Monday, 18 July 2011

Beyond Temptation?

When the only way we know how to cope with the unpleasant moments is to eat a cookie (or 10 or 20...), when we have no other options, when nothing else feels possible... we can feel powerless, hopeless, crazy...

When we know that eating a cookie... or as many cookies as we want, is one option among many... When we know that we can manage every moment in life without food if we want to... then sometimes eating the cookie(s) may be the way we choose.. without guilt... without beating ourselves up, without feeling out of control... without needing to eat the whole packet and the one next to it in the cupboard... and then the crisps and cheese and pizza and coke and anything else we can get our hands on... without feeling the need to make up for it the next day by being good or eating less, or exercising that bit harder.

When we know how to have a balanced relationship with food... when we have choices and strategies and support... we are in charge!

When we can say NO to the cookie NOT because we think it's fattening so we ought to avoid it, NOT because we summon every ounce of willpower, NOT because we tell ourselves we're stupid or weak or crazy or pathetic or greedy for eating cookies when we should just pull ourselves together, but because we consider all the options available to us and (the vast majority of the time) eating cookies just isn't the most satisfying one...

Then we are truly in the moment, truly empowered, truly Beyond Temptation, for ever!!

Can't wait to publish this book - we're nearly there.


  1. can you read in mind? I'm exactly in this moment now: cookie or not cookie? When are you planning to finish a new book?

  2. Thanks for the post - struggling to find alternatives to 'the cookie' dilemma at the moment. I'm under a lot of stress finishing a masters degree all I want to do is eat. What are some other choices to deal with emotions?

  3. In a couple of words Helen... there are NO alternatives! The 'alternative' is to allow yourself to feel the stress. What would that be like? How do you DO stress? How do you create it physically, in your body? Where is the tension? Or do you collapse (not literally of course!). See if you can work out how you do it. What goes on in your head when you are stressed?? What's your Gremlin up to? I know that mine will be listing all the things I have to do and panicking me with the fantasies about not being up to it, never getting it done etc.. It may not sound like much fun and really... the ONLY way to manage discomfort without food for the LONG term is to feel the feelings and then learn how to soothe ourslves. Once you allow yourself to FEEL the stress you can begin to work out how to comfort yourself... what do you really need? Is there something you can ask for? Any support you need? Do you need to take a break? Do you need to metaphorically put your arms around yourself and give yourself a huge big hug? Do you need to play with all the POSITIVE fantasies rather than always going down the endless list of negative 'what ifs" which always end if catastrophe???
    I am away at the moment in a little cottage in the country. I have come here alone for 4 days to do as much of my Psychotherapy Training essays as I can. I finish my training (which I started 8 years ago!!) this year and I have quite a bit to do. It is very tempting to distract myself from the anxiety, the "Will I get it done" "I can't do this" thoughts... Deep breaths, staying present, noticing the fears and allowing them rather than fighting them, WELCOMING them... that's what I gets me through. Good luck Helen.

  4. Hi Sophie
    Same dilemma as Helen. I need a distraction and the biscuits/cheese/olives beckon. I just look in the fridge and cupboards wanting SOMETHING - not sure what - just SOMETHING. So now, since Beyond Chocolate, I think, its OK to have a biscuit, or whatever, because I am in charge. I CHOOSE to eat this biscuit because it will be a way of looking after myself, nurturing myself. OK, so instead of seeking a distraction, I should sit and think through WHY I want a distraction (I hate the word 'should') - what is it, boredom, weariness of what I am doing, need a break from the computer....? And, now, problem is... I am getting FAT! I can't make it work! Now, instead of feeling guilty and, yes, instead of summoning up the willpower NOT to eat the biscuit (which I am good at), I CHOOSE to eat the biscuit and I don't like the results of my choice! How, oh HOW, Sophie, do you welcome boredom, tiredness, just wanting something different to do? The HOW, not the WHY is my problem!

  5. I know Sandi! And the HOW is why we have written Beyond Temptation, to support you in doing just that and offering you some HOWs. For now, would you be willing to allow yourself to recognise what you are feeling (bored, tired or whatever) and feel it, experience it, instead of distracting yourself with the biscuit, just ONCE? What is it like when you feel bored Sandi? What happens when you recognise you feel tired and you don't want to, don't let yourself or cannot take a rest???

  6. PS - Hi again Sandi!

    By the way, you are quite right, there is no SHOULD about it. Who says you 'should' sit down and ask WHY??? The question is would you be willing to? Are you up for it? Would you have a go? and if you are, then rather than ask yourself WHY, why am I eating? Have a go at asking HOW and I doing this? What would it be like if I didn't? What would come up for me right now if I didn't push it down with food? How would I feel, what would I be thinking if I didn't use food, right now, to distract myself? What would it be like if I were WILLING to feel the unpleasantness of this moment rather than eating it away??

