Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Introducing The Pause ...

Gretel Hallet, is a trained Chocolate Fairy and is running the Getting Started half day workshop in Norwich. If you live in East Anglia and want to know more about Beyond Chocolate, get in touch with Gretel.

If you recall from a previous post, my poor beleaguered colleague Bea? The one who has been advised to lose weight by a health-care professional and who has since been subject to the attentions of the Deadly Dieting Duet of our colleagues Vee and Jay? Well, today I had an opportunity to introduce her to The Pause.

It happened like this....

In a busy office, there are few moments when I can talk to Bea about Beyond Chocolate, and she has previously expressed an interest. But on this day, due to a concatenation of circumstances, I got lucky. Jay is on holiday, the Boss was out at a meeting, Vee was called out to deal with some family crisis, leaving Bea and me alone in the office.

Miraculously no-one rang or called in and all our other staff seemed to be gainfully employed elsewhere. We really were on our own for a few, rare moments.

I asked Bea how she got on at her appointment for her blood sugar and she said it was going down, which the health professional was pleased about. Then she confided that she knew she often ate in the evenings, when watching TV and that she wasn’t eating because she was hungry, but because she was bored.

Bea said she had been trying to keep herself busy instead, distracting herself from the desire to eat when not hungry (a classic diet tactic). I said that may work for a while, but it’s not possible to always be so busy that we can’t cram food in as well. She acknowledged that could be the case. I said that ‘keeping busy’ for the sake of avoiding eating was also avoiding whatever was driving the urge to eat. Bea agreed with that. I said I could offer her something she may like to experiment with as an alternative and she said she’d be pleased to hear it.

So I explained The Pause. 

Like this.

If we have reached the point in our self-awareness that we know we are eating for reasons other than hunger, we can then exercise a choice on what to do about our urge to eat. We can choose to still eat, acknowledging that it helps and that this is what we are doing right now to support ourselves to deal with whatever is causing the urge to eat. Or we can choose to Pause and break the automatic hand to mouth action and THEN decide if we still want to eat, or not.

We can do it like this:

1. Identify the urge to eat has been caused by something other than hunger, and decide 
(on this occasion, just once) to use The Pause.
2. Decide how long we are willing to sit with whatever is provoking the desire to eat (this can be anything from 1 second to several minutes, start small.)
3. Set that amount of time on a timer and put it nearby.
4. Sit with the emotions that come up. Notice physical sensations, thoughts.
5. PROMISE ourselves that if we still want to eat, we will. If not, we won’t.
6. When the time is up decide to eat, or not.

That’s it. But, boy is it powerful! It has helped me to considerably reduce my over-eating and to move away from eating for emotional reasons. I recommend it unreservedly as a very useful tool to experiment with and hope that it will help Bea to move further away from dieting and towards the Freedom of Beyond Chocolate.


  1. Gretel,

    Excellent advice. Essentially what you're saying is at the heart of so many things. I think going into a 'pause' knowing you can have that Snickers (my favorite) makes all the difference in the world.

    Good stuff.

    Ron Saxen

  2. This idea of a pause has been one of the most helpful things I learned when working with Sophie. Stop, consider, then act. Knowing that it's OK to eat after careful consideration, if that's what you want, is wonderful. I use the technique in many areas of my life now, not just around food.

  3. This is the only BC principle that I still struggle with..when I'm feeling stressed or whatever, and wanting to supress that with food, the last thing I want to do is pause! However, you have given some excellent strategies as to how to do that so thanks Gretal! On the plus side, I've been a Beyond Chocolater for just over a year, and all of my size 12 jeans are now falling off me! Don't know how much I weigh, hadn't paid attention to whether i was losing/gaining weight..it just happened :)

  4. Thanks for the reminder, Gretel! This is one of the things I don't do enough of. I 'forget' to pause. This applies more to the glass or two or three of wine than food for me, though! I guess I use pause more on finishing a meal. When dieting I would automatically reach for a yogurt or piece of fruit. Now I wait and nine times out of ten I start clearing the plates away and don't even think about eating anything else! Tali, I'm heartened to hear that you're losing weight without trying! I think booting out those scales is one of the things that's going to help me most. I've tried to do this so many times, but always put them back in the bathroom. However, I don't weigh myself every day like I used to, which is progress of sorts!

  5. And by using The Pause in other situations too, stress is decreased in general. I've just commented on the "Say Ommmmm" article about a Practical Philosophy Course I did which promoted a two minute meditation. we were also introduced to The Pause between activities, just a few seconds to gather our thoughts and remember to breathe and be present. Once you start becoming aware to pause between activities (after a meal, instead of jumping up to clear plates; on arriving home, a moment of peace taken in the car before greeting your loved ones) it's a very difficult habit to break...thank goodness :-)

  6. Thanks everyone - glad you enjoyed this blog and that the pause is also helping you.


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