I was in San Francisco recently simply because I love that city so damn much!
If you haven’t been, book a trip right now because it’s such a beautiful city, probably my favorite in the country.
My last day there, I needed to take a bus downtown for the first leg of my trip home.
If I wasn’t on time, I’d be screwed.
I was good on time though, and kind of hungry, so I sat down, opened a bag of sweet potato chips, and slowly munched away.
The digital sign said my bus would be there in 5 minutes. Then it showed me the current time, then it said 4 minutes. Nice.
Then it said 5, then 4, then 3, then 4, then 5 and so on.
This was not looking good.
I started to get nervous.
I didn’t know if I should take my chance with this route, which was the most convenient way, or find another route, or spend the extra cash and call for an Uber.
I sat in indecision while thinking about how I can’t be late. I felt worried, nervous and stressed, and the worst part, I was still eating the chips, but more and more rapidly.
My bites were getting quicker and bigger.
I didn’t notice what I was doing at first because I was too concerned with what I was going to do about my transportation.
Then I did notice, and yet I didn’t change anything because I still wanted to eat chips.
More worrying ensued, as well as speedy eating.
And then I paused and thought clearly.
I stopped all that was going on, the worrying and the eating, because neither were going to get me to where I wanted to be any faster.
First, as long as I was feeling the way I did, I was going to have a hard time eating more slowly, so I stopped. I closed up the bag and put it away. I wasn’t even hungry anymore so there was no reason to keep eating anyway.
Then I made the decision to walk down the street to a different stop. I had other options and there was no reason not to move on.
I got on my new bus, and everything was fine.
So what happened here?
I allowed the arrival prediction to cause me to think I wasn’t going to make it on time, which caused me to feel worried and nervous.
Because I was feeling nervous while I was eating, I sped up.
Eating rapidly is not how I want to behave when I feel nervous, stressed, or worried.
So once I was in a clean headspace, I chose not to.
It wasn’t going to make the bus come any sooner and what it would do is cause me to overeat and feel crappy.
I had a long trip home and crappy was not at all how I wanted to be feeling.
Once I became aware of how I was eating, and really thought about it, and thought about what I wanted to be doing instead, the decision to stop eating was easy.
Eating this way in these types of situations in not an uncommon reaction for me. It’s what used to make entering a binge eating episode so effortless for me.
So when it happens, not only am I not surprised by it, but I’ve now learned how to handle it.
There are so many ways to deal with feelings like this, and yes eating is one of them, but it’s not the one I want to do.
On top of all of it, the eating was holding me in indecision and in the feelings I was having.
It was when I was able to clearly see what was going on that I was able to change everything.
I’m eating this way because I feel nervous. I don’t want to eat this way, so I’m going to just put it away.
I don’t want to feel nervous, so I need to think about this situation differently.
I have no idea when this bus is going to get here and instead of worrying about what will happen, I will walk to take a different route.
All it took was uncovering my thoughts about the situation, how I was feeling, and how I was behaving. And the best part, as I demonstrated, is that it’s all changeable.
I didn’t have to change the bus’s arrival time, nor could I!
All I had to do was recognize what I was doing to myself and then do differently.
I knew I was eating quickly and at first I chose to keep going because I still wanted chips. Then I chose differently because I wanted something else more. I wanted to feel good and stop worrying about what was going to happen.
If you know you are one who eats when you feel nervous, stressed, or worried, keep an eye on and be mindful of how you’re eating. The speed can creep up on you!
When you notice you’re eating quickly, what do you usually do? Just keep going because you “can’t stop” or “can’t slow down?”
That way of thinking isn’t going to help you.
Beliefs about how you can’t stop or slow down are ones you need to work on changing because they’re keeping you in “out of control” mode.
You have the control to do it, you just need to first figure out why you’re doing it so you can change what’s causing it.
Be clear about why you’re eating that way. What’s the feeling behind it? How are you thinking that’s causing you to feel that way?
Shift how you’re thinking to change your feelings and actions.
What I really want you to know, is that no matter how fast you’re eating, you can stop whenever you want. If you don’t think you CAN, it’s more likely that you don’t want to. Be clear and honest with yourself, what you can do, and what you want to do.