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
“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
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!