Hello SOTGC community!
I recently had a conversation about ROI, short for “return on investment,” a term used in the business and financial arenas, and reflected on this topic while doing my weekly grocery shopping. As I took this opportunity to meander through the store, I eyed the delicately frosted cupcakes next to the chocolate stand, next to the bread display, and I began thinking about the relationship between health, business, and this concept of return on investment. I found myself debating whether a cupcake, a chocolate bar, or a sweetened brioche bun would satisfy my sweet tooth craving. I’d love to say that I am immune to cravings and that I always obey the perfect plant based diet 100% of the time. If I claimed this, it would be an utter lie. So, the reality is, I actually found myself considering the purchase of one of these sugary products as a response to my recent stress levels. How did I leave the grocery store not succumbing to my craving? I asked myself, “What is the ROI on this food choice?”
When we are stressed, our bodies crave sugar and carbohydrates. In the moment, the craving can sometimes be intense, and the emotional satisfaction of having the indulgence can be very rewarding. Sometimes these cravings come late at night, other times randomly, sometimes exacerbated by skipping meals. For others, the stress response induces a transient craving of sugar or comfort food to the point where we actually cannot mentally process until we’ve satisfied the craving. The mind-body connection is indeed a powerful one. As a result, choices made under these conditions not only lead to the sugar-crash symptoms of fatigue and other physical symptoms, but also to a feeling of defeat and guilt for not being more disciplined. It also adds a pound or two to the waistline. What I found myself doing during my moment of contemplation and craving was to SLOW myself down so I could make conscious choices for the highest good around my health.
- I stopped what I was doing and came into FULL present moment awareness to the existence of my craving. I employed mindfulness to the situation. I PAUSED.
- I then asked myself slowly and repeatedly, “Is this really what I feel like today?” I LISTENED.
- I visualized what my body would feel like after partaking in the food indulgence. I gave it my FULL ATTENTION.
- I then asked myself, “ What IS the return on investment of this food choice? What is the cost to my body? How will I feel after eating this?” I ASKED.
Visualizing how I’d feel after the food indulgence and the additional minutes I’d need to add to my abdominal crunch exercises assisted me in putting the cupcake down. Using a mindful, conscious, thought process to manage a transient impulse, I was able to leave with hummus and grape leaves. Weighing the costs against the benefits, considering other food options in that moment, and finally evaluating the long-term versus short-term gain to my emotional and physical state in response to the food choice helped me dodge my run-in with sugar at a vulnerable point in my day. I call this the “CUPCAKE PROCESS,” a mindful meditation on the ROI of my food craving for the day. It is a process that can be applied to any craving, indulgence, or addictive food habit as a way to slow the brain down so a reflexive process may be replaced by a conscious one. Try it.
What I do tell my patients is that when a food indulgence occurs that is not in alignment with an ultimate health goal, it is not the end of the world. I’m not condoning unhealthy food choices, but I am saying if you find you are facing a container of ice cream or a bag of gummy bears and would like to indulge, at least enjoy it free of self-judgment, free of guilt. Make it a conscious choice and understand the decision. Tomorrow is another day. Recommit, and remain judgment-free.
Photo credit: www.thesleuthjournal.com