How many diets include this as one of their rules? Well, Beyond Chocolate is different in every way and Enjoy! is a principle in its own right and therefore as important as the other nine.
What does this mean? Of course we enjoy our food! If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have needed to spend so many years dieting, would we?! But in that cycle of yo-yo dieting and bingeing, were we really enjoying our food? Really?
When I look back on my childhood; I can honestly say I enjoyed food. I was a skinny child who was able to eat masses and my mother always cooked from fresh ingredients and there were always lots of home-made cakes and biscuits in the tins. By the time I was 21, I had already started my first diet … If you’d asked me at that point, I would have said it was excessive enjoyment of food that had led me to this place but now I’m not so sure.
Now I would say that there was precious little enjoyment in the miserable portions of low fat foods that I attempted to exist on for all those dieting years. There was precious little enjoyment in refusing all those puddings, birthday cakes and chocolate I was offered while on my latest diet. There was even little enjoyment in the self-destructive binges that followed every diet along with the despair that I didn’t seem to be able to ‘control’ myself.
So this Principle helps us to return to a place where food is an enjoyable and integral part of our lives. This doesn’t mean that we won’t ever binge again but if we Tune In and ask ourselves, ‘am I actually enjoying this?’ it may be that the answer this time is ‘no, I’m not,’ and we may find that, this time, we would rather stop and wait until we’re hungry again before eating with enjoyment again. This doesn’t mean that we won’t ever again eat when we’re not hungry – but it does mean that, with a judicious bit of Tuning In, we can know whether or not this eating is enjoyable and if it’s not, we can choose to stop. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be occasions on which we eat under pressure from someone else – but I have found that I have come to dislike eating when I’m not hungry because I don’t enjoy it – I would much rather save that food now and Enjoy it later.
Food is one of life’s great pleasures but not if we are constantly worried about how much we are eating, how many calories or ‘syns’ it contains, whether or not it’s ‘healthy’ or ‘fattening’. Food can be so many things to so many people; friend, foe, companion, sustainer, gap-filler, healer, comforter etc. So how do we incorporate Enjoy! into our eating?
As you may have noticed, Tuning In is very helpful – we can use it to check if we are actually enjoying the food we’re eating. We can use it to check up before we start eating to see if we are feeling anything negative or positive about the food in front of us. I would suggest a period of experimentation with this principle – if you are a journaling person, write down how much enjoyment you got from food, or you could create an ‘Enjoy!’ scale, similar to the Hunger Scale – where are you on this scale as you eat this food? Most of all this Principle can help us to reclaim our true enjoyment of a wonderful part of our lives.
When hungry, eat your rice; when tired, close your eyes. Fools may laugh at me, but wise men will know what I mean. —Lin-Chi