Epsiode 5: The Eat Right Series (2) ~ how to be more in control around food


Hello, hello. We are on week two of our Eat Right series. Last week, we really set the foundation. We laid the groundwork for the rest of the four lessons to build upon.

Now, I'm not going to lie, this week was really challenging to narrow down and to distill into a usable lesson and action step because it is such a big topic. So when we're talking about how to be more in control with food, we're looking at things like overeating, over drinking, eating when we're not hungry, all of those things. It’s a big, big topic. I almost feel like this could be a five-week course, and I'm trying to get it down to under 30 minutes for you just to have that bite-size, power-packed action step lesson, okay?

Hopefully you guys find it to be really helpful, because this is a topic that has come up again and again when I'm talking to you. I know that we need some solutions where this is concerned and before we move on to the next lesson. Good news is next week is going to be about meal planning. It's going to be very practical, and strategic, and not as mindset heavy as this week is. I picture you coming back to this particular episode more than once just to really get the full impact of everything that we're talking about today.

So, let's jump in, all right? I'm going to have a sip of my coffee. As always, if you have questions, if you want any clarification ... Most of you guys watch on the replay, and I totally get it. It's the middle of the day on a Tuesday. If you have questions, some of you like to reach out to me through email, you can also post in the comments, and I will get back to you there as well.

What we’re talking about today

All right, so false pleasures. That's where we're starting. What is a false pleasure? Why do we do false pleasures? Why does it matter if we do them? How to identify false pleasures in your life. There's two questions that you ask yourself, and also three strategies to get rid of false pleasures.

What is a false pleasure?

First of all, we talked a little bit about this last week, and we're going to get into more depth here. A false pleasure is something that disconnects you from yourself and disconnects you from what's going on around you. It numbs you to the present moment and the experience that you're currently in. It feels really good in the moment, but it does not feel so good later on. It subtracts from your well-being, and it's concentrated. So, it's like a really intense hit of pleasure. It's also an artificial emotion. That's what a false pleasure is.

What, in contrast, is a real pleasure then? Real pleasure connects you to the moment. It amplifies the experience that you're having. It feels good in the moment, and it also feels good later on. It adds to your well-being. It is a subtle hit of pleasure, but it is a real emotion. You can see the difference between false pleasures and real pleasures right away.

Why would we ever choose a false pleasure?

It's a good question, right? The answer is actually in how a false pleasure affects us. So remember I said that it disconnects us and it numbs us to what's going on within us, so the emotions that we're feeling inside, and also what's going on around us. That's the answer. We use false pleasures to buffer our emotions. What does this mean? This means that you need some distance between how you're feeling, what's going on around you, and the best way to do that is to cover up that emotion with something else instead of dealing with it.

Why does it matter?

That doesn't sound great, but it's really not that bad, right? Well, here's the problem. If you do this, if you are covering up your negative emotions, you're like someone driving in their car, and you're on the highway, and all of a sudden your check engine light comes on. Instead of dealing with that, you take a piece of tape and you just cover it up, keep going, and hope that everything's going to be okay. The problem isn't solved, right? The check engine light is still on underneath that tape. You're just not dealing with it. That is never a good solution. What happens is those negative emotions simmer below the surface and then pop up.

What do I mean by that? Maybe you yell at your kids, at your spouse, at the poor store clerk who has nothing to do with anything in your life. Where did that come from? What kind of monster am I? That's what happens when you let these negative emotions simmer underneath. That's bad enough, right? That it detracts from your well-being. You have these negative emotions you're not dealing with.

Now what does this have to do with happiness? What is the difference between happiness and well-being? Happiness can be just stacking those external false on top of each other. I could ask you, "are you happy?" And you could think, "Yeah, you know what? I do all sorts of fun things. I'm feeling pretty happy." What that means though is that you could be on what I like to call the pleasure treadmill. That is where you have to chase an external pleasure, experience it, but then you lose it, so now you need to chase another one, experience it, then you lose it, then you chase another one, and we're constantly chasing things outside of ourselves to make us feel happy, and we feel entitled to feel happy. We feel like not feeling happy is a bad thing. That's something that is a pervasive message, whether you're watching TV, reading, magazines, reading books, we're all supposed to be happy all the time, so we tend to want to avoid negative emotions.

