t snack and I didn’t keep ‘tasting’ either. By the time I sat down to eat the results, I was very hungry and the food tasted wonderful.
This made me review my other eating opportunities over the last few days, weeks, months … I realised that much of the time I wasn’t actually hungry when I ate. I was eating because it was lunch-time, or because everyone else in my family was hungry and I had cooked a meal, or because I was no longer feeling full up.
These are all perfectly reasonable occasions on which to eat, but for me they are far less satisfying than when I eat from a point of hunger. This is the point behind the Beyond Chocolate principle ‘Eat When You Are Hungry’. It sounds like a truism, but if we are honest, how many times in a day do we eat when we’re not actually hungry?
It’s a choice we make every day, several times a day … if I eat now, will I be hungry later? If I don’t eat now, will I be so ravenous that I’ll make a fool of myself at the buffet? How do I know if I’m hungry or if it’s just a Pavlovian reaction to lunch-time or cream-cakes?
There are some ways through this maze that are tried and tested, others you may wish to discover for yourself. One of the tools I’ve used is a ‘hunger scale’. There are details in the Beyond Chocolate book, but briefly I monitored myself over the course of several days to see what happened at various stages of hunger and I noted them down.
For example; the first symptom of impending hunger I get is restlessness, so I allocated that a number on a scale going from 1-5 (initially, it later expanded to 0 – 8!), and carried on observing. I know that when I over-eat I feel as though I have actually expanded several inches widthways, and that I am mentally sluggish and emotionally upset. So I gave that a number too, and kept on observing until I had a full scale which showed me the stages I went through from ‘stuffed to bursting’ to ‘Don’t stand between me and the food’.
This was helpful because I could then choose whether I wanted to eat at that point where I got restless or whether actually I’d prefer to wait until I reached, ‘If I don’t eat soon I’m going to get crabby’ (for example). I know from experience that I get more enjoyment out of the food if I do wait past those first signals and that I am probably in a better position to judge when I’ve had enough and to stop (that’s a whole other topic, though!).
So, having realised that I’ve become laissez-faire with Beyond Chocolate, it’s time to mix metaphors and pull my socks up and get back to basics and focus again on my relationship with food and not just let myself drift on in this unfocussed way. I know it’s worth it and that I’m worth it!