Here is a great excerpt from The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte. I think it gets to the heart of why we eat things we know are not helping us reach our goals and why we cannot entirely give up on immediate gratification. The key is understanding, and then being smarter about meeting short term needs so we can still meet longer term goals (ie. better health and a nicer number on the scale!).
When you’re clear on how you want to feel, your decision making gets to the heart of the matter.
First, get clear on how you want to feel. Then, do the stuff that makes you feel that way.
We do stuff to feel good. Even when we do stuff that’s “bad” for us, (eating glazed doughnuts when we’re on a diet, overspending when we’re on a budget), we’re still feeding that part of our psyche that says, “Right now, doing X will make me feel Y. And Y will make me feel good, better, relieved, safe, alive . . .”
So how do you really want to feel? Go straight to what will get you there. You may think that the number on the scale is what your goal is, but I think it is the feeling you think you will have when you get there.
Like a person who strives after ambitious financial goals, you may or may not feel the way you think you will when you achieve your goal. If you aim for the feeling, you will be more clear about what you need to do to make it happen.
If you want to feel lighter, then begin eating lighter foods and stay active. You will feel lighter almost immediately. You probably would not like to feel weak and drained though, right? So why follow a plan that doesn’t allow you to eat enough? You may feel lighter, but you will also feel exhausted and crabby. Not what you hoped for, right?
As for immediate gratification, which we all need in order to keep going, it helps to remember that the taste and pleasure of an overindulgence usually leads to a dip in emotional state when guilt kicks in. A better form of immediate gratification will include something rewarding NOW – which is when you need it – but it won’t interfere with your overall goals.
An ideal short term solution to the “I need something now” dilemma can include food, but probably will not rely solely on food (unless you are one of the rare individuals who considers celery a treat). If a hot bath or a satisfying project will not do the trick, how about a small chocolate WHILE you take a hot bath – in other words the behavioral “combo platter”.
One of my favorite immediate gratification tools is a hot bath with my $8 blow-up bath pillow supporting my head and a splash of lavender salts. Light a candle and settle in . . . and it contains zero calories. I can almost feel my blood pressure going down just thinking about it.