If you're on this pleasure treadmill, you are dependent on things that are outside of yourself to be feeling okay and everything's for sale. You can eat something, drink something, buy something, consume something, watch something, and you will feel happy. How is that different than well-being? Well-being is a state that's inside you. It comes from within you. It's a confidence. It's a self-assuredness. It is not for sale. You can't buy contentment. You can't buy joy. You can't buy well-being? It's real. This is not something that you chase outside of you. It's something that's inside of you.

These are all great reasons. You want to have well-being. You don't want to be chasing happiness. Who cares if it feels good in the moment, right? Well, here's the main reason I think you're going to be interested in getting rid of false pleasures. If you're watching the Eat Right series, which you are, then you have a goal of some sort, right? Maybe your goal is you want to have more energy. Maybe you want to have glowing skin. Maybe you want to sleep better. Maybe you want to make sure that you're there to walk your kid down the aisle or hold your grandkids. You know what? Heck, maybe all you want is just to fit into your darn skinny jeans and feel like you look good. It doesn't matter what your goal is.

Skinny jeans is a great goal. But what's happening is your skinny jeans are here and you are here.What is in between where you are and where your skinny jeans are? A whole bunch of false pleasures. So the problem, the biggest in the moment, right now problem with false pleasures is they are keeping you from where you want to be. They're keeping you from your skinny jeans. I think that's a good enough motivation to take a hard look at why and how we're using them in our life.

Let's look at an example of what a false pleasure might look like.

Let me think of a good example. Say you had a bad day at work and you get home and you just think, "I just had the worst day. Terrible day. My boss yelled at me. A customer was rude to me. My hair looks terrible, my life is a disaster. I'm going to have a glass of wine." After two or three glasses of wine, your husband, your roommate, your girlfriend, whoever comes home and says, "How are you doing?" You're like, "I'm great. I'm so happy," and you have all this energy and you're full of like happiness and you're laughing. Is that real? Is that real happiness? Some of you might say yes. Some of you might say, no. I would challenge you to answer this question, though. Would you trade places with that version of you? Would you go through life with that in that state? Would you go through life feeling that level of happiness, that two to three glasses of wine level of happiness and being disconnected?

And what about two glasses later, four or five glasses in, and now you're crying your eyes out. Is that true sadness or is that just an artificial emotion? That can give you an idea of what a false pleasure does. It takes away the feeling that you're experiencing and puts something else in its place, usually something that's more desirable. The problem is you still have that negative emotion that's underlying everything and you've added a consequence, a very real consequence, a negative consequence. Because if you have three to five glasses of wine, you're probably not going to be feeling so great the next day and you probably won't sleep well that night.

There's nothing that could inherently be a false pleasure, or a real pleasure. One glass of wine for me, it could be a real pleasure and it could be a false pleasure for you. What we need to do is to figure out if something is in fact a false pleasure for you. You probably have an idea in your head. When I said that there's something in between where you are and where you want to be, there's a habit that you have, I'm pretty sure most of us can think of a habit that we know is probably holding us back. I'm going to give you a second. Think about that habit while I sip on my coffee.

Now we're going to apply the 2 questions that will tell you whether or not this is a false pleasure or a real pleasure.

Once again, you are studying yourself. When you ask the question, "Am I doing this to avoid an emotion?" if the answer is yes, it's a false pleasure. The second question, is there a negative consequence on the tail end of this that I am not choosing? There's a negative consequence, and you feel out of control when it happens. If you answer yes to either of those two questions, are you using this to avoid a negative emotion and/or is there a negative consequence that you aren't choosing, then it is a false pleasure.

So what do we do with this? The first question was, are you using it to avoid a negative emotion? This is a really important question to ask yourself because, as I said earlier, we are taught that negative emotions are bad, right? Nobody wants to feel bad. Of course we don't want to feel bad. But there's enough research out there to show that you can only feel as good as you're willing to feel bad.

You can live your life in this sort of very narrow box of emotion. If you're only willing to feel a little bit of bad, then you can only feel a little bit of good. If you're willing to go a little bit deeper and feel some of those more negative emotions, then you're able to go a little bit higher. I'm not going to get into all of that here because it is a huge topic. If you just keep that as your premise for now, that negative emotions are normal, they're in fact something that we should be experiencing. It's not right to believe that we're never going to feel bad. Sometimes we're going to feel bad and things are uncomfortable, and that's okay. That's how we grow. And any emotion is not going to last forever. They're all temporary. Now, does that make it any easier to deal with them? No, it doesn't, and that's why we use something like buffering with a false pleasure so that we don't have to face some of these emotions that we don't want to.

