Have you heard of having an attitude of abundance? This is something we talk about in the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating program, and it’s the idea of living as if you’ll always have enough, so you don’t need to try grasping – or eating – everything now. It will be available later if you still want it.
This approach can certainly be useful, but I sometimes also find the opposite helpful: creating a perceived sense of scarcity.
This is particularly true in situations where I have trouble stopping myself from overindulging. I struggled with this during my years of weight loss, especially with peanut M&M’s, and I still sometimes deal with it for favorite healthy foods, like fruit or popcorn, or chewing gum. If I always have access as much as I want of whatever it is, holding back can be very difficult.
At the same time, having a diet mentality of saying I can’t ever have it only results in feelings of rebellion and still having the food. That’s why I prefer a different approach: setting aside a limited amount for the day and saying that’s all I’ll have.
Rather than making me crave the food more, I begin to regard it as a precious, scarce commodity. I wait until I’m truly hungry and want the food, and then I savor it in small doses. With M&M’s, or something like cherries, this could mean having just two or three and then stopping. Because I know I have a limited supply, I want to make sure it lasts, so I can have it in those moments when I’ll most desire and appreciate it.
When I can do this, what I quickly find is that I don’t even want as much of the food. I realize much of my craving was in my head, not my body, and while I may still want and enjoy the food, it becomes more occasional and, consequently, more special.
I want to emphasize that if I finish eating the amount I’ve set aside, and I’m still hungry and really want more, I’ll go ahead and have it, but this helps remind me to pause for longer and consider what I truly want and how hungry I am.
This approach may not work for everyone, or even for all foods or items for a given person, but it may be worth considering if you, too, struggle with holding back in our environment of overabundance.