I can be cool with just about every other food on the ‘forbidden’ lists that all diets create, regardless of what they say about freedom of choice (but that’s another topic!). I can take or leave crisps and often have a variety in the cupboard that I don’t even think about from one week’s end to the next. I recently rediscovered a packet of biscuits that were in plain view at eye-level in a cupboard that I had completely forgotten about. I often pass up puddings because I just don’t need them at that point. I don’t hide food any more that I think I ‘shouldn’t’ be eating. I buy food that I like and that I consider nutritious and supporting of my life- style.
So what is it about chocolate that is so different? Why am I behaving differently around chocolate?
It’s a vexed question at the moment. I have been working with Beyond Chocolate for some years now and have absolutely, definitely, without exception legalised all foods. By this I mean that all foods within my personal dietary preferences have equal weight in my opinion and I have freedom of choice of all those foods (subject to availability, of course) at all times. I don’t think of any food as a ‘sin’ or ‘naughty’ or ‘forbidden’ or ‘fattening’ or ‘good’. Nope, not any more.
So what is going on with chocolate. What’s been happening recently is that I have begun to behave in a way that I would prefer not to as it’s not actually helping me. I am finding myself standing in front of the display of chocolate in our local shops and really not being very interested in any of them. Then I leave the shop with around 4 bars and put them in plain view on my desk. They are usually gone within the day.
This may not sound particularly alarming to you, but it is to me because I had thought I’d ‘got’ Beyond Chocolate. I thought I had reached a happy Nirvana where chocolate was just another food stuff that I could take or leave as the whim took me. Instead of which, desire for chocolate has resurfaced in a different challenging form. And it’s not as if I want chocolate, because most of the time I don’t, but something is driving me back there again and again. I don’t enjoy the chocolate I eat because I’m not hungry for it and I’m perfectly satisfied with the food I have already eaten; the chocolate is an unwelcome extra.
I know I could Stock Up and really blast through this chocolate phase (as I have done in the past) – I could buy more chocolate than anyone could possibly eat in one go – I could sit down with a plate and really focus on the chocolate every time I felt driven to eat it. I could continually top up, so that the supply of chocolate was never in danger of running out – and that is one of the suggestions in Beyond Chocolate – to satisfy a fear of lack – to be abundant at all times so the ‘Gremlin-of-running-out-just-when-I-want- it’ doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
But, right now, I don’t think that’s the answer. I am not afraid of running out of chocolate because I know I can access it very easily pretty much 24/7 and with very little effort. I could instead promise myself that I would do the above. That every time I wanted chocolate, I would go and get some and then complete the sequence by sitting down and really focusing on it. But the problem at the moment is that I don’t want it at all – so there’s really no point in buying it in the first place, because if I do, I’ll just eat it and right now, I don’t want to eat chocolate. So I am experimenting with just not buying it. I’m not substituting it with anything else; I’m sitting with the mild discomfort of this vague itch about chocolate and I’m seeing what emotions come up, what thoughts, what physical feelings. It’s definitely discomfort and restlessness that I experience when I don’t eat chocolate at the moment and I suspect there’s a Gremlin behind it somewhere – one that I haven’t caught in the act yet.
This spirit of enquiry, this willingness to experiment and observe with gentle curiosity is one of the most powerful tools I have gained from Beyond Chocolate.
Before Beyond Chocolate, I was at the mercy of a variety of diets and eating programmes and never took the time to observe what was happening or to gently question my eating. I just riccoched from dieting to binge-eating and back again round and round, and no-one ever gently interposed a helping hand and offered me the chance to choose what I did, how and when I ate – until I discovered Beyond Chocolate.
Suddenly, the world of food looked such a friendlier place – I could experiment, learn, progress, instead of always feeling I was taking one step forward and several back, over and over again. I don’t have an answer to the question of what’s going on with chocolate and me at the moment – but I don’t feel helpless about it any more. I know that I have the wonderful Beyond Chocolate principles and all the extra tools I have learned how to use over the years and that they will be with me every step of the way.
And I know that whatever conclusion I come to at the end of the process (if I do, that is), Beyond Chocolate will support whatever decision I take every step of the way too.
It truly is freedom with a big side-order of safety and acceptance and I never found that on any diet.