What I'm going to suggest you do instead, so remember I said think of that false pleasure, that habit that's keeping you from being able to throw on your skinny jeans and think you feel amazing and look right. We're just choosing that as an example. Whatever your goal is, whatever the habit is that is getting in your way, that's what you're going to use. What I want you to do with that is use that negative emotion. Figure out what it is, and then use it to develop a real pleasure around that emotion.

What do I mean? What you're going to do is you're going to look at the habits. Say your habit is you go to parties and every time you say, "I'm not going to drink," and every time you end up drinking, and you end up drinking too much, and you feel terrible the next day. What could be an emotion that's behind that? I don't know because it's not me. You're going to have to figure it out for yourself. The tool that I absolutely love, and anyone who's worked with me knows I'm obsessed with this, is something call ugly journaling.

You know when you go to a bookstore and they have all those beautiful journals and maybe they have like gold-lined pages, and a beautiful ribbon marker, and then the cover is beautiful? There's like unicorns and fairy dust on there and you just fall in love with it and you can't wait to get at home, only then you never write in it because it's really too pretty and you don't really want to wreck it. This is not that. This is grab an ugly, old piece of scrap paper, a handful of scrap paper, rip it out of a notebook, and what you're going to do is set a timer for 10 to 15 minutes or you can write for three pages and you are just going to write down "Why do I drink wine at parties? What emotion am I trying to buffer? What emotion do I not want to feel?" And you're going to see what comes up.

Say for you it's loneliness. You feel lonely when you're around all these people. Nobody wants to feel lonely. I don't want to feel lonely, and I know you don't either. So, what does it feel like in my body? Where do I feel loneliness. If you can really tap into where that is in your body, how you're feeling it, and then you can make a decision. Is this emotion something that I can live with? Is not feeling loneliness worth not fitting into my skinny jeans? Only you can answer that for yourself.

Then what you're going to do, keep asking why. Why do I not want to feel lonely? Why do I feel lonely? And then you're going to strategize ways to support yourself through this emotion. So maybe if loneliness is what you're feeling instead of drinking wine the first person you see just go and start talking to them.

You’re going to strategize a different approach.

So far, this is all on paper. You haven't had to do anything or give up anything at this point. This is all happening on paper. It's all information for you. What we have to do though is we have to take this out into real life, and this is where it gets hard. This is where I need to put in a really strong caveat. This is not an exercise to beat yourself up with. This is a non-judgmental, look at yourself as if you were a scientist and you're just studying a subject. This is not to beat the crap out of yourself, okay? You've been doing that for long enough. Stop. This isn't that. If you're going to do that, don't do this exercise. This will not work. None of this is going to work if you aren't willing to stop being so horrible to yourself. This is an area of non-judgment. You are just trying out some new strategies and seeing how they fit and how they feel. You're going to examine what's going on underneath the surface, and then you're going to try them out in the real world.

In the real world, what happens is there is an event, something happens, you have a thought about it. The thought creates a feeling about it, and then you act. Event, thought, feeling, action. So what might this look like in the real world? Say you have a really bad day at work. You get home from work and so that's the event. You get home from work, and you think, "I had a really bad day at work. This day sucked." This gives you a feeling. Maybe the feeling is anxiety, stress. Then, the action is you eat a bag of potato chips. We have event, thought, feeling, action. What we're going to do is we're going to actually interrupt this. So instead of feeling like you just ate the bag of potato chips and there was no thought behind it. A lot of you guys said to me it's just mindless. There's no decision. You're just doing it, and you don't even notice until you're done. Then, you're beating yourself up over the fact that you ate the potato chips.

There is, actually a thought, and this is why I went through the event, thought, feeling, action with you because what we want to do is we want to interrupt at the level of the thought or the feeling. And don't worry, I'm not taking away those potato chips. Don't panic. What you're going to do is you're going to come home. You're going to have had the bad day. You're going to have the thought, "I had a bad day." You're going to have the feeling of anxiety and stress. Then, you're going to see the potato chips as an option. It's going to be a choice, and you're going to see one of the things that you could use instead when you're feeling anxiety. Maybe that is you make yourself a cup of tea, take a few breaths, and sit down with a funny sitcom that makes you laugh. I'm just making up examples. These are going to be personal for you.

