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Cure for Chocoholics: Eat Fearlessly!

By Michelle May, M.D.

How many rice cakes does it take to satisfy a craving for chocolate?

Five rice cakes. 7 baby carrots. 4 celery sticks. One orange. A container of light yogurt. And a Snickers® bar.

Some people describe themselves as “chocoholics.” For some this is a tongue-in-cheek way of saying that they’re really passionate about chocolate. But for others, they mean that they feel out of control when they eat it.

I’ll be the first to praise chocolate’s incredible physical properties, but that alone doesn’t explain the difficulty some people have with chocolate-and many other foods. I’ve since come to realize that my own eat-repent-repeat cycle stemmed from what I’ll call “fear-based” thinking. You see, what you think and believe cause you to feel certain ways, which cause you to act in certain ways, which ultimately leads to specific results. In other words, your thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Beliefs/Thoughts > Feelings > Actions > Results > Beliefs/Thoughts > etc.

Let’s look at a few examples of fear-based thoughts that people have about eating chocolate that may lead to problematic behaviors-and consider a few “fearless” thoughts that can lead to more favorable results.

Fear-based thought: “Chocolate is bad.”

When you label certain foods “bad,” you’ll feel bad about yourself when you eat them. Ironically, the more you try to avoid these foods, the more power they gain over you. When you finally give in to those powerful cravings, you’ll feel guilty and out of control. You think, “I’ve already blown it I might as well keep eating,” reinforcing your belief that chocolate is bad and that you’ll lose control when you eat it.

Fearless thought: “I eat what I love and I love what I eat.”

All foods can fit into a balanced diet using the common-sense principles of balance, variety, and moderation. When you enjoy the foods you love without guilt, you’ll notice that they begin to lose their power over you and that your urge to overeat them diminishes. Over time, you’re able to eat anything, without eating everything.

Fear-based thought: “I let myself indulge in an occasional treat.”

The words “let myself”, “indulge”, and “treat” all imply scarcity, potentially causing you to stock up in anticipation of your next round of self-denial.

Fearless thought: “I eat-and live-in a way that nourishes my body, mind, heart, and spirit.”

Practicing self-care is not an indulgence, it is a necessity. Self-care means meeting your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs, including the need for pleasure and enjoyment. Since we live in an food abundant culture, it is all too easy to attempt to meet many of our needs, including pleasure, by eating. Once we recognize what we’re really hungry for, food (yes, even chocolate) can serve its true purpose: fueling the fulfilling life we crave.

February in National Chocolate Month…celebrate fearlessly!


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

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