Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's Time to Break Up With That Cookie

You pine for it, thinking all the time about how good it is and planning your next date. You even have a nice spot where you can go to enjoy your time together. Perhaps you share tea and kind words. Oh, how I love you. You mean so much to me. You taste so good and I look forward to holding you every night. You bring me such pleasure. Tomorrow, I will think of holding you again. You give me something no one else can. My thoughts race with what you give me.

Then a voice of reason steps in. You realize that cookies or that 4th glass of wine or that bag of potato chips might not be healthy for you. Suddenly, you realize you’re in a bad relationship. But a bad relationship is better than no relationship, right?


Think about what that food or drink gives you. Sure, you get that brain rush anticipating the cookie or the wine or the cigarette. You also get the gratification of having thoughts of when you’ll indulge. For me, I can only enjoy the chocolate almonds when all the kids are settled down at night. Otherwise, I don’t enjoy them half as much. Does that mean my body needs chocolate almonds? No, it means my mind is trying to look forward to something, a small indulgence, an escape.

Our thoughts carry us away into all kinds of places. Thinking about the cookie might be your way of escaping the stress of the day. Thinking about that beer at a Friday happy hour gets a lot of people through the workweek. The thoughts about the food we desire can become obsessive to the point of creating more conflict for you than you need.

We try hating the cookie because we think that’ll keep us from indulging. “Bad cookie. You ruin me with your sugars and I can never just have one of you.” But we know that hating something is as just as bad as obsessing about it. It’s the flip side of the same coin. No matter how you slice it, it’s a bad relationship. The roller coaster of emotion goes up and down, up and down. So what to do?

It’s time to get off the ride. It’s time to break it off with that cookie.

So, how do you break up with a cookie?

1. Cold Turkey

Well, first step is some time off. You need to know that you can live without it. Whatever it is that’s obsessing your mind is just something obsessing your mind. You really don’t need it or thoughts of it. All it does is leave you with a hangover or an extra love handle. Of course, some people can have perfectly normal relationships with their cookies and wine. Remember, this instruction is for those who are in an obsessive, self-destructive relationship with food.

You can live without him.

You heard me. It’s so cliché, but true. Spend time finding yourself again. What was life like before the thoughts of the cookie took over, before all you could think about was emptying that wine bottle after work? What was life like before the thoughts of food invaded your every day? We were all kids once. We can all go back to a time when life was a little more carefree and simple. Go back there in your mind. Find a spot in time where you were free of worry. Whenever your mind wants to latch on to the idea of that cookie or bottle of wine, let it take you to a time when your mind was free and clear.

You don’t have to be harsh and throw the cookies into the garbage, swearing at them, although you can. You can just say, “I don’t need you right now. I need some time alone.” And toss the stuff. It’s very liberating and empowering to realize that you actually don’t need the cookie.

2. Find New Friends

When you lose something, you’ll go through a period of mourning and will need lots of support. Call a real friend to get you through the rough time or make some new food friends that are better for you. I know they’re not as exciting as the cookie, but this is about getting you emotionally stable. Don’t fool yourself into thinking the cookie did anything good for you. That’s your brain’s way of looking for excitement, something to latch onto, something to keep you from being quiet with yourself. You might need a little break from the excitement, too. What goes up must come down. The down isn’t worth the up. We can all get a little addicted to that brain rush that comes from life’s exciting offers, but make sure you keep them healthy for you!

Your new friends might include nature, writing, exercising, a night out with real people.

3. Figure Out What Attracted You to the Cookie in the First Place

Was it the promise that it would give you something you didn’t have? What is your life missing? What might you need to change in your life? Usually, we distract ourselves with mind-numbing behaviors because we’re running away from something else. We don’t want to accept some truth that lurks within us. Perhaps you need to call your mother and have that difficult conversation or find that new job you know will change your life and perspective. Going to the cookie is just another way of going away from your truth. Find your truth and sit with it. Remember, whatever it is – it might not be pretty, but it’s real and worth dealing with in the long run.

4. See the Cookie in a New Light

You need to realize you don’t need the cookie. Once you do that, your relationship will take on a whole new meaning. Perhaps you’ll see her at a party and smile. “I remember you. I remember how I went nuts about you, how you drove me and my thoughts crazy. I’m so different now. I don’t need you anymore.”

Then if you enjoy the cookie or not – no big deal. The cookie doesn’t own your life anymore.

You are finally free.