Wow, so many responses! I trust you’ve found some ideas helpful. One additional idea concerns your “urge”. Like all urges, the urge to eat can be “surfed”. As the urge to eat rises up (like a wave on the ocean) your mind is probably saying things like “I have to eat, I cant stop, this is unbearable, I cant stand this”. There might be bodily sensations like agitation and frustration. There’ll be a behavioural push, that almost mindless reaching for food. All of this feels incredibly powerful, like a large wave rising in the ocean. The thing about urges is, like waves in the deep ocean, they subside. Then they rise up again. And subside. There’s a skill in learning to surf the urge, learning to ride it out. Like surfing on the ocean it takes practice.
The skill of urge surfing is useful with any type of urge or craving be it for alcohol, tobacco, drugs, overeating, inappropriate sex, or – your name it – where to act on the urge would be contrary to your heartfelt values, would be inconsistent with acting in the way you want to live your life, the sort of person you want to be, and the things you want to stand for.
Urges are small when they start, will grow in size, then will break up and dissipate. Every urge that arises will pass away. They almost never last for longer than about 30 minutes - if there is no opportunity to use our preferred substance (eg, biscuits, chocolate, chips). If there is no opportunity to use, then there is no internal struggle. It is this internal struggle that feeds the cravings. Trying to fight cravings is like trying to block a waterfall. We end up being inundated. With the approach of mindfulness, we step aside and watch the water (cravings, impulses & urges) just go right past. The main message is that urges do not have to be acted upon. You get to choose to surf the urge and watch it as it rises and subsides.
In fact, if we just let an urge be - non judgmentally - without feeding it or fighting it (Fighting it is just another way of feeding it anyway) then it will crest subside and pass.
Of course they come back again but over a period of time. However each time you overcome a bout of cravings they become less intense and less frequent if we don't feed the urges and if we don't give in to the craving. Moreover our mindfulness technique of urge surfing improves. If we have a slip and give into the impulse we will have increased urges for a while. However we can still apply urge surfing all over again.
Don’t believe what I say. Try this experiment. Right now, if you scan your body with your mind’s eye, you can probably find an urge to scratch or itch somewhere on your skin. If you find that sensation calling out for you to scratch it, I’d like you to remain still, breathing, and simply observe the sensation. Keep watching it. Does it change? Maybe it gets stronger for a while. Then, inevitably it fades. Congratulations, you’ve just successfully surfed an urge.
If this approach interests you, please consider seeing a psychologist. Urge surfing is a skill that is best mastered with professional guidance. And – once you’re surfing urges well – you might find there’s other difficulties (anxiety? depression?) that call for your attention. Many psychologists can teach you urge surfing. Ideally, urge surfing is taught within a larger therapeutic framework such as that of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). You can find an ACT therapist by browsing the listings at actmindfully.com.au.
PS Please don’t stop eating. Please do consult a health professional.
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