  7. Hi Sophie.
    I too am struggling. Several years ago I managed to "do" beyond chocolate." It was magic, for the first time in many many dieting/bingeing/failing years, I was happy. I felt hugely better, had loads more energy and even lost some wieght. I felt fantastic, and in control it was wonderful:) But that was then, now, I am not sure what went wrong, but I believe it was the first Christmas after my happiness, suddenly it seemed too difficult to be always going without because I just was not hungry. I realised that I often really wanted to eat for pleasure not to satisfy hunger. I lost the ability to tune in to hunger, telling myself that "I was not too bad as I was, and life is stressful, specially because my husband is ill, and food was a simple pleasure that I could enjoy. I do often tune in without even thinking about it, and I resist temptation loads of times, and one special thing I have learned from Beyond Chocolate is that if I do slip up and eat for the sake of it, I don;t have to go on and eat everything in sight. ok I have eaten too much, but I don't need to carry on eating till I burst :) That is positive. But the other day I had a lightbulb moment, stressed completely, I realised that I use food for comfort not because I do not have any alternative pleasures, but simply because it does not take any of that precious commodity called TIME to overeat that biscuit, it can be done whilst doing 3 other things at the same time. I do not have time to go and have a massage, or a bubble bath, or even a walk in the woods. So I discovered that popping something into my mouth when not hungry was something I was ABLE to do when I have no TIME for a deseperately needed ME moment or few! I can tune in to the fact that I am tired, sad, feeling hard done by or something else, and I can tune into the fact that I need some consolation, but there is no time for anything comforting, only a bit or two of food! Any suggestions please on this one?
    Thanks a million times for Beyond Chocolate, because I certainly have come a long way since reading it, and I love the weekly emails, although I don't alwasy have time to read them, but again and again I have been inspsired by something on one of these and its given me the courage to tune in one more time, and given me strength to go on in the battle of life, although I have not cracked the principles by a long way.

  8. Hi Sophie and Anonymous. Gosh, that was a light bulb moment for me too, Anonymous' post! It's the quickness of it - munching something quickly whilst doing something else, isn't it? And I DO have the time to think about it, feel it. I just 'can't be bothered' to cook for myself and sit down and tune in and all that. It is easier to just munch a little 'easy to pick up thing' when I am bored or tired and then I am full for a while, and then do it again when I am hungry later. Intellectually, I know exactly what I am doing..... emotionally, it seems like I don't care! Sounds awful I know. I'll figure it out with practice and certainly will give the BC philosophy/principles 'more of a go' because they certainly make sense! I found the first book illuminating and continue to dip into it. And I have to say that the freedom I felt, after reading it from cover to cover, when I didn't watch every crumb that went into my mouth was great - but now I want to lose that weight I put on by thinking it was OK to eat anything! Thanks to both of you for your posts. Very interesting discussion and I do like receiving the newsletters too. I look forward to the next book.

  9. Hi Sandi and Anonymous,

    Yes, that is the POINT you are spot on. The whole reason why we eat and NOTHING AT ALL will ever be able to replace it is because of what you say anonymous "because it does not take any of that precious commodity called TIME to overeat that biscuit, it can be done whilst doing 3 other things at the same time. I do not have time to go and have a massage, or a bubble bath, or even a walk in the woods. So I discovered that popping something into my mouth when not hungry was something I was ABLE to do when I have no TIME for a desperately needed ME moment or few!"

    And that's the whole point - when we acknowledge that we eat because it's just about the only way we allow ourselves a moment of reprieve, then we have choices.

    1. We can continue to overeat and accept the consequences and stop telling ourselves that dieting is the answer.

    2. We can make a decision to MAKE time, to TAKE the time to do something else, anything else - with the guilt and anything else that goes with it (and I know that this is the least likely option for most of us!).


    3. and this is what I do most of the time... choose to recognise that I need a break or something and that I don't even know what that something is and STAY with the frustration or the self pity or WHATEVER FEELING comes up when I choose NOT to eat a biscuit as a way to comfort or treat myself. This is not deprivation or willpower - this is about feeling the anger, frustration, desperation or whatever instead of eating. It's about (as the cartoon alludes to) being willing to STAY with the unpleasant moment rather than eating it away to take ourselves away from it. Does that make sense? There's more to it of course, hence a whole book coming soon :-))

  10. Yes it makes sense. I've put it into my mind and will bring it out and look at it a bit later. Thanks.

  11. Wow! I am loving this conversation... I am in Jamaica 'supposed' to be having lovely time but I'm too hot all the time so feel really lethargic and I've got a cold. I keep wanting to eat the carefully broken up squares of dark chocolate I have in a Tupperware in the fridge just because they taste nice! I am really bored too and it seems incredible to me because 2 days ago I was desperate for a holiday and here I am on the beach!!! I know I could go down the 'whats wrong with me - I'm so spoilt route'. and I'm resisting it as I know it's not helpful. I am too hot and I am unwell and I want to find a kind way to manage my angry feelings and it's not easy. Thank you for this post - it's really useful to be reminded of the need to keep on noticing and feeling my feelings and how I can so easily speak harshly to myself.


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