In this moment, this is going to be our mindful moment, and there is a four-step process. Just like there's four steps, event, thought, feeling, action, they are going to be four steps to interrupt before you get to the action. The first step, you're going to choose. You're going to choose the potato chips or you're going to choose the hot cup of tea, few deep breaths, and the sitcom, all right? You are not going to beat yourself up. Both of these choices are valid. It's completely fine. It doesn't matter which one you pick at this point. You are just gathering information, so you choose. That's our C. We're making an acronym here so it'll help you remember. C, choose.

The next one is R, which is you are going to have a reason. That's all. You're going to choose the potato chips, and you're going to give a reason why. I'm choosing potato chips because they'll make me feel happy as I crunch through the bag. I'm choosing hot cup of tea because I deserve to fit into my skinny jeans. Whatever your reason is, it doesn't matter, but it's your reason and you're making note of it.

So, we have C, R. The next one's A, and that's going to stand for attention. You're going to pay attention to how you're feeling as you eat the potato chips or you're going to pay attention to how you're feeling as you sip your tea. You're just observing. You're just gathering information. Again, not criticizing yourself, just paying attention.

Then, the last letter is E, which stands for evaluate. At the end of it all, you are going to evaluate your choice and the reason behind it. This is not judgmental. You're just evaluating it. Did that choice work? Was the reason good?

Our acronym is C-R-A-E, and it stands for choose, reason, attention, evaluate. And as someone I work with pointed out, someone who is way cooler than me because I didn't realize this, and sorry to if you think I'm cool, I'm totally not cool. Apparently, C-R-A-E, is like what the cool kids call crazy, cray. Maybe they don't anymore. I'm probably saying this, and you're like, "Yeah, that was so last year." Either way, I think it's a great acronym. Because if you think about just eating the chips without any thought, afterwards, you do feel like you weren't in control, and not being in control is a bit like being crazy. So if you just think CRAE, okay? If that crazy acronym works for you, you're probably cooler than me, or maybe, as I said, it's long past. I don't know. But just remember C-R-A-E, choose, reason, attention, evaluate. This'll take seconds. It’s taking a little bit longer to explain, but it will really take seconds for you to do in the moment.

Now you have all this information. Why am I having you gather this information? You will not feel deprived if you need to make a choice in the future and you know that choosing the chips is a terrible choice. You've evaluated it. You've looked at the reason. You've looked at how you feel afterwards. You realize you feel like crap. You realize it isn't working for you. Then, when you don't go for that bag of chips, you're not going to feel deprived. You're not going to feel like it's a sacrifice. The choice becomes clear. The choice becomes easy. This is why you want to gather this information.

For the rest of your life you can apply this to any sort of situation. Is it a false pleasure? Am I using it to buffer an emotion? Is it getting in the way of where I want to be is really the question you want to be asking. But in the moment, are you using it to buffer an emotion? And if you are, then you want to apply this four-step process and start to evaluate how it actually makes you feel. This is really valuable stuff, and hopefully it's in a framework that makes sense to you.

Decide if you are a moderator or an abstainer

Now, the next thing you're going to do with this information, you need to decide if you are a moderator or an abstainer. A moderator is the kind of person that can have a bowl of candy, cookies, chocolate, caramels, jelly beans. Whatever you really love, picture a bowl of that in front of you on your desk as you work. Can you have one on Monday and then not think about them again till Wednesday and have two, and then not think about them until Sunday? And I can hear probably people are laughing at that thought. If so, you are what we call a moderator. That means that there is no mental chatter in your head about the food. You either eat it or you don't eat it. End of story.

Most of us are what we call abstainers. We will obsess over that bowl on our desk. Should I have one more? Should I stop? Maybe I've already had three today. Maybe I can have two tomorrow. It'll just be this constant mental chatter that is taking up space in your brain. This is when you know you need to be an abstainer.

