I am having a truly horrible day. I won’t get into the details of what’s happened or all the many things that had me in a tailspin of anxiety last night – because they don’t matter, we all get fired up about what we decide to get fired up about. What matters is that I am stressed and spinning and trying not to give in….. What do you do when you experiences the Ss: stress, starving and spinning? I want to eat chocolate. Or drink wine, but it seemed a little too early for that! (Then again, maybe not….) There I was, in Rite Aid grabbing a few supplies to make coffee filter ghosts with Lola tonight, and awash in a sea of Halloween candy. My first thought, was, “Perfect. I could definitely use a treat right now and chocolate is just the ticket.” And these little bite size bits? I could of I course have just one and give the rest to our neighbor kids. Who I am kidding? I am in no state to have one bite of chocolate. And aren’t I the hormone expert over here? Don’t I know what even that little bit of sugar will do to my insulin and thus my waistline? Yes, yes, I do. I had two choices: exercise WILLpower and skip the chocolate OR have it, and make a conscious choice to do so. I could own it. Own the choice, emotion-free and without the guilt afterwards. If I decide right now that I want to do this then I need to be clear on what’s going on – to ensure it wasn’t an emotional choice. To be clear then, I had to face those emotions head on. I summoned the courage to look directly at my feelings. I wasn’t’ necessarily hungry, but I was stressed and was anxious. I felt confused and not sure how I am going to solve the set of problems currently on my plate. I felt completely and utterly overwhelmed. I felt very scared. I was clear that if I chose to have a treat, it was my choice and it will not solve my problems. But I allow myself a treat or two per week and I decided today was the day to cash in one of those “free choices”. I felt calm about it and reached for the bag of candy bars….and then I thought: If I am going to do this, then I’m going to do it on my terms. If I am going to make a choice to have a treat, by all means I should make it a good one! A few Reese’s peanut butter cups would be good, but I’d much prefer a bit of darker, richer chocolate….maybe with a little sea salt. So got my other items and left. I went to our little gourmet grocery store and picked up a chocolate bar that I actually did want. I felt calm and in control. And I didn’t’ feel guilty or anxious about what this would do to my diet. I came home, broke off a piece and enjoyed it. Much to my surprise — probably because the emotion had diffused by facing it instead of eating it – I was able to just have the one piece and feel completely satisfied. This was a new experience for me. I’ve always been of the mindset of black and white – I’m eating perfect or I’m fat and lazy. Today, I was simply BETTER. It was nice. Cheating or treating on my own terms is not a new idea to me. Last weekend I was at a birthday party with gluten free cupcakes and I was very clear that I didn’t really want them so I didn’t eat them just because they were there. I knew if i did, it would be a half-hearted indulgence that I’d mostly regret afterwards. That was an easy choice for me. partly because I knew ahead of time there would be cupcakes and I had time to think about how I wanted to handle it – and partly because I wasn’t’ upset that day. I was happy and enjoying my time with my family and friends and wasn’t triggered to put something in my mouth to change how I was feeling in my heart. Today at the store, it was harder. What made it easier was dealing with the bad feeling instead of eating in response to it. We all know chocolate doesn’t cure bad feelings, although we repeatedly try again…just to be sure. Next time, just pause. feel the feeling you’re trying to escape. See if you can hold it for 30 seconds (psychologists call this surfing the urge). Then if you choose to indulge, do it on your terms. With something you love and without the thick layer of guilt and shame we frost on to it afterward. Thoughts? Questions? Post them here! I’d love to hear from you.