But I Deserve This Chocolate

I recently received a copy of the book “But I Deserve This Chocolate”
by Dr. Susan Albers, PsyD. I was very excited to read it, because Dr.
Albers is an expert on the topic of mindful eating. Knowing how much I
enjoyed her other books, I eagerly anticipated the opportunity to read
it.

“But I Deserve This Chocolate” is a book about excuses people give that
keep them from achieving the healthy lifestyle most of us so
desperately want to incorporate into our being. This book lists the
excuses, and then gives mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral techniques
to address each one.

The first section of the book addresses mindfulness and mindful eating.
Often times people pursuing health can get derailed when they don’t
bring intentionality to their choices and behaviors. Dr. Albers
stressed the importance of bringing attunement to to our daily
decisions about food, focusing in on HOW we eat first, and then HOW we
want to feel after we are done. The author talks a lot about being on
autopilot, and how this is an example of mindless thinking. To bring
about more mindfulness into our lives, we need to take time to stop and
pause.

One excuse that was listed in the book, I really related to was “But I
Want More Food!” Often times, while I am eating I can sense that I have
hit the satisfaction level in my body. I get very sad & feel a lot of
loss. However, I know that my body doesn’t need anymore food. Dr.
Albers suggests that my feelings of wanting more may be about
wanting more of something else in our lives. She encourages us to take
time to think or journal through what we may be feeling is missing from
my life. In addition, she suggests to inquire as to whether we are
content with our present lives. Often times, we are led to believe by
the media that having more makes one happier. But really, is that true?
I know for me, it is often not true. When I eat more than what my body
desires, I feel physically uncomfortable and lethargic.

Another excuse was “I Can’t Decide What To Eat.” I often find that hard
as well! Did you know that on average, humans have to make about 220
decisions related to food choices a day? No wonder I get overwhelmed! I
think it’s really important to lean on our inner wisdom to tell us what
and how to eat. Our bodies do give us messages as to whether we
want sweet, salty, crunchy, protein, etc. Dr. Albers suggests that we
have 5 healthy meal options available that we feel comfortable eating
mindfully. Make sure to stock your kitchen with those ingredients so
you have them available to you when you decide that meal is the best
match for your body. Having 5 meals ensures you are not on autopilot,
but rather that you have options available to you.

I know sometimes when I am stuck in diet mentality I think that I
should lose at least 3 pant sizes after eating one healthy meal. I am a
HUGE fan of instant gratification. So when my too-tight pants don’t fit
after one change, I get very discouraged and can give up. In the
chapter, “It’s Too Hard to Change”, the author says that if we are
worrying about the scale, we are not in the present moment. She
encourages you to put the scale away, you can focus on the journey of
mindfulness and attunement. In that way, you can be goal-oriented
toward sustainable behavioral changes, as opposed to numbers.

Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition of mindfulness is, “‘intentionally drawing
your awareness and attention to the present moment in a nonjudgmental
and accepting way.” I don’t know about you, but I have a hyperactive
critic in my inner world. Dr. Albers says that over time, our inner
critic is fueled by other people, the media, habit, our personality,
biology, and perfectionism. A visual image for our inner critic is that
of a backseat driver. Picture your Great Aunt Lola in the backseat,
barking out orders. That voice is not typically very helpful in getting
you to your destination, and elevates your stress level. Does your
inner critic ever bark out the following thoughts? “You have no
willpower!” “You shouldn’t eat that!” “You cheated on your diet!”
“You’re not worth the effort!” If so, it may be time to bring some
mindfulness into the picture. I think sometimes I am so deflated by
these thoughts. However, I neglect to remember that thoughts are not
facts. They are just thoughts. I need to sit with my thoughts and
feelings, listen to their stories, and decide for myself if they need
to be challenged.

In my own life, I have a tendency to ignore my hunger signals that I
get around 4pm, rush home starving, open the refrigerator, and then
grab whatever is easiest to get at it. This book helped me realized how
important it is to pause. One technique I am trying is to give myself a
snack at 4pm. Then when I arrive home, I am in a much more calm state
of mind. Before I open the refrigerator, I sit down on my couch and
breathe about 30 times. After that, I feel like I can be more in charge
of my decisions related to food. Do I remember to do these things every
day? No, but now I have a symbol on my door to remind me to breathe
when I get home.

If you feel stuck in your journey toward health, I would encourage you
to take a look at “But I Deserve This Chocolate.” It is an excellent
tool to keep you mindfully moving towards a goal of health.