Let me give you an example. If you had a friend come over to your house and they left, and they accidentally left behind a package of cigarettes, and this is assuming you are not a smoker, you are not going to look at that package of cigarettes and think, "Ooh, should I have one? Oh, I know what it will taste like when I ... " Well, I guess you don't. Well, you put them in your mouth. Or, "When I take a puff, I know what it's going to smell like when I light it." You're not thinking that you're like, "Oh, they forgot their cigarettes," but that's not something that applies to you, right? That is not something that you do, so there is no mental chatter around it. That's what I mean by mental chatter.

If you're constantly thinking about whether or not to have something, then you need to abstain. So what does abstaining means? It means that you don't do it. You just don't do it. If you decide that having a glass of wine at a party is not serving you, you went through our CRAE process and you decided that you are not going to have that wine, then you don't do it. It's not that you can't do it, and this is the most important word swap. When you can't do something, it leaves room for, "But could you? Can you sometimes?" It feels like a sacrifice. It feels like deprivation, and it just feels like there's some wiggle room in there. Make it a don't. I don't that. Period. End of story. No mental chatter.

Sometimes there are caveats to this, though. Every once in a while you are going to make an exception. So remember, we decided a false pleasure is something you're using to buffer an emotion or there's a negative consequence that you aren't choosing. If it's yes to either of those questions, it's a false pleasure. What do I mean by negative consequence you aren't choosing? I mean sometimes you can negotiate a negative consequence for yourself, and that's okay. that's an exception. You're not going to continuously choose something that makes you feel terrible, but every once in a while you might choose it.

let me think of a good ... You know what? I'll give you an example from my life. I injured my knee and ever since if I eat sugar, I have a lot of pain in my knee, which is a real bummer. For a day or two afterwards, I'll have a bit more trouble walking if I eat sugar. Once a week, I meet a group of friends for a trivia night and we have a blast. It is so much fun. It's held in a venue that has really tasty desserts and treats, and we win gift certificates. If you win, you win a gift certificate that you can spend in the venue. It's pretty smart business model really.

Every week when we go, there's always treats that we've purchased with these gift certificates that we win. When I go, I know I don't eat those. I know I'm not willing to sacrifice one or two days every week just to have that sweet treat. I can look at my questioning and say, "Would I be eating those sweet treats to avoid an emotion?" No. So they are not a false pleasure. Would there be a negative consequence I wasn't choosing if I ate them? There would be. So, I'm choosing to have no negative consequence when I go to trivia.

However, over Thanksgiving, my family was in town and we had my grandma's pie. You guys, my grandma's pie is like chewing on sugar. It is very sweet, but it's also my grandma's pie and she's very sweet, so I made the exception and I chose the consequence of knowing that I would have pain for a couple of days afterwards. I could answer the question, am I eating that pie to buffer and emotion? No, it actually made me feel more connected to the moment, more connected to my family, and to my grandma. So, it amplified my experience. Was there a negative consequence I wasn't choosing? No. I chose that. I negotiated that negative consequence for myself. Hopefully that makes the distinction clear for you.

I know we covered a ton of stuff today. And as I said, I think you're probably going to want to rewatch, relisten, reread the things that we've talked about because there is a lot here. I know 100% that if you can really get this deep down and start applying it, that you are going to go so far with whatever goal you have. Which reminds me, we have the Goals That Stick Challenge that's coming up. I will put a link below on Crowdcast and on Facebook for you guys to sign up for that. I'm really excited about this because this is goal setting in a way that I guarantee you have never done before. It'll make you really want to stick to these goals. I think it's going to be a blast.

So today, we went through false pleasure, what it is, why we do it. That's the buffering. We're trying to separate ourselves from emotion. Why we don't want to do it, because it's keeping us from where we want to be. How to identify in your life if you are using false pleasures. Those two questions, one, am I using this to buffer and emotion? Two, is there a negative consequence on the tail end that I'm not choosing? And then we went through three strategies to help you overcome and get rid of these false pleasures.

Trust me, getting rid of false pleasures is going to move you so far closer to your goals and so much easier, and this data will help you for a lifetime. So just remember CRAE, C-R-A-E. You're going to choose. You're going to have a reason. You're going to pay attention. Then, you're going to evaluate. Then, everything else will flow from there. You'll figure out whether it's a habit you want to keep or one that you don't want to keep.

All right, so that'll wrap up for today. Next week, as I said, we are going to jump into more strategic tips and planning. It won't be so mindset heavy. We're going to be looking at meal planning. This is definitely a part of eating right, and I will see you back here next week. Bye.