Cravings and Falling Off The Wagon
~ The Strange Mirror Image Opposite Effect
There is an interesting relationship between how to deal with cravings vs how to deal with ‘falling off the wagon’.
Cravings are the urge to consume junk
Falling off the wagon is the emotional aftermath of having consumed junk.
Let's look at them separately first.
Dealing With Cravings
With cravings, if you find the novelty of cravings busters has worn off, a great reframe is to upgrade the meaning of the craving from me vs temptation to the level of a quest.
You don’t just want to be free of your cravings and sugar. You want to be free of all the ways that you diminish yourself using the junk as the means to that end.
Therefore when you have a craving, you have a powerful choice: to diminish yourself or to release yourself and empower yourself.
Can you see every craving as part of your quest, your hero/ine’s journey (HJ)?
No HJ goes smoothly. That is the point. What if Harry Potter had killed Voldemort in his first year at Hogwarts? Or what if President Snow had keeled over and resigned in shock when Katniss voluteered for her sister at the start of the deadly Hunger Games?
The perfectionism you crave from giving up sugar - that you will never again make an unhelpful choice - is, I would guess, actually your harsh inner critic fighting your HJ. That voice wants you to give up at the first hurdle. To say to yourself “Well thise cravings busters worked for a bit, but the novelty has worn off...”
Of course the novelty will wear off. This is a strategy for a sustainable future without junk, not a quick fix.
In over 6 years coaching compulsive eaters, I have seen time and again how the clients who embrace imperfectionism are the ones who free themselves most quickly from their compulsion...or 95% of it to be more accurate. They learn to be OK with the 5% of imperfect.
Who is/are your favourite hero/ines from film and literature? Can you draw parallels between their HJ to recliam their life from their demons, and yours to reclaim your life from food?
When you have a craving, ask yourself: What would Harry Potter/Katniss etc do? The answer is they would recommit to to the cravings busters, and use rewards more consistently for example.
Dealing With Falling Off The Wagon (FOTW)
There is an interesting opposite reframe we need to do when it comes to dealing with FOTW.
Whereas we upgrade the meaning of cravings to that of a quest/HJ, we downgrade the meaning of unhelpful choices we have already made to a shrug of the shoulders and a "So what?" attitude.
This is not complacency, the “Oh well, may as well have some more” of compulsion.
This is not a cheat day (which is nothing but a cover story for compulsion).
We do not put FOTW on our calendar and look forward to it as our only source of pleasure.
We deal with it when it happens and minimise its impact by being OK with our beautifully flawed selves.
“I accept that I have made an unhelpful choice. Fortunately because I reject perfectionism, I am able to counterbalance that choice with numerous opportunities to make helpful choices over the next few days. “
See also this page on accept and allow
The harsh inner critic hates accept and allow.
It hates the 5% imperfect that is necessary for this process.
Does the idea of this approach to FOTW make you uncomfortable? Why? Is the discomfort really all about you standing up that harsh inner critic?
How has that critic’s help worked out for you in the past?
Often FOTW is the only way to get pleasure because people block so many other sources of pleasure from themselves (relaxation, real connection, sex, physical activity, being in nature for example). How can you get more pleasure in your life and put junk out of a job?
NB For many women, pleasure is a very difficult concept for many reasons (perceived safety for example). This is a valuable discussion to have in sessions.