It’s 40 degrees Celsius here in Sorrento. I’m sitting by the pool feeling bad for this young chubby girl who reminds me of me before. Despite the unbearable heat, she’s sweating like a track driver under her long cotton leggings and t-shirt. On the other hand, she’s eating her brother’s ice cream with her eyes.
She lives in an addicted body, like I used to. As neuroscientists explain, most of us can’t stop an addiction because we live in a state in which the body has become the mind. Our brains are ruled almost exclusively by the body and how it feels. So when your body, the way it feels, and your environment, control your behaviours around food… How can you possibly ever change that?
I’m going to get all geeky on you now. Here’s a little experiment I want you to try. Something that has helped me and my clients tremendously, and I hope it helps you as well.
For the rest of the day, I want you to become your very own scientist. Think like an outside observer. Someone greater than you.
Find the spot in your brain that lights up when you experience this addictive response, which pretty much feels like an uncontrollable desire to eat. You should feel an electrical storm in the highlighted areas:
Try to identify the parts in your body that behave differently. In my case, my throat would start pulsing. Some of my clients feel their heart rate going up. Others sense their hands shaking a bit. Or their breathing becoming irregular.
As you feel the urge to eat compulsively, don’t try to stop it. Simply notice it. Objectively. No judgement.
Don’t try to control anything. Simply catch how your body responds.
Now let me explain why I’m teaching you this technique, which is being used in addiction rehab centres and compulsive disorder treatments. It’s called “metacognition.” An ability that differentiates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.
As you objectively pay attention to your own body responses, your brain reorganises itself and weakens a compulsion (Dunlosky & Bjork, 2008).
When you can notice how you’re feeling, acting and behaving, your brain changes chemically.
This action calms it down. The addictive response is shortened.
Sometimes it disappears completely, making you wonder why you’re opening a third pack of crisps. Keep observing as that happens.
Control, guilt and judgement don’t have a place in this experiment.
This is pretty much a form of evolution for you. I did it. My clients did it. Now it’s your turn.
Take action now. Observe any compulsion to eat like a scientist would do, and report back in the comments below. Did you manage to catch yourself? What body part registered the strongest response? Did it stop?
Look forward to hearing from you.