While my client April was out running errands last week, she realized that it was past lunch and she was really hungry. April was right near her favorite pizza shop, which had recently reopened, and the idea of getting pizza seemed hugely appealing. When April got to the restaurant, she knew that getting one slice of pizza and a salad would be the smart choice. She ended up ordering two pieces of pizza, a salad, and she threw in a black and white cookie for good measure. After eating both pieces of pizza and the cookie, she ended up feeling very overly stuffed.
We discussed this situation in session, and April realized a few things that she could have done to have a different outcome. First, we recognized the importance of prioritizing eating on a regular schedule and not allowing herself to get caught up in errands, even if she was being productive. It is unquestionably harder to make a decision that’s in line with your goals when you’re very hungry and have no clear plan in place.
I said to April, “At least you had the thought that getting one piece of pizza and a salad would be smart. What were the thoughts that led you to get a second piece and a cookie?” April thought about it and realized that she must have said something to herself along the lines of, “I’m starving. I just want to eat something that will really satisfy me.” I asked, “If you had gotten one piece and a salad, how do you think you would have felt when you finished eating? Would you be satiated? Would you still be hungry?” April told me that she definitely would have been full, because one piece of pizza and a salad is a satisfying meal.
In talking it through more, April realized that either way she would have ended up full. If she ordered one piece of pizza and a salad, she would be pleasantly full and would have the satisfaction of knowing she made a good choice that was in line with her goals. If she veered from that and ordered two pieces and a cookie (plus a salad that she never ended up eating), she would wind up overly full and regretful.
To help her remember this idea the next time she was faced with an eating decision and was having the sabotaging thought, “I’m starving. I need something extra and really satisfying,” she’ll ask herself this question: Do I want to feel one piece of pizza and salad full, or do I want to feel two pieces of pizza and a cookie full? This will help remind her that either way she’ll be satiated, but if she sticks with the first choice, she’ll be full and proud of herself.