From my last blood test results a couple of months ago, my cholesterol, and especially my LDL (“bad” cholesterol) had crept up, so my cardiologist agreed to give me a chance to clean up my diet and retest again in a few months. My disappointing numbers reflected some overindulgence over the holidays that also led to a few extra pounds.
So this was a good opportunity to work on better eating. I have had very good success in the past if I stick to mostly a whole food plant-based diet, making sure I get adequate protein, as I’ve described here. My downfall is when I backslide and indulge in too many snacks. I wanted this to also be a chance to be freer from compulsive eating, so I came up with my “Freedom From Compulsion” Diet. I’ve talked about “training the senses” to be free from compulsions previously. What I added was that in addition to eating healthy food, I must pre-plan what I have at each meal. I don’t make a big deal out of that, I can just decide something right before the meal. But the key is I am not allowed to “renegotiate” what I’m eating in the middle of the meal, like deciding I’m still hungry and want dessert. I’m also not allowed to decide in between meals that I need a snack.
I use the affirmation “no junk, no negotiations, no exceptions”. If I’m tempted to violate the rules, I do some kind of mindfulness exercise till the urge passes (like repeating a mantra or going for a mindful walk).
This has worked great. After a few days the little voice that wants to whisper, with very reasonable arguments, why it’s ok to break the rules “just this once”, just goes away (I call that voice my gremlin). And it is great being able to eat healthy and tasty food until I am satisfied, but not have to always have these annoying little arguments to myself to fight off temptation. What helps to motivate me is that I also consider this part of my self-transformation mental training. Spiritual teachers from various traditions emphasize the importance of minimizing “attachments” (to things you crave) and “aversions” (to things you dislike), and eating is a perfect area to work on this.
I’ve lost the extra weight I needed to, and hope in a couple of weeks to get better cholesterol results. But that’s a side benefit. Shutting my gremlin up is the main accomplishment.
If you want to try this, I suggest being generous with yourself at first about the portion sizes you are allowed to preplan. This is not a good time to intentionally cut calories, just stick to whatever type of food you think is healthy, and work on being free from compulsive eating. Later you could always tighten it up a bit but the top priority is freedom from compulsions.