Dr. Albers is the author of many b0oks, including “50 Ways to Soothe
Yourself Without Food.” http://www.eatingmindfully.com

Stay Tuned: A Giveaway is Coming!

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Learning to savor food, yoga, & life.
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21 Responses to But I Deserve This Chocolate

  1. Kari says:

    just reading the word chocolate gave me the idea to make a chocolate mug cake-low calorie though and within my daily cal limits…lol

  2. hmm . . i may have to kindle this book. thanks for the review!

  3. Kate says:

    Thanks Jill for this review! After I read your guest post last week, I put the kindle version of this book on my wishlist to get at a later date. (I currently have too many similar books to read through first.)

  4. We are so in tuned! I recently talked about mindfulness too! Stopping and reflecting is essential. When I do it, I feel so empowered, confident, and authentic. Great post. I just added another book to my Amazon cart!

    Eat Live Move: Intuitive Eating from A to Z

  5. Kara says:

    At some point, I’m sure I thought I deserved a piece of chocolate too!

    “But I Want More Food!” Dr. Albers suggests that my feelings of wanting more may be about
    wanting more of something else in our lives.

    Of course, I’m not a psychologist, but I don’t agree with Dr. Albers’ understanding of why we want to eat more food. From my own CBT, it comes from dieting and restricting: restricting the amount of food we eat, and restricting the types of food we eat.

    When dieting, we tell ourselves that we can eat this, but not that and if we do eat this, we can’t eat too much. When we don’t follow the dieting rules, we are told (and we tell ourselves) that we are bad and lack willpower. So what happens? We develop anxiety about eating certain foods and eating too much. And anxiety triggers false hunger, wicked cravings and an insatiable need for food.

    To me it makes much more sense that wanting more food is related to a food problem rather than some other aspect of life.

    This anxiety is also the same reason why I find it so difficult to figure out what I am going to eat. Every decision is a loaded – I should eat this, but I want to eat that – make the wrong decision, we (and/or society) tells us we are bad. But I do like her suggestion to having 5 healthy options available.

    I learned on my own journey is to eat the foods that you want to crave. Eat junk food, you’ll crave junk food. Eat healthy foods, you’ll crave healthy foods. I would put much more stock in that than waiting for signals from your body – they aren’t always very clear….

    Phew, I think I need to breathe now too!

    • I believe overeating and binge eating can be a result of diet mentality. We restrict for reasons, just as we overeat as a result. Why are we stuck in diet mentality? Diet Mentality keeps us safe and numb and not dealing with extra feelings of not living mindfully and intuitively, which a small piece of this book & other books Dr. Albers has written.

      We don’t overeat for no good reason. We are trying to take care of ourselves. We need to find out why. Diet Mentality is the surface reason, but there is more to it. Usually exiled feelings not being allowed to be expressed.

      • Kara says:

        I’ve thought about this all night. While I can only base my ideas on my own experience and what I learned in CBT, I know that my overeating stems from restriction and body image issues as opposed to using food to soothe feelings from an unresolved aspect of my life. I will explain this in a post on my blog, so I think you will be able to see where I am coming from.

        I completely agree that we don’t overeat for no reason. But I ask everyone to think about this: why food? why eating? why do we decide to use food as comfort in the first place? And why are we resistant to the idea that potential reason we overeat stems from a lifetime of mixed messages about food and eating?

        I love this discussion!

      • Me too, Kara! I look forward to your post. I think there are reasons why we choose to focus on our bodies, instead of what is really going on. Like when we feel “fat.” Fat is not a feeling. It’s a substitute for a deeper issue. Mindfulness and CBT together are so important. Breaking free from Diet Mentality is also important. You are right that our culture has a f-ed up relationship with food and our bodies, and that undeniably has an effect upon the way we use food.

  6. You summarized it so nicely, I bookmarked this book on amazon. I use to be all about mindfulness about a year ago; listening to my body, stepping back and asking myself “am I really hungry or is something deeper going on?” it helped a ton, I was at my “happy weight”. I also felt very content with my life, I had it all “together” (so I thought). But once I got sick and gained about 20 pounds (my parents thought my sickness had to do with me being “too healthy”), I threw all of that away, but I’m fishing it back out, these last few months I’ve really started to take a hold of my health again, but I’m going to admit I haven’t been as mindful as I should be, I will be meditating on this word these next few days and after I finish reading the book I’m currently on I’ll pick this one up. I declare May to be Mindful May :)

  7. Have you read any of her other books?

  8. ok I LOVE workbooks, I love having something to write in…when I started my health “journey” I was working on BOD4GOD…should I read her book first and then fill out the workbook or am I able to just use the workbook by itself?

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