It’s official– the summer is now here. I can feel a part of me relax just by writing that. There is nothing like the idea of summer to bring back the kid in all of us—warm sunny days, letting our hair down and relaxing. Unfortunately, it also is a time when we too easily relax into unhealthy habits, especially with the abundance of social outings of the season.
Being social is a very primal core part of who we are as descendants of cave men (and women) and our wiring to “let down our hair” runs deep. This primal wiring can create definite challenges to our desire to stick to a healthy lifestyle, especially if we are working to lose weight. We don’t want to feel deprived and “on a diet” when we are hanging out with others–and we don’t have to. To help keep summer on track, I am including a free 6 minute social eating hypnosis session. This is to be listened to prior to going out to whatever social event may be challenging. Please give it a listen and then read the tips below. With just a few painless adjustments, you can stick with your healthy intention and learn to enjoy going out–from the inside out.
When we think about going out and having fun with friends, family, or co-workers, our brain sends out a shot of the neurotransmitter dopamine which immediately excites and arouse us. “GOOD TIME!” our mind thinks. Being with others in a social way is one of our deepest needs, but the challenge is that we also tend overeat when we are with others, sometimes almost twice as much, research says.
The other night, I went over to one of my oldest friend’s home for dinner. I had been looking forward to this night out all week as I knew it was going to be the weekend and we would be relaxing and having a good time. When I was thinking “Good Time”, what did I mean? Did I mean the food was going to be good? Was it going to be good to drink some wine and relax? Was it going to be good to connect with my friends and share about our ongoing lives? What was going to be so good? It turns out the meal was burnt and the wine was warm but we sat out under the stars and talked and had a most wonderful time.
WHAT IS A “GOOD TIME” REALLY?
Often when we go out, our mind thinks “Good Time” and we fall into the trap of letting the food and drink be responsible for the good time rather than the deeper experience within ourselves.
When I struggled with weight, I would look forward primarily to what we were going to be eating and drinking before thinking about the people I was going to be with—my good time was defined by the food and not so much about the people. Therefore, I tended to overeat, always looking for the bite of food that would fulfill me and often I never found it—I just ended up feeling full but not “full-filled”. Consequently, most of my social eating added to my waistline but not my true inner satisfaction.
When I began to Shift to a healthier mindset and life (what I call the ‘Shift to Thin Thinking”), I knew that for long term success, I would need to change my social eating priorities. Maybe it wasn’t really about the food so much as the people I was eating food with. When I could change my focus from people first, food second, I could get more pleasure for less calories.
Here are some questions I learned to ask myself before any social event that help prepare my mind for social eating success by allowing me to get clear of what my specific needs are for the event—what “having a good time” means. By getting clear up front, before the stimulus of the event, I am able to keep my focus on what is important to me. I end up feeling less FULL and more FULL-FILLED.
PRE-SOCIAL EATING INNER COACH SESSION
1. WHAT IS THE FULL-FILLING PART OF THE EVENT FOR ME? WHAT IS MY TRUE GOAL? Are you meeting with a friend? Is your family coming over? Is this a work party? How do you want to leave this gathering—what would you like to feel as you leave? Like you spent some quality time speaking with the people you were with? By getting clear on your true social goals, you focus your mind on other people rather than your stomach.
2. IS THE GOOD TIME IN THE FOOD OR DRINK? In our minds, food can mean “fun”. Social celebrations often have wonderful food to indulge in but the problem is when we over-indulge we end up actually feeling bad. Getting mindful about the food you will be eating beforehand also allows you to be more mindful about your choices and amounts once you are in the middle of the event.
Get clear on:
a. Taking small portions and eating mindfully and slowly. The 3 bite rule is especially useful for this. After 3 bites, your mouth experience diminishes greatly.
b. Think about how you can feed yourself in a way that allows you to stay within your weight goal needs but also have a bit of pleasure. We don’t need to gorge in order to have a good time. Take a moment to think about how eating lightly can be more fun—especially when heading home and not feeling like you over did it.
c. Think about alcohol and how much you need. Do we really need to drink in order to have a good time?Often, we socially associate drinks with getting the “party” going. It really helps to decide upon how many drinks you will have ahead of time before the first bottle is opened. Again, the more you focus on bringing your inner party, the need to rely on drinks to have a good time greatly diminishes.
3. HOW CAN I “BE” THERE? When thinking about going out, I think about the way I can connect with people, often it’s by listening and really hearing what people are saying and responding from the heart. Just being there. By being a true friend, I am bringing more to the social experience than a homemade dessert! I am giving of myself and allowing people to give to me. It’s these types of exchanges that are sweeter than any cake!
4. HOW CAN I LEAVE FEELING FULL-FILLED? Think through to getting home from the social event. What would you like to feel like? Like you ate well but not too much? That you gave yourself a treat but not a tummy ache? That you brought something of yourself and shared it with others while you are bringing home a bit of the people you were with by letting them and who they were in to yourself—allowing yourself to be full-filled.
I encourage you to listen to the following short hypnosis session. This is to be used prior to going out to any social event that may be challenging for you. If you have not experienced hypnosis previously, please listen to the Introduction track first and read more about hypnosis here.
Listen to this session on the morning of or right before social events. DO NOT USE WHILE DRIVING!
Feel free to share the download and tips with your family and friends so that everyone can share in a healthy, light and mindful summer.
Keep working on the full-filling practice of shifting your focus in social situations from food to full-fillment. Taking the time to really think through your social events and ask yourself these inner questions can go a long way to shifting the amount of true pleasure you get from all of your social events.