When you first fall in love, there is often no longer any space in your brain for anything but thoughts of that person. It is like an override switch is triggered and there is only room for one perpetual thought. Although this may seem like a good thing, the reality is, thinking about any one thing all the time can become frustrating, distracting and even compromise your health and wellbeing.
Take food for example: If you were to keep track, how many hours a day do you spend thinking about food? Either what you are going to eat, what you have eaten, what you would like to eat or any other related thought to food? Do you think about food when you are hungry and also when you are not hungry? Is the only time that you don’t think about food when you are asleep?
If you answered yes to any of the above, it could be a sign that you are preoccupied with food. Sure, you may not think that you are preoccupied because you can still (sort of) engage in life’s daily tasks, even seem involved in activities. However, if there is a constant hum in your head or a constant return to thoughts of food, it may be time to address the issue.
Perhaps you are struggling with a health issue such as obesity or diabetes. Unfortunately, being preoccupied with food can be a terrible thing. As our thoughts often drive our actions, the constant energy being used to conjure up mental images of food can interfere with your healthy life pursuit.
Dangers of constant thoughts of food
It has been said that our thoughts often drive our actions. If you have a tendency always to think about food, you may also have a tendency to act on that thought whether it is rational to do so or not. For instance, you may have just finished lunch an hour ago, but you are not thinking about food again. This thought may cause you to overeat at a time when your body doesn’t really need food for fuel.
So, what are you to do if the majority of your thoughts center around food? It is not so simple as telling yourself to turn it off. Don’t feel guilty if you have tried to override your compulsive thoughts but not been successful, you are not alone. The good news is that there are some positive steps you can take to banish your constant thoughts about food. Keep in mind that managing your thoughts is just like managing other things in your life, it takes time and effort and most of all, consistency.
Here are some things that you can try:
Mental distractions: There is nothing like a good ol’ distraction to re-channel your thoughts. Being busy and being distracted means that your thought energy will have to fight for space. Although being distracted is not a longterm solution, it will help to diminish your controlling thoughts. Try things like playing solitaire, scrabble, word puzzles, etc… Anything that will pull valuable cognitive resources is a good choice.
Share your thoughts with a loved one or friend: Sometimes something so simple as sharing your thoughts with others can help release the burden that you have. Often, others can provide insight and support that will allow you to break free from your constant battle with food thoughts.
Keep food out of sight: Often the visual stimulus of looking at food is enough to trigger controlling thoughts about food. Keep your counters clear of food and your cupboards and fridge full of nourishing options such as fruits and veggies. If you share your space with someone who eats less than healthy, ask them to keep the food out of sight as well.
Use your hands: Just as mental distractions can help chase away your focus on food so can being busy with your hands. Take up a hobby such as crochet, knitting, painting or even playing a musical instrument. Again, the idea here is that your neurons can only handle so much, and if you channel the energy in another direction there won’t be much left for thoughts about food.
Ask yourself if you are famished or just bored? Sometimes you may think about food when we are hungry, but other times you may think about food because you are bored. Take a few minutes to connect with yourself when thoughts of munching on your favorite snack enter your head. If you conclude that you are not hungry, just bored – find something purposeful to do. If you are truly hungry – have a healthy snack like some veggies and hummus.
Breathe deeply: Often just taking the time to center yourself and focus on your breathing can chase repetitive thoughts away. Take a deep breath in through your nose and slowly exhale through your mouth. Do this four or five times to switch your focus from food to breathing. Your body will feel revived and energized after this exercise.
Don’t use food as a reward: To help shift your focus away from food be sure not to reward yourself with food. For instance, if you feel that you deserve a “treat” for some reason or another make it a habit to choose something other than food such as a pedicure or a new pair of shoes.
Help someone: If you really want to shift the focus away from yourself, go out and help someone. Being engaged with people who are in need will rearrange your thoughts so that they are in line with what others need not with what you think that you need.
Listen to calming music: Many times you may feel like the racing thought of food will never cease. Chase your thoughts away by listening to soft instrumental music. After a few songs you may find that the music has gently pushed your disturbing thoughts aside.
Talk to yourself: One of the best and most effective ways to banish unwanted thoughts is to face yourself in the mirror and have a little talk. Remind yourself that you are more than your thoughts and that your thoughts will not control you. Be grateful always and remind yourself that you will not think of food. Repeat this as many times as it takes to get the idea of food out of your head.
Healthy thinking is a habit
Contrary to what you might have heard, it takes about 66 days for something to become a habit. Don’t give up on yourself too soon, but rather remind yourself that you can stop the thoughts. Keep defeatist thoughts away and remain confident that you can win the battle over your preoccupation with food. Don’t worry about how long it may take but instead, put your energy into making it happen no matter how long it does take!