How often does eating “just one” actually end with only eating that one?
For me, I think I can safely say it never happened!
Even if I could stretch to a couple of hours of steel-like resolve, my willpower eventually broke.
- One chocolate became the entire box.
- One donut became the whole bag.
- One scoop of ice-cream became finishing the tub.
- One tortilla chip ended with an empty bowl.
And, goodness—does that make sense now!
The intense wanting followed by that’s-nowhere-near-enough and longing for more.
Never really satisfied, even after eating so much my stomach ached, my head was banging and I felt so sick I had to lie down..
The highly efficient and effective desire and reward pathways in my brain had gone awry. Our brain’s just haven’t evolved quickly enough to cope with much of our modern-day, ultra-processed, quick-fix foods.
Do you recognise that little voice in your head?
Perhaps it’s sweet and cajoling, perhaps grumpy and resentful, or maybe teasing you to try and get a reaction.
- Just one won’t hurt.
- You deserve it.
- Come on, you’ve done so well—you’ve got this now
Next time you hear those whispers, instead of reaching for the earplugs, try this:
1. Say, “Hello”
Ah little voice, I hear you. Hello again.
Recognise the voice and give it space to talk more.
2. Understand why it’s there
Of course you’re here right now. You want me to eat the cookie so that …
[my hunch is you’ll intuitively know how this sentence continues.]
Normalise the message—it’s likely to be a well worn pattern of thoughts or behaviours that have served you in the past.
3. Challenge its message
Hmmm … I see where you’re coming from. But we both know where this is going to go, and it doesn’t end up feeling good.
Identify the issue that is causing thoughts of food. Will eating now solve it in the long term?
Zero-judgement here, just notice.
4. Suggest an alternative
What do we really need right now? I wonder if anything else might help. How about we give it a try?
Uncover the next best thing to support yourself in the moment. Examples might be words of reassurance, a glass of water, texting a friend, or going outside.
Let the little voice in your head know that you’ve heard it and you’re going to try this one small thing to see if it helps.
These 4 steps will allow you to:
- Slow down and come back into yourself before automatically reaching for food
- Create a little distance between yourself and the part of you that wants to binge or overeat
- Tune into your reason for wanting the food
- Understand how and why the food might provide a solution, at least in the short term
- Explore a different way to support yourself
Listening to the little voice in your head doesn’t mean doing what it tells you to.
Instead, hearing its message can help ease the desire for the food.
A two-way conversation can be a powerful way to interrupt even the most entrenched patterns of behaviour and to find a way forward without eating in a way that brings you down.