We’ve all been there. There’s nothing worse than the first day of a diet – usually because it doesn’t lead to a second day. As soon as we decide we’re going to start a new diet, food is all we can think about until we eventually just go ahead and have it and ruin that game-changing diet before it’s even had a chance to work.
See also: How to Beat Those Sugar Cravings at Work
What is imaginary eating?
Imaginary eating is the practice of imagining eating that thing you really want: not just thinking about it, but imagining the whole process from getting up for it to feeling satisfied that you’ve had it. It takes quite a vivid imagination – bad news for people who don’t have one.
- Step 1: You start craving that box of chocolates in your cupboard.
- Step 2: Close your eyes and imagine them. Picture yourself opening the box, and having one in as much detail as possible. How do they smell and taste? What is their texture like?
- Step 3: Continue Step 2 for as long as you can/need.
- Step 4: If your cravings have stopped, congratulations. If it hasn’t, then you can go and get them. The theory is that you will now only have 10 rather than 50.
Why it makes things worse
Does fantasizing about your dream holiday, from the plane ride to the beach to the delicious food, make you want it any less? Of course not. That holiday is out of your reach for whatever reason, but the food you want is a short walk away. Imaginary eating isn’t the answer; more willpower is, especially if you’re like this blogger who finds that constantly writing about food makes her hungry, regardless if she’s just eaten.
Eat small portions
Rather than getting the whole box, get a small bowl. Cravings often mean you’re just thinking about the taste of something and a little might be enough, or even that nutrients are what you actually need. The smaller the portion, the more times you’ll have to get up for more, and be honest: you aren’t going to get up more than a couple of times.
Take up a hobby
Find a hobby that you like, preferably something you need your hands for. If you focus on it whenever you start thinking about food, the logical part of your brain should realize that you physically can’t have it now and give up. Chances are you’re actually just bored and you won’t want the food by the time you’re finished. You can have it if, and only if, you really do still want it after you’ve distracted yourself for a while.
You know how to eat – you’ve been doing it for years. The problem with those years of practice is that we rarely just eat anymore: we walk, talk or watch TV at the same time. This lack of attention – or time – can result in you not feeling full, even if you have actually had enough.
This is simply another example of how we abuse our bodies. The stomach requires about 20 minutes to digest and signal the brain that it’s full, and if you’ve already started eating more then it will never complete the process. We’re taught as children to wait 30 minutes after eating to swim or we’ll get cramps – try waiting at least 20 minutes after eating to eat anything else, too.
Have you tried imaginary eating? Are you going to try it and see if it works, or does it sounds like a waste of time and you’re going to try crochet instead? Let us know in the comments section below!