Last week, a patient presented the situation of going to restaurants with her partner who really likes going to restaurants and takes a very long time to eat. She sits there with the basket of popcorn, and her food and his food and feels like she is fighting the food the whole time. As we got to talking, we came up with a plan of multiple lines of defense. It is said that the best offense is a good defense if you are “fighting” something.
Situational defense is when we stay out of the situation entirely.
Environmental defense is when we ask that the bread or popcorn not be brought to the table, for example.
Chemical defense is using medication to bring the pleasure chemicals to the brain so that we aren’t looking toward food for pleasure.
Mechanical defense is weight loss surgery which has been helpful to many people.
Mental defense is reminding ourselves why we want to eat certain foods or amounts and avoid others.
Emotional defense, which is to say for most of us, we eat over what’s eating at us, we have to face our stuff so we don’t stuff our face, and peace of mind protects from piece of cake. Or as Dr. Tran Tien says, “When we were up our weight went down and when we were down our weight went up”.
Social defense is to socialize with people whose lifestyle goals are in alignment with our own. This can be challenging when we are in the process of changing our lifestyle and those close to us are not. So having others who are on a similar wellness and/or weight loss path can really help.
Behavioral defense involves choosing one or more “no matter what” habits that we just won’t do, no matter what. This woman chose to set the intention that no matter what, she just won’t eat any popcorn at the restaurants (it’s easier not to start than to stop).
Innermost defense is a place at the center of our very being that no matter what situation, environment, people, medication, surgery, habit, thought, or emotion is or is not present, we can come to rely on. It is the place from which we focus, pay attention, are aware, present, mindful and conscious. Interestingly, these are all words people will describe that they know they need in order to “win the battle” with food.
How do you find this place? It may not be easy, but it is simple:
1. Breathe 2. Be aware of your breath 3. Be aware
To paraphrase Jon Kabat Zinn the great mindfulness teacher: Awareness is always with us and yet it takes a lifetime to build, grow, develop and strengthen this presence within us. But I can assure you that as we do, we have the most reliable self-defense in our “fight” with food. Speaking of awareness, I am aware that this last defense may seem confusing, elusive or intangible. I invite you to bring your questions to me if you desire to explore this part of wellness & weight loss.